Trip report: Madagascar, The Eighth Continent (Nov 2013) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Charley Hesse. This was a set-departure tour, including the Western Endemics Extension.

It was another very successful and immensely enjoyable set departure tour in Madagascar this year. Instead of 1 large group (like some other tour companies), we ran 2 simultaneous trips with 6 clients in each which meant that it wasn’t crowded on the trails and both groups still benefitted greatly by sharing information. Logistics all went very smoothly thanks to the hard work of the Tropical Birding Madagascar office and all the clients were pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the accommodations and food. We not only saw all members of the endemic mesite, ground-roller and asity families. But we saw them very well. My group didn’t join the northeast extension, but in the northwest and main tour, our final trip list was 186 bird species including almost 100 full endemics with many more regional endemics and endemic subspecies. A trip to Madagascar wouldn’t be the same without lemurs and we saw an impressive 25 species as well as 2 Malagasy carnivores and a tenrec. Tropical Birding continues to lead the field with reptiles and my group had almost 40 species with a good range of chameleons and snakes. We saw vastly different landscapes, starting with the dry deciduous forest of the northwest with its suite of rare endemics including Madagascar Fish-Eagle, White-breasted Mesite & Schlegel’s Asity. We began the main tour in the spiny forest of the southwest and its incredible plant life, not to mention the unique Long-tailed Ground- Roller and Subdesert Mesite. From here we made our way to the eastern slope, stopping at Anja to spend time with the Ring-tailed Lemurs. Highlights from the eastern rainforests at Ranomafana were many and included Brown Mesite, 3 ground-rollers, 3 asities and the seriously rare Golden & Greater Bamboo Lemurs. At Perinet & Mantadia we caught up with Madagascar Crested Ibis on a nest, Madagascar Flufftail and the unmissable Indri. A trip to Madagascar really is the trip of a lifetime.

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