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A Report from

Madagascar, November 7 to November 30, 2011,

Gary and Marlene Babic


We went on a 24-day trip to Madagascar with Field Guides, which included a side trip to Masaola National Park. Madagascar is a location that should be visited sooner than later due to rapid development. Because of challenging infrastructure and the need to go to several special places to see specific species, individual travel is impractical (it may not even be allowed). This report provides an idea of what can be seen in different locations as a guide to choosing what tour is best for you.


Madagascar is truly a singular place for the naturalist. With the exception of introduced plants (which, bizarrely enough, the government encouraged until just a few years ago), everything looks, well, odd. The plants have flowers and thorns in the “wrong” places, the insects have strange appendages and colors, and nearly all of the land birds are endemic with several unique families. Add in endemic animals like lemurs and chameleons, and there is something unusual to be found almost everywhere.

Madagascar itself was a lot bigger than I expected - it is more than 1000 miles long. The size is exaggerated for the traveler because the roads are so few and far-between, and often in terrible condition. So a trip of 100 miles may be a day’s travel. The typical birding tour involves a flight from the capital city, Antananarivo (universally called “Tana”) to a birding site, and a return flight to Tana few later before heading to the next location. The local airline, Air Madagascar, is notorious for changing schedules, so a group can spend a long time just waiting to find out when a flight is actually going to leave. A lot of time is spent travelling, or waiting around, and a high level of patience is required. Further complicating the situation is that most places in Madagascar have both a French and Malagasy name, and often several variations of the Malagasy name. Several times we had no idea if we were supposed to get on or off a plane until our guides told us because it was not clear where we were!

The tragedy of Madagascar is that the habitat is disappearing very quickly. More than 90% of the population is made up of subsistence farmers, and when populations increase so does the need for additional farmland. The need to feed a family takes precedence over saving habitat for birds and animals. More than 95% of the land has already been cleared for some type of agriculture. Even the national parks are being nibbled away for the surrounding farms, and the discovery of sapphires has made mining another threat. The result is that there are small, isolated islands of habitat surrounded by vast areas of agriculture or other cleared land. The constant encroachment is probably why we found the birds to be very shy and thin on the ground, and for many species we saw only a single individual.  

Many of the birds are only found in one type of these islands of habitat, so a visit to several places is necessary to see the endemics. But at least birds can fly. The lemurs in these island habitats are truly isolated with no way to find another population that may hundreds of miles away. This isolation and resulting limited gene pool are why almost all are endangered, and sadly it seems probable several species of lemur will be extinct within just a few years. I expect the same is true of reptiles, etc., but the lemurs are charismatic and the main tourist attraction of Madagascar. When they disappear that will simply make preservation of habitat even less of a priority.

Since independence from France in 1958, there have been many groups leading Madagascar, some inclined to deal with the West (especially France), others wanting nothing to do with their former colonial masters. Every few years there is a coup, another group comes in, and tourists are scared away for a couple of years because of the resulting instability. In the end, little seems to change and not much is done to improve the lives of the locals.  

Well, that’s the bad news. The good news is that with increased interest in birding in Madagascar, lodging has improved and local guides have been trained. All of our lodging was better than adequate, the transportation (in a small bus) was fine, and, best of all, we saw essentially all of the target birds. Much of our success was attributable to the local guides who study the birds and know how to find them (or, as noted in the text, sometimes bring them to us!).

The demanding logistics mean it is impractical to do a self-guided trip to Madagascar. Which leads to the question:      

Which tour should I take?

Because of the habitat loss and the very limited road infrastructure, there are few options for accessible birding sites. Consequently, all of the birding companies go to essentially the same places to see the same species. During our trip, we repeatedly bumped into another tour group following almost the same itinerary as us – which was helpful to both groups for sharing sighting info. 

The typical trips are either a “comprehensive” three-to-four week trip that goes to all of these places, or a shorter “highlights” trip that visits some of them, with the idea of seeing at least one member of each of Madagascar’s endemic families. Our tour was of the former type, but had only 24 days, including an extension, which left no margin for error. For example, we only spent one morning at Berenty, where we saw several species we did not see elsewhere. If we had inclement weather there, we could have easily missed them all. Just as easily we could have had a missed flight, or some other transportation issue. Madagascar is a surprisingly expensive place, and companies try to minimize extra days as they add cost. But, less-expensive is not always the most cost-effective unless everything goes just right.

Nearly all tours are offered in November, as this is the best combination of climate and bird activity. Companies may state in good faith that they will be using an air-conditioned bus or will stay at certain accommodations, but the reality is that sometimes these are simply not available. In Madagascar, even basics like flight schedules and whether a road is passable are totally unpredictable so the tour guide and clients have to go with the flow.

Each of the birding areas usually has a local guide who is knowledgeable about the local birds, and he or she accompanies the tour at that site to complement the overall tour guide(s). Add it up, and there is little to decide among the various tours except: experience (how many tours has a company made to Madagascar); expertise (will the guides know the birds, logistics, etc.); how long the tour stays at each site; and cost.  In our experience, for tours that are not so different, the decision often boils down to whether a client likes a particular tour guide. 

There is often one special destination not usually included in the main Madagascar itinerary and offered as an optional extension: Masaola National Park. The primary reason for going there is that it is the most accessible site for one of Madagascar’s most highly-sought after birds, the Helmet Vanga. Some companies have stopped offering this extension because it is expensive, takes at least four days, and there are only two birds seen there – the Helmet Vanga and Bernier’s Vanga – that cannot be seen elsewhere on a tour. However, there are also a few additional species that are more easily seen there than in other places. Another reason some companies have stopped offering this extension is logistics - access to Masaola is by small speedboat through some open ocean and bad weather can make the trip impossible. This would be a potential disaster if a company is trying to get clients from Masaola back to Tana to join the main group. For this reason, it would be a better choice if this extension was at the end of the main trip.  

There is one other section of Madagascar not covered in typical trips - the far north area which includes Amber Mountain. This area is so underdeveloped that it is usually a completely separate trip, and run only rarely by a few companies. This trip goes for a few very localized endemics, including the critically endangered Madagascar Pochard


As noted previously, in most places there is only one place to stay. And even when there are other options, most companies stay in the one place that caters to birding groups with conveniences such as early breakfasts and pack lunches. Our lodging in each place is described in the itinerary, but there are two places where there are multiple options. The capital city of Tana has several nice hotels. We stayed at the Hotel Carlton, which was first-class and a nice rest stop during several of our layovers. Ifaty is a semi-resort area with a few modest hotels. We stayed at the Bamboo Bar Hotel but the nearby Nautilus (occupied by another birding group) reportedly had air-conditioning although I know nothing more about it.  


One unfortunate feature of our tour was that, during the course of the trip, nearly everyone came down with some type of gastrointestinal problem. This was not related to anything we ate, as different people got ill on different days. Inevitably this meant that some members were unable to go on the walks on a given day. It also led to some very uncomfortable travel days. The guides did their best to “backfill” and get members onto the birds they missed if at all possible, but not always successfully as we had a tight schedule. We only missed one bird (Appert’s Tetraka) that the rest of the group saw at Zombitse NP, when we were unable to join them. Of course, others missed other birds – inevitable when many birds are seen at only one site.

Day 1: Flying into Tana. There are direct flights to Tana from either Johannesburg, South Africa or Paris. Madagascar had been a French colony, and French is still widely spoken, so a brush-up of your high school French would be useful! We came in from South Africa, and spent our first night in Tana at the Hotel Carlton.

Everyone arriving in Madagascar needs a tourist visa, and we received some conflicting information about this before our trip. The web site for the Madagascar embassy in the US seems to indicate that it is necessary to have a tourist fee before arriving in Madagascar, and they provide this service for a hefty fee. But this is not the case. A tourist visa is available upon arrival in Madagascar for free. You simply stand a line at immigration, show evidence of a return flight (an e-ticket is OK), and you get stamped in. If you paid for your tourist visa already, there is no need to stand in this line. But, by the time we had our passports stamped with our tourist visas, the luggage had just come through so there was no real time advantage by having the visa ahead of time.

Day 2: We spent most of the day getting to Masaola National Park, in the north-east corner of Madagascar. This involved a flight to Maroansetra, a bus trip, a speedboat trip, and a hike. We were pleasantly surprised at our eco-lodging at Chez Arroll – individual cabins, some with an attached bathroom with hot shower (!), and electricity from dusk to about 9PM. The food during our stay was very good, even more impressive in that nearly everything must be brought in by speedboat. During the late afternoon we made our initial foray into the forest to see some of the more common species.

Day 3 and 4. There are several rugged hiking trails around the lodge and we made AM and PM trips on them both days. In fairness, after the first one we were all so exhausted that we only went on more moderate trails after that. The local guides had a nest staked out for the prize bird, the Helmet Vanga, which we saw at eye level – spectacular. Having seen it early, we spent the rest of the time trying for the other specialties but they came slowly. On our very last hike, at dusk, we saw the profile of an unfamiliar bird which we eventually determined to be the other main target here, Bernier’s Vanga. The view in the fading light was far from great, but acceptable. The same was true of the two views we had of Madagascar Crested Ibis, both as they disappeared into the canopy. Fortunately its size and distinctive white and brownish coloration made the ID possible. Our guides found the very rare Collared Nightjar – one adult and a juvenile – on the ground, which made for a very close approach. The call of this bird is unknown, and our guide did not think anyone had even taken a photo of the juvenile. This just gives a hint as to what else is unknown about Madagascar that may be lost before it is ever found. Other species we saw at Masaola NP included Madagascar Pratincole, Madagascar Wood-Rail, Malagasy Scops-Owl, Malagasy Spinetail, Red-breasted and Blue Coua, Cuckoo-Roller, Short-legged Ground-Roller, Hook-billed Vanga, and Spectacled Tetraka. We spent a lot of time trying to catch up with a Brown Mesite that we repeatedly heard, but to no avail.       

Day 5. We retraced our steps back to Tana, uneventfully, and once again it took most of the day.

Day 6. We flew from Tana to Fort Dauphin in the very south (making two completely unannounced stops en route) and, after lunch, proceeded on to Berenty Private Reserve. It is only about 50 km to Berenty, but it took all afternoon on the non-existent road.  All of the area around Berenty is an agave plantation, and the reserve is truly an ecological island. We arrived late PM and before dinner took a quick trip to a nearby field where we saw Madagascar Lark. In the evening had a walk in the nearby spiny forest for some nocturnal lemurs, and picked up a Torotoroka Scops-Owl as well. Lodging in Berenty is in smallish rooms with no A/C, and meals are served in a large open-air restaurant. 

Day 7. We had a busy morning with a walk through the forest accompanied by Ring-tailed Lemurs. Here we saw Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk, Madagascar Buttonquail, Madagascar Sandgrouse, Giant and Crested Coua, Grey-headed Lovebird, White-browed Owl (on a day roost), and Madagascar Hoopoe. Just before lunch we saw a group of the amazing “walking” Verreaux’s Sifakas, and a large roost of the huge  Madagascar Fruit Bats. Because this is a reserve where hunting is not allowed, and because it is popular, all of the birds and lemurs are comfortable around people and were very approachable. This was decidedly not the case almost everywhere else we went. In the PM we returned to Fort Dauphin, another all-afternoon trip. The Dolphin Hotel in Fort Dauphin was very nice and appears to be the birder’s hotel of choice as we saw other groups there as well.

Day 8, 9 and 10. We flew from Fort Dauphin to Tulear and then took a bumpy ride on a dirt track along the coast to Ifaty. The attraction here is a different type of spiny forest from that at Berenty, more sandy. Ifaty is also a bit of a tourist resort area with nice beaches. It was very hot here and we would have loved to have some air-conditioning. We spent this afternoon, all of Day 9, and the morning of Day 10 walking through the spiny forest, accompanied by our young local guides. The highlight was when they crashed through the forest and incredibly tracked down and “treed” a Subdesert Mesite, which conveniently freezes when it goes into a tree. They then repeated the feat by locating and flushing a pair of Long-tailed Ground-Rollers towards us. Other birds only seen in this special habitat were Banded Kestrel, Madagascar Harrier-Hawk, Madagascar Plover, Running Coua and the “Green-capped” subspecies of Red-capped Coua, Madagascar Nightjar, Archbold’s Newtonia, LaFresnaye’s Vanga, and Thamnornis. In the afternoon of Day 10 we returned to Tulear where we stayed for two nights. 

Day 11. This morning was a boat trip to Nosy Ve (an island off Tulear), then to the beach town of Anakau. At Nosy Ve we saw Crab Plover, Marsh Owl, and the specialty there, breeding Red-tailed Tropicbird (plus lots of shorebirds). At Anakau we saw the Littoral Rock-thrush, a very localized endemic. In the afternoon we went to a beach town of St. Augustine and had our first look at Humblot’s Heron. We also went to a plateau called Le Table to look for some specialties there but without success.

Day 12. Our morning started with a return to Le Table plateau. Here we soon saw our first target, Verreaux’s Coua. We were very close to our required departure time when we met a Rockjumper birding group who kindly pointed us in the direction of our other target, the very rare Red-shouldered Vanga, discovered only here a few years ago. After that near-miss, we left Le Table and arrived at Zombitse National Park for lunch in extreme heat. We had a few health issues, so we stayed behind while the group sought and found the local specialty, the Appert’s Tetraka. While we were waiting, though, we were entertained by a very confiding Giant Coua.  We then continued on to our overnight stop at Isola. This lodge is a fantastic example of stonework. In addition to the ambience and great food, it also had Benson’s Rock-thrush on the rooftops. Why it exists here, in the middle of nowhere, is a mystery to me.

Day 13. We started the morning with a walk around the lodge grounds, where we saw White-throated Rail and Madagascar Cuckoo, a bird often heard but very hard to see. We started our trip towards Ranofanoma National Park and en route saw a pair of Madagascar Partridge cross the road. At a high pass we saw Alpine Swift. Very close to Ranofanama we saw a distant pair of Madagascar Grebe in a river. We arrived at Ranofanama in the late afternoon.

Days 14, 15, and the morning of Day 16 were all spent at Ranofanama. We had overcast and/or rainy conditions on most days and we typically made early morning and mid-afternoon excursions. Among the birds seen were Meller’s Duck at a special overlook, Red-billed Duck,  a close flyover Henst’s Goshawk after a long uphill walk, Red-fronted Coua, Velvet and Yellow-bellied Asity (at a nest), Pollen’s Vanga, Rufous and Pitta-like Ground-Roller, Gray Emu-tail, White-throated Oxylabes, Cryptic and Rand’s Warbler, Wedge-tailed Jery, Forest Rock-Thrush, and Forest Fody. A Madagascar Pygmy-Kingfisher was a sparkling gem. But the highlight was Brown Mesite. Our local guide heard a distant bird well down a hill, totally inaccessible. Almost out of nowhere, several other locals appeared and scrambled down the hill. Eventually they herded a pair right up to us (after we had worked quite hard to get partway down the hill). And then the locals disappeared as quickly as they arrived. Even with this exceptional haul, we still had near-misses with a Brown Emu-tail that came close but did not show, and a Yellow-browed Oxylabes that called only distantly. We also saw a great variety of lemurs, including the very rare Golden Bamboo-lemur.  

This park is very busy, and there were several groups there. The lodging is in one-or-two rooms in several large buildings, each with hot showers, etc. No A/C but we were able to get a fan to cool off during our mid-day break, and the nights were actually cold (and wet) here.

Day 16. In the afternoon, we made it partway to Tana without any new birds despite numerous tries for Madagascar Snipe at possible sites. Overnight in Ambositra at the oddly-named Hotel Mania.

Day 17. Another travel day and we reached Tana in mid-afternoon.

Day 18. We flew to Mahajunga and then drove a couple of hours to the Ankarafantsika National Park. In the afternoon we visited a lake and saw Madagascar Fish-Eagle, Madagascar Jacana, and many water birds including another Humblot’s Heron. Our lodging here was in comfortable cabins, and meals were served in an open-air covered dining area. 

Day 19. This was a very busy day with several target birds found only here. We scored 100% (not without quite a bit of concern) with White-breasted Mesite and Schlegel’s Asity before breakfast, and then Van Dam’s and Rufous Vanga, Red-backed and Coquerel’s Coua, and Long-billed Bernieria (a catch-up bird for us). Coquerels’ Sifaka gave a great show right at the restaurant. In the afternoon we returned to Mahajunga.

Day 20. This day was a boat trip to the Betsiboka estuary. Due to currents, this took much longer than expected and the conditions were very rough on the way back. Along with many gulls, terns and shorebirds, we saw Madagascar Sacred Ibis, African Spoonbill, and a pair of the very rare Bernier’s Teal.

Day 21, 22, 23, and 24. We flew back to Tana and then directly drove about two hours to Perinet, the common name for the Antisibe / Mantandia National Park. We spent the afternoon of Day 21, all of Day 22 and 23, and the morning of day 24 at various parts of the park. This is a very busy place due to its proximity to Tana. The lodging is very well-developed with individual lodges, a large restaurant, etc. We saw some excellent birds and lemurs here: Little Bittern, Frances’s Goshawk, a great look at Red-breasted Coua, two pairs of immature Madagascar Long-eared Owls, Scaly Ground-Roller, White-headed, Tylas, and Nuthatch Vanga, and Ward’s Flycatcher, plus second looks at some key species seen previously such as Meller’s Duck, Madagascar Grebe, and Short-legged and Pitta-like Ground-Roller. On the morning of Day 24, our guides flushed a pair of Madagascar Partridge, and we heard but did not see any Madagascar Flufftail. But this was the big lemur day, and we hiked up a ridge to specially see both Diademed Coquerel and the fabulous Indri, whose distant calls we had been hearing every morning. Apparently every tour ends with this, because it is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. After seeing the lemurs, we drove back to Tana and the trip was over.   

Bird List

We were very successful, seeing all 3 mesites, 12 couas and cuckoos, all 5 ground-rollers, 3 rock-thrushes, and 3 reed-warblers. We saw all of the vangas in the newly-expanded family (21 in total) with the exception of Red-Tailed Newtonia (we did not go to the specific site), and all of the asities except the Common Sunbird-Asity (apparently not so common). In all, we saw 176 species including 114 endemics.

In the list below, the following terms are used: "very common" means seen in numbers in all suitable habitats; "common" means nearly impossible to miss at the right locations; "fairly common" means we saw the species but they were thin on the ground. Otherwise, number are given. No “heard only” birds are included.

The following locations abbreviations are used:
MS = Masaola NP;
IS=Isola and roads to and from;
Z=Zombitse NP;
A=Ankarafantsika NP;
P=Perinet. More detail is given in the text.

Endemic species are in bold.

White-faced Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna viduata) - common, I,A

Comb Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) - only a few, A

Meller's Duck (Anas melleri) - in rivers, two at R, one at P

Red-billed Duck (Anas erythrorhyncha) - a few at R

Bernier's Teal (Anas bernieri) - a pair on a sand bar after a long search at M

Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris) - very common at B

Madagascar Partridge (Margaroperdix madagascarensis) - a couple running across the road near IS, later a couple flushed at P

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis capensis) - a few on ponds around I

Madagascar Grebe (Tachybaptus pelzelnii) - two on a river near R, later more at P

Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) - one at T

Red-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon rubricauda) - several nesting on Nosy Ve near T

Long-tailed Cormorant (Phalacrocorax africanus pictilus) - only a few around MS

African Darter (Anhinga  rufa vulsini) only one near A

Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus podiceps) - two flushed at P

Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea firasa) - common at I, T, M

Humblot's Heron (Ardea humbloti) - singles seen at T, A, and M

Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea madagascariensis) - common at several locations

Great Egret (Ardea alba melanorhyncha) - several at many places

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta dimorpha) / Dimorphic Egret - another common wader

Black Heron (Egretta ardesiaca) - seen at several locations

Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis ibis) - very common everywhere

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) - common at many places

Madagascar Pond-Heron (Ardeola idae) - a few at B, A

Striated Heron (Butorides striata rutenbergi) - common

Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) - several at B and I

Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) - a few at A

Madagascar (Crested) Ibis (Lophotibis cristata) - two were briefly seen in flight at MA

Madagascar Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus bernieri) - two at M

African Spoonbill (Platalea alba) - one from our boat at M

Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta umbretta) - seen at various locations

Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk (Aviceda madagascariensis) - one seen well at B

Black Kite (Milvus migrans parasitus) - very common

Madagascar Fish-Eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides) - great views of a pair at A

Frances's Goshawk (Accipter franscesii) - one at P

Madagascar Harrier-Hawk (Polyboroides radiatus) - several seen well at I

Henst's Goshawk (Accipiter henstii) - one low flyover at R

Madagascar Buzzard (Buteo brachypterus) - common

Madagascar Kestrel (Falco newtoni) - very common

Banded Kestrel (Falco zoniventris) - a pair at I

Sooty Falcon (Falco concolor) - one at Tana airport

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus radama) - one at T

White-breasted Mesite (Mesitornis variegatus) - a close pair at P

Brown Mesite (Mesitornis unicolor) - a close pair flushed up to us at R

Subdesert Mesite (Monias benschi) - one "treed" at I

Madagascar Wood-Rail (Canirallus kioloides) - good views at MA, later at R as well

White-throated Rail (Dryolimnas cuvieri cuvieri) - several at IS and A

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) - a few at H and A

Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) - at I and T

Greater Sand-Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii) - at I, T, and M

Kittlitz's Plover (Charadrius pecuarius) - one from our boat at I

Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) - a few at I and T

Madagascar Plover (Charadrius thoracicus) great views of a pair at I

White-fronted Plover (Charadrius marginatus) - many on Nosy Ve, also at M

Crab Plover (Dromas ardeola) - brief looks at Nosy Ve

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) - at I, T and A

Madagascar Jacana (Actophilornis albinucha) - several at A

Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus) - nice looks at I and M

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) - common

Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) - a few at B, I a,d T

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) - one at M

Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus phaeopus) - many at I, also at T and M

Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) - at B, I and T

Sanderling (Calidris alba) - quite a few at I and T

Little Stint (Calidris minuta) - one at I

Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) - a few at T

Madagascar Buttonquail (Turnix nigricollis) - close look of several at B, also at R and A

Madagascar Pratincole (Glareola ocularis) - close overhead at MA, distantly on the river at P

Saunders's Tern (Sternula saundersi) - one at M

Roseate Tern (Sterna dougalli arideensis) - several at MA

Great Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii enigmus) - a few at Nosy Ve

Lesser Crested Tern (Thalasseus bengalensis) - many at Nosy Ve, also at T and M

Madagascar Sandgrouse (Pterocles personatus) - several close fly-bys at B

Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) - common

Madagascar Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia picturata picturata) - very common

Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis) - common esp at B

Madagascar Green-Pigeon (Treron australis) - a few at MA, I and T

Madagascar Blue-Pigeon (Alectroenas madagascariensis) a few at MA, R and P

Gray-headed Lovebird (Agapornis canus) - several at B and I

Vasa Parrot (Coracopsis vasa) - a few at I

Black Parrot (Coracopsis nigra) - common

Madagascar Cuckoo (Cuculus rochii)- one seen well at IS, heard all over

Giant Coua (Coua gigas) - several at B and Z

Coquerel's Coua (Coua coquereli) - one at A

Red-breasted Coua (Coua serriana) - one on a nest at MA, one at P

Red-fronted Coua (Coua reynaudii) - one at R

Red-capped Coua (Green-capped) (Coua ruficeps olivaciceps) - one well at I

Red-capped Coua (Coua ruficeps) - one seen well at A

Running Coua (Coua cursor) - many at I

Crested Coua (Coua cristata) - several at B, I and A

Verreaux's Coua (Coua verreauxi) - one seen at T, others heard

Blue Coua (Coua caerulea) - common

Madagascar Coucal (Centropus toulou) - very common

Malagasy Scops-Owl (Otus rutilus) - seen well at MA, heard often but not seen at P

Torotoroka Scops-Owl (Otus madagascariensis) - one at B

Madagascar Long-eared Owl (Asio madagascariensis) - several great views of juveniles at P

Marsh Owl (Asio capensis) - one at Nosy Ve

White-browed Owl (Ninox superciliaris) - one at daytime roost at B

Madagascar Nightjar (Caprimulgus madagascariensis) - seen at I, heard elsewhere

Collared Nightjar (Caprimulgus enarratus) - great views of adult and juvenile at MA, later at P

Malagasy Spinetail (Zoonavena grandidieri) - several at MA, a few at P

Madagascar Swift (Apus balstoni) - at MA and Z

Alpine Swift (Apus melba willsi) - at high point of road near IS

African Palm-Swift (Cypsiurus parvus) - common

Malagasy Kingfisher (Alcedo vintsioides) - at MA, B and P

Madagascar Pygmy-Kingfisher (Ispidina madagascariensis) - one at R

Madagascar Bee-eater (Merops superciliosus) - very common

Broad-billed Roller (Eurystomus glaucurus) - very common

Short-legged Ground-Roller (Brachypteracias leptosomus) - good views of birds in trees at both MA and P

Scaly Ground-Roller (Brachypteracias squamiger) - one at P

Pitta-like Ground-Roller (Atelornis pittoides) - seen several times at R and P

Rufous-headed Ground-Roller (Atelornis crossleyi) - eventually a great view at one at R

Long-tailed Ground-Roller (Uratelornis chimaera) - great views at Ifaty on different days

Cuckoo-Roller (Leptosomus discolor) - seen well at MA, Z and A, often heard

Madagascar Hoopoe (Upupa marginata) - common

Velvet Asity (Philepitta castanea) - great views at R

Schlegel's Asity (Philepitta schlegeli) - great views at A

Yellow-bellied Asity (Neodrepanis hypoxantha) - distant profile and underside views at R

Tylas Vanga (Tylas eduardi) a few at R and P

Dark Newtonia (Newtonia amphichroa) - several at R

Common Newtonia (Newtonia brunneicauda) - common

Archbold's Newtonia (Newtonia archboldi) - a few at I

Chabert Vanga (Leptopterus chabert) - very common

Blue Vanga (Cyanolanius madagascarinus) - fairly common, common at P

Red-tailed Vanga (Calicalicus madagascariensis) - common, and very commonly heard

Red-shouldered Vanga (Calicalicus rufocarpalis) - only one at T

Nuthatch-Vanga (Hypositta corallirostris) - several at P

Hook-billed Vanga (Vanga curvirostris) - at MA, I and A

Helmet Vanga (Euryceros prevostii) - one on nest, another flyover at MA

Rufous Vanga (Schetba rufa) - two at A

Sickle-billed Vanga (Falculea palliata) - several at I and A

Bernier's Vanga (Oriolia bernieri) - one in profile at MA

White-headed Vanga (Artamella viridis) - at MA, I and P

Lafresnaye's Vanga (Xenopirostris xenopirostris) - only at I

Van Dam's Vanga (Xenopirostris damii) - great views at A

Pollen's Vanga (Xenopirostris polleni) - great views at R

Ward's Flycatcher (Pseudobias wardi) - two seen at P, often heard

Crossley's Babbler (Mystacornis crossleyi) - one at MA, often heard

Ashy Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina cinerea) - very common

Crested Drongo (Dicrurus forficatus) - very common

Madagascar Paradise-Flycatcher (Terpsiphone mutata) - very common

Pied Crow (Corvus albus) - common

Madagascar Lark (Mirafra hova) - at B, I and T

Mascarene Martin (Phedina borbonica) - very common

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) - one at I

Madagascar Bulbul (Hypsipetes madagascariensis) - very common

Madagascar Brush-Warbler (Nesillas typica) - at R and P

Subdesert Brush-Warbler (Nesillas lantzii) - at I and T

Madagascar Swamp-Warbler (Acrocephalus newtoni) - at I, R, and P, often heard

Gray Emu-tail (Dromaeocercus seebohmi) - one at R

White-throated Oxylabes (Oxylabes madagascariensis) - one each at R and P

Long-billed Bernieria (Bernieria madagascariensis) - one at A

Cryptic Warbler (Cryptosylvicola randrianasoloi) - several at R

Wedge-tailed Jery (Hartertula flavoviridis) - several at R

Thamnornis (Thamnornis chloropetoides) - a few skulking at I

Spectacled Tetraka (Xanthomixis zosterops) - a couple at MA, then at R

Rand's Warbler (Randia pseudozosterops) - seen several times at R

Common Jery (Neomixis tenella) - common

Green Jery (Neomixis viridis) - several ar R and P

Stripe-throated Jery (Neomixis striatigula) - common

Madagascar Cisticola (Cisticola cherina) - common at R

Madagascar Magpie-Robin (Copsychus albospecularis) - very common

Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus sibilis) - fairly common

Forest Rock-Thrush (Monticola sharpei) - two at R

Benson's Rock-Thrush (Monticola bensoni) - common at IS

Littoral Rock-Thrush (Monticola imerina) - near Anakau (see text)

Madagascar White-eye (Zosterops maderaspatanus) - common

Madagascar Starling (Saroglossa aurata) - a few at MA, R and A

Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) - very common, introduced

Souimanga Sunbird (Cinnyris souimanga) - common

Madagascar Sunbird (Cinnyris notatus) - fairly common

Madagascar Wagtail (Motacilla flaviventris) - common

Nelicourvi Weaver (Ploceus nelicourvi) - several seen well at MA, a few at R

Sakalava Weaver (Ploceus sakalava) - common around B and I

Red Fody (Foudia madagascariensis) – very common

Forest Fody (Foudia omissa) - only one glimpsed at R

Madagascar Munia (Lonchura nana)- fairly common at MA, I, and R


HEARD BIRDS: We saw nearly all of our target birds, but a few were heard and not seen, usually because they were skulking where we could not see them. They included:

Madagascar Flufftail (Sarothrura insularis) – heard often, mostly at Perinet, often frustratingly right next to the trail.
Yellow-browed Oxylabes (Crossleyia xanthophrys) – heard at a distance at Ranofanoma.
Brown Emu-tail (Dromaeocercus brunneus) – also heard at a distance at Ranofamoma.

LEMUR LIST - We saw quite a few different lemur species, usually confined to specific habitats.

Lowland Streaked Tenrec (Hedgehog Tenrec) (Hemicententes semispinosus)

Gray-brown Mouse Lemur (Microcebus griseorufus)

Greater Dwarf Lemur (Cheirogaleus major)

Brown Lemur (Eulemur fulvus)

Red-fronted Brown Lemur (Eulemur rufus)

Red-bellied Lemur (Eulemur rubiventer)

Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta)

Gray Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur griseus)

Golden Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur aureus)

Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus)

Variegated Lemur (Varecia variegata)

Milne-Edward's Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur edwardsii)

White-footed Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur leucopus)

Weasel Lemur (Lepilemur mustelinus)

Hubbard's Sportive Lemur (Lemilemur hubbardii)

Wooly Lemur (Avahi laniger)

Verreaux's Sifaka (Propithecus verreauxii)

Coquerel's Sifaka (Propithecus coquereli)

Diademed Sifaka (Propithecus diadema)

Milne-Edward's Sifaka (Propithecus edwardsii)

Indri (Indri indri)


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