Madagascar Post 3 – Days 10 – 14
Our birding trip was organised by Madagascar Tour Guide (email@example.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 Tena. I would highly recommend them and the prices were modest with much of the money going back into local communities.
Day 10 – 14/08/2018
Tuesday 14th August 2018 we were up early again for a 5.30 am breakfast so that we could start out on our long journey to Ranomafana NP, which is a tropical jungle. Unfortunately, we didn’t see anything on the route except for Olive Bee-eater, Grey-headed Vanga and Common Myna which is introduced. We were staying at The Cristo Hotel, which was mid-range but the owner went out of her way to be accommodating.
Day 11 – 15/08/2018
Wednesday 15th August 2018, we were up for a 6 am breakfast, so that we could go birding into the Ranomafana NP, which is a tropical jungle. The forest is big and the paths go up and down steeply, keeping you fit in the heat. Our local guide was Emele (firstname.lastname@example.org), who was the best local guide in the area and had helped with many research projects. He was very friendly and told us very proudly about how he had two animals named after him, which was impressive for anyone. He told us that some parts of the forest had not even been investigated and that if he could get researchers and funding, they were bound to find new species. That is exactly what I would like to do in the future but with a camera person filming. We also had a spotter with us for our visit.
We had a fantastic first-morning birding, with birds of the day being Malagasy Blue Pigeon, Red-fronted Coua, Velvety Asity, Common Sunbird-asity, Wards Flycatcher, Crossley’s, Blue, Tylas and Rufous Vanga, White-throated Oxylabes, Spectacled Tetraka, Rand’s Warber, Malagasy White-eye, Nelicouvi Weaver and Forest Fody.
For most of the morning and afternoon, we tried for Rufous-headed Ground Roller again. Whilst we did hear one a few times very briefly, by the time we had followed the call, the birds had gone quiet. Maybe tomorrow?
Day 12 – 16/08/2018
Thursday 16th August 2018, we were back at Ranomafana Forest birding from 6.30 am. We had another tough day of birding, climbing up and down the steep paths and off-roading through thick forest, with one new bird, Long-billed Bernieria.
Other birds for the day were Brown Mesite, Madagascan Wood-Rail, Pitta-like Ground Roller, Common Sunbird-asity, Pollen’s, Blue Vanga and Tylas Vanga and Wards Flycatcher.
We drove up to Sahamalaotra Forest at 5.30 pm, which was at the top of the mountainside, to look at Lemurs, frogs and try for Madagascar Long-eared Owl, which we didn’t see. However, we did see Brown Mouse Lemur.
Day 13 – 17/08/2018
Today, Friday 17th August 2018, we went up to the mountain early to go birding in Sahamalaotra Forest all day. It was another tough day, running up and down steep paths and climbing through dense forest with most of it spent trying to see Rufous-headed Ground Roller, which was only calling briefly. It’s frustrating when you spend a whole day trying for one bird and you just hear a 20-second burst every two hours or so. Eventually, I saw one but only managed to get mum and dad onto it briefly. When that happens, you can’t really celebrate and you know that you have to keep looking until everyone sees it well. Other birds were Blue Coua, Grey-crowned Tetraka, Green Jery, Madagascan Yellowbrow, Red Fody and Madagascan Mannikin.
Day 14 – 18/08/2018
We were up early again today and headed up to Sahamalaotra Forest for a final try before we had to start a long journey. It’s hard when you are trying for specific but without any joy. The forest paths here were steep, with lots of steps. We were listening for Rufous-headed Ground Roller the whole time. If we heard it, we would have to run to the part of the forest where the bird was calling from, go into the forest and sit quietly still. Julian and Emile would play the tape and the spotter would look for the bird. For all our hard work, we weren’t rewarded with the bird and by 8am we had to leave. New birds for the day were Cryptic Warbler and a Madagascar Flufftail, which we saw well, just as we were leaving the forest.
We then left this stunning location to make our way to Andasibe NP, another great forest. On the way, we stopped at wetlands where we saw Black Heron, Madagascan Lark and Stonechat.
We arrived at Andasibe NP at about 6 pm, in time to get sorted in our lower mid-range lodge Feon’ny Ala Hotel. This was the only place where the staff seemed disinterested but every time mum was about to complain, a different staff member would serve us who could speak English and seemed vaguely interested. This is where Julian lived and so he went off that evening to see his daughter and granddaughter who had been born the day before.
It’s been really hard blogging in Madagascar as the internet has been really weak, so I’ll just have to wait until we get home to upload any images.
Today was my niece Laila’s 10th birthday. We were all really missing her and it was great to have a WhatApp call to her.