Thanks

We are hugely indebted to many individuals and organisations who very generously support our work in Zambia :

Choma community

In addition to our crucial team of nest-finders, all our work relies totally on the support of the wonderful farming community of the Choma district:

IanEmma and Mel Bruce-Miller of Nansai and Muckleneuk Farms have been our home base for over a decade and, together with their brilliant staff, have made everything possible. We are also very grateful to Molly and Archie Greenshields for giving us a home in the miombo woodlands.

Our main study area comprises several private farms owned by Richard and Vicki Duckett, John Musonda, Troy and Elizabeth Nicolle, Ackson Sejani, and the nuns of MaSistah, who very generously give us free access to their land.

Our many other friends in Zambia have helped in countless ways, and we’re especially grateful to the AstonBell-Cross, Chance, Counsell, Danckwerts, FisherGreen, Kirkpatrick, Naik, Nyman-Jørgensen, RossTaylor and Willems families.

Special thanks to two heroes: Ian Taylor who built our predator-proofed aviaries, and Ailsa Green who pioneered cuckoo finch hand-rearing.

Further afield in Zambia (and now beyond), Zambian birders Pete LeonardLizanne Roxburgh and Chris Wood all helped greatly in various ways during the early stages of the project. Lizanne studied Zambian Barbets (the species in the header image above) in the Choma area for several years. The Bruce-Miller farm is the best place in the world to see this threatened species, which is endemic to Zambia and is (alas for it) a host species of the Lesser Honeyguide.

 

Major John Colebrook-Robjent

Major John Colebrook-Robjent

Major John Colebrook-Robjent (1935–2008) was one of the twentieth century’s greatest oologists, as well as a tobacco farmer on Musumanene Farm, Choma, for 40 years. His fascination with brood parasites laid the basis for all our current studies, and he first introduced Claire Spottiswoode to Choma’s intriguing array of avian cheats. His vast and beautifully documented egg collection remains a remarkable resource for research on coevolution and many other subjects. His farm, Musumanene, is now owned by Troy and Elizabeth Nicolle and much of our fieldwork still takes place here.

The photo at right was taken in 2005 when John visited the Natural History Museum in Tring. He is holding the type (and only) specimen of the White-chested Tinkerbird Pogoniulus makawai, discovered in north-western Zambia by John’s old friend Jali Makawa with whom he worked in Madagascar in the 1960s.

More information about John can be found in an excellent obituary written by Pete Leonard published in the Bulletin of the African Bird Club, and in the book The Running Sky written by Tim Dee (Claire’s husband).

Copperbelt University

We are very grateful for the kindness and support of Dr Lackson Chama and his team in the Department of Zoology and Aquatic Sciences at Copperbelt University in Kitwe, Zambia. Copperbelt University, the University of Cambridge and the University of Cape Town signed a three-way Memorandum of Understanding in 2015 (see News item here).

Department of National Parks and Wildlife, Zambia

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife (formerly Zambia Wildlife Authority) have warmly supported our work from the outset and we’re grateful for their kind provision of research permits and interest in our work.

Funders

Our work has been or is currently funded by all these generous and supportive organisations:

News

Dr Gabriel Jamie gives a talk on mimicry in parasitic finches at the African BirdFair

Dr Gabriel Jamie gave a talk on mimicry in the parasitic finches of Africa at Birdlife South Africa’s Virtual African Birdfair. Please also see Dr Jessica van der Wal’s talk on our sister research project on honeyguide-human mutualism (more information at www.AfricanHoneyguides.com) and many other great research talks by our colleagues at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. Also visit the amazing line-up of other talks at the Virtual African BirdFair, including a talk on bird art by the brilliant Faansie Peacock who has generously allowed us to use his illustrations in several of our scientific publications. Thank you BirdLife South Africa!

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Mairenn Attwood submits her MPhil thesis

Congratulations to Mairenn Attwood for successfully submitting her MPhil thesis at the University of Cambridge, entitled ‘Angry birds: does it pay a cuckoo to parasitise a highly aggressive host?’. In it, Mairenn asks whether high levels of aggression by fork-tailed drongos affect hawk mimicry by the African cuckoo, and whether it pays cuckoos to specialise on such aggressive hosts. An amazing feat of field experimental work in Zambia (in collaboration with Jess Lund), analysis and writing in just one year of research – well done Mairenn!

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Front cover of Trends in Ecology and Evolution

Dr Gabriel Jamie and Dr Joana Meier’s paper on the persistence of polymorphisms across species radiations is on the front cover of the September issue of Trends in Ecology and Evolution. The cover image provides a specific example of the trans-species polymorphisms that the paper explores. Here, a polymorphism in shell chirality that recurs across multiple species of Amphidromus snails . Photos by Menno & Jan Schilthuizen. You can read the full article here: https://tinyurl.com/ycgdw4lu

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