Madagascar Post 2 – Days 6 – 9

Our birding trip was organised by Madagascar Tour Guide (madagascar.tour.guide@gmail.com), who was really well organised. Our guide for most of the trip was Julian, who was brilliant at digging 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 I, 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 minute 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 returning 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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, our 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 hours, 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 Verreaux’s Lemur.

At about 1 pm, 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.

The 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 Verreaux’s Lemur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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