A truncated but successful rainy season, including filming of indigobirds and whydahs for upcoming documentary

Mar 15, 2020

Sylvester, Oliver and Oscar

Despite being truncated by the pandemic, Gabriel Jamie, Tanmay Dixit and Stephanie McClelland spent very successful couple of months in Zambia. A lot of nests were found, many by Sylvester Munkonko, Oliver Kashembe and Oscar Siankwasya, above, allowing Tanmay and Steph to collect very useful data. Gabriel successfully collected genetic samples that will be used to construct the reference genome of the Tawny-flanked Prinia. Gabriel also acted as scientific consultant for a BBC film crew making a documentary on the amazing indigobirds and whydahs at the field site. The crew were successfully able to get the desired footage and are hoping the film will come out in 2021. Watch this space!

News

Outreach for British Science Week at local Cambridgeshire school

During this year’s British Science Week, we’ve been engaging with local school children in Cambridgeshire. Mairenn Attwood led interactive talks at the Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech,  a school partnered with ‘Teach First’ (a charity aimed at reducing educational inequality).

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New scientific paper on the “Limits to host colonization and speciation” published

Our paper “Limits to host colonization and speciation in a radiation of parasitic finches” has just been published in the journal Behavioral Ecology. In this study, led by Dr Gabriel Jamie, we explored the factors which limited the colonisation of new hosts by brood-parasitic Vidua finches. Speciation in these birds is closely connected with the colonisation of new hosts. Therefore, if we can understand what limits this process, we can understand what has limited the diversification of this radiation.

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Parasitic finches featured in new documentary “Attenborough’s Life in Colour” on BBC One

The amazing mimicry shown by nestling Pin-tailed Whydahs of their Common Waxbill hosts is showcased in David Attenborough’s Life in Colour the latest natural history documentary on BBC One. Filming of this sequence by Nick Green and Max Hug Williams of Humble Bee Films took place at our field site in Choma, Zambia, with Dr Gabriel Jamie acting as scientific consultant and contributing sound recordings.

You can watch the sequence in Episode 2: “Hiding in Colour” on BBC iPlayer.

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