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Madagascar Oct-Dec 2017

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Old Sunday 15th April 2018, 19:24   #1
Rgallardy
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Madagascar Oct-Dec 2017

Hi all,

A while ago I posted about an upcoming trip to Madagascar with the goal of tracking down all of the endemics (except Dusky Tetraka). Well, the trip was extremely successful and we did quite well recording all of the endemics except Bernier's Vanga (we didn't do Masoala, and dipped on them in Iaroka despite heroic efforts). Although the trip was very successful, it was a lot more work than I originally anticipated. Mostly due to the numerous long hikes we did in search for the Bernier's as well as the issues we had with our drivers/vehicles along the way.

After we (Melissa, Josh, and I) arrived in country, we quickly picked up our fourth person (Geoff) and started off directly towards Tsiroanomandidy which is the gateway town to the area for Tsigny Wood Rail. Our trip for the rail was more than we bargained for including a way longer drive than expected (due to the clearance of our vehicle and road conditions), Geoff's foot getting run over by our idiot driver, cracking the oil pan, and stalling the vehicle in the middle of a river crossing! Luckily, actually twitching the rail is straight forward and it only took a few minutes to find it once we reached the spot. Check out the blog for more info/pics from the Tsingy Wood Rail extension.

https://budgetbirders.com/2018/04/15...-of-our-lives/

Best,

Ross
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Old Saturday 2nd June 2018, 12:23   #2
Rgallardy
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Andasibe & Iroka Forest

Hi all,

Sorry for the long delay on continuing with the madagascar trip report. I'll blame spring migration, but XC and laziness are probably to blame as well. ;-)

Anyways, after finishing up the crazy trip for the Tsingy Wood-Rail, we headed to Ansasibe, one the most popular and well known birdings (and tourist) locations in Madagascar. The area is chalk full of cool birds, neat chameleons and geckos, and tons of lemurs. We had an enjoyable first day here at Andasibe, even if it did feel a bit like a zoo. From there we headed "across the road" to Iroka, a much more natural tract of forest home to Helmet Vanga and Bernier's Vanga (or so they say). Long story short, we spent a lot of time hiking around Iroka for 3 days and then a few more throughout the rest of the trip. It was a great area to visit and although we managed to track down a Helmet Vanga nest, we never did see Bernier's Vanga despite intensive searching (our only endemic dip of the trip!)

Check out more details of our trip to Andasibe on the blog!

https://budgetbirders.com/2018/06/01...real-life-zoo/

Best,

Ross
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Old Thursday 7th June 2018, 01:59   #3
Rgallardy
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Amber Mountain

Well after our trip around Andasibe, it was time to fly north and start our large circuit around north western Madagascar. The first stop in the north was Amber Mountain. The rock thrush here is currently lumped, but I'm sure it'll be split again some day, so worth getting. The Spectacled Tetraka and Rainforest Scops-Owl here are also worthwhile to pick up. We only spent an afternoon and morning at this spot, but it was quite enjoyable despite our mandatory guide, who was quite possibly the most obnoxious person in Madagascar! Other than that we enjoyed some lesureily birding picking up a few more Crested Ibis, White-throated Rail, and lots of Pitta-like Ground Rollers. We also managed a few other goodies like Sanford's Brown Lemur, Crowned Lemur, Giant Day Gecko, and Amber Mountain Leaf Chameleon which is one of the tiniest in the world.

Read more about this part of our trip on the blog

https://budgetbirders.com/2018/06/06...mber-mountain/


Best,

Ross
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Old Thursday 7th June 2018, 19:27   #4
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Thoroughly enjoyable as always though I note after the WP Big Year birders' digs last year about British directions, we're now being dug out as suppressors.

'We simply had to call them out because not sharing information like that is completely selfish and definitely a very British birder type thing to do!'

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Old Thursday 7th June 2018, 22:37   #5
jurek
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Hi Ross,
Nice reports!

We had our own share of mis-adventures with guides in Andasibe. I still don't like Madagascar and African approach for overcharging tourists for visiting national parks and obligatory guides. Countries like Spain or South Asia which really got rich on tourism simply let everybody in, cheaply and friendly.
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Old Monday 11th June 2018, 00:01   #6
Rgallardy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Chapman View Post
Thoroughly enjoyable as always though I note after the WP Big Year birders' digs last year about British directions, we're now being dug out as suppressors.

'We simply had to call them out because not sharing information like that is completely selfish and definitely a very British birder type thing to do!'

Haha, sorry for the bad rap, but I will say that most of the time when I meet birders who have a stick up their butts, they are Brits! That being said, I've also met some great Brits and there's plenty of hardcore Brits on this forum who have provided me with great info, so they aren't all bad!

Best,

Ross
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Old Monday 11th June 2018, 00:03   #7
Rgallardy
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Originally Posted by jurek View Post
Hi Ross,
Nice reports!

We had our own share of mis-adventures with guides in Andasibe. I still don't like Madagascar and African approach for overcharging tourists for visiting national parks and obligatory guides. Countries like Spain or South Asia which really got rich on tourism simply let everybody in, cheaply and friendly.
Hi Jurek,

I do agree with you. I think the biggest issue for us was that a number of :birding" guides seemed to have big egos. Patrice was by far the worst we encountered. Some of the other guides though like Etienne, were very humble and extremely enjoyable to be with.
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Old Monday 11th June 2018, 00:06   #8
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Bemanevika

Hi all,

Well after finishing up with our short stay in Amber Mountain, we started the long drive to Bemanevika. It took over a day from when we left Amber Mountain to when we finally arrived at the campsite at Bemanevika. The ride in was a bit of an adventure (see blog), but the birding in Bemanevika was some of the best I've ever experienced. Can't complain about seeing Madagascar Serpent-Eagle, Madagascar Pochard, Red Owl, and Slender-billed Flufftail in the same day! Check out the blog for more details on our trip to Bemanevika.

https://budgetbirders.com/2018/06/10...ves-seriously/

Best,

Ross
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Old Saturday 23rd June 2018, 20:45   #9
Rgallardy
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Ankarafantsika, Kinkony, & Ampitsopitsoka

Hi all,

Well after the very successful trip to Bemanevika we were off to the dry forest of Ankarafantsika. Although we arrived a bit late to our extremely slow driver, we finally made it out onto the trails just in time for it to start getting really hot (0900). Luckily, that didn't affect the birds too much and we still managed most of our targets. From there we headed up to Mahajanga and the next morning too the ferry across the bay. From here it was off along a long very dusty road to the shores of Lake Kinkony for the range restricted Sakalava Rail. Luckily the rail was easily to find and soon we were off to our next spot, Ampitsopitsoka. The Bernier's Teal has become a lot less reliable in the bay these last few years so we decided to try another spot which proved to be a great idea. A nice boat ride produced great views of the teal along with Madagascar Sacred Ibis and Madagascar Plover. From there it was back across the bay to Mahajanga and after another quick trip to Ankarafantsika (dipped the Banded Kestrel again) we headed back on the long drive to Andasibe. Since we were two days ahead of schedule we decided to spend another two days hiking around Iaroka forest looking for Bernier's Vanaga. Once again we dipped the vanga, but ended up with fantastic looks at Helmet Vanga on a nest. Check out the blog for more details on this section of the trip.

https://budgetbirders.com/2018/06/23...d-bad-drivers/

Best,

Ross
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Old Tuesday 7th August 2018, 22:46   #10
Rgallardy
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Andohahela National Park and Berenty

A bit of a slow down in finishing up these blog posts due to birding and work, but here we go.

After dipping again on Bernier's Vanaga, it was time to fly to the SE to visit Andohahela National Park and Bernety Reserve. Plenty of birders visit he wet side of Andohahela, but not many visit the dry side. Since Banded Kestrel was extra difficult this past fall (no nest or reliable sightings up north) we decided the visit the dry side since it's a fairly reliable site for this species. The wet side easily provided our only target, Red-tailed Newtonia and the dry side provided a few sighted of Banded Kestrel, including one nice low flyby.

After Andohahela, we headed to Berenty. Although "zoo like" visiting Berenty was very enjoyable and since we didn't have many targets left to look for there, it was an enjoyable relaxing break. By far the highlight of our time at Berenty (and one of my top wildlife encounters) was getting to watch a Pied Crow battle an Oustalet's Chamelion for 30 minutes. The crow had the Chameleon trapped in a large dead branch in the middle of the trail, but the Chameleon was mostly able to stay out of reach of the crow's jabs. The crow systematically broke off twigs until it was finally able to pull the branch away from the chameleon and land a lethal blow. I really cool experience to watch!

Check out more from Andohahela and Berenty in the TWO blog posts below

Andohahela
https://budgetbirders.com/2018/08/01...ating-lychees/

Berenty
https://budgetbirders.com/2018/08/06...eve-ever-seen/

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Ross
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