The far-carrying call of the Cuckoo-Roller is surely one of the most evocative and memorable sounds of Madagascar. The distinctive Cuckoo-Roller comprises an endemic family all its own, just one of several bird families restricted only to Madagascar. (Listen to a cut recorded by guide Megan Crewe on one of our recent tours.)
We should see—and hear—it on our upcoming Madagascar tour, which is designed to give us an excellent chance of finding representatives from all five (or six) of the families of birds found only here and on the nearby Comoros, and of seeing 110 or more of the 250 endemics on the island. In addition to the birds we should see a dozen or more species of lemurs, including the nearly all-white sifakas and the tiny mouse lemurs, smallest of all primates. And this year we’ve added something new to the tour, a pre-trip to the Masoala peninsula.
Masoala is that part of the country on the northeast corner that juts down into the Indian Ocean (click here to see our map). Masoala supports the largest area of rainforest surviving in Madagascar, and with the creation in the 1990’s of the huge Masoala National Park, it has become one of Madagascar’s top conservation priorities. As you might have guessed, because of their isolation, the forests of Masoala hold many endemic species—among the most desired of them in the bird world is surely the amazing Helmet Vanga, a large blue-black bird with rufous wings and a huge arched blue bill (the only member of the genus Euryceros). But there are other reasons as well to go there—the rare Bernier’s Vanga, the Short-legged Ground-Roller, Madagascar Serpent-Eagle, and Madagascar Red and Madagascar Long-eared owls, as well as some spectacular lemurs and chameleons we won’t see elsewhere on the tour.
Visiting the Masoala peninsula used to be something of an ordeal, mainly because the only available places to stay on the peninsula were quite basic. But with the opening of several new ecotourism lodges with comfortable accommodations, guide Phil Gregory decided this year to add it to our regular tour as an optional pre-trip.
Dates for 2011 are November 8-December 4, with the Masoala pre-trip from November 4. Visit our Madagascar tour page for full details, including our itinerary.
We’ve put together an overview page for our various tours to Panama, from Western Panama to Wild Darien in the eastern part of the country, with the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge trips in between. If you’re not quite sure which trips are the right ones for you, this is a great place to start your selection process! Visit the Panama page…
Note that we also have overview pages, each linked from the right sidebar on this and every News page, for our multiple itineraries to the following countries:
…it’s always a challenge for any of the rest of us who live in plain old North America to compete in the best yard bird contest. Take, for example, this big female Southern Cassowary; she’s a garden bird at Cassowary House, the lodge Phil and his wife, Sue, operate in far north Queensland, Australia…
When Phil Gregory (Australia), Terry Stevenson (Kenya), or Mitch Lysinger (Ecuador) attends the Field Guides business meeting, it’s always a challenge for any of the rest of us who live in plain old North America to compete in the best yard bird contest. Take, for example, this big female Southern Cassowary; she’s a garden bird at Cassowary House, the lodge Phil and his wife, Sue, operate in far north Queensland, Australia. According to Phil, she’s been coming for about ten years now, entirely on her own schedule.
The female cassowary lays several eggs, but it is the male of the species that incubates those eggs and cares for the chicks for nine months or so. The male of this pair is also a regular visitor at Phil and Sue’s, and he sometimes brings the chicks along. Phil says that it’s a real treat to see the brown-striped chicks pestering the big male for food morsels-and maybe just for some of his attention. And it’s a sight we always hope for on our Australia and New Guinea & Australia and Northern Australia tours.