Tuesday, 14 August 2018

In the last footsteps of Phoebe Snetsinger - Madagascar Blog Post 2 - Days 6 - 9

I still have images to label

Our birding trip was organised Madagascar Tour Guide (madagascar.tour.guide@gmail.com), who were really well organised. Our guide for most of our the trip was Julian, who was brilliant at digging our the birds as well as sorting things out for us along the way. The company is owned by Andre who came to meet us as we passed through Tana. I would highly recommend them and  the prices were modest.

Day 6 - 10/08/2018


Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig having an early breakfast in Anakao, Madagascar
Photographs copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


On Friday 10th of August we were up at 3.45 am, so that our bags could be picked up from our cabin at 4.15 am.  Then breakfast at 4.20 am, so that we could leave Anakao at 4.50 am and travel by speedboat for Toliara. It was pitch black on the boat and jammed packed with tourists. It was good that I had a hoodie on, as it was freezing cold and we were all huddled together for warmth.

We arrived in Toliara at 6.30 am where we were met with carts pulled by Zebu (a species of horned cattle) up to their chests in water which took us back to the road without us getting soaked. 



Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig being picked up by zebu in Toliara, Madagascar
Photographs copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig being picked up by zebu in Toliara, Madagascar
Photographs copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig on a Zebu cart in Toliara, Madagascar
Photographs copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


We then headed straight back to Andatabo Forest to look for Red-shouldered Vanga again without any luck. Apparently the birds normally call, so they might have been breeding at the moment. I did feel pretty disappointed as this was Phoebe Snetsinger’s last new bird but maybe it was only right that me, being a 16 year old birder, should not see the last bird of the world’s most amazing female birder. 

So, at 8.00 am we started our journey north along the coast to Ifaty, to bird in the Mangily spiny forest there. 

On the way we stopped at some pools and saw Madagascar Harrier-hawk, Kittlitz’s Plover, Olive Bee-eater and White-fronted Plover.

Arriving in Ifaty, our hotel was high over the sea and had amazing views looking over the coast. First we had lunch and a swim, then when it was a bit cooler, we went to the forest about 10 minutes drive away. The forest is owned by the local community now and so they share the income from tourism. This is where Jean-Marie lives and we saw his booth that he and his colleagues guide out of. We had two young  guys with us who were spotters, who track down the birds.

Birds that we saw today included Crested Coua, Long-tailed Ground Roller, Malagasy Turtle Dove, Malagasy Coucal, Running Coua, Grey-headed Lovebirds (a tick back on dad), Sickle-billed and White-headed Vanga and Malagasy Green-sunbird.

Crested Coua, Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



Crested Coua, Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Running Coua, Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Grey-headed Lovebird Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Long-tailed Ground Roller, Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



Long-tailed Ground Roller, Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig




Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig




Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig, Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig, Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig, Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Mangily Spiny Forest, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Afterwards, we stayed out birding into the evening but didn’t see any night birds.


Day 7 - 11/08/2018


On Saturday 11 August 2018, we were up early so that we could get to the Mangily Spiny Forest by 6.30 am.  We had a good morning of birding, seeing Subdesert Mesite, Crested Coua, Red-tailed, Hook-billed Vanga, Red Fody, Striped-throated Jery, Chabert Vanga and Thamnornis, This is when we said goodbye to Jean-Marie as he was guiding in the afternoon.



























We then returned to the hotel in time for a 9 am breakfast, a lazy day by the pool before retuning to the forest in the afternoon. We stayed out night birding again.

The highlight of the evening was Torotoroka Scops Owl as well as Mouse Lemur and White-footed Sportive Lemur.


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Day 8 - 12/08/2018

On Sunday 12 August 2018 we left the hotel very early at 5.30 am and drove to another dry forest, Zombsite Forest. We stopped in a town en-route to pop into a supermarket to buy some food for a picnic lunch. When we arrived at the forest, out local guide was waiting for us and immediately took us behind a building to see a Giant Coua. They put food out of the Coua, so they were relatively showy.
















We stayed to bird here for 3 hour, including a picnic lunch.  The best birds were Giant Coua, a roosting White-Browed Hawk-owl, Rufous Vanga, Long-billed Bernieria (or Tetraka) and Appert’s Tetraka. We also had great views of Zombsite Sportive Lemur and Verraux’s Lemur.

At about 1pm, we carried on with our journey, along straight roads through miles of dry forest.






It was 4 pm before we arrived at our hotel, against the backdrop of stunning  red ridges next to a huge dry forest. We had the rest of the afternoon off, so I went for a swim in the pool. Even though it looked inviting, the water was icy cold!


Day 9 - 13/08/2018

Monday 13th August 2018 we had breakfast at 5.30 am and so we would go out birding in Islao NP early before the day became hot.  We birded along undulating dry trails during the morning, with a stream running through.

Best birds of the day were White-throated Rail, Forest Rock Thrush which might split into Benson’s Rock Thrush, Madagascan Stonechat and a roosting Rainforest Scops Owl. We also had even better views of a Verraux’s Lemur.


















It got hot very quickly, after which we had the rest of the day off.




About the Author

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig in Antarctica
Photograph copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



Mya-Rose Craig is a 16-year-old young British Bangladeshi birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent. She is looking forward to visiting Tanzania, Kenya and Madagascar birding in 2018 and hopes to see her 5000th bird species in the world.

Mya-Rose was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer-songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people
She is an Ambassador for See It Her Way and a Charter Champion for The Charter for Woods, Trees and People. She has given over 50 talks, speaking at conferences such as being on a panel with George Monbiot and Caroline Lucas on Sustainability and the Future of Cities. She has also appeared on TV an dis particularly proud of being in Silent Roars, a short film which was part of Listen to Britain 2017 https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-the-silent-roars-2017-onlineShe organised a conference, Race Equality in Nature, in June 2016 aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature and plans to run her fifth Camp Avalon camp in 2018. She has also set up Black2Nature with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of Black Asian Minority Ethnic people. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. She has been awarded the Bath and West Show Environmental Youth Award 2017 for Bristol for her Black2Nature work EYA 2017Please also like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter.









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