Madagascar

1st November 1988 - 29th November 1988

1st November.

Dave Tombs and I arrived in Antananarivo the previous day, then booked into the Hilton Hotel (now the Carlton Hotel), where we had lots of formalities and permissions to deal with. New species for me will be in bold.

View from hotel room.

Our first day in Madagascar, after a brief look at the lake near the hotel where we saw Malagasy Pond Herons, we met Hubert who was our driver and guide. He took us to Antananarivo Zoo which housed representative species of Madagascar's endemic mammals. There was also a lagoon where there were thousands of egrets and herons, the vast majority were Cattle Egrets, but also Little Egrets, Squacco Herons, Striated Herons, Malagasy Pond Herons, 4 Black Herons and 2 Night Herons.

Back at the hotel there were 3 Madagascar Green Geckos in the reception area.

Antananarivo Zoo. 

Cattle Egrets, more photos here.

2nd November.

The Hilton Hotel was the highest building in Central Antananarivo and my room was near the top. Just after dawn I was looking out of the windows when a Bat Hawk flew past, almost at eye level, it flew past a couple of times before disappearing. Also seen was a Madagascar Kestrel and down, around the lake, Cattle and Little Egrets.

After breakfast Hubert took us to nearby Lac d'Alarobia now called Parc de Tsarasaotra, an area of scrub and trees surrounding the lake, here we saw White-faced Whistling Duck, Red-billed Pintail, Great White Egret, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Night Heron, Moorhen, Cattle Egret, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Knob-billed Duck, Red-knobbed Coot, a Madagascar Green or Long-billed Green Sunbird, a Madagascar Coucal, 2 Malagasy Kingfishers now split from Malachite Kingfisher, Malagasy Pond Heron, Madagascar Red Fody, a Humblot's Heron, Madagascar White-eye and African Palm Swift.

In the afternoon we returned to the Zoo to record the thousands of egrets, also seeing another Malagasy Kingfisher and 2 Madagascar Coucals.

Hilton Hotel

Lac d'Alarobia where there were lots of huge webs of Golden Silk Orb-weaver Spiders hanging between the trees.

Great White Egret and White-faced Whistling Ducks at Lac d'Alarobia.

Malagasy Kingfisher at Antananarivo Zoo.

3rd November.

We left the hotel and drove to the airport, on the way seeing Madagascar Black Swift, Madagascar Kestrel and 3 Mascarene Martins

The flight south to Fort Dauphin didn't take long, at the airport we were met by Mark Pigeon who drove us to the Berenty Reserve, on the way seeing Pied Crows, a Madagascar Buzzard, a Madagascar Cuckoo Falcon, Common Myna, Madagascar Red Fody, Madagascar Coucal, Madagascar Turtle Dove, Striated or Green-backed Heron, Cattle Egret, c20 Grey-headed Lovebirds, a Black Kite, a Madagascar Kestrel, 4 Madagascar Bulbuls, a Madagascar Mannikin, a colony of Sakalava Weavers, 2 Madagascar Hoopoes now split, a Crested Drongo, Namaqua Dove and 2 Hova Larks.

At Berenty Dave and I had a cabin each, luxury, after unpacking we had time to meet the neighbours - a group of Ring-tailed Lemurs, then near dusk we saw 2 White-browed Owls.

Pied Crows. 

Madagascar Bulbul

Crested Drongo

Grey-headed Lovebirds

Ring-tailed Lemurs

4th November.

The reserve at Berenty is a narrow strip of woodland between the river to the east and sisal plantation to the west,  there are broad tracks through the trees which are swept every morning and most species can be seen from these. 

Today, while out recording we saw c6 Thick-billed Rollers, Ring-tailed Lemurs, Brown Lemurs, c10 Grey-headed Lovebirds, 2 Giant Couas, 3 Black Parrots, a Madagascar Magpie Robin, 9 Verreaux Sifakas,

3 Crested Couas, a Madagascar Buzzard, 8+ Madagascar Paradise Flycatchers, 2 Crested Drongos, Madagascar Coucal, 2 White-footed Sportive Lemurs, Madagascar Fruit Bats, Common Newtonia, Common Jery, Pied Crows, a Souimanga Sunbird, Madagascar Turtle Dove, 2 Madagascar Kestrels, 2 Madagascar Bee-eaters, a Hook-billed Vanga, flying over 2 Curlew, Cattle Egrets, an Eleonora's Falcon, Brown Lemur, an Indian Genet, 2 Black Kites and a Night Heron.

Berenty Reserve. 

Giant Coua

Crested Coua

Verreaux Sifaka

White-footed Sportive Lemur

Madagascar Fruit Bat

Madagascar Bee-eater

5th November.

Another day recording around the reserve, we followed the local group of Ring-tailed Lemurs for a while, but they made little noise, occasionally a sharp rebuke to a young one, but that was about all.

Then we went to find Verreaux Sifakas, they are much more spread out in loose groups or singly, again they make very little sound, but, we did find one making a high pitched contact call or 'lost call' well away from the other 15 that we saw.

During the day we also saw a France's Sparrowhawk, a Madagascar Harrier Hawk, Madagascar White-eye, Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher, Common Newtonia, Jery, 4 Giant Couas, 4 Crested Couas, Madagascar Bulbul, 2 Black Parrots, 20+ Madagascar Fruit Bats, a Greenshank, Thick-billed Roller, a Striated or Green-backed Heron, a Little Egret, a Cuckoo Roller, Crested Drongo, Pied Crow, a Purple Heron, 2 Madagascar Bee-eaters, 2 Brown Lemurs, a Kentish Plover, and towards dusk 2 Madagascar Nightjars, a Madagascar Scops Owl and an Indian Genet.

Ring-tailed Lemur. 

Verreaux Sifaka.

Madagascar Harrier Hawk

Cuckoo Roller

6th November.

A pre-dawn start to record Ring-tailed Lemurs, although they don't make much sound during the day, troops have a dawn wake-up chorus to let other groups know their position in the forest.

Later, we watched a pair of  Hook-billed Vangas, at their nest, which contained chicks. They had caught a chameleon which they had wedged in a fork of the tree and were pulling pieces off to feed the chicks.

The Berenty Reserve is primarily for wild species, but, it does have a pen for critically endangered Radiated Tortoises as part of a breeding programme.

Verreaux Sifakas spend most of their time in the trees, but, when they have to cross from one patch to another they skip across the ground, on two feet, really elegantly. I spent an hour or so trying to photograph this, in the middle of the day, as several followed each other across the main track.

Also seen during the day were 3 Black Parrots, Madagascar Turtle Dove, Namaqua Dove, Madagascar Bulbul, 2 Madagascar Bee-eaters, c20 Grey-headed Lovebirds, Jery, Madagascar Magpie Robin, Pied Crow, Crested Coua, Crested Drongo, Thick-billed Roller, Common Myna, Madagascar Kestrel, Common Newtonia, 2 Giant Couas, the White-footed Sportive Lemur again, 2 Madagascar Harrier Hawks, a Cuckoo Roller, Madagascar Coucal, a Greenshank, 2 Little Egrets, 3 Cattle Egrets, a Night Heron and an Indian Genet.

Hook-billed Vanga. 

Radiated Tortoise

Verreaux Sifaka

7th November.

Our last full day recording at Berenty, seeing Madagascar Turtle Dove, Crested Drongo, Madagascar Bulbul, Madagascar White-eye, Madagascar Red Fody, Common Newtonia, Common Jery, Stripe-throated Jery, Madagascar Scops Owl, Pied Crow, a Greenshank, Ring-tailed Lemur, Verreaux Sifaka, Grey-headed Lovebird, 4 Black Parrots, Madagascar Bee-eater, 2 Hook-billed Vangas, Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher, Madagascar Kestrel, Thick-billed Roller, Crested Coua, Common Myna, Madagascar Coucal and Black Kite.

Later, on a walk north along the river there were another 7 Greenshanks, 2 Common Sandpipers and another 2 Stripe-throated Jerys.

Madagascar Kestrel. 

8th November.

Our last morning at Berenty and a new bird, a White-headed Vanga. We hadn't seen any reptiles here up to now, when we came across a large black and white snake which proved to be a Madagascar Burrowing Snake

Also seen this morning were Giant and Crested Couas, Madagascar Fruit Bats, Ring-tailed Lemur, Verreaux Sifaka, a Madagascar Buzzard, Black Kite, a Cuckoo Roller, Madagascar Bulbul, Common and Stripe-throated Jerys, Common Newtonia, 2 Madagascar Kestrels, Crested Drongo, Pied Crow, Madagascar Bee-eater, Madagascar Magpie Robin, Thick-billed Roller and a Madagascar Hoopoe.

Mark Pigeon arrived to pick us up, then drove us northeast to Hazofotsy on the eastern edge of the Spiny Forest area, on the way seeing a Madagascar Cisticola, Namaqua and Madagascar Turtle Doves, 3 Madagascar Hoopoes, Black Parrot, Madagascar Bulbuls and Bee-eaters, Crested Drongo, Madagascar Kestrel and Sakalava Weavers.

Lots more Berenty photos here. 

Madagascar Burrowing Snake.

9th November.

Hazofotsy is miles from anywhere, not really a village, more a collection of timber huts surrounded by spiny forest desert, there was nowhere to stay so we had to camp, which upset Dave and he soon began to feel ill, mainly due to the dust and animal droppings in the spot we had been allocated to pitch the tent, and also the heat. We only had the previous evening and today to record, and, with Dave unwell we didn't get much done! 

We made a pre-dawn start to record Fork-marked Lemurs which were calling nearby, as it got light seeing 2 of them, also a Madagascar Nightjar. Dave was coughing more and retired to the tent, I carried on, exploring the local area and recording as much as I could before the heat of the day when the birds went quiet and the cicadas took over. During my walk I saw 6+ Madagascar Cuckoos, a Souimanga Sunbird, 2 Madagascar Hoopoes, 2 Madagascar Bee-eaters, 20+ Sakalava Weavers, Crested Drongo, 17 Madagascar Sandgrouse, a Madagascar Spine-tailed Swift, Black Parrot, Namaqua Dove, 4 Cattle Egrets, Madagascar Harrier Hawk, Common Newtonia, Madagascar Turtle Dove, a Sickle-billed Vanga, a Madagascar Buzzard, a Cuckoo Roller, 2 Madagascar Sparrowhawks and a Madagascar Cuckoo Falcon.

When I returned to the tent, I found that Dave was still very unwell, so it was decided to pack-up early and return to Fort Dauphin, we found a hotel near the coast and while Dave slept, I had a walk along the coast seeing a Kelp or Southern Black-backed Gull.

Hazofotsy.

Spiny forest with Fony Baobab Tree.

Spiny forest with Rosy Periwinkle.

Spiny forest with Octopus Trees.

10th November.

Most of the day at the hotel in Fort Dauphin, seeing 2 Red-eared Wall Lizards and 3 fly-over Night Herons. Later, in the afternoon we went to the airport for a flight back to Antananarivo, the weather was awful with dark skies and thunder storms, we sat on the runway waiting for the skies to clear, then we took off and headed for a bright hole in the clouds, bumpy but we made it. We returned to the Hilton Hotel much to Dave's relief!

Coast at Fort Dauphin.

11th November.

Most of the day in the hotel in Antananarivo making arrangements for the next stage of our trip, later, a walk by the nearby lake seeing Madagascar Pond Heron, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret and 2 Mascarene Martins.

12th November.

An early start for a long drive south to Ranomafana, a tropical rain forest on the southeastern slopes of the island. Crossing the high plateau of central Madagascar we made frequent stops.

On the journey we saw Madagascar Red Fody, African Stonechat, a Madagascar Brush Warbler, Madagascar Mannikin, 2 Madagascar Sparrowhawks, Madagascar Wagtail, 5 Madagascar Kestrels, 6 Alpine Swifts, 8 Hamerkops, Pied Crow, a Madagascar Swamp Warbler, Mascarene Martin, a Madagascar Buzzard, c20 Madagascar Teal, a Meller's Duck, 2 Madagascar Cisticolas, a Madagascar Green Sunbird, a Madagascar Bee-eater, a Broad-billed Roller, Madagascar Turtle Dove and Cattle Egrets.

Much of the central plateau is farmland or paddy-fields, there were very few trees unless they were a crop, there were areas of dry scrub, also damp parts with pools and streams. We stopped at any likely looking place to find birds, but it was hard going and we travelled for miles without seeing any.

As soon as we took the road to Ranomafana the habitat changed, firstly with secondary growth forest, then as we descended alongside the river, we drove through dense primary rain forest. We stopped at a place, up-stream of the town, where a track led down to a wooden bridge across the river, here we were met by Dr Claire Kremen and some of her team,

they helped us unload and carry our equipment to a hut on the other bank, set higher up in the forest.

The Duke University hut was to be our base for the next few days and they had kindly agreed to guide and assist us during our stay. After settling in, on a walk near the camp, we saw a Madagascar Cuckoo-Shrike, a Souimanga Sunbird, 2 Dark Newtonias, Madagascar Magpie Robins, Madagascar Spine-tailed Swifts, a Crest Drongo, 4 Madagascar White-eyes, 3 Madagascar Bulbuls and Madagascar Coucals.

Central plateau. 

Dave and helper on bridge in Ranomafana.

Claire, me, Dave and team at the Duke hut.

13th November.

Our reason for being in Ranomafana was to record Golden Bamboo Lemurs which had only been discovered in 1986. A Trials of Life cameraman had already filmed them for the series and we had to get the sound. This morning we set off with our guides to find them, but, arriving at a stand of bamboo in the forest we found a Japanese camera crew making lots of noise as they chased the lemurs around, they clearly had no idea of how to film wildlife. We informed them that we had prior permission from the local authorities to record the lemurs, and that they should leave, which they refused. As we couldn't force them to leave and the fact that now there was no sign of the lemurs, we left. Returning to the hut, Claire suggested we speak to the town elders about the situation, so a meeting was arranged for the following day.

It meant that we had the rest of the day to explore the forest, which we did, also trying to find places away from the noise of the river. During the day we saw Madagascar Turtle Dove, a Vasa Parrot, Cuckoo Roller, a Red-fronted Coua, Madagascar Spine-tailed Swifts, Common Newtonia, Dark Newtonia, 2 Velvet Asity, Madagascar Magpie Robin, a White-throated Oxylabes, a Spectacled Greenbul, Madagascar White-eye, Souimanga Sunbird, 2 Tylas, Madagascar Bulbul, a Pollen's Vanga, a Nelicourvi Weaver, a Forest Fody, 2 Red-tailed Vangas, c12 Brown Lemurs which are now split and these called Red-fronted Brown Lemurs, 2 Madagascar Blue Pigeons and Mascarene Martins.

River in Ranomafana.

14th November.

This morning we went to Ranomafana Town to meet the head men of the region, after the required formalities and explanations, they said that the Japanese film crew shouldn't be there and they would be gone by the next day.

Back at the Duke hut we set off to do more forest recording, seeing 2 Red-tailed Vangas, a Ward's Flycatcher, 2 Common Jerys, 4 Ring-tailed Mongooses, Madagascar Bulbul, Souimanga Sunbird, 2 Red-bellied Lemurs, Common Newtonia, a Sunbird-Asity, Dark Newtonia, a Greater Bamboo Lemur, 2 Madagascar Crested Ibises, Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher, 3 Spectacled Greenbuls, a Cuckoo Roller, a Brown Forest Rat, Dark Newtonia, a Nelicourvi Weaver, a White-throated Oxylabes and a Long-billed Greenbul.

Female Souimanga Sunbird at nest.

15th November.

An early start to find the Golden Bamboo Lemurs of which we saw a pair, and, there was no-one else there. We spent most of the day watching them feeding and moving around in the bamboo stand, they didn't make much sound at first except eating, occasionally making a series of rapid grunts to each other. Then after a while they broke into a brief, loud mournful duet, which was repeated several times while we were there, they also disappeared for periods only being located again by the sounds of eating. With patience and not getting too close we were able to get some excellent recordings.

Also, in this area we saw a pair of Avahi, now split, with these now being called Peyrieras's Woolly Lemurs, the 2 greyish adults had a rusty red young one with them.

During the day we also saw Stripe-throated Jery, Souimanga Sunbird, a Madagascar Cuckoo Falcon, a Madagascar Buzzard, Madagascar Bulbul, Common Newtonia, c6 Vasa Parrots, a Madagascar Cuckoo, 2 Madagascar Wagtails and an Ornate Girdled Lizard.

Later, on a tree outside of the Duke hut there was a Leaf-tailed Gecko.

Ornate Girdled Lizard.

Leaf-tailed Gecko.

16th November.

Today we started off recording in the forest and along the river seeing a Madagascar Buzzard, a Madagascar Black Swift, Madagascar White-eye, 3 Cuckoo Rollers, 2 Mascarene Martins, Madagascar Wagtail, a Madagascar Magpie Robin, 2 Plain Sand Martins, Souimanga Sunbird and Madagascar Bulbul.

Later, Claire took us to an area up-river called Voipara, where the river flow was calmer and there was open, overgrown fields surrounded by secondary growth forest. 

Here we saw a Madagascar Blue Pigeon, 3 Blue Couas, Stripe-throated Jery, Madagascar Mannikin, Souimanga Sunbird, a Red-fronted Coua, African Stonechat, 4 Madagascar Starlings, 2 Madagascar Cisticolas, 

4 Brown Emu-tails, Madagascar Red Fody, Madagascar Brush Warbler, Madagascar Swamp Warbler, Madagascar Coucal, Madagascar Magpie Robin and 2 Madagascar Kingfishers.

River at Voipara. 

Water carriers at Voipara.

Brown Emu-tail at Voipara.

Claire catching bugs at Voipara.

Madagascar Red Fody at Voipara.

17th November.

Our last full day in Ranomafana and today we climbed higher up in the rain forest to record Diademed Sifakas, which have now been split with the population here being Milne-Edward's Sifakas, we found a group of 5 and were slowly able to get quite close to them.

We also saw 2 Ring-tailed Mongooses, Madagascar Bulbul, Souimanga Sunbird, Madagascar White-eye, a Velvet Asity, a Stripe-throated Jery, a Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher, 2 Brown Forest Rats, Cuckoo Roller, Spectacled Greenbul, Mascarene Martin, Red-tailed Vanga and Long-billed Greenbul.

Milne-Edward's Sifaka. 

18th November.

An early start for our drive back to Antananarivo, while still in Ranomafana and on the first part of our journey we saw Madagascar Wagtail, Madagascar Red Fody, Madagascar Bulbul, Plain Sand Martin, Madagascar Kestrel, Black Kite, Hamerkop, Cattle Egret, Pied Crow, African Stonechat, Common Newtonia, Common Jery, Common Myna, Madagascar Turtle Dove and Madagascar Cuckoo.

We stopped at some lily ponds at Km 290, where we spent some time seeing a Purple Heron, c30 Red-billed Pintail, a Madagascar Snipe, Madagascar Cisticola, Madagascar Brush Warbler, African Stonechat, Plain Sand Martin and a Sooty Falcon.

Our next stop was at one of the Ambatofotsy Lakes about 25 Kms south of Antananarivo, where from the bridge overlooking the reedbeds we saw a male Malagasy Harrier

19th November.

Hubert arrived bright and early at our hotel for the next stage of our trip, but informed us that there were no hire cars available, so he had brought his own car. We went outside to have a look, it was a wreak! Dave said I'm not going in that until its fixed, the only thing going for it was that it started and moved, all the tyres were bald and there was a plank of wood for the back seat. 

We all set off for downtown Antananarivo, finding an area of workshops and car spares, firstly we got the tyres changed, not new but a lot better, then we had to find a back seat, which eventually we did, from another model but it went in and was secured as best as the garage guys could, but it still slid around! At least it had some padding. 

This took all morning, so by the time we had lunch and loaded the car it was early afternoon. We drove east, rattling slowly along a good paved road, stopping at times to let the car cool down and on one occasion for a Jewel or Carpet Chameleon to cross the road.

It took several hours to reach Perinet, where the accommodation was in the old railway station, which was fine. We met the park official and sorted out a guide for tomorrow, a requirement here. Outside we saw 2 White-throated Rails and a Madagascar or Pygmy House Mouse.

Jewel or Carpet Chameleon.

The car with Hubert and Dave.

Railway station at Perinet.

20th November.

An early start with our guide, we were here to record Indri the largest of the lemurs. They live in family groups, spending the early hours feeding, so you have to know where to look to find them, after feeding they sit around in the trees and it's then that they start calling, each group letting the others know where they are in the forest.

After a bit of searching our guide pointed out a group of 4 Indri in the trees ahead of us, we moved as close as we could and waited, then they started, the loud, wailing calls from the adults was almost deafening and there were distant replies from other groups around the forest. Their song lasted around 20 minutes on and off, during which time we got some great recordings.

The rest of the day was spent in the forest recording anything we could, and seeing a Glossy Ibis, a Purple Heron, a Striated or Green-backed Heron, a Madagascar Kingfisher, Madagascar Blue Pigeon, Madagascar Turtle Dove, Madagascar Bulbul, Souimanga Sunbird, Dark Newtonia, Madagascar Brush Warbler, 2 Hook-billed Vangas, 2 Coral-billed Nuthatches, Madagascar White-eye, Common Newtonia, Forest Red Fody, Cuckoo Roller, both Sunbird Asity and Yellow-bellied Sunbird Asity, Crested Drongo, Madagascar Magpie Robin, Common Jery, a Madagascar Buzzard, 4 White-throated Rails with a juvenile, a Madagascar Sparrowhawk, a Blue Coua, several Nelicourvi Weavers with juveniles, Madagascar Mannikin, an Eastern Woolly Lemur and 2 Common Brown Lemurs.

Later, we had a walk along the road outside of the station with a chameleon expert who was staying there and a couple of the guides, as it got dark we saw 2 Greater Dwarf Lemurs, a Brown Mouse Lemur, 2 Short-horned Chameleons, a Perinet Chameleon and heard a Madagascar Scops Owl.

Photos:

Lake and forest at Perinet.

Dave recording Indri.

Indri.

Sunbird Asity.

Souimanga Sunbird.

Juvenile Nelicourvi Weaver.

21st November.

Another early morning to catch up with the 4 Indri, after a couple of hours with the lemurs, we had a last look around the forest trails seeing Common Brown Lemur, Madagascar Bulbul, Common Newtonia, Forest Red Fody, Madagascar Buzzard, Cuckoo Roller, Purple Heron, Madagascar Brush Warbler, Souimanga Sunbird, Madagascar Blue Pigeon, Moorhen and a Madagascar Yellow-striped Water Snake.

Later, we left Perinet returning to Antananarivo, on the way seeing a Humblot's Heron, c20 Red-billed Pintail, a Hottentot Teal, 2 Madagascar Bee-eaters, Hamerkop and Madagascar Buzzard.

Madagascar Yellow-striped Water Snake. 

Souimanga Sunbird.

Madagascar Bulbul.

Silver Widow Dragonfly.

22nd November.

Back at the Hilton Hotel in Antananarivo, we started back at nearby Lac d'Alarobia seeing Cattle and Little Egrets, Great White Egret, Squacco Heron, Madagascar Pond Heron, 2 Humblot's Herons, Night Heron, White-faced and Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Knob-billed Duck, Red-billed Pintail, Moorhen, 2 Malagasy Kingfishers, a Common Sandpiper, Madagascar Coucal, Madagascar Red Fody, Madagascar Kestrel and a Carpet Chameleon.

Later, Hubert took us on a tour of the southern highland plateau, visiting some historical sites.

Back in my room at the hotel I had a nice view of a Sooty Falcon flying past.

Southern highland plateau. 

23rd November.

Today we decided to go back to the Ambatofotsy Lakes south of Antananarivo, which we had briefly stopped at on our way back from Ranomafana. We found a few spots where it was quiet enough to record, during the day we saw lots of Red-billed Pintail, c20 White-faced Whistling Ducks, 6 Meller's Ducks, Madagascar Cuckoo, Madagascar Bee-eater, Madagascar Cisticola, Cattle Egret, a Striated Heron, a Great White Egret, Madagascar Kestrel, Madagascar Red Fody, 2 Madagascar Swamp Warblers, a Carpet Chameleon, African Stonechat, Madagascar Mannikin, Pied Crow, Madagascar Bulbul, Madagascar Coucal, a Long-billed Greenbul and a Malagasy Kingfisher.

Madagascar Cuckoo.

Madagascar Cisticola.

Madagascar Mannikin.

Malagasy Kingfisher.

24th, 25th, 26th November.

In and around the Hilton Hotel, making arrangements for the final part of our trip. Back at the Natural History Unit in Bristol the producers of the Great Rift series were unhappy that we hadn't recorded much in the spiny forest and wanted us to return there. The Trials of Life producers were happy with the species we had recorded and the atmospheres we had collected, and wanted us to continue to our last target species.

So, we had to split up, quite clearly Dave wouldn't go back to Hazofotsy, so I had to make arrangements to fly to Fort Dauphin again on the 26th, returning on the 29th, and, arrange for Mark Pigeons assistance again.

Dave and Hubert left on time to drive to a remote lake on the west coast to record Madagascar Fish Eagles, not in Hubert's car, a trip I would have loved to have done.

27th November.

Meeting up with Mark Pigeon we drove to Hazofotsy, on the way seeing Black Kite, Namaqua Dove, Madagascar Turtle Dove, Madagascar Hoopoe, Madagascar Kestrel and a Running Coua.

At Hazofotsy there was another round of formalities with the elders, discussion on where I could pitch the tent and tea. The tent went pretty much in the same place as last time and it took a while to put up and sort the equipment for the morning.From the tent I could hear 2 Madagascar Nightjars and a Fork-marked Lemur.

28th November.

All day recording around Hazofotsy, seeing a Fork-marked Lemur, Madagascar Nightjar, Stripe-throated Jery, Madagascar Magpie Robin, 

4 Crested Couas, Black Parrot, Madagascar Turtle Dove, Madagascar Green Sunbird, Namaqua Dove, Grey-headed Lovebird, Common Newtonia, Madagascar Hoopoe, Crested Drongo, White-headed Vanga, Common Jery, Madagascar Sandgrouse, Cuckoo Roller, Madagascar Bee-eater, Broad-billed Roller, a France's Sparrowhawk, Vasa Parrot, 

6 Verreaux Sifakas, Souimanga Sunbird, a Running Coua and a Sickle-billed Vanga.

29th November.

Only the morning to continue recording, during which time I saw Black Kite, Black Parrot, a White-headed Vanga, Souimanga Sunbird, Crested Drongo, Madagascar Hoopoe, Madagascar Cuckoo, Stripe-throated Jery, Common Newtonia, Madagascar Magpie Robin, Sakalava Weaver, Cuckoo Roller, Broad-billed Roller, 2 Madagascar Kestrels, Vasa Parrot, Crested Coua and 10 Madagascar Sandgrouse.

It was late afternoon by the time Dave and Hubert met me at the airport, we stopped on the drive into Antananarivo, it was nearing dusk and there was an African Marsh Owl flying around the fields.

Octopus Tree at Hazofotsy.

The next day was spent packing and getting all the paperwork in order so as we could leave Madagascar on the 1st December. What we didn't know, until now, was that all photographs, films and recordings have to be submitted for inspection at least 24 hours before leaving. So, it was a rush to get all the tapes to the authorities in time.

As it was, they couldn't play the tapes and they were waiting for us to collect as we left the following day.

More photos here.

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Trip

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Kenya.

Madagascar Spiny-tailed Iguana, not sure where this was taken.

© 2014  Nigel Tucker. All rights reserved.

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