Meet our National Geographic Explorers field team

portrait Janne Flightcatch
Janne Ouwehand

“Studying adaptation in migrants to changing environments”

Curiosity, passion for nature and a strong drive are key in what Janne Ouwehand does. She is an adventurous field ecologist with a strong interest in studying how animals can adapt their behavior when environments rapidly change. Janne is especially fascinated by animal migration.

In her PhD and postdoc research at University of Groningen, she studied adaptation in migratory birds, using the insect-eating pied flycatcher as study system. For her international research, she travels and collaborates with people across the world, by setting up this and previous expeditions, Janne hopes to provide a foundation for long-term field research on migrant songbirds in Africa. By involving a wide public to this scientific endeavor Janne wants to share her fascination, discoveries and enthusiasm, and raise awareness about the role of human-induced changes to our living planet.

portrait Wender Flightcatch.png
Wender Bil

“Finding out wintering grounds in Africa

From a young age Wender Bil has been interested in nature, and especially birds. Hence he studied forestry and nature conservation. Wender has been involved in various bird research programs, working with raptors, swallows, waders, warblers and wagtails, and he is especially baffled by the disappearance of birds to southern areas during wintertime. The African wintering grounds of our summertime visitors always seemed like some kind of faraway dusty land to him. This is why the Sedge warblers in Fryslan have to wait a bit longer for Wender to return this spring, because he was eager to experience the areas where our European migratory birds spend half of their yearly cycle.

portrait Assia Flightcatch
Assia Kraan

“Sharing stories of birds and places”

Assia Kraan is a solutions designer with background in media theory, functional design and art who helps professionals to create citizen empowering products with positive impact on our lives. She cares for people and our living environment and she likes to make things. Assia’s passion for nature and birds blossomed during her teenage years when she led several youth nature camps. “The sense of exploration when discovering and chasing animals and the unexpected places you encounter in the process are dear to me.” She is fascinated by the concept of place ever since and she likes to share stories about birds and places via podcasts and art installations to inspire people.

“Catching birds and flies”

portrait Sander Flightcatch.png
Sander Bot
Sander Bot has studied Biology and has worked as teacher Economy. Currently he is writing a book on hoverflies and has – together with a close friend – set up a shop for fieldwork supplies, Sander combines these challenges with guiding bird tours around the world. He is editor of the magazine Dutch Birding, for which he also writes articles. In the weekends you will find him outdoors chasing rare birds and hoverflies. His research interest in both insects and birds, and his love for Africa and Janne makes him wanting to go back to Comoé this spring.

Our crucial support team:

This research is done in the beautiful Comoé National Park in the north-east of Ivory Coast allong the river Comoé. The park is a Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site and harbors a multitude of savanna and forest habitats and contains a remarkable species diversity. It is located in the core wintering range of pied flycatchers.
Prof. K. Eduard Linsenmair and Dr. N’Golo A. Kone host the research expedition in Comoé Ecological Research station.The Comoé Ecological Research station, founded by Prof. Linsenmair is run by the University of Würzburg (Germany) in tight collaboration with Nangui Abrogoua University in Abidjan.
Support by Prof. Christiaan Both from University of Groningen allows using novel
DNA-analysis techniques to unravel what the birds have been eating in winter. His research is also an important source of inspiration and stimulated Janne to start her annual cycle research in Africa.