Friday, 26 October 2012


25th October

I wonder whether the littoral rock thrush is so called because it lives by the sea or because it has no grasp of irony. Either way it is a lovely bird and Anakao is a lovely place. To sea is Nosy Ve, a small coral island, eight metres above sea level at its highest point and dotted with Euphorbia bushes. Under these are nesting red-tailed tropicbirds, some of them adults in rosy breeding colours, in the pink so to speak. Others are chicks in various states of downiness. This is the only place in Madagascar where they are known to breed and against the hot blue sky they are celestial.

On a tinier island still, no more than a sandbar, are a dozen crab plovers and a huddle of terns. Most are greater crested, which I last saw in Sri Lanka in March. With them are a few lesser crested, new to my list, and some roseates, new too since I missed them this summer in Norfolk. They bring the tern species I’ve seen this year to eighteen.

In the gilded light of evening we stroll through the spiny dunes. Subdesert brush warblers tick loudly all around and buttonquail scurry past. A spiny-backed chameleon treads deliberately across our path and pressed flat against the railings of Claude’s cabin is a short-headed day gecko. This is one of the least flashy of the Phelsuma geckos – the others we’ve seen have all been psychedelically colourful – but it’s very restricted in range and not often seen. We’re happy to add it to my group’s list and to mine.

Tomorrow to Tulear by boat and to Tana by plane. Thence, the day after, to Berenty in the island’s south east. White-footed sportive lemur and giant coua here I come.

New today around Anakao and Nosy Ve


white-fronted plover
Charadrius marginatus
littoral rock thrush
Monticola imerinus
red-tailed tropicbird
Phaethon rubricaudus
crab plover
Dromas ardeola
lesser crested tern
Sterna bengalensis
roseate tern
Sterna dougallii
subdesert brush warbler
Nesillas lantzii


short-headed day gecko
Phelsuma breviceps

2012 Totals
Mammals: 99
Birds: 949
Reptiles: 45
Amphibians: 15
Fish: 11

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