Guided by Ken Behrens.
This was an extremely successful trip, one of the best that Tropical Birding has ever run. We racked up 199 species of birds, including every Malagasy endemic and near-endemic save a handful of extremely rare and range-restricted species that are not targeted by this tour. We saw every member of three endemic Malagasy families: mesites, asities and ground-rollers. The last family is particularly spectacular… from the long-tailed and baby blue-marked Long-tailed Ground-Roller of the spiny forest to the exquisite Scaly and three other species of the humid eastern forests… you can make a case for any of the 5 as the ‘best’ of the ground-rollers, and by extension one of the world’s coolest birds! We did incredibly well on vangas, seeing every Malagasy species save one. The obvious highlight here was the mind-blowing Helmet Vanga, with its enormous electric blue bill, another of the best birds on earth. We also enjoyed the rare Bernier’s Vanga, enormous pied Hook-billed, cone-billed Van Dam’s, and many more.
Mammals were just as spectacular. We saw 32 species, of which an astounding 26 were lemurs! These ranged from several tiny mouse-lemurs up to the world’s largest lemur, the indri, a stub-tailed black-and-white teddy bear that almost sounds like an arboreal whale! On the Masoala peninsula, we encountered the red panda-like red ruffed lemur, even seeing it in rain forest trees that hung out above the surf along the beach, a testament to the pristine nature of this beautiful place. A close encounter with a feisty lowland streaked tenrec was another highlight, and much less expected than most of our lemur sightings.