Schlegel’s Asity (Philepitta schlegeli)

The Schlegel’s asity (Philepitta schlegeli) is a species of bird in the Philepittidae family. It is endemic to Madagascar. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.

I was lucky enough to see one in Ankarafantsika NP. This little guy just knew he was cooler than cool and sat there for several minutes showing off to a thrilled group of birders!

IMG_5697 IMG_5711 IMG_5709 IMG_5707 IMG_5704 IMG_5701

I am not 100% sure of the name of the circuit but all the guides know where to find this bird as it is very highly sought after!  Don’t let the wide range fool you, every reference I could find online to sightings of Schelgel’s Asity are in Ankarafantsika.




Encyclopedia Britannica



Sadly there aren’t many videos of this little beauty.  From what I hear, they are very hard to find and very few people get good photos even, never mind video!  Makes me feel extra lucky!  There are a few on IBC.

Sickle-billed Vanga (Falculea palliata)

The sickle-billed vanga (Falculea palliata) is a species of bird in the vanga family Vangidae. It is monotypic within the genus Falculea. It is endemic to Madagascar. Its natural habitats are tropical dry forests and tropical dry shrubland.

I took these photos in the car park at Ankarafantsika NP.

IMG_5344 IMG_5375 IMG_5376 IMG_5768Sickle-billed Vangas can be found in western Madagascar and if you want to get them easily, there is at least one nesting pair in the car park of Ankarafantsika.  They are there throughout the day.  They can also be seen in Ifaty and Andohahela NPs.






The only embeddable clip I could find appears to be at a bird park but at least you can see the bird close up and hear his call.  For wild Vangas, there are some clips on IBC.


The Ankoririka Circuit, Ankarafantsika

I’m going to qualify this post with a caution that I think this is the circuit we did the 2nd morning.  It could also have been the Retendrika Circuit as that one seems to be in the same area.   I am going from the description of the birds we saw there and the one from the website.  If you tell them you want to see the Schlegel’s Asity, they will take you to this place.

Duration : 3h
Distance : 9 km  (Don’t panic, you won’t have to walk that far if you are only after the Schlegel’s Asity)!

Guidance :
Ar 25,000 for 1 to 5 persons/day
Ar 37,000 for more than 7 persons / day



Another birding group was also looking for the bird.  That was a good thing as their guide found the Asity first and alerted our guide.  It’s nice how they work together!


The nest of the Schlegel’s Asity


And there he is, in all his glory!  This Schlegel’s Asity was super-cool and he knew it!  He posed for the whole group, turning his profile both ways and just showing off!

IMG_5697 IMG_5700 IMG_5702 IMG_5707 IMG_5709

The group moved off through the bush, the next target would be a White-breasted Mesite.


We did eventually find one in the bush but he scurried off before I could get a decent shot.  You can’t win ’em all!

IMG_5719 IMG_5722

Malagasy Bulbul


Malagasy Coucal

IMG_5726 IMG_5727 IMG_5728 IMG_5729

Crested Drongo (Dicrurus forficatus)

The crested drongo (Dicrurus forficatus) is a species of bird in the Dicruridae family.  The nominated race is endemic to Madagascar, and found throughout the island, and some of the larger inshore islands including Nosy-Bé. The Dicrurus forficatus potior subspecies on only found on the Comoro Islands.

I took these photos in the car park of Ankarafantsika NP.

IMG_5764 IMG_5390 IMG_5399They have a very large range and can be seen anywhere in Madagascar.  They are found easily in Ankarafantsika pretty much everywhere from the car park to the actual trails in the park.  It’s nice to have such a cool looking bird easily found!




Internet Bird Collection


I can’t find anything embeddable but there are a couple brief clips on IBC.


The Lemurs Of Ankarafantsika

Continuing on from yesterday’s post where we met the birds that hang out in Ankarafantsika’s car park, we will now meet the lemurs.  Although you will also see them while hiking in the actual park, these photos were all taken in the car park.  My husband was a bit surprised by how close they came.

IMG_5276 IMG_5278

Common Brown Lemurs

IMG_5269 IMG_5272 IMG_5280 IMG_5282 IMG_5290

Coquerel’s Sifaka – my personal favourite!

IMG_5299 IMG_5301 IMG_5303 IMG_5662 IMG_5664 IMG_5675 IMG_5676 IMG_5678 IMG_5668 IMG_5670 IMG_5671 IMG_5672 IMG_5679

In the evening we also saw a few of the shy nocturnal species.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get any decent photos as it was dark and they were far away enough so that a flash wouldn’t have helped and would have frightened them off.  We saw Dwarf Lemurs, Golden-brown Mouse Lemurs, and Grey Mouse Lemurs.

Greater Vasa Parrot (Coracopsis vasa)

The Greater Vasa Parrot (Coracopsis vasa) is one of two species of vasa parrot, the other being the lesser vasa parrot C. nigra. The greater vasa parrot can be found throughout Madagascar and the Comoros. In Madagascar it is more common in portions of the Madagascar dry deciduous forests, compared with the lesser vasa parrot which is more common in the humid forests of the east coast.

I took these photos in Ankarafantsika NP.

IMG_5444 IMG_5446 IMG_5461

This pair was clearly in a romantic mood!

IMG_5749 IMG_5752 IMG_5754 IMG_5756 IMG_5760They can be found in various places around Madagascar except in the interior.  Their population is decreasing so if you want to be sure of seeing them, head to Ankarafantsika where there is a good sized flock.



World Parrot Trust



I can’t find many videos of them in the wild, at least not that I can embed here so head over to IBC for a brief clip.

And here’s a clip of a breeder describing the characteristics of a Greater Vasa Parrot.


The World’s Most Interesting Car Park – Ankarafantsika NP, Madagascar

How many people come to an eco-tourism blog and expect to have a car park recommended as a birding hotspot?  Now what if I told you that you could see not only several endemic species of birds but several species of lemur?  Yes please, drive on in to the Ankarafantsika NP’s car park!

Let’s start with the birds.  These photos were taken over two days, some in the morning, some around lunch time and some in the evening, just whenever we weren’t in the actual park.

White-headed Vanga


Sickle-billed Vanga


Broad-billed Rollers

IMG_5355 IMG_5356

Crested Drongo

IMG_5364 IMG_5373

Sickle-billed Vanga

IMG_5375 IMG_5376

Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher




Malagasy Coucal


Madagascar Turtle-dove

IMG_5519 IMG_5533

Grey-headed Lovebirds

IMG_5539 IMG_5543 IMG_5546 IMG_5562

A Madagascar Hoopoe checks out his appearance, maybe he has a hot date?

IMG_5649 IMG_5651

Satisfied he is looking his best, he’s off and running.


Broad-billed Rollers




Meanwhile, has the Hoopoe been stood up?


A Crested Drongo looks on


A Magpie-robin on a post


The Grey-headed Lovebirds are there throughout the day.


IMG_5730 IMG_5732 IMG_5735

Helmeted Guineafowl


Across the street, an amorous and shameless pair of Vasa Parrots.

IMG_5756 IMG_5760

Another Crested Drongo


Finally the Hoopoe’s date shows up – fashionably late!


The Sickle-billed Vanga can’t help but be a sticky beak!


And the Hoopoe is alone again, but at least he looks great!

IMG_5769 IMG_5770 IMG_5772 IMG_5773

In tomorrow’s post, we meet the lemurs!

Lodge Review: Blue Vanga Lodge, Andranofasika – Ampijoroa Madagascar

Blue Vanga Lodge is run by a friendly family in the village of Ampijoroa, about 5 km from Ankarafantsika NP.   They accept online bookings which will be replied to by their Majunga office. You must pay cash Ariary or Euros, no credit cards accepted either online or in person.

We arrived with barely enough light to see the track from the main road which was well-signposted.  It is a small lodge with 6 brick bungalows for tourists and a bunk room for drivers.  There is no parkland nearby and the only birds we saw here were chickens belonging to local farmers.  If you want to see Blue Vangas, you need to go to the park.  We saw a couple other tourists who also had a private car/driver so I am not sure how people using public transport would get to the park.  I did see some mini-buses (taxi-brousse) parked in the village you you could get one headed towards Majunga and just hop out at the park.  To get back to the lodge, you could try for a mini-bus with empty seats or walk.  A tasty breakfast is provided and they will have cold drinks if you ask after the generator has been running a couple hours.  They can also do other meals.  For lunch and dinner your choices are basically eat at the lodge, buy food at the market in the village or have lunch at the park.

IMG_5241 IMG_5242 IMG_5243 IMG_5246

Beds have mosquito nets and there is a fan but electricity only runs from around 6-10pm.

IMG_5247 IMG_5249

Nice large bathroom


There’s our jeep parked at the entrance.


Although there weren’t many mosquitoes, there were lots of moths that would get in and even get through the net.  They are attracted to laptop or tablet screens, especially after the generator is switched off.  The bungalows can get very hot once the fan turns off and I was dying to open a window, but then more moths came in.  The next morning, the staff fixed fly screens on the windows (which just happened to be laying around) and the problem was solved!  We had cross-ventilation and no moths!

IMG_5777 IMG_5778

The village is very small.  You can see a mini-bus on the right of the red truck.

IMG_5253 IMG_5254

Basic food supplies – drinks, fruit, veggies and canned food can be bought at the market.  We had to do this the 2nd night as I was running out of cash and no place to get any more and I needed to save enough for the petrol back to Tana.  We survived!

IMG_5779 IMG_5780 IMG_5781

Ankarafantsika – Boat Circuit

After doing a 3 hour hike on the Coquereli Circuit in the morning, we decided to do a more relaxing tour of Lac Ravelobe in Ankarafantsika in the afternoon.


As you can see, the Circuit Bateau on Lac Ravelobe is 20,000 Ariary per person with a 2 person minimum.  As it happened, my husband and I were the only ones on the boat besides the boat driver and the guide.


It’s a beautiful, relaxing trip during which we saw lots of water birds – herons, egrets and even a fish eagle!  The trip lasts only an hour which was a bit disappointing, I would have preferred to stay out a couple hours.  I was hoping for Kingfishers but struck out.

IMG_5603 IMG_5605 IMG_5606 IMG_5607 IMG_5608 IMG_5610

Humblot’s Heron

IMG_5612 IMG_5614

A crocodile gives us they eye!


Madagascar Purple Heron

IMG_5616 IMG_5617

Allen’s Gallinule

IMG_5618 IMG_5619 IMG_5620

We had to get out and walk a bit to see the Fish Eagle.  He remained far away so I couldn’t get a good shot.

IMG_5623 IMG_5624 IMG_5625 IMG_5626

Malagasy Pond Heron

IMG_5630 IMG_5632 IMG_5633

Local fishing, apparently he isn’t afraid of the crocodile!

IMG_5635 IMG_5638

Local kids checking us out!


Another fisherman




Lesser Vasa Parrot AKA Black Parrot (Coracopsis nigra)

The Lesser Vasa Parrot or Black Parrot (Coracopsis nigra) is a black coloured parrot native to Comoros, Madagascar, Mayotte, and Seychelles.  The genus has recently been split into 3 similar species:

Black Parrot Coracopsis nigra is being split into C. nigra, C. barklyi and C.sibilans, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010), as well as consultation of genetic evidence and associated comments (Kundu et al. 2012, Joseph et al. 2012, N. Bunbury in litt. 2014).

IMG_5598 IMG_5592 IMG_5507 IMG_5511 IMG_5513 IMG_5514

I got several sightings of Black Parrots at Ankarafantsika but not very good photos as they were pretty high up.  I also got a fleeting glimpse of one flying away at Andasibe and I didn’t get any photos at all.  Both these parks as well as Ranomafana are good if you want to try your luck.  Lesser Vasa Parrots have a wider range than Greater Vasa Parrots.



World Parrot Trust



I’m not having much luck finding videos of these birds in the wild.  There are a couple brief clips on IBC.

Here’s a YT clip of a Black Parrot in an aviary.

 And here is the recently split species – the Seychelles Parrot