November 26th   Leave a comment

I have spent the last two weeks in central Nigeria. Quite a contrast from quiet, cold and damp Crail. I have been catching and resighting whinchats that we have been colour-ringing and tagging for the last year or so. It’s been exciting – we put geolocators on some the whinchats in February. These are light sensitive tags that record sunrise and sunset times allowing you to work out approximate latitude and longitude. Our birds, although ringed in one small area of a couple of kilometres of Africa, bred or summered over an area of 1800 km from the east of Moscow all the way to Poland. That’s about half of the area of Europe. If we turn that around, this means that whinchats breeding in one place in Europe can end up over a vast area of Africa. It means that our migrants don’t winter in any particular place – there is only migratory connectivity on a very large scale – and that if we want to conserve them then we have to think big. Scottish birds like swallows, whitethroats and willow warblers end up spread all over West Africa and we will need to ensure that we help all the countries there to conserve habitat if we want our migrants to keep coming back to us.

A whinchat we are studying in Nigeria - this one went to Russia to breed.

A whinchat we are studying in Nigeria – this one went to Russia to breed.


Posted November 26, 2013 by wildcrail in Sightings

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