The idea to organise a workshop for African bird experts came up in September 2008 at Quimper in France, when AWCT members agreed that successful detection of the West African wintering grounds of the Aquatic Warbler and their protection can not be achieved without the help of local experts of the respective countries. It was intended to make local adepts familiar with the Aquatic Warbler, the whole topic of European protection efforts and, above all, the wintering habitat with its characteristic water regime and vegetation structure.
With the help of Ibrahima Diop, the Conservator of the Djoudj National Park in Senegal, and with financial support of the RSPB, the AWCT organised a three days workshop realised by three AWCT members (Bruno Bargain, Volker Salewski, Cosima Tegetmeyer) for seven experts from Senegal, Gambia and Mali at the Biological Station of the Djoudj National Park in January 2009. In addition the contact was established with engaged Mauritanian colleagues who unfortunately could not participate in the workshop.
The African colleagues got theoretical information about the biology and ecology of the Aquatic Warbler, migratory routes and conservation activities. Furthermore, the suitable Aquatic Warbler habitats around the Djoudj National Park were presented to the participants as well as the bird itself. During ringing work and habitat inspection demonstrations were given how to localise and to proof the presence of the birds in humid grassy plains of West African savannahs.
The four days trip to Gambia took place in frame of the workshop with the purpouse to check out some potential Aquatic Warbler wintering habitats that were advised by Bruno Bargain and the Gambian participants of the workshop: Lamin Sanyang and Sarjo Manneh. From 31st January until 3rd February 2009 with the financial aid of the RSPB a group of 4 Europeans accompanied by the Gambian colleagues travelled to the centre of Gambia nearby the town Farafenni. The participants checked four sites where humidity and suitable vegetation was expected. Unfortunately all sites were either too small, dry, converted to rice fields or overgrown by high stands of Typha australis. Neither Aquatic Warblers nor potential wintering sites have been found in Gambia so far and the impressions were not very promising for further efforts.
Any way, besides Gambian specialists, ornithologists from Mali and Mauritania were also very interested in aquatic warbler conservation and keen to contribute. It is expected that the guests will spread the obtained information in their home countries, with the hope to discover so far unknown Aquatic Warbler wintering grounds in the near future.
For more information contact: Cosima Tegetmeyer,