When we start to notice that the numbers of our summer visitors - swallows, martins, warblers and the rest - are going down year on year, we look around for an explanation: loss of nesting habitat, shortage of food, inimical agricultural practices and - if you are into ecobabble - global warming. No doubt some of these are factors contributing to the decline of particular species, but, during my visits to various parts of Africa in the nineties, I began to think that what happened to "our" birds in their winter quarters might be an even bigger factor. From increasing desertification of important habitats to the indiscriminate use of chemicals that had been banned in Europe years before, things didn't look good. And now, at last, the powers that be are looking seriously at what is happening in our birds' winter quarters south of the Sahara.
For more information, read this blog.
It's brilliant. And, for those who like a puzzle, have a go at identifying this Palaearctic species being ringed as part of the African project: