I spent six weeks in the Malagasy region, including 13 days on the Comoros. All but the last week was in the company of Ashley Banwell, Neil Bostock and Alan Lewis who had started their trip in September. I saw 121 - 124 regional endemic breeders in Madagascar (depending on taxonomy) and an additional 13 - 17 in the Comoros, only missing the Madagascar Rail, Cuckoo-Falcon and Barred Kestrel from species regularly seen. This report covers the Madagascar part of the trip - the Comoros visit is detailed in Birding in the Comoros 1995.
Although not the original plan, the itinerary worked very well and could serve as a model for a 4 week tour of Madagscar, with a day or two more at Ranamofana/ Vohiparar if possible. Almost every means of transport was employed except hire-car, which minimised expense but resulted in hours of waiting and some discomfort in travel conditions. A hire-car would certainly be an asset during the Perinet to Ranomafana section and around Tulear, but would have cost $60 a day (for a Clio) plus petrol. Mount Karthala on Grand Comore is a very worthwhile destination but the rest of the Comoros is less rewarding and logistically difficult, with Mayotte being particularly expensive to reach. The Comoros trip is detailed in a separate report.
In conclusion, this was a very successful trip, with some mega-birds including all the mesites, owls, ground-rollers, asities and vangas on Madagascar, and all the endemics on the Comoros However, it was scrappy / hard-going at times. I should like to thank for all their help my companions Neil, Alan and Ashley, plus Nick Gardner, Pete and Rob Morris, Roger Safford, Gavin and Val Thomson, Rick Watson and Martin Zimmerli.
Jon Hornbuckle jonathanhornbuckle at yahoo.co.uk
I flew with Air France via Paris for £759 (from any UK airport serviced by them), the others with Aeroflot from Heathrow for c.£450. The disadvantage of Aeroflot is that it only flies once every 2 weeks, compared with AF's 3-times a week, and there is a wait of about 8 hours at Moscow airport.
The Lonely Planet guide is useful but much of the detail is now incorrect and the chapters on the Comores leave a lot to be desired. Visas for Madagascar are only issued for 30 days now, costing £35 in London for a single entry and £45 for a double entry. To stay longer, you must fill in a form at the Immigration office in Tana, supply 2 photos, passport, photocopy of air ticket, a brief letter in French saying why you want to stay, a supporting letter from a hotel, and 140,000 FMG + 400 FMG for a stamp. If handed in before 11.00, it can be collected the same day from 14.00-15.00. I did not do this because I left the country to go to the Comoros, thereby terminating my single-entry visa, and had to apply for a new visa at the Madagascar embassy in Moroni. This involved completing another form and supplying one photos, but only cost 100 FF. It could not be collected until at least 48 hours later.
The exchange rate fluctuated wildly, the best rate being 7700 FMG for £1 at Tana airport when I arrived, but more typically 6500 FMG a £. Cash and travellers cheques can be changed at major banks but with difficulty elsewhere; cash cards are useless, unless French, and credit cards not much better except for buying air-tickets. Prices are relatively low except for car-hire and flights. My Swiss friends had a good deal on a reliable 4-wheel drive jeep + driver: 110 Swiss Francs/ day from Ndriana Rakotonanahary, Lot A 193 Faravohitra 101, Tana - tel 00261 244858.
The weather was mainly hot and sunny, with some rain on a few days, but note that the Ambanizana area is reputedly very wet except during October / November.
Babbington, J (1995) A report on the birds of Madagascar, private production.
Gardner, NJ (1992) A birder's guide to travel in Madagascar, private production.
Langrand, O (1990) Guide to the Birds of Madagascar, New Haven: Yale University Press.
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.
Jan Vermeulen visited Madagascar immediately after me and has now produced an excellent account:- MADAGASCAR - a report on the birds seen during a trip between November 26th - December 15th 1995.
October 20 Arrive Antananarivo (Tana), Madagascar pm. Hotel Mehrane
21 Lac Alarobia, duding at Ambohimanga and Tana, Lac Tsimbazaza. Hotel Mehrane
22 Fly to Maroantsetra via Tamatave. Hotel Centrale
23 Boat to Ambanizana. Camp
24-28 Forest at Ambanizana and Andranobe. Camp
29 Boat to Maroantsetra, then Nosy Mangabe. Camp
30 Boat to Maroantsetra, fly to Tana pm. Anjary Hotel
31 Tana (Air Mad, etc), taxi-brousse overnight to Ampijoroa
November 1 Arrive Ampijoroa 04.00, forest and lake am, hitch to and from Lac Amboromalandy pm. Camp
2 Ampijoroa forest am, hitch to Mahajunga pm. Hotel Ravinala
3 Fly to Moroni, Grand Comore am, Pension Karibou, taxi-brousse to M'Vouni, walk to Boboni. Camp
4 Trek to La Convalescence am, to Karthala crater pm, owling at La Convalescence. Camp.
5 Forest at La Convalescence, walk down to M'Vouni, taxi to Moroni. Pension Karibou
6 Moroni (Immigration, bank, etc) am, duding along coast pm, boat to Fomboni 20.00.
7 Arrive Fomboni, Moheli at 03.15, taxi-brousse to Iconi, then Kangani, walk to Hagnamoida, boat to M'Chaco, walk then taxi-brousse to Fomboni. Camp
8 Walk 2 trails to ridge above Fomboni am, chill out and sea-watch at Relais de Singani. Camp.
9 Boat to Moroni 06.45, arriving 15.30. BOSS Cafe
10 Moroni (Mad embassy, bank, Air Comores) am, taxi-brousse to Kourani pm. Camp
11 05.00-09.45 forest, taxi-brousse to Moroni, BOSS Cafe, 15.45 flight to Mutsamutu, Anjouan. Port Cafe
12 Taxi-brousse to Dindi 07.30-09.00, walk to Lac Dzialandze 10.00-12.00, bird till 22.30. Camp
13 Walk to Dindi, taxi-brousse to Mutsamutu, Port Cafe, boat to Mayotte 21.30
14 Arrive Dzaoudzi, Mayotte 08.30, ferry to Mamoudzou, minibus to Combani, bird Mt Combani pm. Camp
15 Minibus to Mamoudzou, ferry to Dzaoudzi, taxi to Labbatoir, walk round Pamandzi Lagoon, taxi to Moya Beach. Camp
16 Walk to Labbatoir, Crater Lake, Pamandzi Lagoon and airport, 13.30 flight to
Mahajunga, Madagascar. Hotel Boina
17 Taxi to Boanamary 04.45-05.45, coast and scrub, sailing boat across Labetsiboka estuary & back 12.15-17.30, taxi to Mahajunga 19.45-21.00. Hotel Boina
18 Taxi-brousse to Ampijoroa 09.00-12.00, and overnight to Tana at 14.15.
19 Arrive Tana 05.00, Anjary Hotel, taxi-brousse to Moramanga 06.30-08.30 and Andasibe 10.30-11.30, Perinet Reserve. Hotel des Orchidees
20 Rail marsh, Mantady am, Perinet pm, owling. Hotel des Orchidees
21 Rail marsh, Perinet all day including nocturnal foray. Hotel des Orchidees
22 Perinet 05.00-09.00, taxi-brousse to Moramanga and Tana 09.45-13.15, reconfirmed flights, taxi-brousse to Ranomafana 16.45 overnight.
23 Ranomafana NP 06.15-17.00, thermal swimming pool. Hotel Ratinala
24 Lake and Vohiparara in taxi 06.15-12.15, Ranomafana NP till 16.30. Hotel Ratinala
25 Ranomafana NP 06.00-09.00, taxi-brousse to Fianarantsoa 10.45-13.15 and another to Ihosy 14.15-18.15. Hotel Relais Bara
26 Truck to Ranohira and Oasis 07.30-12.00, hitch back to Ranohira, truck to Zombitsy 15.00-16.45, forest till 19.15. Camp
27 Zombitsy forest from 05.15, bus to Toliara 11.40-14.45. Chez Alain
28 Taxi to La Mangrove 06.15-07.00, boat trip to Anakoa and Nosy Ve 08.00-18.15, hillside above La Mangrove till 19.00. La Mangrove Hotel
29 La Mangrove to St Augustin and back 05.30-09.00 with Swiss, then Toliara Airport Pools, Toliara and Ifate, spiny forest 15.00-18.00. Bamboo Club
30 Spiny forest with woodcutters 05.30-09.00, walk to km32 trail and back till 14.30, Barred Kestrel search 16.00-18.30. Bamboo Club
December 1 05.30-07.00 spent at km30-32, hotel transfer to Toliara airport 07.30-08.30, Airport Pools, flight to Tana 11.45-13.15, evening flight home.
NOTES ON SITES - additional to Babbington (1994) and Vermeulen (1996)
This key locality on the Masoala peninsula is reached by boat from Maraontsetra - we paid 500,000 MF ($125) for the hire of a motor boat to take us there and pick us up 6 days later. The specialities here are Madagascar Serpent-eagle, Madagascar Red Owl, Helmet and Bernier’s Vangas, and possibly Madagascar Sparrowhawk. Several other difficult birds, such as Brown Mesite, Red-breasted Coua and Scaly Ground-Roller, can also be seen fairly readily here.
“The Serpent-eagle was first discovered here in 1993 by the Peregrine Fund, who subsequently caught and radio-tagged one near their Andranobe Field Station in Jan 94. They also found the Red Owl in Feb 94 and radio-tagged the female of a pair in October. Peregrine Fund staff will assist ad hoc groups of visitors to see both species, using the radio-receiver to find the owl and knowledge of the bird’s behaviour to find the Serpent-eagle. In return for the opportunity to see these rare and secretive study birds, visitors will be asked to give a voluntary donation, via the Peregrine Fund, to the Primary School in Ambanizana, which restarted in 94 after a 6 year lapse. The Peregrine Fund will buy materials requested by the teacher, who will then explain to his school-children and their parents (thus, probably most of Ambanizana) how he received the materials, stressing the connection between tourists coming to see birds that are special to Masoala, the gift of materials from the visitors, and the need for the birds to have intact forest in which to live. The lesson is simple and potentially effective.
Arrangements to be guided to the Red Owl and Serpent-eagle should be made at least 2 or 3 days ahead, to give staff time to work it into their research schedule. It is best to go in person to Andranobe, 7 km south of Ambanizana, to make the arrangements. The walk along the coast takes 2 - 2½ hours, or a piroque can be hired if you wish to conserve energy.
Andranobe Field Station is a research base built and used by The Peregrine Fund and other conservation groups. Only bona fide researchers who make prior arrangements with either The Peregrine Fund, Stanford University Center for Conservation Biology or Wildlife Conservation Society may stay there. Ad hoc visitors are expected to camp at Ambanizana or stay in the chalets being built there by the Coco Beach Hotel of Maraontsetra. The “George Modeste compound”, built by and continuing to serve the Missouri Botanical Gardens, lies between Ambanizana and Andranobe - bona fide researchers can sometimes use this with prior permission from MBG.” - Rick Watson, Director, Peregrine Fund (Africa).
The FAX number for the Peregrine Fund in Tana is 00261 225772.
There are two steep trails up the hillside from Ambanizana, on either side of the river, both having similar birds although Bernier’s Vanga was only seen on the right-hand one. They start on a common path, as illustrated by Babbington, but the right-hand one forks off across the river soon after the initial climb. Although there are no eating establishments, Mrs Modest ? in the compound near to the chalets will cook for you - we brought our own food but she will evidently buy food for you locally, although the choice will be pretty limited. We also employed a local to guard our tents.
Visits to Nosy Mangaby, to look for Aye-Aye, have to be arranged in Maraontsetra and a guide employed (25,000 MF a day). Camping on the island is free and there is a large bare room to stay in, but no eating facilities. The chances of seeing Aye-Aye in Oct-Dec do not appear to be good as they tend to be at higher elevations then.
There are three essential areas to visit at this site 100km short of Mahajunga:-
1. The forest behind the shop and park HQ, for White-breasted Mesite, Van Dam’s Vanga, Avahi (Woolly Lemur), Hog-nosed Snake and chameleons. There are lots of trails which can be done alone but it is worth taking a guide one day as he will know where the lemurs and any nests are. Try to see Coquerel’s Coua and Rufous Vanga here.
2. The lake, for Madagascar Fish-Eagle which often perch in trees on the far side - worth walking round to look for Jacana and waders. There is a good chance of a few Madagscar Sandgrouse flying in to drink at the Tana-end, either early morning, eg 06.55, or around midday.
3. The track beyond the Mahajunga-end of the lake, for Schlegel’s Asity. The guide should know this bird and where it is likely to be found.
If there are no Jacana, continue on the road to Mahajunga for 20+km (not 17km as stated in other reports) to the large reservoir - Lac Amboromalandry - where they occur in the shallows on the Tana side. Madagascar/ Bernier’s Teal has been seen here on a few occasions.
The Park has few facilities but free camping under the tall trees in front of the Park buildings is allowed, and simple meals can be had at the small shop.
There are three admissable reasons to come to this sleepy port:-
1. To catch a plane or boat to the Comoros.
2. To find a hotel if not wanting to camp at Ampijoroa.
3. To see one of the world’s rarest ducks, Madagascar/ Bernier’s Teal, a substantial population of which reside on the grassy islands in the adjacent Labetsiboka estuary. Take a taxi to the village of Boanamary - 35km, 1 hour - very few taxi-brousse go there. Go past a large industrial plant on the left, to the end of the road where a disused factory lies in ruins. There is a small harbour on the left where a boat can be chartered - we had to make do with a sailing boat as there were none with motors available. As the ducks roost on the islands at high tide and feed on the exposed mud like waders when the tide recedes, you need to cross the wide estuary to an island at the end of high tide. It was fairly calm when we left at midday but rough when we returned - a hairy and wet journey - so it would be better to start early in the morning if practical.
Some locals are familiar with the Teal. They said the birds are present all year but breed on the other side of the estuary, near the mouth. Hence it may be necessary to go to a different area at other times of year. It would probably be possible to hire a motor boat in Mahajunga but the islands are a lot further from there and the boatmen may not know where the Teal are to be found. Other notable birds are Saunders’ Tern, Madagascar/ Sacred Ibis, and Buttonquails on the grassland.
It is advisable to arrange a pick-up time with the taxi-driver when boat-trip timing is clear, as there may not be any other transport back to Mahajunga.
This over-popular site is well-documented, except for nearby Mantady - a newly discovered, higher elevation forest. I recommend staying and eating at Hotel Feon’ Ny Ala (35 000 MF for a double chalet), commonly called the Chinese hotel, and engaging the services of Patrice or his brother Maurice for at least some of the time. If tour groups are present it may not be possible to get these guides, as happened to me, but one might be available for a nocturnal visit - important for lemurs and chameleons. Key birds are Madagascar Little Grebe, Madagascar Flufftail, Madagascar Rail, Madagascar Long-eared Owl, Collared Nightjar and Madagascar Pygmy-Kingfisher, and if not going to Ambanizana - Madagascar Wood Rail, Red-breasted Coua, Scaly and Short-legged Ground-Rollers and Crossley’s Babbler. Rarities possible here are Dusky Greenbul, Red-tailed Newtonia and Helmetbird, the latter two at high elevations at Mantady.
Mantady forest is reached by driving through Andasibe away from Perinet and into the graphite mine (4km); ask permission there to continue to the Mantady forest and at the Km14 post, hike up a track by an obvious parking place on the right for as far as you can. Maurice will go there but other guides are reluctant as it is outside the Park. Birds were thin on the ground when I went (with Val and Gavin Thomson) but we did see Forest Rock-Thrush and Small-billed/ Yellow-bellied Sunbird- Asity. Scaly Ground-Roller occurs at low elevations and Red-tailed Newtonia at high elevations. Maromiza (described by Babbington) is also good for Ground-Rollers.
Ranomafana National Park
Once again there are three areas to visit in this region:-
1. The National Park - for Henst’s Goshawk, Pitta-like Ground-Roller, Pollen’s Vanga, Grey-crowned Greenbul, Yellow-browed Oxylabes and Forest Fody, and if not going to Ambanizana, Brown Mesite.
The only guides worth employing are Fidi or Loret - the latter (the better) is a research-worker now, based at the research-station in the Park and so will only guide on days off. The best trails appear to be B,C and T, with look-outs over the forest from B (Belle-Vue) and T. Henst’s Goshawk comes in to a tape at C1050! Madagascar Cuckoo-Falcon is said to frequent the river valley near the Park entrance and so time spent here could be rewarding. Forest Rock-Thrush is found near the bridge on the road to Vohipara, some 2km beyond the Park entrance.
2. Vohipara - for Madagascar Pygmy-Kingfisher and Cryptic Warbler at the entrance (near the large trail-map board), Madagascar Flufftail, Rufous-headed Ground-Roller, Small-billed Asity (at the highest point of trail C) and Brown Emu-tail.
3. Lake and paddies 9+km west of Vohipara - for Meller’s Duck (also occurs on the river), Slender-billed Flufftail, Madagascar Snipe and Grey Emu-tail. The Flufftail, which has rarely been seen by birders, was taped out here for JV’s group by Fidi.
A car is almost essential here - Fidi can arrange for the hire of one with driver. A bus leaves the village at 06.30 daily and passes the Park entrance, and a free lift in a van is available daily from the Park entrance down to the village at 16.30. The Hotel Station Thermale looked the best place to stay and eat, and is handy for the public thermally-heated bath/ pool - the place to rest after a hard day in the field - but the Ratinala, next to Fidi’s house, is cheaper, friendly and adequate.
If going to Berenty, the only key bird in the degraded dry forest of Zombitsy, on the way to Toliara, is Appert’s Greenbul - easily detected along one of the trails (see Vermeulen) by it’s Spectacled Greenbul-like calls. Madagascar Hawk-Owl is readily seen at dusk, eg in the first clearing by the trail from the football field, and Giant Coua occurs near the other trail. As these are the two Berenty specialities, there is no need to go there for birds - only for lemurs. Other possible goodies at Zombitsy are Barred Kestrel (I belatedly discovered), Madagscar Sparrowhawk, Madagascar Partridge (on the road early morning) and excellent views of Cuckoo-Roller.
Most of the sites in this justifiably popular area on the southwest coast are well-known: the Airport Pools for Madagascar Plover, La Mangrove Hotel for Humblot’s Heron and Verreaux’s Coua, Nosy Ve for Red-tailed Tropicbird, Anakoa for Littoral Rock-Thrush, and Ifate for a host of species. The following points are worthy of note.
Boat trips to Nosy Ve go from La Mangrove but bookings can be made at Chez Alain, the livelier sister hotel near Toliara bus terminal. They only go, fairly early in the morning, if more than 3 or 4 people book. Verreaux’s Coua occurs on the hillside above La Mangrove but is easier to see where the road crosses the plateau between the hotel and St Augustin, especially during the heat of the day. St Augustin, 12 km from La Mangrove, is the only definite stake-out for Sandgrouse: 100s drink at the river some 1.5-2 km upstream between 06.30 and 08.30 - hire a pirogue to get just beyond the large island in the river. The only regular taxi-brousse to St Augustin leaves Toliara at 10.00 and there is very little other traffic.
There are 3 hotels at Ifate - the Dunes, Mora Mora and Bamboo Club, with Dunes marginally more expensive and better. The wood-cutter guides associated with the Mora Mora, used by most birders to find Subdesert Mesite and Long-tailed Ground-Roller, charge 25000 MF per person whereas those at the Bamboo Club only charge 15000; both deliver the goods. All the other specialities, except Barred/ Banded Kestrel, can be seen near or along the track going into the spiny forest at Km32, ie Madagascar Harrier-Hawk, Running Coua, Lafresnaye’s Vanga, “Desert” Brush-Warbler, Thamnornis and Archbold’s Newtonia. Barred Kestrel can usually be found perched somewhere near the main road, often in a thinly wooded area, but not when I was there. Note that Red-capped Coua is commoner than Running; the race here does not have a red cap and both sp. sound similar. Red-capped is larger, invariably on the ground, and has blue/ purple skin all round the eye, whereas the slightly smaller Running often perches in bushes, has an orange neck and pink/ red skin behind the eye.
There are several lakes 15-20km north of Ifate, reached from tracks off the main road, I believe. My Swiss friends visited one and saw a Cuckoo-Falcon.
Taxi to Lac Alarobia at 06.00; walked round till mid-morning without challenge - Madagascar Pond-Heron, Reunion Harrier, Cuvier’s Rail, Madagascar Swamp-Warbler. Taxi to Tana and on to Ambohimanza for sight-seeing (+ both sunbirds). P.m. at the Rova above Tana, then Lac Tzimbazaza/ zoo - more breeding Pond-Herons and 1 Meller’s Duck. Met up with Neil, Alan and Ashley at Hotel Mehrane (40 000 FMG a double - Hotel Mellis, tel 23425, looked much nicer but cost c.70 000 FMG).
Morning flight to Maroansetra via Tamatave - only House Sparrows of trip! Chalets near centre of town (Hotel Centrale). Walked to river estuary - Greater Sand-Plover, White-fronted Plover, Terek Sandpiper; arranged boat-hire for the morning.
Boat to Ambanizana, camped just beyond village. Met Rick Watson (and wife), head of Peregrine Fund Africa, who later agreed to show us roosting Madagascar Red Owl - a good start, with one of the area’s two most difficult birds “in the bag”.
October 24 - 28
Hillside trails at Ambanizana and trips to Andranobe (on 26th and 27th) gave over 50 endemics including White-winged Ibis, Madagascar Sparrowhawk, Madagascar Wood Rail, Brown Mesite, Red-breasted Coua, Madagascar Spinetail, Short-legged and Scaly Ground-Rollers, Velvet Asity, 10 vangas including Helmet and Bernier’s, Madagascar Starling, White-throated Oxylabes and Crossley’s Babbler. Failed to find Madagascar Serpent-Eagle, which had been seen by Rick Watson a couple of days earlier.
Boat back to Maroansetra early morning; chill out; boat to Nosy Mangabe late afternoon. Fruitless attempt to see Aye-Aye all evening.
Back to Maroansetra from birdless Nosy Mangabe - nothing new at the estuary. Afternoon flight to Tana; surprised to find Hotel Mehrane full, so had to pay extra at nearby Anjary.
Morning of “jobs” in Tana; hired our own Peugeot 504 taxi-brousse for 450 000 FMG, leaving for Ampijoroa at 15.00 - the first of several overnight ordeals.
Arrived at 04.00, pitched tent, short rest and then on to trails at dawn - Madagascar Nightjar - till 09.00, eventually having stellar views of Van Dam’s Vanga, as well as White-breasted Mesite, Coquerel’s, Red-capped and Crested Couas, and Rufous Vanga. Down at the lake Madagascar Fish-Eagles performed well but an ensuing raptor-watch was fruitless. After lunch, hitched to Lac Amboromalandry for Madagascar Jacana, with a bonus of White-backed Duck. After a long hour wait for a lift back to the Park, spent last hour of daylight at the lake, missing Harrier-hawk (AL).
Early morning search with guide for Schlegel’s Asity was eventually rewarded, and a party of Madagascar Sandgrouse in flight was a most welcome surprise. Trails in the “Botanical Gardens” yielded no new birds but excellent views of Avahi, Hog-nosed Snake and a superb green chameleon. Afternoon hitch to Mahajunga; found 2 hotels full but negotiated a large room for 4 in the pleasant Hotel Le Ravinala, for 90 000 FMG, then partook of steak and chips at a Muslim Teahouse for equivalent of £1, followed by a bottle of rum between us for a similar sum.
November 3 - 16
On the Comoros - see separate report.
Returned to Mahajunga on Austral Air at 14.15. Last time’s room not available so moved to the very basic Hotel Boina (30 000 FMG a double) before returning to the Muslim Teahouse.
Up at 03.30 to catch the 04.00 taxi-brousse to Boanamary, only to find it had left at 03.30! Took our own taxi (50 000 FMG), arriving at 05.45. After some time and effort, found suitable boat (a yacht) for trip across estuary (50 000 FMG) but tide too high by then. Omelette breakfast, followed by birding on coast and fields - Madagascar/ Sacred Ibis and Madagascar Buttonquail. 12.15-13.15 crossed the estuary, then watched 18 Madagascar/ Bernier’s Teal, mostly in pairs, emerge and feed as the tide dropped. Feeding terns included 20+ Saunders’. Trouser-wetting return journey, in more ways than one (especially for one of the group), from 16.00-17.30. Taxi back to Mahajunga 19.45-21.00.
Taxi-brousse to Ampijoroa 09.00-12.00. Met Terry Stevenson, leading a Field Guides group, and Rob and Kerry Morris. Raptor watch gave Madagascar Buzzards but no Harrier-hawk or Sooty Falcon. Continued towards Tana at 14.00, stopping at Ambondromamy marshes where birds included 12 African Pygmy-Goose and a Painted Snipe, while 2 Sooty Falcon and a Madagascar Cuckoo were at last seen, a little further on just before dusk. Another boring, uncomfortable nocturnal journey.
The car stopped on the outskirts of Tana from 03.00-05.00, with various other vehicles - sleeping attempted. Back to Hotel Mehrane, to find it full again, so to the Anjary - for breakfast. As the others needed to stay in Tana, I departed alone for Perinet - taxi to Taxi-brousse station East (6000 FMG), for taxi-brousses to Moramanga and then Andasibe (9000 FMG) where I checked in at the Hotel des Orchidees (20 000 FMG a single). Walked back along the road, past Rand’s Flycatcher and nesting White-winged Ibis, to the Chinese hotel for lunch, meeting Val and Gavin Thomson. Three Indri in the forest opposite were a fine apperitif. Afternoon on trails near the fish farm, with Crossley’s Babbler the best bird.
Morning with the Thomsons, who had a vehicle; firstly to the Rail site - useless due to thick fog - then to Mantady till 12.00: Red-fronted Coua, Small-billed Asity and Forest Rock-Thrush, but no Red-tailed Newtonia. Afternoon in reserve - Collared Nightjar (on the nest) and Wedge-tailed Jery. Met up with the others at the Orchidees and spent evening owling, Alan finally spotting the young Madagascar Long-eared Owl we had heard calling.
Early morning at the Rail site again but still no joy. Trails in the reserve with the others for the rest of the day: Madagascar Little Grebe (taped in), a Madagascar Flufftail sighting at last, an adult Madagascar Long-eared Owl, Wattled Asity and a male Forest Fody, but no Madagascar Pygmy-Kingfisher or Rufous-headed Ground-Roller. Nocturnal foray with Patrice, the only time he was available: Madagascar Scops- Owl, lemurs and chameleons.
Main trail in the reserve from 05.00-09.00 but failed to find either quarry. Farewell to Neil, Alan and Ashley. Taxi-brousse at 09.45 from Andasibe to Moramanga, and another to Tana, arriving at 13.15. Had to wait till 14.00 for Air France and Air Mad to open, to respectively confirm flight home and obtain a refund on a non-existent flight in the Comoros. At Taxi-brousse station South, took Peugeot (even more battered and holed than usual) for Ranamofana (43 000 FMG), leaving at 16.45. Hard journey, frequently interrupted by stops for driver to cat-nap.
Arrived at Ranamofana at 04.30 in the rain; dozed outside Hotel Ratinala until it opened, when checked in (15 000 MFG a single) and had breakfast. Hitched to National Park, arriving 06.15, and spent day on the trails, dodging showers in the morning - good birding (despite the leeches), with Henst’s Goshawk, Pitta-like Ground-Roller, Grey-crowned Greenbul, Yellow-browed Oxylabes and Cryptic Warbler. Lift back to village on a truck at 17.00; relaxed in thermal swimming-pool, followed by beer at Hotel Thermale and a poor steak at the Ratinala. Arranged to go out following morning with Fidi, who lived next door.
Clapped-out vehicle rented via Fidi (175 000 MFG for 6-7 hrs) arrived late at 06.15 and struggled along to the lake beyond Vohipara: Madagascar Snipe over the marsh and Grey Emu-tail in the old paddies, but no rails or Slender-billed Flufftail. Back at Vohipara, Rand’s Warblers sang near the entrance and we taped in a Rufous-headed Ground-Roller at the third attempt; Brown Emu-tail was the only other notable bird until noon when we watched a pair of Madagascar Pygmy-Kingfisher at the nest at the entrance to Vohiparara. Spent the afternoon alone on the trails again in the Park, with a Pollen’s Vanga a notable addition. Met Loret before leaving at 16.30 in a thunderstorm. Went to thermal bath, to find it closed for cleaning; reasonable dinner at Hotel Thermale.
Hitched to the Park and watched river valley for Cuckoo-Falcon. Found Loret at 06.20, as arranged - he showed me their canopy net operation, and then we did the trails till 08.15. Walked up road hoping to hitch to Vohiparara but failed so hitched back to the Ratinala at 09.15. Taxi-brousse to Fianarantsoa (10 000 FMG) at 10.45 after long wait; slow due to bad road for 25+km, arriving 13.15. All buses to Ranohira were said to be fully booked for several days ! so had to settle for Peugeot taxi-brousse to Ihosy, en route, at 14.15 (20 000 FMG). Arrived 18.15, in heavy rain; 2 hotels full but third time lucky with the Relais Bara - 30 000 FMG a single.
Taxi-brousse station at 05.30 but none heading south (perhaps because it was a Sunday), so joined the mob in a large slow truck at 07.30. Reached Ranohira at 11.00 - Reunion Harrier on the way - heavy rain from then till 14.00. Continued on to the Oasis, after compulsory lunch stop. From 12.00-12.30 flushed one Madagascar Partridge and located a pair of Benson’s Rock-Thrush, then returned to the road, soaked. No onward lifts so hitched back to Ranohira at 13.30, finally getting a small truck to Zombitsy at 15.00. Arrived 16.45, pitched tent on edge of forest and birded till 19.15 with great success: White-winged Ibis, Coquerel’s Coua, Madagsacar Hawk-Owl and Appert’s Greenbul.
Walked along road at 05.15, seeing 3 Madagascar Partridge, to trail at Km17.5 - a little overgrown but yielded a pair of Giant Coua, calling from high in a tree, Rufous Vanga and more Appert’s Greenbuls. Returned to the road at 08.15, struck camp and tried to hitch. Very little traffic, with only relief displaying Cuckoo-Rollers and Buzzards, plus a large accipiter flying past. After 3hr 30min wait, a crowded bus stopped, arriving at Toliara at 13.30. Went to Chez Alain Hotel to transfer to La Mangrove but vehicle was under repair, so walked in to town to reconfirm flight back to Tana. Despite promises, hotel vehicle failed to start but I was able to book Nosy Ve boat trip for the morrow and arrange an early morning taxi pick-up. Chez Alain was a pleasant hotel (30 000 FMG for a chalet) with good cheap food.
Taxi (40 000 FMG) at 06.15, shared with Michel. Breakfast at La Mangrove - Humblot’s Heron on the muddy shore - then boat to Anakoa (25 000 FMG) - 13 Littoral Rock-Thrush and several Thamnornis. Across to Nosy Ve where the Red-tailed Tropicbirds were stunning and the snorkeling quite good. A choppy return leg concluded an excellent trip. Just time to explore the hillside above La Mangrove: Red-capped, not Verreaux’s, Coua and Madagascar Nightjar.
La Mangrove - St Augustin road 05.30-09.00 with Swiss birders from the boat trip, and a walk by the river at St Augustin - several Verreaux’s Coua heard but only 1 seen. Drove to Toliara after breakfast, via the Airport Pools where Madagascar Plover was soon found, and on to Ifate. Checked in at the Bamboo Club - 45 000 FMG for a chalet without shower. Birded along road to Km32, - good birding on the trail there: Running Coua, Lafresnaye’s Vanga, Archbold’s Newtonia. Met Rob and Kerry again - lots of Bee-eaters which Rob later revealed included European Merops apiaster, a new sp. for Madagscar (which had gone by the next morning)!
Spiny forest with Rob and the woodcutters 05.00-09.00: Subdesert Mesite at 06.30 and Long-tailed Ground-Roller at 07.30. After breakfast walked to Km32 and back (at 14.30), just avoiding a storm. 16.00-18.30 further search for Barred Kestrel. Thunderstorm all evening.
Barred Kestrel search from 05.30-07.00 - Harrier-hawk and Running Coua only birds of note. Dunes Hotel transfer vehicle to Toliara airport (30 000 FMG) 07.30-08.30. Walked to Airport Pools - 2 Mad Plovers. Flight to Tana 11.45-13.15; met old friends Jan, Eric and Vital at Ivato Airport. Attempted to reach good-looking wetland on other side of airport but failed as military would not let me through their barracks. Evening flight home.
SYSTEMATIC LIST OF BIRDS IN MADAGASCAR
Taxonomy, names and sequence follow Birds of the World: A Checklist by JF Clements (1991), with alternative names used by O. Langrand in Guide to the Birds of Madagascar in parenthesis. Asterisks indicate breeding species endemic to the Malagasy region.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
2 at Lac Amboromalandy, near Ampijoroa. A grebe at Lac Tsimbazaza appeared to be a hybrid ruficollis - pelzelnii.
*Madagascar Little Grebe Tachybaptus pelzelnii
1 at Perinet.
Red-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda
20+ active nests at Nosy Ve, mainly with incubating birds - only a few nestlings.
Great Frigatebird Fregata minor
2 males near Ifate.
Long-tailed (Reed) Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus
c.20 at Lac Alarobia, a few at Maroantsetra, 1 at Ampijoroa and 10 at Lac Amboromalandy.
African Darter Anhinga rufa
1 at Ampijoroa.
Fulvous Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna bicolor
A few at Lac Alarobia.
White-faced Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna viduata
Numerous at Lac Alarobia and Nosy Mangabe, common at Ampijoroa, Lac Amboromalandy and St Augustin, 10 at Maroantsetra and 2 at Boanamary.
White-backed Duck Thalassornis leuconotus
3 at Lac Amboromalandy.
Comb (Knob-billed) Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos
10 at Lac Alarobia and 2 at St Augustin.
African Pygmy-goose Nettapus auritus
A pair at Lac Amboromalandy and 12 at Ambondromamy, a wetland c.40 km SE of Ampijoroa.
*Meller's Duck Anas melleri
1 at Lac Tsimbazaza.
*Madagascar (Bernier's) Teal Anas bernieri
18 at the Labetsiboka estuary, some observed giving a bobbing greeting display.
Hottentot Teal Anas hottentota
30 at Lac Alarobia and several Lac Amboromalandy.
Red-billed Duck (Teal) Anas erythrorhyncha
Common at Lac Alarobia, Lac Amboromalandy and St Augustin, and 10 at Maroantsetra.
Black Heron Egretta ardesiaca
9 at Lac Alarobia, 8 between Maroantsetra and Ambanizana, and 1 at Ampijoroa.
*Mascarene Reef- (Dimorphic) Egret Egretta dimorpha
Fairly common on waters throughout, with several in bushes on Nosy Ve, probably breeding.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
2 at Lac Alarobia, 1 or 2 at Ampijoroa, 4 at the Labetsiboka estuary, 2 near Anakoa (including one nesting on a cliff) and 3 at La Mangrove.
*Madagascar (Humblot's) Heron Ardea humbloti
1 on the mudflats at La Mangrove on Nov 28 & 29 was the only record.
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Singles at Maroantsetra and Ampijoroa, and 5 at Lac Amboromalandy.
Great Egret Casmerodius albus
Fairly common at wetlands throughout.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Locally fairly common, often associating with cattle.
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Common at Lac Alarobia, Parc Tsimbazaza and a few around Maroantsetra and Ampijoroa.
*Madagascar Pond-Heron Ardeola idae
A few at Lac Alarobia, Parc Tsimbazaza and Ampijoroa, and 1 at Perinet.
Striated (Green-backed) Heron Butorides striatus
A few at Lac Alarobia, Ampijoroa and around the coast.
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Fairly common at Lac Alarobia and Parc Tsimbazaza.
Hamerkop Scopus umbretta
1 near Fianarantsoa.
*White-winged (Madagascar Crested) Ibis Lophotibis cristata
Singles at Ambanizana and Ampijoroa, 2 at Zombitsy and a nesting pair at Perinet.
*Madagascar Ibis Threskiornis bernieri - Sibley and Munro (1991) split from Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus
1 at Boanamary and 3 at the Labetsiboka estuary.
African Spoonbill Platalea alba
2 at the Labetsiboka estuary.
Black Kite Milvus migrans
Common around Ampijoroa and Ranohira, and 1 or 2 scattered throughout.
*Madagascar Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus vociferoides
2 adults and an imm. at Ampijoroa.
*Reunion Harrier Circus maillardi
A “ringtail” at Lac Alarobia and 2+ north of Ranohira.
*Madagascar Harrier-Hawk Polyboroides radiatus
1 at Ranomafana and 2 at Ifate.
*Frances' Goshawk (Sparrowhawk) Accipiter francesii
Singles at Ambanizana, Ampijoroa, Perinet and Ifate.
*Madagascar Sparrowhawk Accipiter madagascariensis
A pair nesting near Ambanizana.
A large accipiter flew high over Zombitsy, calling. As it appeared large and rather pale for madagascariensis , I thought at the time it was henstii. However, this would constitute a considerable range extension (Langrand, 1990) and so I now suspect it was the present species.
*Henst's Goshawk Accipiter henstii
1 at Ranomafana.
*Madagascar Buzzard Buteo brachypterus
1 or 2 in forest throughout, with 1 nesting at Ifate.
*Newton's (Madagascar) Kestrel Falco newtoni
Fairly common throughout, even nesting on the main Rova building in Tana.
Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae
1 at Perinet and 2 at Ifate.
Sooty Falcon Falco concolor
2 c.60 km southeast of Ampijoroa on 18 Nov and 1 at Ifate.
Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris
2 at Ambanizana and Zombitsy.
*Madagascar Partridge Margaroperdix madagascarensis
1 at the Oasis and 3 at Zombitsy.
*Madagascar Buttonquail Turnix nigricollis
3 at Ampijoroa, 10 at Boanamary, 5 at Zombitsy and 4 at Anakoa.
*Madagascar Flufftail Sarothrura insularis
Heard at several sites but only 1 seen, at Perinet.
*Madagascar Wood Rail Canirallus kioloides
Heard at Ambanizana, Perinet, and Ranomafana but only 1 seen, at Ambanizana.
*Cuvier's (White-throated) Rail Dryolimnas cuvieri
Singles at Lac Alarobia, Maroantsetra and Ampijoroa, and heard at Ambanizana and Perinet.
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Small numbers at most waters.
*White-breasted Mesite Mesitornis variegata
5+ at Ampijaroa.
*Brown Mesite Mesitornis unicolor
1 at Ambanizana on 23 and 25 Nov, and 2 heard at Ranomafana.
*Subdesert Mesite Monias benschi
1 at Ifate.
*Madagascar Jacana Actophilornis albinucha
6 at Lac Amboromalandy.
Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis
1 at Ambondromamy.
*Madagascar Snipe Gallinago macrodactyla
2 at abandoned paddies by the lake 9 km west of Vohiparara.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Common on the west coast and a few elsewhere.
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
15 at the Labetsiboka estuary and 1 at Ifate.
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
2 at Maroantsetra and Ampijoroa, 1 at Boanamary and fairly common at Ifate.
Terek Sandpiper Tringa cinerea
2 at Maroantsetra and 3 at Labetsiboka estuary.
Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos
Fairly common along the coast and 1 at Ranomafana.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
10 at Maroantsetra and a few along the west coast.
Sanderling Calidris alba
5 at Nosy Ve.
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Common at Maroantsetra, Labetsiboka estuary and Ifate.
Crab Plover Dromas ardeola
32 at Nosy Ve.
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
4 at Lac Amboromalandy and 3 at Ambondromamy and near Toliara airport.
*Madagascar Pratincole Glareola ocularis
Up to 5 daily along the Maroantsetra - Ambanizana / Andranobe coast, 2 at Nosy Mangabe and 1 south of Ambondromamy.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
A few along the coast.
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
2 at Maroantsetra, common at the Labetsiboka estuary and 1 at Ifate.
*Madagascar Plover Charadrius thoracicus
3 and a juv. at Toliara Airport pool and 1 at Ifate saltpans.
Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius
Singles at Ambondromamy and near Toliara airport, 3 at Nosy Ve and at 2 at Ifate saltpans.
Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris
2 at Ampijoroa.
White-fronted Plover Charadrius marginatus
Up to 5 at Maraontsetra and 1 at Nosy Ve.
Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii
1 at Maroantsetra and 3 at Nosy Ve.
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
Several at Nosy Ve.
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
1 at the Labetsiboka estuary.
Great Crested-Tern Sterna bergii
15 at Maroantsetra, 10 at the Labetsiboka estuary and several at Nosy Ve.
Lesser Crested-Tern Sterna bengalensis
3 at Maroantsetra, 4 at the Labetsiboka estuary and fairly common at Nosy Ve.
Common / Roseate Tern Sterna hirundo / dougallii
10 between Maroantsetra and Ambanizana.
Saunders' Tern Sterna saundersi
20+ at the Labetsiboka estuary and at least 1 at Nosy Ve.
Brown Noddy Anous stolidus
1 between Maroantsetra and Ambanizana.
*Madagascar Sandgrouse Pterocles personatus
A party of 7 flew to the lake at Ampijoroa at 06.55.
*Madagascar Turtle-Dove Columba picturata
Only 1 or 2 at Ambanizana but fairly common in forest elsewhere.
Namaqua Dove Oena capensis
Fairly common in dry open areas in the west.
*Madagascar Green-Pigeon Treron australis
Singles at Ambanizana on 3 dates and at Perinet, and 2 at Ifate.
*Madagascar Blue-Pigeon Alectroenas madagascariensis
Singles at Perinet and Ranomafana on 2 dates.
*(Greater) Vasa Parrot Coracopsis vasa
Fairly common at Ampijoroa and a few at Perinet, Ranomafana and Ifate.
*(Lesser Vasa) Black Parrot Coracopsis nigra
Common at Ambanizana and Zombitsy, and a few in forest elsewhere.
*Grey-headed Lovebird Agapornis canus
A few at Ampijoroa and Ranomafana, and common in the southwest.
*Madagascar (Lesser) Cuckoo Cuculus rochii
Heard in woodland everywhere but only seen as singles near Ampijoroa and at Ranomafana, La Mangrove and Ifate.
*Giant Coua Coua gigas
2 at Zombitsy, calling from 15m up a tree.
*Coquerel's Coua Coua coquereli
5 at Ampijoroa and 1 at Zombitsy.
*Red-breasted Coua Coua serriana
Singles at Ambanizana on Oct 24 & 28, with 2 on 25th.
*Red-fronted Coua Coua reynaudii
Singles at Perinet, Mantady and Ranomafana.
*Running Coua Coua cursor
Singles at Ifate on Nov 30 and Dec 1.
*Red-capped Coua Coua ruficeps
5 at Ampijoroa and 1 at Ranomafana; several of the olive-capped olivaceiceps sub-species at Ifate and 2 near La Mangrove.
*Crested Coua Coua cristata
5+ at Ampijoroa, 4 at Zombitsy and common at Ifate.
*Verreaux's Coua Coua verreauxi
1 seen and 3+ heard between La Mangrove and St Augustin.
*Blue Coua Coua caerulea
Fairly common at Ambanizana and Perinet, and 1 at Ranomafana.
*Madagascar Coucal Centropus toulou
Fairly common throughout.
*Madagascar Red Owl Tyto soumagnei
1 roosting at Ambanizana.
Barn Owl Tyto alba
1 in flight near Perinet.
*Malagasy Scops-Owl Otus rutilus
Singles seen at Perinet on Nov 19 &21, and heard at Ambanizana, Ampijoroa, Ranomafana and Zombitsy.
*Madagascar Hawk- (White-browed) Owl Ninox superciliaris
2 seen and 2 others heard at Zombitsy.
*Madagascar Long-eared Owl Asio madagascariensis
2 downy juveniles were located at Perinet from their calls, and an adult seen the following morning.
*Madagascar Nightjar Caprimulgus madagascariensis
3 at Ampijoroa and 2 at Boanamary and La Mangrove; heard at Zombitsy and Ifate.
*Collared Nightjar Caprimulgus enarratus
1 brooding 2 juvs at Perinet in a tree palm nest c.4m above the ground !
*Madagascar Spinetail Zoonavena grandidieri
c.5 at Ambanizana on Oct 23 & 25, 1 or 2 daily at Perinet and 2 at Zombitsy.
African Palm-Swift Cypsiurus parvus
Locally common, in the vicinity of palms.
*Madagascar (African Black) Swift Apus (barbatus) balstoni
2 over Tana, 20+ at a rocky islet by Nosy Mangabe (presumably a breeding colony), common at Boanamary, a few at Ranomafana and 70+ breeding on a cliff near Anakoa on Nov 28.
*Diademed (Malagasy) Kingfisher Alcedo vintsioides
Small numbers throughout.
*Madagascar Pygmy-Kingfisher Ispidina madagascariensis
A pair nesting by the road at Vohiparara.
Madagascar Bee-eater Merops superciliosus
Fairly common throughout.
Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus glaucurus
Common at Ampijoroa and Zombitsy, and a few in the other major forests.
*Short-legged Ground-Roller Brachypteracias leptosomus
A pair at Ambanizana on Oct 28 and heard on 26 & 27th.
*Scaly Ground-Roller Brachypteracias squamigera
Singles at Ambanizana on Oct 25 & 28, and heard on 29th.
*Pitta-like Ground-Roller Atelornis pittoides
3 at Ranomafana on Nov 23 and 1 on 24th with others heard.
*Rufous-headed Ground-Roller Atelornis crossleyi
1 seen and 2 heard at Vohiparara; 2 heard at Perinet.
*Long-tailed Ground-Roller Uratelornis chimaera
1 at Ifate near a nest hole.
*Cuckoo-Roller Leptosomus discolor
Heard at all major forests but only 1 or 2 seen occasionally except at Zombitsy where several performed openly.
African Hoopoe Upupa africana
3-5 at Ampijoroa, Zombitsy and Ifate.
*Velvet Asity Philepitta castanea
Single males at Ambanizana on Oct 24 & 25, 2 females at Perinet on 21st and 2 males at Ranomafana.
*Schlegel's Asity Philepitta schlegeli
An adult and an imm. male at Ampijoroa.
*Wattled (Sunbird-) Asity Neodrepanis coruscans
A female feeding nestlings at Perinet and 3 at Vohiparara.
*Small-billed (Yellow-bellied Sunbird-) Asity Neodrepanis hypoxanthus
A male and a female at Mantady.
*Madagascar Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone mutata
Small numbers in woodland, including mangroves, throughout.
*Crested Drongo Dicrurus forficatus
Fairly common in all forests.
Pied Crow Corvus albus
Common in open country throughout.
*Madagascar (Ashy) Cuckoo-shrike Coracina cinerea
Fairly common in forest throughout except from Zombitsy southwards where absent.
*Ward's Flycatcher Pseudobias wardi
3 at Perinet and 1 at Ranomafana.
*Red-tailed Vanga Calicalius madagascariensis
Up to 6 daily at Ambanizana and 1 or 2 at Perinet, Ranomafana, Zombitsy and Ifate.
*Rufous Vanga Schetba rufa
A pair at Andranobe, 3 at Ampijoroa and a pair at Zombitsy.
*Hook-billed Vanga Vanga curvirostris
3 at Ambanizana on Oct 23, and singles at Ampijoroa and Ifate.
*Lafresnaye's Vanga Xenopirostris xenopirostris
2 at Ifate.
*Van Dam's Vanga Xenopirostris damii
2 at Ampijoroa.
*Pollen's Vanga Xenopirostris polleni
1 at Ranomafana.
*Sickle-billed Vanga Falculea palliata
5 at Ampijoroa on Nov 1 & 12 on 2nd, and 8 at Ifate.
*White-headed Vanga Leptopterus viridis
Up to 6 daily at Ambanizana, 4 at Ampijoroa and Ifate, and 1 at Boanamary.
*Chabert Vanga Leptopterus chabert
Small numbers in woodland throughout, nesting at Ranomafana and particularly common in the southwest.
*Blue Vanga Cyanolanius madagascarinus
2 at Ambanizana, Mantady and Ranomafana.
*Bernier's Vanga Oriolia bernieri
A female / imm. in a large feeding flock at Andranobe on Oct 27. The only other sightings by our party in c.15 man days were of a male at Ambanizana on 23rd (NB) and a fem / imm in the same area on 25th (AB).
*Helmetbird (Helmet Vanga) Euryceros prevostii
2 seen on 4 dates at Ambanizana / Andranobe.
*Tylas (Vanga) Tylas eduardi
2 at Ambanizana and Perinet, and up to 4 daily at Ranomafana.
*Coral-billed Nuthatch (Nuthatch Vanga) Hypositta corallirostris
2 at Ambanizana, Perinet, and Ranomafana.
*Forest Rock-Thrush Pseudocossyphus sharpei
A male at Mantady.
*Benson's Rock-Thrush Pseudocossyphus bensoni
A pair at the Oasis.
*Littoral Rock-Thrush Pseudocossyphus imerinus
8 males and 5 females at Anakoa.
*Madagascar Starling Hartlaubius aurata
A pair at Ambanizana, 1 at Perinet, and 3 at Zombitsy.
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Common in towns and open areas throughout except in the west where scarce.
*Madagascar Magpie-Robin Copsychus albospecularis
Fairly common in forest throughout.
Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata
Several in scrub on the central plateau and south to Ranohira.
Plain (Brown-throated Sand-) Martin Riparia paludicola
2 at the rail marsh near Perinet were the only ones identified.
*Mascarene Martin Phedina borbonica
Fairly common throughout.
*Long-billed Greenbul Phyllastrephus madagascariensis
Up to 5 in forest throughout except the arid southwest where absent.
*Spectacled Greenbul Phyllastrephus zosterops
Fairly common at Ambanizana, Perinet, Ranomafana and Vohiparara.
*Appert's Greenbul Phyllastrephus apperti
2 pairs at the southern end of Zombitsy and 5 pairs along 2km of trail further north, none associating with other greenbuls.
*Grey-crowned Greenbul Phyllastrephus cinereiceps
Only 1 seen at Ranomafana, in a greenbul party.
*Madagascar Bulbul Hypsipetes madagascariensis
*Madagascar White-eye Zosterops maderaspatanus
Fairly common throughout except in the arid southwest.
*Madagascar Cisticola Cisticola cherinus
Fairly common in the southwest and a few in grassland elsewhere.
*Brown Emu-tail Dromaeocercus brunneus
1 taped in at Vohiparara.
*Grey Emu-tail Dromaeocercus seebohmi
3+ in abandoned paddies by the lake 9 km west of Vohiparara.
*Madagascar Brush-Warbler Nesillas typica
Common throughout except in the arid southwest where replaced by lantzii.
*Subdesert Brush-Warbler Nesillas lantzii - to be split from N. typica
Fairly common at La Mangrove, Anakoa and Ifate.]
*Thamnornis (Warbler) Thamnornis chloropetoides
Several at Anakoa and Ifate.
*Madagascar Swamp-Warbler Acrocephalus newtoni
Common at Lac Alarobia and the rail marsh near Perinet, and 1 at Maroantsetra.
*Rand's Warbler Randia pseudozosterops
1 or 2 at Perinet, Ranomafana and Vohiparara.
*Cryptic (“New”) Warbler Cryptosylvicola rnndrianasoloi
1 at Ranomafana.
*Dark Newtonia Newtonia amphichroa
Singles at Ambanizana and Ranomafana.
*Common Newtonia Newtonia brunneicauda
Common in woodland throughout.
*Archbold's Newtonia Newtonia archboldi
Up to 3 daily at Ifate.
*Common Jery Neomixis tenella
Fairly common in trees throughout.
*Green Jery Neomixis viridis
1 at Ranomafana.
*Stripe-throated Jery Neomixis striatigula
Singles at Ambanizana on Oct 25 & 27, and a few at Perinet, Zombitsy and Ifate.
*Wedge-tailed Jery Hartertula flavoviridis
2+ at Perinet, 2 at Ranomafana and 1 at Vohiparara.
*White-throated Oxylabes Oxylabes madagascariensis
1 or 2 at Ambanizana on Oct 24 & 25.
*Yellow-browed Oxylabes Crossleyia xanthophrys
Several heard at Ranomafana but only 1 seen.
*Crossley's Babbler Mystacornis crossleyi
2 pairs at Ambanizana on Oct 28, and singles at Perinet and Ranomafana on Nov 23 & 25.
*Madagascar (Bush-) Lark Mirafra hova
Common in the south and west.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
A few near Tamatave airport - a range extension.
*Madagascar Munia (Mannikin) Lonchura nana
Small flocks at Tamatave airport, Ampijoroa, Perinet and Ranomafana, and 2 at Ifate.
*Madagascar Wagtail Motacilla flaviventris
Small numbers throughout, mainly associated with water, but scarce in the southwest.
*Nelicourvi Weaver Ploceus nelicourvi
Up to 4 daily at Ambanizana and a few at Perinet and Ranomafana (where 1 was nest-building).
*Sakalava Weaver Ploceus sakalava
Common at Ampijoroa, La Mangrove, Anakoa and Ifate, with active nesting colonies.
*(Madagascar) Red Fody Foudia madagascariensis
*Forest Fody Foudia omissa
Only 1 full male was seen, at Perinet; several sub-adult males at Ranomafana were definitely this sp. according to Loret (who traps and bands there). Identification is dogged by hybrids, which appear to be common, at least at Perinet.
*Souimanga Sunbird Nectarinia souimanga
*Madagascar (Long-billed Green) Sunbird Nectarinia notata
A few in woodland throughout.
Madagascar Cuckoo-Falcon Aviceda madagascariensis Lac Alarobia, Ranomafana, Vohiparara and lake c.15km north of Ifate.
Madagascar Serpent-Eagle Eutriorchis astur Andranobe
Barred (Banded) Kestrel Falco zoniventris Ifate, and Zombitsy
Madagascar Rail Rallus madagascariensis Marsh west of Perinet
Slender-billed Flufftail Sarothrura watersi Marsh north of Vohiparara but difficult to see.
Dusky Greenbul Phyllastrephus tenebrosus Perinet and Ranomafana but rare and often misidentified
Red-tailed Newtonia Newtonia fanovanae Mantady - recently discovered.
LIST OF MAMMALS IN MADAGASCAR
Taxonomy, names and sequence follow A World List of Mammalian Species by GB Corbet and JE Hill (1991).
Greater Hedgehog-Tenrec Setifer setosus 2 at Ampijoroa.
Madagascar Flying-fox Pteropus rufus A large wild colony at Tana zoo
Lesser Mouse-Lemur Microcebus murinus 2 at Perinet at night
Russet Mouse-Lemur Microcebus rufus 1 at Perinet at night
Greater Dwarf-Lemur Cheirogaleus major 4 at Perinet at night
Brown Lemur Petterus fulvus Common at Ambanizana, Nosy Mangabe, Ampijoroa and Ranomafana
Grey Gentle-Lemur Hapalemur griseus A few at Perinet
Red-bellied Lemur Petterus rubriventer Several at Ranomafana and Vohiparara
Ruffed Lemur Varecia variegata Often heard at Ambanizana
Weasel Lemur Lepilemur mustelinus 3 singles at Ampijoroa
Woolly Lemur Avahi laniger 3 at Ampijoroa and 1 at Perinet
Diademed Sifaka Propithecus diadema 2 small groups at Ranomafana
Verreaux’s Sifaka Propithecus verreauxi verreauxi 1 at Nosy Mangabe
Coquerel’s Sifaka Propithecus verreauxi coquereli 8 at Ampijoroa
Indri Indri indri 3 seen at Perinet and others heard
Ring-tailed Mongoose Galidea elegans 1 on the beach between Ambanizana and Andranobe
Dolphin sp. Delphinidae Several near AmbanizanaRed Forest-Rat Nesomys rufus A few at Perinet and Ranomafana.