BIRDING AROUND THE WORLD

Subtitle

Madagascar: October / November 1995                                                            How to see all the birds without a hire-car

INTRODUCTION

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

LOGISTICS

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.

REFERENCES

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.

 

ITINERARY

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)

 

Ambanizana

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.

 

Ampijoroa

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.

   

 

Mahajunga

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. 

 

Perinet

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.

 

 

Zombitsy Forest

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.

 

Toliara (Tulear)

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.

 

DAILY LOG

 

October 21      

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).

 

October 22

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.

 

October 23

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.

 

October 29

Boat back to Maroansetra early morning; chill out; boat to Nosy Mangabe late afternoon. Fruitless attempt to see Aye-Aye all evening.

 

October 30

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.

 

October 31

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.

 

November 1

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).

 

November 2

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.

 

November 16

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.

 

 

November 17

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.

 

November 18

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.

 

November 19

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.    

 

November 20

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.

 

November 21

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.

 

November 22

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.

 

November 23

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.

 

 

November 24

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.

 

November 25

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.

 

November 26

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.

 

November 27

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. 

 

 

 

November 28

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.

 

November 29

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)!

 

November 30

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.

 

December 1

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

Common throughout.

 

*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

Common throughout.

*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

Common throughout.

*Madagascar (Long-billed Green) Sunbird  Nectarinia notata

A few in woodland throughout.

DIPS

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 Ambanizana

Red Forest-Rat  Nesomys rufus                                    A few at Perinet and Ranomafana.

 

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