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Winter Birding in Madagascar, June 2001

The main reason for me travelling to Madagascar was the total solar eclipse on June 21st. The trip wasn't a birding trip, but six (out of 18) of our group were birders, so we actually did some birding.

Madagascar is unique in that more than half of the breeding bird species are endemics. But birds are scarce in Madagascar, only about 250 species have been recorded and you can spend a full day without seeing any birds but egrets and crows. Therefore, most birding trips concentrate on the well-known reserves like Périnet and Berenty. But that's a pity as Madagascar has much more to offer the naturalist. And we actually found birds outside the reserves, especially some hotel gardens turned out to be nice birding spots. But keep in mind, when you see the word "common" on this page, it's relatively speaking.

Major sites visited

Périnet Reserve (PE)
Rain forest about 150 km east of capital Antananarivo. Famous for the lemurs, especially the largest one, the teddy-bear-like Indri (Indri indri). Also a good spot for chameleons.
Hotel Des Thermes, Antsirabe (DT)
Colonial style luxury in huge contrast to the surrounding Malagasy society.
Isalo National Park (IS)
Heavily eroded sandstone mountains in southern central Madagascar. Many endemic species of plants.
Hotel Chez Alain, Tulear (CA)
At the west coast.
Ifaty (IF)
At the west coast some 25 km north of Tulear. Famous for the spiny forest dominated by Didieria ("Octopus trees"). This turned out to be the best birding site on our trip, mainly because we had a full day and were able to do birding ourselves. We had 21 bird species on a 2 hours morning trip - our Madagascar record!
Fort Dauphin (FD)
The south-eastern point of Madagascar.
Berenty Reserve (BE)
Private owned reserve about 80 km west of Fort Dauphin. Famous for the lemurs, especially the Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) and Verreaux's Sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi). Also the large Malagasy Flying Fox (Pteropus rufus) is fascinating - imagine a bat with a wing span of more than one meter!


13/6  Arrival Antananarivo (Tana)
15/6Tana, Mandraka, Périnet (PE)
16/6Andasibe, Périnet, Tana
17/6Tana, Antsirabe (Hotel DT)
19/6Antsirabe, Ambositra, Fianarantsoa
20/6Fianarantsoa, Ambalavao, Ranohira
21/6Ranohira, Isalo National Park (IS), "Eclipse Hill"
22/6Ranohira, Hakako, Tulear (Hotel CA)
24/6Tulear, Ifaty (IF)
26/6Ifaty, Tulear, Fort Dauphin (FD)
27/6Fort Dauphin
28/6Fort Dauphin, Berenty (BE)
29/6Berenty, Tana
30/6Departure Tana

Systematic list

English and Scientific names follow Sinclair and Langrand: "Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands".

Birds seen/heard by others in our group but not seen/heard by me are marked in yellow.

English name, Scientific name, Danish name - EM/ER (EM = Endemic to Madagascar. ER = Endemic to the region, i.e. Madagascar, the Seychelles, and the Comoro and Mascarene Islands) ...

  1. Dabchick (Little Grebe), Tachybaptus ruficollis, Lille Lappedykker
    16/6: 1 PE
  2. Black Egret, Egretta ardesiaca, Skyggehejre
    20/6: 3 south of Fianarantsoa
  3. Grey Heron, Ardea cinerea, Fiskehejre
    15/6: 1 Tana-Mandraka
  4. Great White Egret, Casmerodius albus, Sølvhejre
    Common, especially in rice fields. A few seen at long distances might have been Dimorphic Egret's, Egretta dimorpha, Mascarenerhejre
  5. Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis, Kohejre
    Very common, especially in rice fields. E.g. 19/6: >100 Ambositra-Fianarantsoa
  6. Hamerkop, Scopus umbretta, Hammerhoved
    15/6: 2 Tana-Mandraka, 18/6: 1 Antsirabe area, 21/6: 2 IS
  7. Yellow-billed Kite, Milvus aegyptius, Gulnæbbet Glente
    17/6: 1 Tana-Antsirabe, 19/6: 1 Antsirabe-Ambositra, 19/6: 7 Ambositra-Fianarantsoa, 21/6: 3 IS, 22/6: common Hakako ("Sapphire Klondyke" west of Ranohira), 28/6: 2 FD-BE, 28/6: 3 BE, 29/6: 1 FD Airport.
    Madagascar Sparrowhawk. Photo, 17K Jpeg  
  8. Madagascar Sparrowhawk, Accipiter madagascariensis, Madagaskarspurvehøg - EM
    26/6: 1 IF
    Photo >
  9. Madagascar Buzzard, Buteo brachypterus, Madagaskarvåge - EM
    14/6: 1 Tana, 15/6: 1 Mandraka, 20/6: 1 Fianarantsoa-Ambalavao, 25/6: 1 IF, 28/6: 2 FD-BE
  10. Madagascar Kestrel, Falco newtoni, Madagaskartårnfalk - ER
    Common. 14/6: 3 Queen's Palace Tana, DT, IS, CA, IF, BE, etc.
  11. White-throated Rail, Dryolimnas cuvieri, Hvidstrubet Rikse - EM
    16/6: 1 PE
  12. Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus, Grønbenet Rørhøne
    16/6: at least 3 PE
  13. Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus, Stylteløber
    24/6: Tulear-IF, 26/6: 3 IF-Tulear
  14. Three-banded Plover, Charadrius tricollaris, Trebåndet Præstekrave
    3 IF
  15. Kelp Gull, Larus dominicanus
    27/6: FD
  16. Madagascar Turtle Dove, Streptopelia picturata, Madagaskardue - ER
    24/6: 1 IF, 25/6: 2 IF, 28/6: 2 BE
  17. Namaqua Dove, Oena capensis, Namaquadue
    Very common around Tulear, IF, FD-BE
  18. Madagascar Green Pigeon, Treron australis, Madagaskarpapegøjedue - EM
    25/6: 3 IF
  19. Greater Vasa Parrot, Coracopsis vasa, Stor Vasapapegøje - ER
    28/6: 1 BE
  20. Lesser Vasa Parrot, Coracopsis nigra, Lille Vasapapegøje - ER
    16/6: PE, 28/6: 1 BE
    Vasa parrots were fairly common but most birds were identified to genus only
  21. Gray-headed Lovebird, Agapornis cana, Gråhovedet Dværgpapegøje - EM
    22/6: 1 Zombitse Forest, 25/6: 7 IF
  22. Giant Coua, Coua gigas, Stor Silkegøg - EM
    28/6: 2 BE
  23. Crested Coua, Coua cristata, Toppet Silkegøg - EM
    Common IF, 28/6: 4 BE
  24. Blue Coua, Coua caerulea, Blå Silkegøg - EM
    16/6: 1 PE.
    Madagascar Coucal. Photo, 17K Jpeg  
  25. Madagascar Coucal, Centropus toulou, Madagaskarsporegøg - ER
    Common IF
    Photo: 25/6 IF >
  26. White-browed Owl, Ninox superciliaris, Hvidbrynet Høgeugle - EM
    28/6: heard BE
  27. Madagascar Nightjar, Caprimulgus madagascariensis, Madagaskarnatravn - ER
    Common. Heard DT, Fianarantsoa, CA, IF, FD, BE. At least 3 seen DT, at least 2 seen IF
  28. African Palm Swift, Cypsiurus parvus, Afrikansk Palmesejler
    15/6: 6 Mandraka, 21/6: 5 "Eclipse Hill" during the initial partial phase, 25/6: at least 3 IF
  29. Alpine Swift, Apus melba, Alpesejler
    Abundant IF
  30. Madagascar Black Swift, Apus balstoni, Madagaskarsejler - ER
    27/6: FD
  31. Madagascar Kingfisher, Corythornis vintsioides, Madagaskarisfugl - ER
    1 IF, 28/6: 1 FD-BE
  32. Madagascar Bee-eater, Merops superciliosus, Madagaskarbiæder
    15/6: 3 Mandraka, 16/6: 2 PE, 9 DT, 20/6: 1 Fianarantsoa, 22/6: 1 CA, 29/6: 1 BE-FD
  33. Madagascar Cuckoo-Roller, Leptosomus discolor, Gøgeellekrage - ER
    28/6: 1 female BE
  34. Madagascar Hoopoe, Upupa marginata, Madagaskarhærfugl - EM
    2 IF
  35. Madagascar Lark, Mirafra hova - EM
    25/6: 2 IF
  36. Mascarene Martin, Phedina borbonica, Mascarenersvale
    16/6: Andasibe, 17/6: Tana-Antsirabe, 19/6: 2 Ambositra-Fianarantsoa
  37. Madagascar Cuckoo Shrike, Coracina cinerea, Madagaskargråfugl - EM
    15/6: 1 Mandraka.
    Crested Drongo. Photo, 13K Jpeg  
  38. Crested Drongo, Dicrurus forficatus, Toppet Drongo - ER
    Common. IF, FD-BE, etc.
    Photo: 25/6 IF >
  39. Pied Crow, Corvus albus, Broget Krage
    Very common south of Antsirabe
  40. Common Jery, Neomixis tenella - EM
    Common CA, IF, BE
  41. Madagascar Bulbul, Hypsipetes madagascariensis, Madagaskarsortbulbul - ER
    Common. PE, IS, CA, IF, etc.
  42. Madagascar Magpie Robin, Copsychus albospecularis - EM
    Common IF
  43. Common Stonechat, Saxicola torquata, Sortstrubet Bynkefugl
    16/6: 1 PE, 17/6: 1 Tana-Antsirabe, 19/6: 1 Antsirabe-Ambositra
  44. Madagascar Cisticola, Cisticola cherina - ER
    21/6: 2 IS, 25/6: 2 IF, 29/6: 1 FD Airport
  45. Madagascar Brush Warbler, Nesillas typica - ER
    16/6: heard PE, 25/6: 1 IF - the latter might have been a Subdesert Brush Warbler, Nesillas lantzi - EM
  46. Common Newtonia, Newtonia brunneicauda - EM
    25/6: 1 IF
  47. Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone mutata - ER
    16/6: 2 PE, 28/6: at least 3 BE, 29/6: 1 BE-FD
  48. Madagascar Wagtail, Motacilla flaviventris, Madagaskarvipstjert - EM
    Fairly common. 2 PE, 2 DT, 2 IS, etc.
  49. Hook-billed Vanga, Vanga curvirostris, Krognæbsvanga - EM
    16/6: heard 1 seen PE, 25/6: 2 IF
  50. White-headed Vanga, Leptopterus viridis, Hvidhovedet Vanga - EM
    25/6: 1 IF
  51. Chabert's Vanga, Leptopterus chabert - EM
    Common IF
  52. Common Mynah, Acridotheres tristis, Almindelig Mynah
    Common. DT, CA, IF, BE, etc.
  53. Souimanga Sunbird, Nectarinia souimanga, Souimangasolfugl - ER
    16/6: PE, 21/6: 1 female IS, 22/6: 1 female CA, common IF
  54. Madagascar White-eye, Zosterops maderaspatanus, Madagaskarbrillefugl - ER
    16/6: PE
  55. Madagascar Fody, Foudia madagascariensis, Madagaskarvæver - ER
    IS, common IF. Possibly heard DT, CA
  56. Sakalava Weaver, Ploceus sakalava, Sakalavavæver - EM
    Abundant IF


Text and photos: Stig Linander, created: 2001-07-25, last revised: 2012-09-24