Sunday, 19 August 2018

Madagascar Blog Post 3 - Days 10 - 14

I still have images to add

Our birding trip was organised Madagascar Tour Guide (, who were really well organised. Our guide for most of our the trip was Julian, who was brilliant at digging our the birds as well as sorting things out for us along the way. The company is owned by Andre who came to meet us as we passed through Tena. I would highly recommend them and the prices were modest with much of the money going back into local communities.

Day 10 - 14/08/2018

Tuesday 14th August 2018 we were up early again for a 5.30 am breakfast, so that we could start out on a our long journey to Ranomafana NP, which is a tropical jungle. Unfortunately we didn’t see anything on route except for Olive Bee-eater, Grey-headed Vanga and Common Myna which is introduced. We were staying at The Cristo Hotel, which was mid range but the owner went out of her way to be accommodating.

Day 11 - 15/08/2018

Wednesday 15th August 2018, we were up for a 6 am breakfast, so that we could go birding into the Ranomafana NP, which is a tropical jungle. The forest is big and the paths go up and down steeply, keeping you fit in the heat. Our local guide was Emele (, who was the best local guide in the area and had helped with many research projects. He was very friendly and told us very proudly about how he had two animals named after him, which was impressive for anyone. He told us that some parts of the forest had not even been investigated and that if he could get researchers and funding, they were bound to find new species.  That is exactly what I would like to do in the future but with a camera person filming. We also had a spotter with us for our visit.

We had a fantastic first morning birding, with birds of the day being Malagasy Blue Pigeon, Red-fronted Coua, Velvety Asity,  Common Sunbird-asity, Wards Flycatcher, Crossley’s, Blue, Tylas and Rufous Vanga, White-thoated Oxylabes, Spectacled Tetraka, Rand’s Warber, Malagasy White-eye, Nelicouvi Weaver and Forest Fody. 

For most of the morning and afternoon we tried for Rufous-headed Ground Roller again. Whilst we did hear one a few times very briefly, by the time we had followed the call, the birds had gone quiet. Maybe tomorrow?

Day 12 - 16/08/2018

Thursday 16th August 2018, we were back at Ranomafana Forest birding from 6.30 am. We had another tough day of birding, climbing up and down the steep paths and off roading through thick forest, with one new bird, Long-billed Bernieria. 

Other birds for the day were Brown Mesite, Madagascan Wood Rail, Pitta-like Ground Roller, Common Sunbird-asity, Pollen’s, Blue Vanga and Tylas Vanga and Wards Flycatcher.

We drove up to Sahamalaotra Forest for 5.30 pm, which was at the top of the mountainside, to look at Lemurs, frogs and try for Madagascar Long-eared Owl,  which we didn’t see. However we did see Brown Mouse Lemur.

Day 13 - 17/08/2018

Today, Friday 17th August 2018, we went up to the mountain early to go birding in Sahamalaotra Forest all day. It was another tough day, running up and down steep paths and climbing through dense forest with most of it spent trying to see Rufous-headed Ground Roller, which were only calling briefly. It’s frustrating when you spend a whole day trying for one bird and you just hear a 20 second burst every two hours or so. Eventually, I saw one but only managed to get mum and dad onto it briefly. When that happens, you can’t really celebrate and you know that you have to keep looking until everyone sees it well. Other birds were Blue Coua, Grey-crowned Tetraka, Green Jery, Madagascan Yellowbrow, Red Fody and Madagascan Mannikin.

Day 14 - 18/08/2018

We were up early again today and headed up to Sahamalaotra Forest for a final try before we had to start a long journey. It’s hard when you are trying for specific but without any joy. The forest paths here were steep, with lots steps. We were listening for Rufous-headed Ground Roller the whole time. If we heard it, we would have to run to the part of the forest where the bird was calling from, go into the forest and sit quietly still. Julian and Emile would play the tape and the spotter would look for the bird. For all our hard work, we weren’t rewarded with the bird and by 8am we had to leave. New birds for the day were Cryptic Warbler and a Madagascar Flufftail, which we saw well, just as we were leaving the forest. 

We then left this stunning location to make our way to Andasibe NP, another great forest. On the way we stopped at wetlands where we saw Black Heron, Madagascan Lark and Stonechat.

We arrived at Andasibe NP at about 6 pm, in time to get sorted in our lower mid-range lodge Feon’ny Ala Hotel. This was the only place where staff seemed disinterested but every time mum was about to complain, a different staff member would serve us who could speak English and seemed vaguely interested. This is where Julian lived and so he went off  that evening to see his daughter and granddaughter who had been born the day before.

It’s been really hard blogging in Madagascar as the internet has been really weak, so I’ll just have to wait until we get home to upload any images.

Today was my niece Laila’s 10th birthday. We were all really missing her and it was great to have a WhatApp call to her.

About the Author

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig in Antarctica
Photograph copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Mya-Rose Craig is a 16-year-old young British Bangladeshi birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent. She is looking forward to visiting Tanzania, Kenya and Madagascar birding in 2018 and hopes to see her 5000th bird species in the world.

Mya-Rose was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer-songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people
She is an Ambassador for World Shorebirds Day, See It Her Way and a Charter Champion for The Charter for Woods, Trees and People. She has given over 50 talks, speaking at conferences such as being on a panel with George Monbiot and Caroline Lucas on Sustainability and the Future of Cities. She has also appeared on TV an dis particularly proud of being in Silent Roars, a short film which was part of Listen to Britain 2017 organised a conference, Race Equality in Nature, in June 2016 aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature and plans to run her fifth Camp Avalon camp in 2018. She has also set up Black2Nature with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of Black Asian Minority Ethnic people. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. She has been awarded the Bath and West Show Environmental Youth Award 2017 for Bristol for her Black2Nature work EYA 2017Please also like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter.

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