Funny thing about a rain forest – it can rain. And rain it did for the entire two days of our stay in Ranamofana National Park. The locals said it was too early in the season for this much rain, but tell that to the rain gods. This was our only chance for two of the ground-rollers and one mesite, among other species, so we slopped around for both days. Umbrellas and rain gear helped, but we came back each day soaked to the skin. But we had a blast anyway! Our local guides were amazing, they really knew the birds and where to find them. We even had guides for other birders in the area asking how we found what we did under the condition! Lucky us.
It takes a while to get anywhere in Madagascar. From the segment of rain forest at the two national parks near Andasibe, we traveled for most of two days to get to Ranomanfana. The roads are narrow, full of potholes, and choked with tiny villages that slow traffic to a crawl. But seeing all the sites is fascinating, from the scenery to the various walk of life.
Our first morning has us climbing in a rain cloud to the top of a mountain for Yellow-bellied Sunbird-Asity. We only got brief looks of the amazing species, but it was enough. We picked up a few other birds this day but it was tough. The conditions were just really terrible, not just for the birders but the birds as well. One species of animal seemed to love the conditions - leeches. We battled them all day, constantly pulling the little blood suckers from our clothes, skin, and other parts. Susan had one on her face that nearly attached to her eyelid and another on the lens of her glasses! Her latex gloves, primarily for mosquito protection, sure came in handy for rain warmth and leech protection.
The second day wasn’t quite as bad. We started with another climb to see the Brown Mesite. What a cool forest bird. Shortly after, one of our guides heard a calling male Pitta-like Ground-roller. That really is it’s name, and it does certainly remind us of a pitta, as all the ground-rollers do. We tracked him down and had fantastic looks. And then a Short-legged Ground-roller sounded off and our guides managed to find him and the Mrs. in a nest tree. Wow. The afternoon had us in a marsh where we managed a cooperative White-throated Rail. The evening walk produced some great chameleons, a Rufous Mouse Lemur, and a Greater Dwarf Lemur.
|Green Bright-eyed Frog|
|Greater Dwarf Lemur|
Even with the abysmal conditions, the rain forest treated us well with great birds and memories. Now on to drier areas of the south.
|Our guides, JJ, Chantal, and William|