I had the chance to get involved in a variety of projects in various places during my Master studies at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, of which this project on Grasshopper Buzzards (Butastur rufipennis) was definitely the most ‘exotic’. As part of the PhD work of Ralph Buij, I investigated the differences in predation on Grasshopper Buzzards inside a protected reserve (Waza National Park) versus in intensively used agricultural landscapes surrounding the park. For an impression of the differences in habitat, see the following two pictures:

In short, we found that the abundance and diversity of predators was higher within the park and that outside of the park, population growth was mainly limited by nesting sites (mostly Marula trees). In most cases, people left at least a few trees giving that buzzards were seen as pest controls, especially on rodents. More details can be found here.

In terms of fieldwork, this has been one of the most intense, challenging but also most rewarding couple of months gathering data. The region around Waza is of major importance to many migrating birds, since the area turns into a huge wetland following rains in July/August. Unfortunately, the region is currently to unstable to visit.