Sunday, November 5, 2017


We arrived late in the afternoon in Tulear, and continued on to Ifaty a short distance north. This is the location of the Reniala Baobab Forest, a beautiful protected spiny forest remnant. Our local guides know this forest intimately and quickly sought out our target species. Within an hour of so we had seen our last remaining mesite, Subdesert Mesite, our last ground-roller, Long-tailed Ground-roller, a couple new couas, and several others. Walking the beautiful spiny forest with all its unique plants and birds made for a special afternoon.

Long-tailed Ground-roller

Running Coua

Subdesert Mesite

The next morning we returned to Reniala at dawn to get a few more spiny forest species and enjoy the cool morning air in a spot that will get blistering hot by 9 am. It was another fun time in the forest. 

Lafresnaye's Vanga

Madagascar Kestrel

Namaqua Dove

Subdesert Mesite family roost

We left there and moved to the port at Tulear for an hour boat ride across the gulf to Anakao. This tiny village can also be reached by vehicle but it would take all day on horrible roads. The hour-long speedboat was a lot more fun. Besides, it was low tide in the port and the only way out to the speedboat was across a long mud flat. We traveled out there on a real Zebu cart - a trip highlight for me!

Once we had our bags in the lodge we jumped right on a traditional prirogue (with modern 15hp motor) and cruised a few kilometers off shore to Nosy Ve Island, the only breeding location for Red-tailed Tropicbird in Madagascar. After wandering around the island for a while we ate campfire cooked fish (caught an hour earlier) and sides. Outstanding!

Red-tailed Tropicbird

Red-tailed Tropicbird

White-fronted Plover

Our last day in this area had us traveling by 4X4 to a saline lake 60 km south. Tsimanampetsotsa National Park holds a 25 kilometer long salt lake connected by underground river to the sea. It also has numerous fresh water springs so is brackish. It’s hard to imagine an inland lake, miles from the sea, rising and falling with the ocean tide, but it does. Of note here were Greater Flamingos and Madagascar Plover. The salt crystals in the lake make for a beautiful blue color in the sunlight. We also tromped around the nearby spiny forest to see a limestone cave with blind fish.

Black-winged Stilt

Greater Flamingos

Greater Flamingos

Madagascar Harrier-hawk

Madagascar Plover

Madagascar Lark

We are off tomorrow to (hopefully) fly to Port Dauphin and Berenty Reserve. As this involves Air Madness and two flights, wish us luck!


  1. What a diverse country. Thanks for the photos showing all the different places. Several new adventures and highlights I can see. The Vanga's bill looks big like a Kookaburra. Do they crack seeds with it? An inland lake connected to the sea..... Amazing.
    Wonderful post. Thanks for making it happen.

  2. Thanks! These vangas eat large insects and reptiles.