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A Report from

MADAGASCAR: An Island full of endemics, October 6-29, 2001,


Ron Hoff, Clinton, Tennessee USA

This was a trip my wife, Dollyann Myers, and I have wanted to do for a long time and it was well worth the wait. It was simply superb! We had a realistic chance of finding 129 endemic or near-endemic species and we encountered them all!!! We actually saw 127 of them and the other two (Yellow-bellied Sunbird Asity and Henst's Goshawk) were heard either by us or someone else in the group. There were 9 other endemics that we were either out of range for or there was so little chance of actually seeing them that it was almost impossible, so I didn't include them as actual possibilities to be encountered. Anyway you look at it the trip was a resounding success. This was a trip run by the group known as Ornifolks. Our guide, Guy Eldridge (UK) (, was professional, accurate, persistent when needed, and great fun to boot. He also had a terrific sense of humor. I don't know when I've laughed so much on a birding trip. The first 2 weeks of this trip we primarily camped out. While this was somewhat of a pain logistically, we got into it after a while. It brought the cost of the trip down greatly and the best part was that when you woke up in the morning, you were already at the place you were going birding in, so there were no long drives over rough roads first thing in the mornings to get to the birding areas. See comments at the end. We also had a crew that drove the 2 vans, cooked all our food and Theo, who oversaw everything to make sure that things ran smoothly. He was invaluable.

I'll go through the day to day itinerary, with some of the place names and then the species and mammal lists. I'll have some comments at the end. I try to be as accurate as possible when I do these reports, but errors are a fact of life. If I have made any errors, especially taxonomically, I would like to hear about them ( I hope this report helps somebody else planning a trip to Madagascar. I wouldn't wait too much longer. There's only about 5% of the original forest cover left. What's left is in reserves, but the pressure to bring in money is great. I don't know how much longer the reserves can keep loggers and other resource draining enterprises out.


October 5 - Most of us arrived on the 5th. We stayed at the Hotel Farihy, about 10 minutes from the airport. It was an OK hotel, but Guy's working on finding another one that's better for future trips. Night at Farihy.

October 6 - We left about mid-morning for Perinet. It was a drive of several hours to get there. We stopped at a bridge on the way to try for Pratincole, but dipped. We had a local guide for this portion named Maurice. He was simple the best local nature guide I've ever had. He knew everything: plants, mammals, insects, birds, etc. Most nights at the beginning, we went on a nocturnal walk. They were all very interesting and netted a lifetime of observations of Chameleons, etc. Night camping at Analamazaotra.

October 7 - All day safari walking and birding in the Analamazaotra forest. Nocturnal walk for Mad. Long-eared Owl and Mad. Nightjar. Yes to both! Night camping at Analamazaotra.

October 8 - Early morning was spent near the entrance to Perinet.  Later we transferred to Mantadia rain forest, birding along the way. It was a fantastic day with super looks at Mad. Little Grebe, Mad. Rail, and Greater Painted-Snipes. Our base camp was at km 14, near a small stream. More nocturnal walks here resulted in several species of lemurs and sifakas. Night at campsite.

October 9 - Birding all day in Mantadia rain forest. Given the quality of the birds we saw today, this day ranks as the best birding day I've ever had. Maurice showing us a Scaly Ground-roller roosting for the night about 8 feet over our head capped it off! Incredible. Night at campsite.

October 10 - Birding all day in Mantadia rain forest. Night at campsite.

October 11 - Final morning in Mantadia rain forest. We left a bit early because the bridge on the way back was supposed to be only open for a few hours due to construction and we didn't want to get stranded. The result was that the bridge was not closed, but we found Mad. Pratincoles near the bridge and eventually got crippling looks at them a bit downstream. Night at Farihy hotel in Antananarivo ('Tana).

October 12 - This was transfer day to the western city of Mahajunga. Our flight left late and when we got to Mahajunga, we opted for a cheap hotel in town instead of driving for an hour or so more to the campsite we were supposed to use. The hotel we chose was very nice, clean, had hot showers, and was only about $12 USD/night! We ate supper at a streetside café and it was excellent. Night at Hotel Akbar.

October 13 - This morning was a boat trip to the Betsiboka estuary for some river estuary specialties. We found them all, including Bernier's Teal and Mad. Sacred Ibis. After returning about noon, we drove to our next stop called Ampijoroa. It was a dry forest with loads of great birds. Along the way we passed a wetland called Amboromalandy, where we picked up several species. Night camping at Ampijoroa.

October 14 - Birding all day in Ampijoroa. Night camping at Ampijoroa.

October 15 - Morning birding in Ampijoroa. After we had finally found Van Dam's Vanga, and there were no more target species to be had at Ampijoroa, we decided to start driving back to 'Tana, because it was going to be a long drive the next day. Night camping along the main road back to 'Tana.

October 16 - Finished driving back into 'Tana, finding Reunion Harrier along the way. Night at Farihy.

October 17 - A very long, all day drive to get to Ranomafana. We got there after dark and set up our tents. Night camping at Ranomafana campsite.

October 18 - Birding all day at Ranomafana. Night at campsite.

October 19 - Birding all day in the Ranomafana area. Night at campsite.

October 20 - Birding all day in the Ranomafana area. Night at campsite.

October 21 - Finishing up anything that we had either missed or not gotten good looks at in the area. Night at Campsite.

October 22 - Another long day's drive to Isalo National Park, where we camped at a place called "the Oasis". The scenery here was fantastic. Great place to camp. Night camping at the Oasis.

October 23 - We spent part of the morning finding Benson's Rock Thrush. After that we drove to our next stop, Zombintsy Park. A nocturnal this evening resulted in stunning looks at 2 White-browed Owls. Night camping at Zombintsy.

October 24 - Our morning birding at Zombintsy resulted in super, prolonged looks at Giant Coua. The rest of the morning was spent driving to the Tulear area, where we finished up at our hotel called La Mangroves. It was right on the Mozambique Channel and nice. Night at La Mangroves.

October 25 - This was a another great day. We started out by driving to a village called St. Augustin, where we waded across some shallow river fingers to the Onilahy delta. Here we found Madagascar Sandgrouse. Then we went to the river mouth, where we boarded a boat that took us to a small Island called Nosy Ve. There were nesting Red-tailed Tropicbirds and we also found some Crab Plovers nearby. Littoral Rock Thrush was found behind a beach settlement close by. Night at La Mangroves hotel.

October 26 - We basically birded along the St. Augustin road where Guy found our target bird, the Red- Shouldered Vanga, a lifer for him. After some more morning birding, we left and went through Tulear to a community called Ifaty, where we stayed at the very nice Nautilus Hotel, right on the beach. The food here was excellent and they also rented diving equipment for snorkeling. We birded along the beach and eventually picked up Mad. Plover. Night at Nautilus hotel.

October 27 - We spent the morning and then the latter part of the afternoon birding the spiny forest nearby. Night at Nautilus Hotel.

October 28 - Birding again in the spiny forest in the morning. In the afternoon we went a bit further north from Ifaty to try a different location for Green-capped Coua. Night at Nautilus Hotel.

October 29 - Morning drive back to Tulear, birding the mangrove mudflats along the way. Caught mid-day flight back to 'Tana. Tour ends after a nice supper at a restaurant named Tonga Soa, near the Farihy Hotel. Night at Farihy Hotel.

October 30th - Outbound flights.


This species list uses Clements' 5th edition of the Checklist of the Birds of the World. The numbers after the species are the dates that species was seen. (E) = endemic; (NE) = near-endemic; (H) = heard only.

(E) Madagascar Grebe - Tachybaptus pelzelnii. 8. Full breeding plumaged adult seen on a pond an the way to Mantadia. Absolutely beautiful.
Red-tailed Tropicbird - Phaethon rubricauda. 25. Breeding on Nosy Ve. Got to within 10 ft. of them. Wow!
Darter - Anhinga melanogaster. 14
Gray Heron - Ardea cinerea. 13, 25
(E) Humblot's Heron - Ardea humbloti. 13, 25, 26. Good looks at Betsiboka and Onilahy.
Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea. 13, 14, 19
Great Egret - Ardea alba. 6, 13, 16, 25
Black Heron - Egretta ardesiaca. 13. About 20 seen well in marsh area on way to Ampijoroa.
(NE) Dimorphic Egret - Egretta garzetta dimorpha. 11, 13, 16, 25. Clements lists this bird as a subspecies of Little Egret. Regional endemic. Terrific views at Betsiboka. Gorgeous bird.
Squacco Heron - Ardeola ralloides. 6, 11-13, 16, 17
(E) Madagascar Pond-Heron - Ardeola idea. 13. Great scope look at Ampijoroa. Probably saw this species from a distance other times during the trip, but didn't look closely.
Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis. Common.
Striated Heron - Butorides striatus. 6, 11, 13-15, 25, 26
Black-crowned Night-Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax. 13
Hamerkop - Scopus umbretta. 16, 17. Seen in rice paddies as we drove past.
(NE) Sacred Ibis - Threskiornis aethiopicus. 13. This subspecies should be split soon. Betsiboka.
Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus. 13
(E) Madagascar Ibis - Lophotibis cristata. 11, 14, 24. Seen well at Ampijoroa. Beautiful.
Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus ruber. 25. Onilahy delta.
White-faced Whistling-Duck - Dendrocygna viduata. 5, 13-15, 25
Comb Duck - Sarkidiornis melanotos. 14, 15. On the lake at Ampijoroa.
African Pygmy-goose - Nettapus auritus. 13. Great looks at marsh on way to Ampijoroa.
(E) Bernier's Teal - Anas bernieri. 13. Great fly-by looks at Betsiboka. Never saw them again.
(E) Meller's Duck - Anas melleri. 19. Great looks on river near Ranomafana.
Red-billed Duck - Anas erythrorhyncha. 25
(E) Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk - Aviceda madagascariensis. 15. Crippling looks as it perched in a near tree!
Bat Hawk - Macheiramphus alcinus. 12. Single flyover at dusk in downtown Mahajunga. Brief look.
(NE) Black Kite - Milvus migrans. 6, 11-16, 21-25, 28. Parasitus subspecies. Called "Yellow-billed" Kite. Information we had said this bird is a probable split.
(E) Madagascar Fish-Eagle - Haliaeetus vociferoides. 13-15. Seen well at lake at Ampijoroa.
(NE) Reunion Harrier - Circus maillardi. 16. Guy spotted a flying bird as we were driving back to 'Tana. We got fairly decent looks through the scope.
(E) Madagascar Harrier-Hawk - Polyboroides radiatus. 9, 13, 15, 19. Great views on the 19th at Ampijoroa.
(E) Frances's Goshawk - Accipiter francesii. 9, 14, 27. Several good views of this endemic.
(E) Madagascar Sparrowhawk - Accipiter madagascariensis. 7. Maurice had a nest staked out and we got incredibly good looks.
(E) Madagascar Buzzard - Buteo brachypterus. 6-11, 18-20, 21. Fairly common.
(E) Madagascar Kestrel - Falco newtoni. 5, 6, 8, 11, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23-28. Easy to see and gorgeous.
(E) Banded Kestrel - Falco zoniventris. 7, 27. Prolonged study look at Perinet.
(E) Madagascar Partridge - Margaroperdix madagascarensis. 21. We worked hard to flush a lone female at the snipe marsh near Ampijoroa.
Helmeted Guineafowl - Numida meleagris. 26. Flushed one up at Nautilus Hotel grounds.
(E) White-breasted Mesite - Mesitornis variegata. 14, 15. Seen well at Ampijoroa.
(E) Brown Mesite - Mesitornis unicolor. 18. Our local guide, Fidi, found a pair for us at Ranomafana.
(E) Subdesert Mesite - Monias benschi. 27. Our local guide found one on a nest for us. Great looks!
(E) Madagascar Buttonquail - Turnix nigricollis. 14, 26. Studied at length in scope at Nautilus grounds.
(E) Madagascar Flufftail - Sarothrura insularis. 10, 19. Fairly common bird, but unbelievably hard to see well. Good looks at Ranomafana.
(E) Madagascar Wood-Rail - Canirallus kioloides. 18. Fairly easy at Ranomafana, but hard to see well.
(E) Madagascar Rail - Rallus madagascariensis. 8. Maurice went into the reeds and cleared out an area for the birds to walk across so we could see them. We got great looks as they crossed the open area. Marsh on way to Mantadia rain forest.
(E) White-throated Rail - Dryolimnas cuvieri. 7, 13. Terrific looks from the boat at Betsiboka.
Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus. 6-8
Red-knobbed Coot - Fulica cristata. 5. Seen from the roof of the Farihy Hotel in 'Tana.
(E) Madagascar Jacana - Actophilornis albinucha. 13. 2 seen well at marsh on way to Ampijoroa.
Greater Painted-snipe - Rostratula benghalensis. 8, 13. Incredibly good looks at the marsh on the way to Mantadia rain forest. Same area as Mad. Rail.
Crab Plover - Dromas ardeola. 25. Found 13 birds roosting on Nosy Ve Island. Seen well.
Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus. 13, 26
(NE) Madagascar Pratincole - Glareola ocularis. Breeding endemic. Terrific looks on way to Perinet.
Black-bellied Plover - Pluvialis squatarola. 13, 25, 26, 28, 29
Common Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiaticula. 26, 29
(E) Madagascar Plover - Charadrius thoracicus. 26. One bird seen very well near Ifaty.
Kittlitz's Plover - Charadrius pecuarius. 13, 26
Three-banded Plover - Charadrius tricollaris. 8, 11
White-fronted Plover - Charadrius marginatus. 13, 25, 26, 29. Great looks at Ifaty.
Greater Sandplover - Charadrius leschenaultii. 13, 24-26
(E) Madagascar Snipe - Gallinago macrodactyla. 19, 21. Several seen flying at marsh near Ranomafana.
Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus. 13, 24-26, 28, 29
Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia. 13, 25, 26, 29
Terek Sandpiper - Xenus cinereus. 13. Betsiboka estuary.
Common Sandpiper - Actitis hypoleucos. 6, 11, 13, 14, 21, 25, 29
Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres. 25, 26, 29
Sanderling - Calidris alba. 25, 26
Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea. 25, 29
Kelp Gull - Larus dominicanus. 25, 29
Caspian Tern - Sterna caspia. 25
Lesser Crested Tern - Sterna bengalensis. 25
Great Crested Tern - Sterna bergii. 25
(E) Madagascar Sandgrouse - Pterocles personatus. 6 seen well on Onilahy river delta area.
Rock Dove - Columba livia. Common in cities. Duh!
(NE) Madagascar Turtle-Dove - Streptopelia picturata. 7, 13-15, 21, 24, 25
Namaqua Dove - Oena capensis. 5, 13-15, 24-27
(E) Madagascar Green-Pigeon - Treron australis. 14, 25. Seen well at Ampijoroa. More common in south.
(E) Madagascar Blue-Pigeon - Alectroenas madagascariensis. 6-8, 10, 18-20. Gorgeous and easy to see.
(E) Gray-headed Lovebird - Agapornis canus. 14-16, 24, 27. Very cute! Near campsite at Ampijoroa.
(E) Vasa Parrot - Coracopsis vasa. 14, 15. Fairly easy to see at Ampijoroa.
(E) Black Parrot - Coracopsis nigra. 6-11, 13-15, 18, 23, 24. Common and easy to see well.
(E) Madagascar Cuckoo - Cuculus rochii. 8, 18, 21, 27. Heard almost daily.
(E) Giant Coua - Coua gigas. 24. Had one perch in a nearby tree for about 20 min. at Zombintsy.
(E) Coquerel's Coua - Coua coquereli. 14, 24. We had great looks at all the Couas.
(E) Red-breasted Coua - Coua serriana. We went until the final morning to find this one. Guy said it was getting harder every year to see this species. Maurice rounded one up for us. Good looks.
(E) Red-fronted Coua - Coua reynaudii. 20, 21. Seen several times at Ranomafana.
(E) Red-capped Coua - Coua ruficeps. 14, 15. Several encountered at Ampijoroa.
(E) Green-capped Coua - Coua ruficeps olivaceiceps. 27, 28. Probable split from Red-capped. A few people saw this species well, but most got only a glimpse.
(E) Running Coua - Coua cursor. 27. Spiny Forest.
(E) Crested Coua - Coua cristata. 14, 15, 25. Fairly easy; great looks.
(E) Verreaux's Coua - Coua verreauxi. 24. Several seen well near La Mangrove Hotel.
(E) Blue Coua - Coua caerulea. 7, 8, 10, 19, 20, 21. Fairly easy and beautiful.
(E) Madagascar Coucal - Centropus toulou. 6-8, 14, 25, 26, 29
(E) Malagasy Scops-Owl - Otus rutilus. 8, H6-11. Probable split into Rain forest Scops-Owl. Heard lots.
(E) Torotoroka Scops-Owl - Otus madagascariensis (?). 14. Probable split from Otus rutilus. Ampijoroa.
(E) White-browed Owl - Ninox superciliaris. 10 (some of the group), 23. Great looks at Zombintsy.
(E) Madagascar Long-eared Owl - Asio madagascariensis. 6, 7, 10. Maurice showed us one on a nest near our campsite at Analamazoatra. Much better look at Mantadia.
(E) Madagascar Nightjar - Caprimulgus madagascariensis. 6, 7, 13, 14, 23, 25, 27. Seen well several times.
(E) Collared Nightjar - Caprimulgus enarratus. 9. Maurice had one staked out at its daytime roost. We were able to see it from about 15 feet away. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life, including everything! I was stunned. This sighting alone was worth the trip. Shortly after seeing this bird, we ran into a group of Diademed Sifakas. They may have been the best mammals I've ever seen. By now I'm nearly numb from visual ecstasy. Then to top it all off, the Indries started howling. This was the best birding day I've ever had. WOW!
(NE) Malagasy Spinetail - Zoonavena grandidieri. 7, 10, 18, 19, 21, 23.
African Palm-Swift - Cypsiurus parvus. 13, 20, 23
Alpine Swift - Tachymarptis melba. 9, 19
(E) Madagascar Swift - Apus balstoni. 5, 6, 12, 24. Great looks at Farihy Hotel in 'Tana.
(NE) Malagasy Kingfisher - Alcedo vintsioides. 6, 8, 11, 13-15, 17, 25, 26
(E) Madagascar Pygmy-Kingfisher - Ispidina madagascariensis. 7, 9, 11. Great looks. What a beauty!
(NE) Madagascar Bee-eater - Merops superciliosus. 5, 6, 9, 14, 23, 24, 26-28. Fairly common and pretty.
Broad-billed Roller - Eurystomus glaucurus. 9, 13-15, 23
(E) Short-legged Ground-Roller - Brachypteracias leptosomus. 9. Terrific looks at Mantadia.
(E) Scaly Ground-Roller - Brachypteracias squamigera. 9, 11. Several looks in Mantadia forest. On the 9th, Maurice showed us one at its night roost. For about 30 seconds, we were 10 feet away! It was mesmerizing. A super finish to my best birding day ever.
(E) Pitta-like Ground-Roller - Atelornis pittoides. 7, 11, 20. Maurice had this one at a night roost also. It seems to be fairly common.
(E) Rufous-headed Ground-Roller - Atelornis crossleyi. 8. Maurice got this pair to come to within 5 feet of us. A real beauty.
(E) Long-tailed Ground-Roller - Uratelornis chimaera. 27, 28. Seen well both days in the spiny forest.
(E) Cuckoo Roller - Leptosomus discolor. 8, 14, 15, 23, 24. Very vocal and totally cool! Easy to find.
(E) Madagascar Hoopoe - Upupa marginata. 14, 15, 23, 24, 29
(E) Velvet Asity - Philepitta castanea. 8, 10, 18. We had a full plumaged male at Mantadia. Incredibly beautiful. We watched it for several minutes at eye level.
(E) Schlegel's Asity - Philepitta schlegeli. 14. We eventually had about 4 of these on the 14th at Mantadia. Another real stunner.
(E) Sunbird Asity - Neodrepanis coruscans. 8, 21. Only saw this bird twice, but got great looks both times.
(E) Madagascar Lark - Mirafra hova. 16, 21, 23, 24, 26, 29
Plain Martin - Riparia paludicola. 8
(NE) Mascarene Martin - Phedina borbonica. Common almost everywhere, but very spiffy for a martin.
(E) Madagascar Wagtail - Motacilla flaviventris. 6-11, 18-24. Fairly common.
(E) Ashy Cuckoo-shrike - Coracina cinerea. 10, 14, 15, 21, 28. Fairly common.
(E) Long-billed Greenbul - Phyllastrephus madagascariensis. 7, 8, 14, 18. Fairly common.
(E) Spectacled Greenbul - Phyllastrephus zosterops. 10, 18, 19, 21
(E) Appert's Greenbul - Phyllastrephus apperti. 23. Only found at Zombintsy, but saw 2 different birds.
(E) Gray-crowned Greenbul - Phyllastrephus cinereiceps. 20. Scarce. Only saw one, but saw it well.
(NE) Madagascar Bulbul - Hypsipetes madagascariensis. Very common.
(E) Forest Rock-Thrush - Pseudocossyphus sharpei. 9, 18, 21
(E) Benson's Rock-Thrush - Pseudocossyphus bensoni. 23. Seen well at the Oasis.
(E) Littoral Rock-Thrush - Pseudocossyphus imerinus. 25. Seen well behind a beach community near Nosy Ve island.
(NE) Madagascar Cisticola - Cisticola cherinus. 6, 8, 13, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26
(E) Brown Emu-tail - Dromaeocercus brunneus. 19. We made a concentrated effort to find the Emu-tails on the 19th, at the marsh not far from Ranomafana. Only decent looks.
(E) Gray Emu-tail - Dromaeocercus seebohmi. 19. Same marsh. Very brief looks; a real skulker.
(NE) Madagascar Brush-Warbler - Nesillas typica. 8, 10, 11, 20. A bit difficult to see, but not uncommon.
(E) Subdesert Brush-Warbler - Nesillas lantzii. 24, 28. Probable split, but not recognized by Clements yet.
(E) Thamnornis - Thamnornis chloropetoides. 27. 2 Separate birds in the spiny forest. Great singer!
(E) Madagascar Swamp -Warbler - Acrocephalus newtoni. 8. Same wet area as Mad. Rail, on way to Mant.
(E) Rand's Warbler - Randia pseudozosterops. 7, 19, 21. Common at Ranomafana. First singer in A.M.
(E) Dark Newtonia  Newtonia amphichroa. 8. Scarce and local at Perinet.
(E) Common Newtonia - Newtonia brunneicauda. 6
-11, 14, 15, 19, 21, 23, 24. Common.
(E) Archbold's Newtonia - Newtonia archboldi. 27. Seen well twice in the spiny forest. Great singer too.
(E) Cryptic Warbler - Cryptosylvicola randriansoloi. 11, 19, 21. Scarce.
(E) Madagascar Magpie-Robin - Copsychus albospecularis. Common and widespread.
African Stonechat - Saxicola axillaris. Fairly common except in the south.
(E) Ward's Flycatcher - Pseudobias wardi. 6, 8, 11.
(NE) Madagascar Paradise-Flycatcher - Terpsiphone mutata. Common, except in the south, but what a bird!
(E) Common Jery - Neomixis tenella. Common.
(E) Green Jery - Neomixis viridis. 10, 19, 21. Scarce.
(E) Stripe-throated Jery - Neomixis striatigula. 7, 11, 21. Seen well several times.
(E) Wedge-tailed Jery - Hartertula flavoviridis. 18. Fidi taped in a group of 3 at Ranomafana. Great looks.
(E) White-throated Oxylabes - Oxylabes madagascariensis. 18. Only saw it once, but got a great look.
(E) Yellow-browed Oxylabes - Crossleyia xanthophrys. 19. It took 3 days for all the group to see this bird. It's a skulker and the guides worked hard to make sure everybody saw it.
(E) Crossley's Babbler - Mystacornis crossleyi. 10. Another one Maurice found for us. Super looks.
(NE) Souimanga Sunbird - Cinnyris sovimanga. Very common everywhere.
(NE) Madagascar Sunbird - Cinnyris notatus. 5, 6, 13, 14, 19, 22. Gorgeous bird.
(NE) Madagascar White-eye  Zosterops maderaspatanus. Common.
(E) Red-tailed Vanga - Calicalicus madagascariensis. 6, 8, 10. Fairly easy at Perinet.
(E) Red-shouldered Vanga - Calicalicus rufocarpalis. 26. Guy finally got his lifer! He found it on the
Saint Augustin road right where he thought it should occur. We all got killer looks.
(E) Rufous Vanga - Schetba rufa. 14, 15, 20. Seen well at Ampijoroa.
(E) Hook-billed Vanga - Vanga curvirostris. 8, 20, 27. Not that common.
(E) Lafresnaye's Vanga - Xenopirostris xenopirostris. 24, 27.
(E) Van Dam's Vanga - Xenopirostris damii. 15. Worked hard to find this species. Finally got one bird the final morning at Ampijoroa.
(E) Pollen's Vanga - Xenopirostris polleni. 18. Scarce.
(E) Sickle-billed Vanga - Falculea palliata. 13, 15, 27, 28. Great looking bird! Campgrounds at Ampijoroa.
(E) White-headed Vanga - Artamella viridis. 6, 8, 10, 13, 15. On nest at Ampijoroa.
(E) Chabert's Vanga - Leptopterus chabert. 6, 9, 10, 13, 14, 23, 24, 26, 29. Easy to see well and nice bird.
(E) Blue Vanga - Cyanolanius madagascarinus. 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 20, 21. Beautiful bird!
(E) Tylas Vanga - Tylas eduardi. 7, 10, 18.
(E) Coral-billed Nuthatch - Hypositta corallirostris. 6, 7, 10. Seen well at Analamazoatra.
(NE) Crested Drongo - Dicrurus forficatus. Very common.
Pied Crow - Corvus albus. 13, 15, 17, 19, 22, 29.
(E) Madagascar Starling - Saroglossa aurata. 18, 20. Ranomafana only, but fairly easy there.
Common Myna - Acridotheres tristis. 5, 6, 11, 21, 29
(E) Nelicourvi Weaver - Ploceus nelicourvi. 6, 7, 9, 21, 22
(E) Sakalava Weaver - Ploceus sakalava. 13, 14, 24,29. Only seen in the dryer climes. Nice bird.
(NE) Red Fody - Foudia madagascariensis. Common everywhere.
(E) Forest Fody - Foudia omissa. 21. Fidi finally found us 4 of these our last day at Ranomafana. Scarce.
(E) Madagascar Munia - Lonchura nana. 8, 9, 14, 15, 19, 20,22


This list was compiled by one of the trip participants, Trevor Ford, from Australia. Thanks, Trevor!


Mauritian Tomb Bat
, 1, One roosting at Ampijoroa.
Small Insect Bat sp , 3, Hunting over Green Lake, Perinet.


Lowland Streaked Tenrec,
2, Two of these endearing creatures were seen, at Perinet and at Mantadia.


Eastern Red Forest Rat
, 2 , A couple of these found in the forest at Ranomafana.
Western Tuft-tailed Rat , 1 , A close encounter during the night walk at Ampijoroa.

Civets and Mongooses

Malagasy Striped Civet (Fanaloka), 1. One seen on the track (being fed) on the way to the lookout at Ranomafana.
Ring-tailed Mongoose, 1, Howie saw one on his night prowl at Ranomafana.


Grey Mouse Lemur, 6, Common on the Ampijoroa night walk.
Rusty Mouse Lemur, 7, Around the Ranomafana lookout and one on my return visit to Perinet.
Greater Dwarf Lemur, 3, Seen well at Perinet.
Brown Lemur, 19, Widespread - encountered several times.
Red-fronted Brown Lemur, 2, A couple at Ranomafana.
Red-bellied Lemur, 7, Seen well at both Mantadia and Ranomafana.
Golden Bamboo Lemur, 1, The rarest one seen first, at Ranomafana.
Grey (Eastern) Bamboo Lemur, 5, In the Ranomafana forest, and seen on my return visit to Perinet.
Greater Bamboo Lemur, 2, Also in the Ranomafana forest.
Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur, Heard only at Ranomafana.
Milne-Edwards' Sportive Lemur, 2, Found on the Ampijoroa night walk.
Eastern Woolly Lemur (Avahi), 17, Common at Perinet and Mantadia.
Western Woolly Lemur (Avahi), 2, Two seen on the Ampijoroa night walk.
Diademed Sifaka, 12, A brilliant animal - great to spend time in their company at Mantadia.
Milne-Edward's Sifaka, 3, In the Ranomafana forest.
Verreaux's Sifaka, Heard only at Zombitsy.
Coquerel's Sifaka, 24, Common around the Ampijoroa camp site.
Indri, 7+, The wonderful tail-less lemur with the eerie call - at Perinet and Mantadia.

Even-toed Ungulates

Bush Pig, 1, Some of the group were unlucky enough to see this species at Zombitsy.

1. With a couple of exceptions, the numbers given above relate to the number of individuals that I saw. I'm aware that others in
the group had additional sightings, so the counts are certainly underestimates in some instances.
2. We would probably have encountered more mammals had we not been single-minded in our pursuit of birds. However,
I reckon that everyone was more than happy with the species that we did find.
3. Unfortunately, it began to rain at Mantadia when we arrived at the site for Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur. And, for a while,
it really poured.
4. At Ampijoroa, our early departure meant that we did not have a third night available for a night walk. Had we known beforehand,
we would certainly have made the effort to go on a night walk on the second night. This could have added a couple more lemurs
to our list.

After returning home from Madagascar, I purchased the book 'Mammals of Madagascar' by Nick Garbut. This is an excellent field guide
with absolutely stunning photographs - a really good souvenir of a great trip.



Crocodilus niloticus (Nile crocodile)

At least six seen in the lagoon at Ampijoroa - seen both days.


Geckos & Lizards


Uroplatus phantasticus (Leaf-tailed Gecko sp)

One seen at Perinet on my return visit - thanks to Maurice.

Oplurus cuvieri (Collared Iguana)

Common (at least a dozen) around the camp site at Ampijoroa.

Oplurus quadrimaculatus

One seen by the lookout near La Mangrove Hotel.

Chalarodon madagascariensis (Three-eyed Lizard)

Common in the south-west where seen daily in a variety of colour morphs.

Phelsuma madagascariensis madagascariensis

One at Perinet and one at Ampijoroa.

Phelsuma madagascariensis kochi

One at Ampijoroa.

Phelsuma lineata lineata

One at Perinet (the green gecko with red on the back).

Phelsuma quadrocellata quadrocellata

The spectacular Day Gecko - four seen at the lookout at Ranomafana.

Homopholis sakalava

Seen at, or near, Ampijoroa.




Calumma parsonii christifer (Parson's Chameleon)

One seen at Perinet on my return visit - thanks to Maurice.

Calumma oshaughnessyi oshaughnessyi

The brilliant chameleon found by Howie at Ranomafana.

Calumma brevicornis

Two seen at Perinet (green and medium sized) - also on my return visit.

Calumma gastrotaenia

One seen at Perinet - also on my return visit.

Calumma nasuta

Three seen at Perinet (the small brown chameleon seen both nights).

Furcifer oustaleti

Three seen during the night Ampijoroa.

Furcifer verrucosus

The large chameleon seen outside La Mangrove Hotel, south of Tulear.




Zonosaurus madagascariensis

One at the base of the 'partridge hill' near Ranomafana.

Zonosaurus ornatus

At least two around the Ranomafana camp site.

Mabuya mabuya

One seen at night on my return visit to Perinet.

Mabuya gravenhorstii

One found in the scrub at Zombitse.




Boa mandotra (Madagascar Little Boa)

(Sanzinia madagascariensis)  One roosting at Perinet - two on my return visit.

Dromicodryas bernieri

One seen by La Mangrove Hotel, and another seen swallowing a frog at Ifaty.

Leioheterodon madagascariensis

One watched crossing the trail at Zombitse - large, olive-green and yellow.

Liopholiodophis stumpffi

One seen in the forest at Vohiparara - not highly patterned.

Liopholiodophis lateralis

One seen at the marsh near Ranomafana - boldly striped.

Mimophis mahfalensis

One found at The Nautilus Hotel, and two in the spiny forest of Ifaty.




Boophis madagascariensis

Two seen at Perinet on the first night.  Also heard at Ranomafana.

Boophis leuteus

Two seen at Perinet on the first night.  Also heard at Ranomafana.

Boophis rappiodes

Heard at Ranomafana, especially when returning from the lookout.

Boophis albilabris albilabris

Heard at Ranomafana, especially when returning from the lookout.

Mantidactylus luteus

One in the Ranomafana forest - buffy, snouted leaf frog.

Mantidactylus asper

One in the Vohiparara forest - tiny, green/brown leaf frog.

Mantidactylus majori

Three in the Vohiparara forest stream - brown; one with pale central stripe.

Mantidactylus liber

One in the forest at Ranomafana.

Aglyptodactylus madagascariensis

Two young (ie small) on the Vohiparara forest trail.

Platypeus cowani

One in the forest at Ranomafana.

Ptycadena mascarensiensis

One found in the marsh near Ranomafana.

Small brown toilet frog

Three around the camp site toilets at Ampijoroa.



Undoubtedly many species were left unidentified.  Thank goodness for the capabilities of the guides, and for Cassandra's book on reptiles and amphibians.  Note that Howie saw a large skink near the rubbish dump at Ampijoroa which I guess will remain unidentified.  Obviously, many more reptiles and amphibians could have been seen had we not been concentrating on the birds and mammals.  C'est la vie, as they'd say!

I've made no attempt to identify the many moths, butterflies and dragonflies seen, but the following memories linger:

The spectacular moths at the Rianala Hotel, Ranomafana, plus the amazing Comet Moth nearby.  The Giant Silk Moth at Perinet and the gathering of bright pink moths by the Zombitse camp site.  Butterflies, including large swallowtail types and others reminiscent of blue morphs - as well as a variety of colourful caterpillars.  Few dragonflies, but the common one was a hawker with a royal blue body and apple green thorax and eyes.  Several large spiders including one in the toilet at Ampijoroa, and other thick-bodied beasts with webs over running water.  Giraffe-necked Weevils (male and female) and green stick insects, mostly at Perinet. White leaf bugs, cockroaches, grasshoppers, Whirlygig Beetles and millipedes (including a Pill Millipede sp) were also impressive.


1 - Money was a real hassle in Madagascar. The Lonely Planet book say to bring the newer 20's to change for US $. Wrong! All the change places they had at the airport would only take the new design hundreds. They would not take Australian dollars at all. We did change money at the local banks in Tulear and I got a 50 and a 20 changed. Go figure.

2 - French is the default language here. A few basics go a long way.

3 - Please try to bring money for tips for the local guides. It's their only way to make a decent living for themselves and their standard is far below ours. Maurice was world class. I think he's the best local guide I've ever had. Fidi, at Ranomafana, was very good also. The father and son team at the spiny forest near Ifaty, were incredible to watch. The 10 year old son would run through the spiny forest barefoot (???!!??), trying to herd the target birds towards us so we could get a look at them. They were fantastic.

4 - Our crew was exceptional. Guy uses the same crew every year and they are great. Harry is a super cook, Zaza and the other driver got us everywhere safely, Guy was a go-fer and handyman, and Theo was the crew chief and oversaw everything. Rarely did we have a problem that he couldn't take care of.


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