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Bird research? That's why Ellen is taking to the skies

PUBLISHED: 16:18 27 August 2009 | UPDATED: 21:39 07 July 2010

Ellen Walford from the BTO prepares for her parachute jump to fund research into declining numbers of migrant birds.

Ellen Walford from the BTO prepares for her parachute jump to fund research into declining numbers of migrant birds.

A BIRD enthusiast is taking to the sky to help support research into why the number of migrant birds is declining.

Ellen Walford, who works for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in Thetford, plans to do a skydive to raise funds for the organisation's Out of Africa appeal.

A BIRD enthusiast is taking to the sky to help support research into why the number of migrant birds is declining.

Ellen Walford, who works for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in Thetford, plans to do a skydive to raise funds for the organisation's Out of Africa appeal.

The project aims to find out the reasons for worrying decreases in the numbers of African migrants with some birds such as the wood warbler and pied flycatchers already undergoing a decline of 60pc.

Other birds in trouble include the cuckoo, nightingale, swift, spotted flycatcher and yellow wagtail.

“I lived in Africa for a long time working primarily as a wildlife safari guide. We used to look forward to the migrants returning. “They are now in real trouble and not seeing them where they should be is distressing,” said Miss Walford, 31, who hopes to raise £800.

She explained that while there has been much research into the problem in the UK, in Africa the research so far is sparse.

“The money I raise will go towards funding BTO scientists to do some research with organisations in Africa and get initial ideas into why this decline is happening, for example whether it is issues to do with habitat or climate change.”

The work will begin in West Africa and aims to: discover how birds uses different habitats throughout the winter in Africa, to develop close working relationships conservationists and scientists across a range of African countries, and find out whether the problems are most closely linked with habitat or climate change in the UK or Africa.

The whole appeal has so far raised more than £63,000 but it needs to raise £365,000 in total.

Miss Walford plans to do her skydive tomorrow at Old Buckenham airfield.

To sponsor Miss Walford go to http://www.justgiving.com/ellenwalford/

For more information on the Out of Africa Appeal go to http://www.bto.org/appeals/out_of_africa_appeal.htm

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