Trip report: Madagascar Custom Tour (Nov 2018) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Ken Behrens. This was a short custom tour, designed for maximum endemic birds and wildlife in the shortest time.

Madagascar has over 100 endemic birds, and there are another couple of dozen shared with adjacent Indian Ocean Islands. So the grand endemic total is around 130 species. On this weeklong express trip, we saw an astoundingly high proportion of these. We tallied 66 Malagasy endemic birds, of which two were heard-only. To this we added three breeding endemics and 25 regional endemics. So our grand endemic total was 93 species, just over two thirds of the total number! Although most people will prefer a longer trip, which gives chances at nearly all of the 130 endemics, plus a much larger range of other wildlife, a short tour like this one should be considered by people who don’t have the time or money for a longer trip. You can see an astoundingly high proportion of Madagascar’s endemic birds, plus a good selection of other wildlife, in a weeklong trip.

There are six families endemic to Madagascar, and we saw at least one representative of each one: Cuckoo-Roller, ground-rollers, mesites, asities, Malagasy warblers, and vangas. One major tour highlight was seeing all five of the incredible ground-rollers, from the roadrunner-like Long-tailed of the spiny forest to the wonderful bamboo-dwelling Rufous-headed. Although this is rarely the case, on this tour, the vangas probably overshadowed even the wonderful ground-rollers. This was because we were able to visit a new site near Andasibe where we saw both Helmet and Bernier’s Vangas, two species that were formerly only possible in the remote northeast of Madagascar.

Click this link to view the full report in PDF format (4.5 MB file)