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Madagascar highlights: 1-16 November 2011

December 14, 2011
Our Group, after Callan spotted the Madagascar Harrier, on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken www.birdingafrica.com

Our Group, after Callan spotted the Madagascar Harrier, on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken http://www.birdingafrica.com

Callan and Deirdre are back from two months tour leading in Madagascar. Here are some of top birds and experiences voted by participants of the second tour, from 1-16 November 2011. For the full list, please click here.

The itinerary included the eastern rainforest sites of Andasibe-Mantadia and Ranomafana National Parks, the western dry deciduous forest and Lac Ravelobe of Ankarafantsika National Park, the south western transitional forest of Zombitse National Park, the spiny desert at Ifaty, the coral rag scrub near Tulear and the sacred island of Nosy Ve, breeding site of Red-tailed Tropicbirds.

Madagascar Flufftail on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken www.birdingafrica.com

Madagascar Flufftail walked obliviously over our toes! © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken http://www.birdingafrica.com

Top birds:
1. Madagascar Flufftail (as we sat on the steep forest floor at Mantadia, it encircled us repeatedly and almost walked over someone’s foot!)
2. Common Sunbird-Asity (at Ranomafana, eye-level views of a male feeding)
3. Scaly Ground Roller (at Mantadia, a pair posed for us in the open on a sandbank along the river)
4. Pitta-like Ground Roller (seen several times on the trail!)
5. Collared nightjar roosting (well worth the climb at Andasibe!)
6. Velvet Asity (a male posed obligingly for our cameras)
7. Rufous-headed Ground Roller
8. Madagascar Buttonquail (we must have watched and photographed them for over 20 minutes as they fed in circles along a trail at Ranomafana)
9. Cuckoo-Roller (what an acrobatic flight and haunting call!)

Top experiences:
1. We walked up the steep ridge, breathed heavily and there appeared Madagascar Flufftail: almost walking over someone’s foot!
2. Faint rustling sounds in the undergrowth: Madagascar Buttonquail! Oblivious from our presence, it fed at leisure on the forest floor, turning its body and changing directions, making the typical feeding circles. We watched it for at least 20 minutes at about 3 meter from us.
3. Leaftailed Gecko. Ask Dale and Helen about the sharp stick!
4. Swimming in the cristal clear waters at Nosy Ve with all the birds in hand – just before another (hot) birding group trailed by…
5. Ringtailed lemurs – so well-habituated we could watch their natural antics at length.
6. Everyone was just so kind and patient – thank you!
7. Milne-Edwards Sifakas display at Ranomafana while we were watching the Yellow-bellied Sunbird-Asity.
8. The chameleon Furcifer balteatus, with its huge two rostral appendages and zebra-like colouration, caused much excitement at Ranomafana when awaiting our pool-side lunch. Probably the most impressive chameleon of the trip!

Common Sunbird-Asity posed at eye-level © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken www.birdingafrica.com

Common Sunbird-Asity posed at eye-level © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken http://www.birdingafrica.com

Diademed Sifaka on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Deirdre Vrancken & Callan Cohen www.birdingafrica.com

Diademed Sifaka -a family group of this second largest lemur posed above us at Mantadia © Deirdre Vrancken & Callan Cohen http://www.birdingafrica.com

View from our rooms at Ranomafana on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken www.birdingafrica.com

View from our rooms at Ranomafana © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken http://www.birdingafrica.com

The impressive Furcifer balteatus chameleon on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken

The impressive Furcifer balteatus chameleon caused much excitement during our pool-side lunch at Ranomafana © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken

Velvet Asity on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken www.birdingafrica.com

Velvet Asity on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken http://www.birdingafrica.com

Boat trip to see Red-tailed Tropicbirds at Nosy Ve © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken www.birdingafrica.com

Boat trip to see Red-tailed Tropicbirds at Nosy Ve © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken http://www.birdingafrica.com

Meller's Duck on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken www.birdingafrica.com

Meller's Duck on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken http://www.birdingafrica.com

Baobab in the spiny forest on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken www.birdingafrica.com

Baobab (Adansonia), Balsa wood (Givotia) and Octopus trees (Didiera) in Madagascar's spiny forest © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken http://www.birdingafrica.com

Nuthatch Vanga on a Birding Africa tour © Tony Mills www.notjustbirds.com

Nuthatch Vanga on a Birding Africa tour © Tony Mills http://www.notjustbirds.com

Eastern Woolly Lemur (Avahi laniger) on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Deirdre Vrancken & Callan Cohen

Eastern Woolly Lemur (Avahi laniger) - four cuddled up a their daytime roost at the base of a bird's-nest fern (Asplenium) © Deirdre Vrancken & Callan Cohen

Collared Nightjar on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken

Collared Nightjar on a Birding Africa tour to Madagascar © Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken

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