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Easily one of Madascar's most spectacular birds, the incredible Helmet Vanga is one of the main targets on the extension to the Masaola Peninsula. Our views this year certainly made the effort worthwhile! (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
This was my third run-through for this comprehensive tour of Madagascar, which Field Guides has been running since 1986, and the first time for Jesse, and again we had a great tour, albeit with lots of traveling on slow roads, the vagaries of Air Madagascar, and as always the unexpected, like two of the major bridges en route to Berenty being out of use and necessitating some rapid improvisation.
For the second time in recent years we offered an extension to the Masoala Peninsula in quest of Madagascar’s icon bird, the Helmet Vanga, and boy did that pay off, with amazing views of one sitting on the same nest as in 2011, more or less at eye level, with another one nearby! Bernier's Vanga was tough and required a couple of hours walking and the wading of two shallow creeks, but this too paid off nicely with great views of at least 3 female birds and a brief look at a male, as well as another Helmet Vanga. We lost a night due to flight complications, and we had quite a bumpy and damp sea crossing, but the Masoala extension also included Collared Nightjar, Short-legged Ground-Roller, Red-breasted Coua, Red Ruffed Lemur, White-fronted Brown Lemur, and Weasel (Sportive) Lemur, all from a rustic but perfectly adequate lodge set right by the forest. Sure hope to run this again next time, it is really worth the effort with some of the most charismatic species of the tour.
Ankarafantsika had to be done without Gerard, whose brother had just died in Tana, but Guy was a good replacement and our full day proved terrific with a major clean up: White-breasted Mesite, Schlegel’s Asity, then the endangered Van Dam’s Vanga after a bit of a search, plus Red-capped and Coquerel's Couas -- our local guide Amedee sure knows his stuff. We abandoned lunch at the much improved park cafe to go get the rare Madagascar Fish-Eagle, and then scored the Madagascar Jacana too, which I feared had gone from this site.
The Betsiboka estuary boat ride saw all of us on the one boat, a big plus this time. We had great views of Bernier’s Teal, but the Madagascar Sacred Ibis was a no show, as it turned out one of the few dips of the tour.
Next day we had a whole day spare as the Air Mad flight was delayed till 2000, so we hired the boat to take us across the estuary to Kapsedy lighthouse, a site for Crowned Sifaka. Landing was hard, but we got everyone ashore, albeit a tad wet. Regrettably, the first renovations of the cast-iron lighthouse since it was erected in 1901 were underway so there was a fearful cacophony of banging and scraping, not conducive to the sifakas staying around; I reckon ordinarily they would be a fair bet here, still it was an adventure and filled in the day. I climbed up inside the lighthouse amongst all the workmen in the noise, heat, and dust -- it was like a scene from one of the lower hells! A late afternoon trip to a small lake near the airport paid off nicely and got us the delightful African Pygmy-goose and the rare White-backed Duck, two very good trip additions.
Hubbing back to the oasis of the Carlton in Antananarivo is great, and from here we set off on the long and slow drive to Ambositre, where the local musicians, the Marolafy brothers and their sister, were once again performing for us.
Ranomafana was excellent again, and despite afternoon rain and even a hailstorm at one point we did very well. The first morning took in both the Golden and the rare Greater Bamboo Lemurs, then a fortuitous Madagascar Pygmy-Kingfisher, lovely Velvet Asity, and very nice looks at Madagascar Wood-Rail before the trek up to the Henst’s Goshawk site where we scored not only a perched view of this rare species, but also Black-and-white Ruffed Lemurs, a lifer for all. The afternoon saw us try a very wet marsh for Grey Emutail, getting sidetracked by brush warblers and ignoring the real thing which was calling close by, and everyone got wet feet! Angst about nocturnal lemurs was evident, but we wisely did it next night when there were far fewer lemur tourists at the narrow site by the road.
We got most folks onto most things as usual along the narrow forest trails, even the Madagascar Yellowbrow showed amazingly well, but only a few got the Brown Emutail. Luckily Jean-Chris had a nest site for Sunbird-Asity this year, so we nailed that nicely after a bit of a wait -- this was a species we struggled for last time. Next day Yellow-bellied Sunbird-Asity proved easier at the second site we tried, coming in to pink Bakerella flowers, with a female showing really well, then a male coming in for most of us, a fantastic sight of a really rare species.
It was an uneventful long drive down to Isalo, arriving at dusk. The Benson’s Rock-thrush was hard this year, but we eventually found a male after we had done a foray for Madagascar Partridge by the lake there. A pair crossed in front of us and Jesse, Lane, and I went in to try and make them show from the long dry grass, while as it turned out the rest were watching a male out on the plain!
Zombitse was very good despite the heat, and the guides eventually came through with the great prize here, the rare and incredibly restricted range Appert’s Tetraka, plus Cuckoo-Roller a fine pair of White-browed Owls and a huge Oustalet’s Chameleon.
A mid-afternoon stop at La Table at a new site of Gerard’s got a fine male Red-shouldered Vanga -- good to get this one early on; then we went on up to Ifaty and got to the Bamboo Club at dusk, quite a good time to do that drive as the light was good and the temperatures more bearable, and with some highly entertaining taxi-brousse trucks en route, loaded to the hilt with colorful and good-humored passengers.
Just one night at Ifaty was a tad unnerving as we have to get everything in just one morning, but the guides were great and we duly notched Long-tailed Ground-roller, Thamnornis, Running Coua, a nesting Banded Kestrel, and Archbold’s Newtonia. No sign of Lafresnaye’s Vanga, but the rare Madagascar Plover showed very well at the saline flats nearby.
Back to Toliara, and a great fast-boat trip next day, getting out to Nosy Ve in about 45 minutes -- good Red-tailed Tropicbirds, luckily a single Crab Plover, then a fine male Littoral Rock-Thrush at the hotel at Anakao, really easy this year. Back in time for lunch at the Victory, then an afternoon foray which got both Verreaux’s and Green-capped Coua at La Table, with a bonus pair of Lafresnaye’s Vanga there, a new site for me.
Berenty was next, with some exciting times on the trip there as the two new bridges were both not yet in use, so we had to use a ferry -- of which more later -- then found the second earth bridge not too far out of the reserve had been washed out that night. A careful review of the options revealed that it was quite likely to be fixed within a few hours, but meantime the new bridge was potentially there for foot traffic, and this is what we did, walking over and getting the Berenty vehicle to pick us up on the other side, and we didn’t have to wade the river after all. Our bags followed not long after when they fixed the earthen causeway.
Berenty itself was really good, we had fabulous Ring-tailed Lemurs and amazing encounters with the charismatic Verreaux’s Sifakas, whilst the night walk was quite short and gave us White-footed Sportive Lemur and Gray-brown Mouse-Lemur, with Gerard briefly getting a few of us lost in the bush! Berenty also gave us wonderful close looks at Giant Coua, we eventually got Madagascar Sandgrouse and a bonus Sooty Falcon next morning, and the guide had a day roost for Torotoroka Scops-Owl as well as White-browed Owl, all very good. Sadly, what we thought was going to be Madagascar Sparrowhawk proves to be a Frances's Sparrowhawk; I wondered why all three birds were so close by, and Birdforum has given me the answer. The species is often misidentified as the field guides are so unhelpful, and many web photos are incorrectly labeled.
Coming back, we left in good time but got caught at a big truck bottleneck at the ferry, which eventually led us to offload our bags and get them and us ferried over, with the ferry guys being very helpful and Gerard then dashing ahead to the airport to get us all checked in, quite a tight schedule but it worked.
The finale at Andisibe/Mantadia was rewarding, nice to have 3 nights here so we are not too pushed for time. This year, after two very easy years, Scaly Ground-Roller was really hard, the morning we tried we had competition from a guy playing Creedence Clearwater Revival at top volume right by their habitat, and a wandering herd of zebu crashing about in there, as well as sundry other birding groups. Basically it fizzed and we consoled ourselves with Madagascar Grebe, missing a claimed Meller’s Duck which our site guide then tried to attract by sitting on the bank quacking -- I swear he gets loopier every year, but he is good at getting the forest stuff. He proved this next day with Scaly Ground-Roller after quite a long effort. Meller’s Duck was easy this day too, and Nancy found us two unhabituated Indri right by the road and giving strange mournful vocalizations, just marvelous to get this away from Indri ridge, and a great experience. Other stars were two lovely juvenile Madagascar Long-eared Owls, Madagascar Scops-Owl and Madagascar Nightjar at Feon Nyala for those who had not done the extension, the elusive Madagascar Rail at a new site, and then a brilliant male Madagascar Flufftail right by the lodge.
Our final morning got us a great experience with two family groups of Indri calling as we stood underneath one set, with the rare Diademed Sifaka nearby. Other great sightings here were a Madagascar Crested Ibis at nest with two grayish youngsters, after we’d had a brief flyby the day before out by the road, and two Collared Nightjars sat camouflaged at point blank range on the forest floor. Some brilliant work saw Nestor literally herding us a Red-fronted Coua as the last lifer of the trip. A fine leaf-tailed gecko, Uroplatus sikorae, as the last of the herps was neat too, what an extraordinary creature.
Back to Tana and the flight via Toamasina and Ste Marie to Reunion next day. Reunion worked out well with a fine experience of Barau's Petrel coming in at the Gol Estuary in the late afternoon, and a nice walk up through attractive native forest next day which gave us Reunion Harrier, Reunion Bulbul, Reunion Stonechat, and both endemic white-eyes, though sadly no sight or sound of the cuckooshrike this year.
Mauritius is a fairly gentle wind-down after the rigors of the trip, albeit with a very early start so we can get to the Mauritius Fody site in good time. It takes a morning to get the available endemics, and we had terrific looks at Mauritius Parakeet, Mauritius Kestrel, and Pink Pigeon, though I fear the days of the Mauritius Olive White-eye and Mauritius Cuckooshrike may now be highly finite as they seem to have gone from their former accessible sites, no doubt due to the macaque menace which is likely to render them extinct within a very short time, a sad state of affairs. Still, at least the rare non-passerines seem to be doing moderately well and things are not quite so bleak for them.
Overall, it was another great trip to the fantastic island-nation of Madagascar. If you did the extension to Masoala, then Helmet Vanga was the star bird, no contest, with Bernier's Vanga a close second as we worked so hard for it. As for the rest of the trip this would be very hard to decide: how do you choose from the mesites; some amazing vangas including the wonderful Sickle-billed, Blue Vanga, and Nuthatch Vanga and those big Xenopirostris jobs including the rare Van Dam's; great views of all five species of ground roller for most; the Cuckoo-Roller and its marvelous evocative voice; Velvet or Schlegel's Asity, and both Sunbird Asities; and Meller's Duck and Bernier's Teal, some of the rarest ducks in the world? The list goes on, even Barau's Petrel or two species of tropicbird might figure.
As for lemurs, well, all the sifakas are fantastic but Verreaux's and Ring-tailed Lemur were an incredible experience this year, mouse lemurs are cute, the sportive lemurs have great eyes, Red Ruffed and Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur were outstanding both vocally and to look at, the bamboo lemurs were unique and rare, and the Indri must have one of the greatest sounds in the animal kingdom besides being one cool-looking and large animal. Lemur tourism rules.
My thanks to Sharon at the FG office for great work with a very hard and demanding schedule, to Jesse for his assistance, scope carrying, and taping, to Gerard who was again a multi-skilled star who took remarkably good care of us, and to the many sharp-eyed and enthusiastic local guides who once again did such a fine job for us -- Joseph and Armand, Amedee at Ankarafantsika, Jean-Chris and Joe at Ranomafana, the lads at Mangily, Benoit at Berenty, Nestor and Laurent at Andisibe.
Why not join us for another adventure in 2013 with the marvelous birds, lemurs, herps, and people of this great island?
- Phil Gregory, Kuranda, Dec 2012
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
WHITE-FACED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna viduata)
WHITE-BACKED DUCK (Thalassornis leuconotus insularis)
COMB DUCK (Sarkidiornis melanotos)
The rare and endangered Bernier's Teal is easily missed even when tidal conditions are perfect. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
AFRICAN PYGMY-GOOSE (Nettapus auritus)
MELLER'S DUCK (Anas melleri) [E]
RED-BILLED DUCK (Anas erythrorhyncha)
HOTTENTOT TEAL (Anas hottentota)
BERNIER'S TEAL (Anas bernieri) [E]
HELMETED GUINEAFOWL (Numida meleagris) [I]
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
GRAY FRANCOLIN (Francolinus pondicerianus) [I]
MADAGASCAR PARTRIDGE (Margaroperdix madagascarensis) [E]
MADAGASCAR GREBE (Tachybaptus pelzelnii) [E]
GREATER FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus roseus)
LESSER FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus minor)
Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)
BARAU'S PETREL (Pterodroma baraui)
A Pterodroma petrel from dry land?!? On Reunion, superb sightings of the lovely Barau's Petrel are a breeze, as the birds fly in towards their nesting areas in the mountains in the late afternoon. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
WEDGE-TAILED SHEARWATER (Puffinus pacificus)
TROPICAL SHEARWATER (Puffinus bailloni)
WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRD (INDIAN OCEAN) (Phaethon lepturus lepturus)
RED-TAILED TROPICBIRD (Phaethon rubricauda rubricauda)
LESSER FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata ariel)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
LONG-TAILED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax africanus pictilis)
AFRICAN DARTER (Anhinga rufa vulsini)
Fady, or taboo, is prevalent in Malagasy society and governs many aspects of peoples' lives. Sometimes these taboos work in favor of birds, such as on the tiny island of Nosy Ve, where Red-tailed Tropicbirds nest unmolested, protected by a local fady prohibiting people from harming the birds. (Photo by guide Phil Gregory)
HAMERKOP (Scopus umbretta umbretta)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
LITTLE BITTERN (Ixobrychus minutus podiceps)
GRAY HERON (GRAY) (Ardea cinerea firasa)
HUMBLOT'S HERON (Ardea humbloti) [E]
PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea madagascariensis)
GREAT EGRET (AFRICAN) (Ardea alba melanorhyncha)
LITTLE EGRET (DIMORPHIC) (Egretta garzetta dimorpha)
BLACK HERON (Egretta ardesiaca)
CATTLE EGRET (IBIS) (Bubulcus ibis ibis)
SQUACCO HERON (Ardeola ralloides)
MADAGASCAR POND-HERON (Ardeola idae) [E]
STRIATED HERON (OLD WORLD) (Butorides striata rutenbergi)
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)
MADAGASCAR IBIS (Lophotibis cristata) [E]
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
BLACK KITE (YELLOW-BILLED) (Milvus migrans parasitus)
MADAGASCAR FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus vociferoides) [E]
REUNION HARRIER (REUNION) (Circus maillardi maillardi) [E]
Though not restricted to the southwest, the rare Banded Kestrel is most easily found there in the spiny forest, where birds of this species often nest amidst noisy colonies of Sakalava Weavers. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
MADAGASCAR HARRIER-HAWK (Polyboroides radiatus) [E]
FRANCES'S GOSHAWK (Accipiter francesii) [E]
HENST'S GOSHAWK (Accipiter henstii) [E]
MADAGASCAR BUZZARD (Buteo brachypterus) [E]
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
MADAGASCAR KESTREL (Falco newtoni) [E]
MAURITIUS KESTREL (Falco punctatus) [E]
BANDED KESTREL (Falco zoniventris) [E]
SOOTY FALCON (Falco concolor)
PEREGRINE FALCON (EURASIAN) (Falco peregrinus radama)
WHITE-BREASTED MESITE (Mesitornis variegatus) [E]
SUBDESERT MESITE (Monias benschi) [E]
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
MADAGASCAR FLUFFTAIL (Sarothrura insularis) [E]
MADAGASCAR WOOD-RAIL (Canirallus kioloides kioloides)
MADAGASCAR RAIL (Rallus madagascariensis) [E]
WHITE-THROATED RAIL (Dryolimnas cuvieri cuvieri)
ALLEN'S GALLINULE (Porphyrio alleni)
EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus pyrrhorrhoa)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)
LESSER SAND-PLOVER (Charadrius mongolus)
GREATER SAND-PLOVER (Charadrius leschenaultii crassirostris)
KITTLITZ'S PLOVER (Charadrius pecuarius)
A typical scene from the populated highland countryside: rice paddies, tall red brick homes, and hillsides that are mostly denuded save for patches of scrub and non-native Eucalyptus. Quite a contrast to the forested reserves that are the focus of our tour. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
COMMON RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius hiaticula)
MADAGASCAR PLOVER (Charadrius thoracicus) [E]
THREE-BANDED PLOVER (Charadrius tricollaris bifrontatus)
WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER (Charadrius marginatus tenellus)
Dromadidae (Crab Plover)
CRAB PLOVER (Dromas ardeola)
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus)
MADAGASCAR JACANA (Actophilornis albinucha) [E]
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
TEREK SANDPIPER (Xenus cinereus)
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos)
COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia)
WHIMBREL (EUROPEAN) (Numenius phaeopus phaeopus)
EURASIAN CURLEW (Numenius arquata)
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)
SANDERLING (Calidris alba)
CURLEW SANDPIPER (Calidris ferruginea)
MADAGASCAR SNIPE (Gallinago macrodactyla) [E]
MADAGASCAR BUTTONQUAIL (Turnix nigricollis) [E]
Glareolidae (Pratincoles and Coursers)
MADAGASCAR PRATINCOLE (Glareola ocularis) [E]
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
SOOTY TERN (Onychoprion fuscatus)
CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)
ROSEATE TERN (Sterna dougallii arideensis)
COMMON TERN (COMMON) (Sterna hirundo hirundo)
The gorgeous Madagascar Blue Pigeon is a member of a genus restricted to the Indian Ocean islands. Only two other species still exist, on the Comoros and the Seychelles, while birds on each of the three Mascarene Islands are all extinct, the Mauritius Blue-Pigeon being the most recently lost, disappearing in the 1830's. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
GREAT CRESTED TERN (Thalasseus bergii enigmus)
LESSER CRESTED TERN (Thalasseus bengalensis bengalensis)
MADAGASCAR SANDGROUSE (Pterocles personatus) [E]
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
PINK PIGEON (Nesoenas mayeri) [E]
MADAGASCAR TURTLE-DOVE (Streptopelia picturata picturata)
SPOTTED DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis) [I]
NAMAQUA DOVE (Oena capensis aliena)
ZEBRA DOVE (Geopelia striata) [I]
MADAGASCAR GREEN-PIGEON (Treron australis) [E]
MADAGASCAR BLUE-PIGEON (Alectroenas madagascariensis) [E]
ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET (Psittacula krameri) [I]
MAURITIUS PARAKEET (Psittacula echo)
GRAY-HEADED LOVEBIRD (Agapornis canus) [E]
VASA PARROT (Coracopsis vasa) [E]
BLACK PARROT (Coracopsis nigra) [E]
MADAGASCAR CUCKOO (Cuculus rochii) [E]
GIANT COUA (Coua gigas) [E]
COQUEREL'S COUA (Coua coquereli) [E]
RED-BREASTED COUA (Coua serriana) [E]
RED-FRONTED COUA (Coua reynaudii) [E]
RED-CAPPED COUA (Coua ruficeps) [E]
Couas are an endemic subfamily of terrestrial cuckoos, with the majority of species being restricted to the drier forest types. This lovely Red-capped Coua posed nicely in the sun in the dry deciduous forest at Ankarafantsika. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
RED-CAPPED COUA (GREEN-CAPPED) (Coua ruficeps olivaceiceps) [E]
RUNNING COUA (Coua cursor) [E]
CRESTED COUA (Coua cristata) [E]
VERREAUX'S COUA (Coua verreauxi) [E]
BLUE COUA (Coua caerulea) [E]
MADAGASCAR COUCAL (Centropus toulou) [E]
MALAGASY SCOPS-OWL (Otus rutilus) [E]
TOROTOROKA SCOPS-OWL (Otus madagascariensis) [E]
MADAGASCAR LONG-EARED OWL (Asio madagascariensis) [E]
MARSH OWL (Asio capensis)
WHITE-BROWED OWL (Ninox superciliaris) [E]
Madagascar is considered a part of Africa, but its avifauna shows influences from Asian regions as well, as evidenced by the striking White-browed Owl, the sole "African" representative of the widespread genus Ninox. (Photo by guide Phil Gregory)
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
MADAGASCAR NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus madagascariensis) [E]
COLLARED NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus enarratus) [E]
MALAGASY SPINETAIL (Zoonavena grandidieri) [E]
MASCARENE SWIFTLET (Aerodramus francicus)
ALPINE SWIFT (Apus melba willsi)
MADAGASCAR SWIFT (Apus balstoni) [E]
AFRICAN PALM-SWIFT (Cypsiurus parvus gracilis)
MALAGASY KINGFISHER (Corythornis vintsioides) [E]
MADAGASCAR PYGMY-KINGFISHER (Corythornis madagascariensis) [E]
MADAGASCAR BEE-EATER (Merops superciliosus)
BROAD-BILLED ROLLER (Eurystomus glaucurus glaucurus)
SHORT-LEGGED GROUND-ROLLER (Brachypteracias leptosomus) [E]
SCALY GROUND-ROLLER (Brachypteracias squamiger) [E]
None of the five species in the endemic ground-roller family could be considered easy to see, but the stunning Scaly Ground-Roller is especially tough, partly because there seems to be only one accessible pair on the entire tour route! It was hard work again this year, but our perstistence really paid off, thanks in large part to our excellent local guides Nestor and Laurent. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
PITTA-LIKE GROUND-ROLLER (Atelornis pittoides) [E]
RUFOUS-HEADED GROUND-ROLLER (Atelornis crossleyi) [E]
LONG-TAILED GROUND-ROLLER (Uratelornis chimaera) [E]
CUCKOO-ROLLER (Leptosomus discolor)
MADAGASCAR HOOPOE (Upupa marginata) [E]
VELVET ASITY (Philepitta castanea) [E]
SCHLEGEL'S ASITY (Philepitta schlegeli) [E]
The four members of the endemic asity family are primarily birds of the eastern rainforests, the only outlier being the wonderful Schlegel's Asity, like this young male, which is found in the dry deciduous forests of the west such as at Ankarafantsika. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
SUNBIRD ASITY (Neodrepanis coruscans) [E]
YELLOW-BELLIED ASITY (Neodrepanis hypoxantha) [E]
TYLAS VANGA (Tylas eduardi) [E]
DARK NEWTONIA (Newtonia amphichroa) [E]
COMMON NEWTONIA (Newtonia brunneicauda) [E]
ARCHBOLD'S NEWTONIA (Newtonia archboldi) [E]
CHABERT VANGA (Leptopterus chabert) [E]
BLUE VANGA (Cyanolanius madagascarinus) [E]
The endemic vanga family has recently been expanded to include such diverse species as the 4 newtonias, Ward's Flycatcher, and Crossley's Babbler. Pictured here is one of the original members of the family, the beautiful Blue Vanga. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
RED-TAILED VANGA (Calicalicus madagascariensis) [E]
RED-SHOULDERED VANGA (Calicalicus rufocarpalis) [E]
NUTHATCH-VANGA (Hypositta corallirostris) [E]
HOOK-BILLED VANGA (Vanga curvirostris) [E]
HELMET VANGA (Euryceros prevostii) [E]
RUFOUS VANGA (Schetba rufa) [E]
SICKLE-BILLED VANGA (Falculea palliata) [E]
BERNIER'S VANGA (Oriolia bernieri) [E]
WHITE-HEADED VANGA (Artamella viridis) [E]
LAFRESNAYE'S VANGA (Xenopirostris xenopirostris) [E]
VAN DAM'S VANGA (Xenopirostris damii) [E]
POLLEN'S VANGA (Xenopirostris polleni) [E*]
WARD'S FLYCATCHER (Pseudobias wardi) [E]
CROSSLEY'S BABBLER (Mystacornis crossleyi) [E]
ASHY CUCKOO-SHRIKE (Coracina cinerea) [E]
CRESTED DRONGO (Dicrurus forficatus) [E]
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
MADAGASCAR PARADISE-FLYCATCHER (Terpsiphone mutata) [E]
Male Madagascar Paradise-Flycatchers come in two distinct color morphs, this striking black-and-white creature, and an equally attractive rufous morph. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
MASCARENE PARADISE-FLYCATCHER (Terpsiphone bourbonnensis)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
PIED CROW (Corvus albus)
MADAGASCAR LARK (Mirafra hova) [E]
PLAIN MARTIN (Riparia paludicola cowani)
MASCARENE MARTIN (Phedina borbonica madagascariensis)
RED-WHISKERED BULBUL (Pycnonotus jocosus) [I]
MADAGASCAR BULBUL (Hypsipetes madagascariensis) [E]
REUNION BULBUL (Hypsipetes borbonicus) [E]
MAURITIUS BULBUL (Hypsipetes olivaceus) [E]
Acrocephalidae (Reed-Warblers and Allies)
MADAGASCAR BRUSH-WARBLER (Nesillas typica) [E]
SUBDESERT BRUSH-WARBLER (Nesillas lantzii) [E]
MADAGASCAR SWAMP-WARBLER (Acrocephalus newtoni) [E]
Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
BROWN EMU-TAIL (Dromaeocercus brunneus) [E]
GRAY EMU-TAIL (Dromaeocercus seebohmi) [E*]
Bernieridae (Malagasy Warblers)
WHITE-THROATED OXYLABES (Oxylabes madagascariensis) [E]
LONG-BILLED BERNIERIA (Bernieria madagascariensis) [E]
CRYPTIC WARBLER (Cryptosylvicola randrianasoloi) [E]
WEDGE-TAILED JERY (Hartertula flavoviridis) [E]
THAMNORNIS (Thamnornis chloropetoides) [E]
YELLOW-BROWED OXYLABES (Crossleyia xanthophrys) [E]
SPECTACLED TETRAKA (Xanthomixis zosterops) [E]
The charismatic Ring-tailed Lemur is arguably the best-known and most iconic of the nearly 100 accepted species of lemurs. (Photo by guide Phil Gregory)
APPERT'S TETRAKA (Xanthomixis apperti) [E]
GRAY-CROWNED TETRAKA (Xanthomixis cinereiceps) [E]
RAND'S WARBLER (Randia pseudozosterops) [E]
Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)
COMMON JERY (Neomixis tenella) [E]
GREEN JERY (Neomixis viridis) [E]
STRIPE-THROATED JERY (Neomixis striatigula) [E]
MADAGASCAR CISTICOLA (Cisticola cherina) [E]
Zosteropidae (Yuhinas, White-eyes, and Allies)
MADAGASCAR WHITE-EYE (Zosterops maderaspatanus) [E]
MASCARENE WHITE-EYE (REUNION) (Zosterops borbonicus borbonicus) [E]
MASCARENE WHITE-EYE (MAURITIUS) (Zosterops borbonicus mauritianus) [E]
REUNION WHITE-EYE (Zosterops olivaceus) [E]
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
MADAGASCAR MAGPIE-ROBIN (Copsychus albospecularis) [E]
FOREST ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola sharpei) [E]
BENSON'S ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola bensoni) [E]
LITTORAL ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola imerina) [E]
STONECHAT (MADAGASCAR) (Saxicola torquatus sibilla) [E]
REUNION STONECHAT (Saxicola tectes) [E]
MADAGASCAR STARLING (Saroglossa aurata) [E]
COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis) [I]
Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
SOUIMANGA SUNBIRD (Cinnyris souimanga) [E]
MADAGASCAR SUNBIRD (Cinnyris notatus) [E]
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
MADAGASCAR WAGTAIL (Motacilla flaviventris) [E]
Fringillidae (Siskins, Crossbills, and Allies)
YELLOW-FRONTED CANARY (Serinus mozambicus) [I]
Wonderfully agile and graceful in their usual treetop haunts, Verreaux's Sifakas are endearingly awkward on the ground. There is no better place to see their terrestrial ninja dance moves then at Berenty Private Reserve. (Photo by guide Phil Gregory)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]
Ploceidae (Weavers and Allies)
VILLAGE WEAVER (Ploceus cucullatus) [I]
NELICOURVI WEAVER (Ploceus nelicourvi) [E]
SAKALAVA WEAVER (Ploceus sakalava) [E]
RED FODY (Foudia madagascariensis) [E]
FOREST FODY (Foudia omissa) [E]
MAURITIUS FODY (Foudia rubra) [E]
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
COMMON WAXBILL (Estrilda astrild) [I]
MADAGASCAR MUNIA (Lonchura nana) [E]
TENREC (Tenrec ecaudatus)
LOWLAND STREAKED TENREC (Hemicentetes semispinosus)
MAURITIUS FRUIT BAT (Pteropus subniger)
MADAGASCAR FRUIT BAT (Pteropus rufus)
EASTERN RUFOUS MOUSE LEMUR (Microcebus rufus)
GRAY-BROWN MOUSE-LEMUR (Microcebus griseorufus)
GREATER DWARF LEMUR (Cheirogaleus major)
FAT-TAILED DWARF LEMUR (Cheirogaleus medius)
BROWN LEMUR (Eulemur fulvus fulvus)
RED-FRONTED BROWN LEMUR (Eulemur rufus)
RED-BELLIED LEMUR (Eulemur rubriventer)
Largest of the living lemurs, the Indri, or babakoto, as it is known locally, is also one of the most memorable. Loud, mournful cries of Indri groups echo across the forested hills at Perinet, making a visit there an unforgettable experience! (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
RING-TAILED LEMUR (Lemur catta)
GRAY BAMBOO LEMUR (Hapalemur griseus)
GOLDEN BAMBOO LEMUR (Hapalemur aureus)
GREATER BAMBOO LEMUR (Prolemur simus)
VARIEGATED (RUFFED) LEMUR (Varecia variegata)
WHITE-FOOTED SPORTIVE LEMUR (Lepilemur leucopus)
WEASEL LEMUR (Lepilemur mustelinus)
HUBBARD'S SPORTIVE LEMUR (Lepilemur hubbardi)
AVAHI (WOOLY LEMUR) (Avahi laniger)
VERREAUX'S SIFAKA (Propithecus verreauxi)
COQUEREL'S SIFAKA (Propithecus coquereli)
DIADEMED SIFAKA (Propithecus diadema)
INDRI (Indri indri)
CRAB-EATING MACAQUE (Macaca fascigularis) [I]
RED FOREST RAT (Nesomys rufus)
In addition to the better-known chameleons, Madagascar is also home to a great variety of colorful day geckos. This one is a Lined Day Gecko, a common sight in the eastern rainforests. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
SPINNER DOLPHIN (Stenella longirostris)
MALAGASY RING-TAILED MONGOOSE (Galidia elegans)
LINED DAY GECKO (Phelsuma lineata)
PEACOCK DAY GECKO (Phelsuma quadriocellata)
STANDING'S DAY GECKO (Phelsuma standingi)
MADAGASCAR DAY GECKO (Phelsuma madagascariensis)
MALAGASY GIANT CHAMELEON (Furcifer oustaleti)
MADAGASCAR GIANT CHAMELEON (Furcifer verrucosus)
SHORT-HORNED CHAMELEON (Calumma brevicorne)
Madagascar is home to nearly half the world's species of chameleons, and we typically see about half a dozen species on a trip. The Short-horned Chameleon seen here is one of the more widespread species in the east, and is less restricted to primary forest than many of the other eastern chameleons. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)
GLAW'S FLAP-NECKED CHAMELEON (Calumma glawi)
PARSON'S GIANT CHAMELEON (Calumma parsonii)
SOUTHERN LEAF-TAIL GECKO (Uroplatus sikorae)
AFRICAN HOUSE GECKO (Hemidactylus mercatorius)
MADAGASCAR GROUND BOA (Boa manditra)
MALAGASY GIANT HOGNOSE SNAKE (Leioheterodon madagascariensis)
COLLARED IGUANA (Oplurus cuvieri)
MADAGASCAR ZONOSAUR (Zonosaurus madagascariensis)
JEWELED ZONOSAUR (Zonosaurus ornatus)
THREE-EYED LIZARD (Chalarodon madagascariensis)
NILE CROCODILE (Crocodylus niloticus)
VARIEGATED GOLDEN FROG (Mantella baroni)
Tomato Frog - One of these amazing creatures was caught for us by a guy at the Maroantsetra Hotel, I quote from Wikipedia: "Three of the four species of tomato frogs are native to Madagascar. The common name comes from Dyscophus antongilii's bright red color. When threatened, a tomato frog puffs up its body. If a predator grabs a tomato frog in its mouth, the frog's skin secretes a thick substance that gums up the predator's eyes and mouth, causing the predator to release the frog to free up its eyes. The gummy substance contains a toxin that occasionally causes allergic reactions in humans. The allergic reaction will not kill a human and the frog secretes it only when frightened."
Blue-spotted frog - Iterixalis madagascariensis. Seen at Andisibe.
Blaisodactylus sahalava, the Black-shouldered Sahalava, was the dull patterned nocturnal gecko we saw at roost at Zombitse.
Lygodactylus tolanbyi was a gecko we saw on the night walk at Berenty.
Phelsuma cepediana was the day gecko with the bluish tail at Bel Ombre, and there was an Agamid sp. nearby, presumably introduced?
SNAKES (or serpents....)
Acrontophis dumereli, Dumerel's Ground Boa, was the boa coiled up asleep in a tree at Berenty.
Liophodophis lateralis was the slender black and buff-lined snake at Andisibe.
Stenophis citrilis was the slender yellowish tree snake from Ankarafantsika and then Andisibe.
Dromicodryas bernieri was the striped snake at Andisibe.
Calumma nasutum, Short-snouted Chameleon, was the tiny snub-nosed one found at Mandraka and Ranomafana.
Calumma cryupticum, Blue-legged Chameleon, was a new species for me from Ranomafana.
Calumma pardalis, Panther Chameleon - One of this striking species was brought to us at the Maroantsetra Hotel.
Belted Chameleon, Furcifer balteatus - A male at the C'Entrest and then a female on the road at Ranomafana, another new one for Phil.
The dead grey shrew at La Roche Ecrite was the introduced Asian House or Asian Musk Shrew (Suncus marinus).
The swollen trunk rather baobab-like trees growing on the dry hillside near Ste Augustin are Moringa sp.
We also saw several species of the 6 endemic Baobabs, Including Adansonia za at Zombitse, A. madagascariensis at Mahajunga and A. rubrostupa at Ifaty.
Magnificent large orb spiders were seen at several spots, and the extraordinary giraffe-necked weevils at Mandraka.
Totals for the tour: 233 bird taxa and 28 mammal taxa