THE COMOROS 3rd - 16th November 1995
The delightful Islamic Republic of the Comores, a tropical paradise with deservedly few tourists, is home to 15 endemics, according to Sibley and Munro (1990) and Clements (1991), and another 32 endemic taxa of 20 species found on Madagascar. Four of the former are classed as Critically Endangered by BirdLife, one Vulnerable and 2 Near-threatened. Hence the Comores are essential islands to visit for the rare bird enthusiast! Mayotte, the fourth major island in the Comoros archipelago is still a French “colony”, and consequently is better developed and more prosperous, and expensive. It holds 3 endemics and a potential fourth, plus 3 endemic taxa, although only the Mayotte Drongo is classed as threatened (Critically). We (Ashley Banwell, Neil Bostock, Alan Lewis and I) saw 52 of the above 57 birds, including the very rare Anjouan Scops-Owl and Grand Comoro Drongo, only missing 5 of the non-endemic species - see Table A for details.
Since independence from France in 1975, the Comores appears to have stagnated, with little imported, built or repaired since. There are hardly any “hotels” or restaurants/ cafes anywhere, and even shops are scarce outside the capital Moroni. If you do manage to find anything to buy, other than French bread sticks and kebabs, prices are substantially higher than in Madagsacar, but if you camp and skimp like we did, the only major expense is transport. Unfortunately, the Lonely Planet guide is inadequate, with essential details missing or inaccurate, eg there is not “a daily boat between Moroni and Fomboni” and Air Comores office in Moroni is open from 08.00-11.30 and 15.00-17.30.
The only points of entry are Moroni, Grand Comore, by air or occasional boat, or Mutsamudu, Anjouan, by ferry or boat from Mayotte or Majunga, Madagascar, once or twice a week. Flights between Mayotte and the Comores have ceased, although could be resurrected in the future. No visa is required on arrival in Moroni but one has to be obtained from the Immigration Dept, near the main bank, before leaving. You complete a simple form, hand it in with passport, 100 FF and one photo, and with luck get the passport plus visa back a few hours later. It is best to do this before leaving Grand Comore because police are liable to stop you on the other islands to check your passport. If planning to arrive on Anjouan, it may be better to obtain the visa from the Comoros embassy at home or in Madagascar beforehand.
Note that it is easy (with one photo) to obtain a Madagascar visa in Moroni, and much cheaper than at home, but it takes 48 hours. The Comore Franc is linked to the French Franc at CF75 to one FF, both currencies being acceptable, and interchangeable with no loss at the bank.
The logical way to see all the birds is to start on Grand Comore or Mayotte and work your way through the islands, but as inter-island transport is irregular, to say the least, this strategy may be time-consuming.
The only way of finding out when boats are running - freighters, there are no real ferries - is to go to the port and ask; some-one will know what is likely to leave in the next 48 hours. These vessels, barely bigger than life-boats, are not for the faint-hearted - you might be tempted to try for a flight after seeing one!
However, it is difficult to get confirmed flights on Air Comores until shortly before departure, and then the plane may have windows missing - ours did - which might make you wish you had risked the boat!
Boats between the Comore islands cost 65 - 80FF (7.5FF to the pound then) one way and flights at least twice as much, but boats to Mayotte (from Anjouan) were 500FF to 800FF, although we managed to pay only 400FF by pleading abject poverty. It would have been the same price to go all the way to Majunga, which can be done weekly. [The non-existent flight we bought cost 307FF.] To clean up you need to budget for two weeks, quicker and cheaper alternatives being (a) to merely visit Grand Comore, either as a stop-over to/from Madagascar or special return deals may be available with Air Mad from Tana or Majunga - the latter will probably be not much cheaper than Tana; or (b) miss Mayotte and return from Anjouan to either Moroni or Majunga.
There are 5 species - Scops-Owl, Drongo, Flycatcher, White-eye and Brush-Warbler - confined to this one island and a further 6 found only here and on other islands in the archipelago - Comore Pigeon, Blue-Pigeon, Bulbul and Thrush, Humblot’s Sunbird and Red-headed Fody. All except the drongo are found on the trek up Mt Karthala, from Boboni to above La Convalescence. The Drongo only occurs in forest at 700 - 1000m altitudinal range, which barely exists above Boboni but is found on the southern flank of Mt Karthala at Kourani. Hence at least 3 - 4 full days is required to see all the birds, plus a tent and all supplies.
Take a taxi (-brousse) to M’vouni and walk to Boboni - a guide is not essential but is helpful for short-cuts from the jeep track. Then take the steep trek to La Convalescence, with a guide as the path is difficult to find, and camp in the extensive clearing. There is no running water but there are small pools in the lava flow. This journey will take most of a day, or can be broken by camping at Boboni if starting late. The owl occurs in the forest around La Convalescence and responds to tape, but it is necessary to go above the forest into the giant heather to see the White-eye - a path leads from the upper left hand “corner” of the clearing. It is worth continuing to the top to see the spectacular crater, weather permitting, and possibly spending a second night at La Convalescence, a very pleasant site. The only potentially difficult species are the owl - only one called near to the clearing and presumably there are times when none call - and the Thrush which is shy and we only saw in the morning in the moss forest.
You can walk from the crater down the other side to Kourani, 15+ km away, but would have to take a guide and all gear. We walked down to M’vouni without a guide and eventually found a taxi back to Moroni, then a taxi-brousse to Kourani. The latter are rather infrequent. We camped just beyond the large village, but it may be possible to stay at someone’s house. The open forest is nearby but being cut down for arable land. We employed two locals to help find the Drongo, which they claimed to know. It became apparent that they did not know where to find it but they possibly stopped us from getting lost. As we eventually found a nesting pair, they should now know the site, if the birds have not been eaten, a real danger! We stressed the potential tourist value of the birds - it is essential that any future visitors pay local guides if the birds are to have any chance of survival. The trip could possibly be done in a day from Moroni. An alternative strategy would be to walk towards Kouroni from Boboni / M’vouni as there should be a path, at approximately the right altitude, which may pass through remnant forest.
We stayed 2 nights at Pension Karibu near the new market on the edge of town - 50FF a double - reasonable and friendly. A cheaper place but with only one room, into which we all squeezed for CF5000, was the BOSS café near the port. The food at the restaurant was basic but good and cheap, the “jus” excellent and the English-speaking boss friendly and helpful. We left baggage safely at both establishments during our perambulations.
There is only one endemic here, the Brush-Warbler, which is found in forest on the central spine of the island. As most of the primary forest has gone other than along the top of the ridge, it is necessary to find a path from one of the many going up behind Fomboni, leading to the top. We eventually found one going across to the other side and spotted a pair of the endemic warblers just below the summit. The Madagascar Brush-Warbler was common on the summit.
Two other notable birds occur around Moheli, Masked Booby and Audubon’s Shearwater; the latter species may be split, making this form a regional endemic P. temptator. Masked Booby nests on M’Chaco, a large rock some 5km off the northeast coast, which can be reached by hiring a boat from the village of Hagnamoida. There are probably only 2 taxi-brousses a day to the village but it is walkable from the more regularly serviced Kangani. We had to wait several hours for the tide to rise sufficiently for the ancient motor-boat to set off, and although it was impossible to land on the islet, we had good views of the birds in flight from the bobbing but not unsafe boat.
The Shearwaters nest in rocks high up the Chateau St-Antoine ridge on the east of Moheli, only going to and from the nest at night. There is a track up there from Miringani, where guides can be hired, but it would take over an hour to come down, in the dark. Seawatching at dusk from a northeast headland might be rewarding, but either a taxi back to Fomboni would have to be pre-arranged or you would have to camp at the site overnight. The easiest way to see the birds is to take a daytime boat to or from Moroni, if you are lucky enough to find one, as we did - the one good break on the trip! Not only did we see at least 3 Shearwaters, but 3 Wilson’s Petrel, 6 Masked Booby and hundreds of Bridled Terns, and with very few locals to disturb us.
Terns and White-tailed Tropicbirds nest on the small islands off Nioumachona at the southeast extremity of Moheli, reputedly a good place for diving and seeing Green Turtles
Relais de Singani looked a pleasant hotel to stay, with good food - CF15,000 a single room and CF20,000 a double. Vehicles could be hired from here. We had a bad experience at the other hotel, Hotel Mledjele.
There are 3 endemics here and all can be seen at Lac Dzialandze. Take a taxi-brousse to Dindi and engage a guide for the fairly easy 2 hour walk to the Lac. The Sunbird and Brush-Warbler are easily seen in bushes around the lake and the owl is probably not uncommon in the montane forest. An added attraction is the rare endemic all-black Livingstone’s Fruit-bat, 2 of which flew high across the lake at dusk. Soon after dusk the owls started calling, apparently mainly in flight; they sounded more like Vasa Parrots than owls. We took a steep track up towards the ridge in the direction of calls, and eventually (around midnight) located a bird after crashing into the forest, through banana plantations, and spotlighting a couple of large trees for some time. The owl stayed in the tree, calling occasionally, and was joined briefly by another of a different colour phase.
Mutsamudu, the “picturesque” main town with a relatively large population, has a few hotels and doss-houses. We probably stayed at the cheapest - the Café du Port where 2 rooms with double beds would have cost CF13,125 (special price), had Alan and Ashley not elected to doss in the open.
Two endemics are recognised by Louette, the Mayotte Sunbird and Drongo, to which Sibley and Munro have added the White-eye, which with its orange flanks certainly looks different to maderaspatana. The scops-owl is still classed as O. rutilus but if the Madagascar species is split into western and eastern species, as expected, O. r. mayottensis should also be split as it looks like the eastern form, with a greyer face, but calls like the western. All but the White-eye are easily seen in the patchy forest on the western flanks of Mt Combani.
Take a taxi-brousse/ minibus to the large village of Combani and walk along the jeep track towards the communications mast on the peak. There is no need to go up to the continuous forest near the mast as the 3 species have adapted to deforestation and occur in the scattered trees and scrub a km or so beyond the village. Several other endemic taxa occur here, including Frances Sparrowhawk and Paradise-Flycatcher, and Striated Heron in the stream near the start of the track. There are restaurants and shops but no obvious “hotel” - we camped by the track beyond the village.
The White-eye is common on the island of Padmanzi, the gateway to Mayotte. The edge of the large saline lagoon here is good for waders including Crab Plover, while White-tailed Tropicbird breeds on the cliffs near the airport and south of Moya Beach.
There is a hotel in Dzoudzi and several in Mamoudzou, but pricey as Mayotte is a French resort - a (not-so-) poor man’s Mauritius.
Arrived in Moroni from Majunga at 10.15. I was delayed by Immigration for 30 mins for saying I intended to leave by flying from Anjouan to Mayotte - such flights had been cancelled for 6 months, I then learnt! Eventual courteous discussion with the senior guy cleared the problem when I agreed to leave by boat; the others were not asked their plans and so had not been detained. As it was a Friday, holy day, the bank was shut, rendering Neil’s reserve French Francs our only acceptable currency. We accepted help from an English-speaking self-proclaimed (by official-looking badge) “tourist-officer” who took us to Pension Karibu, which as it happened was said by Lonely Planet to be the cheapest hotel but of poor quality - a little unfair.
I walked to the port, much further than I’d been told, to try to find out about ferries, only succeeding in establishing there weren’t any and that all the men were at the mosque. Returned on foot in the rain (with no acceptable money) to find our guide had changed dollars for us on the black-market (no financial advantage) and arrangements had been made for us to leave baggage at the Karibu while we went up Mt Karthala. Bought water, biscuits, bread and bananas and took taxi to Taxi-brousse (TB) station. Failed to find anywhere to eat, so took TB to M’vouni, where the locals proved to be unhelpful. I eventually engaged a porter/guide for the 90 min walk up to Boboni, for the “bargain” price of 60 FF. Camped on grass on the outskirts of Boboni, getting a little hot water but nothing else from the locals.
The threatened rain failed to materialise. Endemic score 2: Brush-Warbler and Sunbird.
Set off at 06.15 with one guide/porter (100FF), arriving at La Convalescence (1750m) at 09.30. Steep, tough climb through some superb moss forest, adding Blue-Pigeon (at the start), Bulbul and Humblot’s Flycatcher to the list. Pitched tents, with clouds approaching from below, and released guide. Feasted on strawberry/raspberry hybrid-type berries and found Comoro Pigeon and Brush-Warbler to be not uncommon at the forest edge. Trail upwards led to giant heather, where the White-eye was common and Reunion Harrier hunted, to the peak (2360m) - birdless apart from distinctive Stonechats but fine scenery and sunshine. Descended back to the camp and cloud which soon retracted. Lit fire as rather cool, and single distant Scops-Owl started to call at dusk. When later another started nearby, we immediately went for it and soon had gripping views.
Dry night but heavy dew. Early walk in forest below camp gave the shy Thrush, so packed up and at 09.15 trekked down, following trail with only a little difficulty. Looked hard for drongos but Cuckoo-Shrike was only new taxon. Reached M’vouni at 14.45 and waited an hour for a taxi back to Moroni (CF2000). Ate at BOSS café and slept at Pension Karibu (OK if you don’t mind being in the same bed as Neil!).
Day of no birding as next boat was at night: bank (would not take cash cards), Immigration (Comores visa in 2 hours), and Mad Embassy - next to Air Mad (for Mad visa) - open daily except Sunday but only 07.30-08.30 on Friday. Then duded at the national museum, opposite main bank - mounted Coelocanth - and coastal villages north of Moroni. Boarded tiny boat at 18.00 and left at 20.10 with freight and 80+ passengers ( CF6500). Slept fitfully on deck - fairly calm and no rain.
Arrived Fomboni, Moheli at 03.15 - no jetty so transferred to shore by pirogue, getting wet in choppy sea. Declined transport to Relais de Singani, the more expensive hotel; dossed outside a shop and eventually found the other hotel and did cheap deal with receptionist. Left bags there and at c,07.00 took first taxi-brousse east to coast at Iconi but finding it was too far from there to M’Chaco, returned by TB to Kangani. Hitched part-way to Hagnamoida and walked the rest. Arranged boat to M’Chaco but tide too low so had to wait for 4 hours. Expensive warm coke in the village - nice beach but few birds. Reached M’Chaco after several break-downs: fine views of the Boobies. Had to walk most of way back to Kangani as vehicles were non-existant, and got wet in torrential downpoor. After TB back to Fomboni, sea-watched near Relais de Singani (good pot of tea) - plenty of birds, probably mainly Bridled Terns, but too far off-shore. Back at our hotel, the proprietor welshed on the deal and refused to negotiate, so we ended up camping by the primary school on the west edge of town. Had to make do with roadside kebabs as the only restaurant/ café was at the Relais, the other end of town.
Early start to avoid the schoolkids, a fairly long walk inland towards the ridge. Failed to reach any decent forest - saw Blue Vanga and Harriers but no Brush-Warbler. Tried again on track directly behind town centre, which evidently crossed the island, finally achieving objective near the top (580m). Hoped to catch overnight boat back to Moroni but found it had been delayed to following morning. Chilled out at Relais and ate excellent 3 course meal there for 75 FF. Camped peacefully between Relais and beach.
Went for the 05.30 boat, which left at 06.45 - only few other pasengers and quite choppy. Few birds most of way but one purple patch with Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Audubon’s Shearwater, Masked Booby and a variety of terns. Docked at Moroni at 15.30, rented only room at BOSS café (CF5000 by negotiation), and found there were no suitable boats to Anjouan, while others collected bags from the Karibu.
Collected passport from Mad Embassy, then to bank and Air Comores - there was a suitable flight but supposedly full, with standbys only possible after 15.00. Shopped and chilled till then and finally got tickets at 15.30. Managed to catch the last TB direct to Kourani, a 2 hour journey for CF500 (90 p), for a final attempt to see the Drongo (at the only place where Roger Safford saw one). Assailed by locals, eventually hiring two (CF5000 each) purporting to know the bird, for the morrow. Camped beyond the village, watched by hundreds of kids.
After another fine night, explored the remnant forest from 05.00-09.45. Only notable bird was Cuckoo- Roller until Alan spotted a Drongo at c.08.30. Pursuit of this led to a nest, where the pair were observed feeding 2 young - one of the highlights of the whole trip. TB to Moroni after the usual wait, BOSS café then taxi to airport early afternoon. Birding around there proved abortive. Chartered Russian plane took off a little early at 15.45 - short “dry” flight to Mutsamutu. Taxi to town where negotiated a barely adequate double room at the Port Cafe for CF8000 - good tea but eggs only food on offer. Established boats left 48 hours later, giving just one night to find the Scops-Owl.
After long wait, first TB to Dindi left at 07.30, arriving in the scenic ancient caldera at 09.00. Assailed by locals, none of whom knew whereabouts of the “Badanga”. Left bags at house of friendly ex-soldier, engaged guide (CF3000) and continued up along road for c.1km before bearing right on flat narrow trail to Lac Dzialandze - 2 hour walk with a few birds. Pitched tents on lakeside and spent afternoon birding around lake (c.1km circumference). Sunny most of day. The Sunbird and Brush-Warbler were common; saw Eleanora’s Falcon, Broad-billed Roller and Comore Thrush, but little else of note till dusk when 2 Livingstone’s Fruit-bats flew over. Spent all evening on mountain-side trying to see Badanga, eventually succeeding.
Walked from lake to Dindi 07.30-09.00, then 90min wait for TB - driver apprehended by police en route for being overloaded, even though half the passengers had sneaked off beforehand (and climbed back on round the corner)! At Mutsamutu found boat agent and negotiated passage to Mayotte for 400FF each - had to leave passports with agent. Visited fort - shut, but good view of town and bay. Chilled out at Port Café. To port at 19.30; boat left for Dzoudzi at 21.30 with c.30 passengers.
Uneventful journey, arriving at 08.30. Had to give small blood sample before allowed through customs. Bank, Mad Air (to successfully advance departure flight by 2 days), supermart (sign of prosperity!) and café. Strange sight of lots of whites (mainly French). Ferry across to Mamoudzou on the main island, then minibus to Combani, an hour’s journey. Left bags at a small shop and took track towards peak, soon seeing Drongo and Sunbird. Eventually collected bags and pitched tents. Owling at dusk soon gave the Scops, at 18.45. I blew my francs on a good 3 course meal, including steak and chips, for 90FF at Restaurant Jasmine, and enjoyed the washing facilities.
Sleep disturbed by stone-throwing locals after midnight, but soon routed by Alan. Early morning birding gave Cuckoo-Roller and Striated Heron, then took minibus back to town, ferry to Dzoudzi, brunch in café and taxi to L’Abbatoir. Circumnavigated Padmanzi Lagoon, which involved some sea-wading - lots of waders including Crab Plovers. Taxi to deserted Moya Beach, reached after 10 min walk, and watched display flighting White-tailed Tropicbirds in adjacent bay. Walked back to L’Abbatoir for bags and sustenance, then returned to Moya Beach track to camp.
Early walk to beach unprofitable and tropical downpour soaked everything. Walked to L’Abbatoir, then 3km to Crater Lake (following Mosque de Pole signs) while others went straight to airport. Many waders but lake-shore too soft and saline for walking, so dropped down to Padmanzi Lagoon - nothing new. Walked to airport, arriving 12.15 - distant view of tropicbirds. Austral Air flight left 30 mins early at 13.30, arriving Majunga, Madagascar at 14.15 - no free lunch, only a single orange juice. A fitting end to a successful but hard trip around the Comoros.Jon Hornbuckle, 35 Grove Road, Sheffield, S7 2GY
Collar, NJ, Crosby, MJ and Stattersfield, AJ (1994) Birds to Watch 2:Tthe World List of Threatened Birds. Cambridge: BirdLife International.
Langrand, O (1990) Guide to the Birds of Madagascar, New Haven: Yale University Press.
Louette, M (1988) Les Oiseaux des Comores, Tervuren, Belgium: Musee Royal de l'Afrique Centrale (Ann. ser. in 8, Sci. Zool. no. 255).
Safford, RJ (1993) Rediscovery, taxonomy and conservation of the Anjouan Scops Owl Otus capnodes (Gurney 1889) Bird Cons. Int. 3:57-74.
Safford, RJ and Evans, MI (1994) Observations on the Comoro Islands. Appendix 4 in PM Thompson and MI Evans, eds. A survey of Ambatovaky Special Reserve, Madagascar. London: Madagascar Environmental Research Group.
Sibley, CG and Monroe, BL (1990) Distribution and Taxonomy of birds of the world. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Swaney, D and Willox, R (1994) Madagascar and Comoros - a travel survival kit. Hawthorn: Lonely Planet.
SYSTEMATIC LIST OF BIRDS IN THE COMOROS - November 1995
Taxonomy, names and sequence follow Birds of the World: A Checklist by JF Clements (1991), with names used by M Louette in Les Oiseaux des Comores (1988) in parenthesis. Asterisks indicate species endemic to the Comoros, and Latin trinomials endemic sub-species.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
7 Lac Dzialandze, Anjouan (A).
Audubon's Shearwater Puffinus lherminieri temptator
3 singles on the crossing between Moheli (Mo) and Grand Comore (GC).
Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus
One from the boat near M’Chaco, Mo and 2 singles on the crossing between Moheli and Grand Comore appear to be only the second and third records for the Comores (Louette. 1988).
White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus
7 at Moya Beach, nesting on the cliffs, and 1 near Padmanzi airport, Mayotte (Ma).
Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel
4 at Fomboni, Mo on 8th and 1 on 9th. 4 unidentified Fregata sp. were noted on the Mo to GC crossing.
Masked Booby Sula dactylatra
c.80 nesting at M'Chaco and 5+ on the Mo to GC crossing.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
4 on the Moheli coast and 3 on the Mayotte coast.
Great Egret Casmerodius albus
A few singles on the coasts of all the islands.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Small numbers throughout.
Striated Heron Butorides striatus rhizophorae
Singles at Combani, Moya Beach and Crater Lake, Padmanzi, Ma.
Black Kite Milvus migrans
1 at Kangani and 2 at Fomboni, Mo.
Reunion (Malagasy) Harrier Circus maillardi
A pair above La Convalescence on Mt Karthala, GC, 4+ around Kangani and 1 on the ridge above Fomboni, Mo.
Frances' Goshawk (Sparrowhawk) Accipiter francesii griveaudi / brutus
1 between M'vouni and Boboni, GC and 3+ at Combani, Ma.
Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae
Singles at Moroni, GC, Kangani, Mo, and Lac Dzialandze, A on 12th and 3 at Combani, Ma on 14th. According to Louette (1988), the only definite records were 2 on Mo in Nov 83, but R Safford saw 1 on Mt Karthala on 8.04.90.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Singles at Hagnamoida, Mo and Moya Beach, Ma.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
A few along all coasts, and common at Padmanzi Lagoon, Ma.
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
1 at Padmanzi Lagoon, Ma on 15th and 16th.
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
100+ at Crater Lake, Ma and a few on the coast.
Terek Sandpiper Tringa cinerea
2 at Padmanzi Lagoon, Ma.
Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos
A few singles throughout.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
15 at Fomboni, Mo and common at Padmanzi Lagoon, Ma.
Sanderling Calidris alba
6 at Padmanzi Lagoon, Ma.
Little Stint Calidris minuta
1 at Padmanzi Lagoon on 15th appears to be the first record for Ma and only the third record for the Comores (Louette, 1988).
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
1 at Padmanzi Lagoon, Ma.
Crab Plover Dromas ardeola
25-30 at Padmanzi Lagoon, Ma.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
1 at Fomboni and common at Padmanzi Lagoon, Ma.
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
4 at Fomboni, Mo and fairly common at Padmanzi Lagoon, Ma.
Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii
7 at Fomboni and common at Padmanzi Lagoon, Ma, including a flock of 23.
Great Crested-Tern Sterna bergii
8 at Padmanzi Lagoon, Ma and a few during sea crossings.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
2 between Moheli and GC on 9th appears to be the first record for the Comores (Louette, 1988)!
Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus
Common (500+) between Moheli and GC on 9th and several Bridled/ Sooty Terns off-shore at Fomboni, Mo on 7th were presumably this sp. The only recent record quoted by Louette is his of 88 Bridled/ Sooties on the same crossing on 23.09.83.
Brown Noddy Anous stolidus
c.20 between Moheli and GC on 9th. Louette saw noddies but failed to specifically identify them, and so this may be the first definite record for the Comores!
*Comoro Pigeon Columba pollenii
6+ around La Convalescence, GC and 5+ at Combani, Ma.
Madagascar Turtle-Dove Columba picturata comorensis
Small numbers in woodland throughout.
Ring-necked Dove Streptopelia capicola
Fairly common on Mo and Ma, but only heard on GC, at low elevation.
Tambourine Dove Turtur tympanistria
2 near Kangani, Mo and Moya Beach, Ma.
*Comoro Blue-Pigeon Alectroenas sganzini
Up to 10 on Mt Karthala, GC, 2 at Lac Dzialandze, A and a few at Combani, Ma.
(Greater) Vasa Parrot Coracopsis vasa comorensis
Common on Mt Karthala and a few at Lac Dzialandze, A.
Black (Lesser Vasa) Parrot Coracopsis nigra sibilans
3 at Kourani, GC were the only ones positively identified
Grey headed Lovebird Agapornis canus
4 at Combani, Ma, only.
Barn Owl Tyto alba
1 heard near Moya Beach, Ma.
Malagasy Scops-Owl Otus rutilus mayottensis
2 at Combani, Ma, sounded a good potential split from the mainland form.
*Anjouan Scops-Owl Otus capnodes
2, of different colour phases, were observed on 12th at night above Lac Dzialandze, possibly the first ever nocturnal field studies. Others, possibly 3 or 4, were heard calling, mostly in flight.
*Comoro (Karthala) Scops-Owl Otus pauliani
1 seen and another heard at La Convalescence, GC.
Madagascar Spinetail Zoonavena grandidieri mariae
2 on 4th and 1 on 5th at La Convalescence, GC.
African Palm-Swift Cypsiurus parvus griveaudi
Fairly common throughout.
Madagascar/ African Swift Apus balstoni/ barbatus mayottensis
Numerous above La Convalescence, GC and 10+ at Moya Beach, Ma. Sibley and Munroe (1990) split the Madagascar balstoni from barbatus but failed to mention the Comores in the distribution for either species.
Diademed (Malagasy) Kingfisher Alcedo vintsioides johannae
6 singles on northeast Moheli, mainly in woodland rather than wetland as in Madagascar, and singles on the Pamandzi coast, Ma, at Labbatoir and Moya Beach.
Madagascar Bee-eater Merops superciliosus
Several on Mo and Ma.
Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus glaucurus
1 at Lac Dzialandze, as reported by R Safford (1990) - the eighth record for the Comores.
Cuckoo-Roller Leptosomus discolor gracilis / intermedius
1 gracilis seen and another heard at Kourani, GC; 1 intermedius heard at Dindi, A; 1 discolor seen and 2 heard at Combani, Ma.
Madagascar Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone mutata comorensis / voeltzkowiana/vulpina/pretiosa
A few on GC, common on Mo, 2 singles near Dindi, A, and several on Ma.
*(Grand) Comoro Drongo Dicrurus fuscipennis
A pair feeding two c.1 week old young in the nest at 930m at Kourani, GC on 11th was an excellent observation of this highly endangered species. The nest was 7m up in a fork of an outer branch. The male fed the female at the nest twice in 40 mins and she fed the young.
*Mayotte Drongo Dicrurus waldenii
8 at Combani, Ma, including 1 on a nest.
Pied Crow Corvus albus
Fairly common throughout.
Madagascar (Ashy) Cuckoo-shrike Coracina cinerea cucullata
3 below La Convalescence, GC.
Blue Vanga Cyanolanius madagascarinus comorensis
5 above Fomboni, Mo.
*Comoro Thrush Turdus bewsheri comorensis / moheliensis / bewsheri
6 below La Convalescence, GC; a few on Mo and at Lac Dzialandze, A.
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
*Grand Comoro (Humblot's) Flycatcher Humblotia flavirostris
5 in rain forest below La Convalescence.
Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata voeltzkowi
Common on the higher slopes of Mt Karthala, GC.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
One perched on tele wires at Fomboni, Mo on 8th appears to be only the second record for the Comores, the first being 2 on GC on 22.10.83.
Madagascar Bulbul Hypsipetes madagascariensis
Common throughout at low elevations.
*Comoro Bulbul Hypsipetes parvirostris parvirostris / moheliensis
Common at higher elevations on GC and Mo.
*Mayotte (Madagascar) White-eye Zosterops (maderaspatanus) mayottensis
Common on Pamandzi, Ma, - looked a good split.
Madagascar White-eye Zosterops maderaspatanus kirki / comorensis / anjuanensis
Common throughout GC, Mo and A.
*Comoro (Karthala) White-eye Zosterops mouroniensis
Common above La Convalescence.
*Anjouan Brush-Warbler Nesillas longicauda
Common at Dindi - Lac Dzialandze, A.
Madagascar Brush-Warbler Nesillas typica moheliensis
Several on the ridge above Fomboni, Mo.
*Grand Comoro Brush-Warbler Nesillas brevicauda
Fairly common around La Convalescence, GC.
*Moheli (Short-tailed) Brush-Warbler Nesillas mariae
A pair at 415m above Fomboni, Mo, was the only record.
Bronze Mannikin Lonchura cucullata
Common around Kangani, Mo; 8 at Moroni docks, GC and 6+ at Combani, Ma.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Common near habitation on GC, Mo and Ma.
(Madagascar) Red Fody Foudia madagascariensis
Common throughout GC, Mo and Ma, except in primary forest, but only a few on A.
*Red-headed (Comores) Fody Foudia eminentissima consobrina/eminentissima/anjouanensis/ algondae
Fairly common in forest on Mt Karthala, GC, a few in forest above Fomboni, Mo and single males at Lac Dzialandze, A and Combani, Ma.
*Humblot's Sunbird Nectarinia humbloti humbloti / mohelica
Common throughout GC and Mo.
*Anjouan (Souimanga) Sunbird Nectarinia comorensis (souimanga)
Common around Dindi and Lac Dzialandze.
*Mayotte Sunbird Nectarinia coquerellii
Common throughout Ma.
Madagascar (Long-billed Green) Sunbird Nectarinia notata moebii / voeltzkowi
Fairly common on GC and a few on Mo.
LIST OF MAMMALS IN THE COMOROS
Taxonomy, names and sequence follow A World List of Mammalian Species by GB Corbet and JE Hill (1991).
Tail-less Tenrec Tenrec ecaudatus
A few on Mt Karthala, GC, and 1 recently captured above Fomboni, Mo.
Comoro Black Flying-fox Pteropus livingstonii
2 at dusk over Lac Dzialandze, A.
Seychelles Flying-fox Pteropus seychellensis
Common on GC, Mo and Ma.
Brown Lemur Petterus fulvus
1 at Combani, Ma.
Small Indian Mongoose Herpestes auropunctatus
2 on Mt Karthala, GC.
Rat sp. Rattus sp.
Common throughout GC.