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!

Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

The Hoopoe (Upupa epops) is a colourful bird found across Afro-Eurasia, notable for its distinctive “crown” of feathers. It is the only extant species in the family Upupidae.

IMG_3944 IMG_3956 IMG_3903There are 9 sub-species and I have seen 3 of them, all in Africa.


They were very easily seen in Satara Restcamp in Kruger National Park, Ankarafantsika in Madagascar and several places in Tanzania.  The Wikipedia map shows just how widespread they really are!







Great close up action and you can hear the sound he makes!


Birding In Satara Restcamp

Following on from my review of the restcamp, I thought the birds deserved their own post as there were so many!  Just get up at first light and wander around, you will probably see these birds as they were found all over the camp.  I started in the circle where our hut was, then followed my ears as more birds made their presence known.

Red-billed Hornbill

IMG_3905 IMG_3900 IMG_3910

Cape Glossy Starling


The African Hoopoe was one of my favourites, I loved watching him manipulate his crest!

IMG_3903 IMG_3908 IMG_3911

I got lucky with a Hail Mary shot of a bird flying overhead, it was a Brown-headed Parrot!



A gorgeous Crested Barbet


IMG_3923 IMG_3919 IMG_3924 IMG_3930 IMG_3934

Going by the photo in the Sasol book, I think this one is a Greater Blue-eared Starling.


Grey Go-Away Bird

IMG_3938 IMG_3942 IMG_3944 IMG_3946

Here you can see our car and our cabin and how close it is to the bush.



IMG_3949 IMG_3950 IMG_3952 IMG_3956

Mystery bird!

IMG_3960 IMG_3968

Cape Buffalo just outside the camp

IMG_3970 IMG_3972 IMG_3973

Dark-capped Bulbul

IMG_3985I know I missed some, if anyone can help me out, please comment!

My Top Thirty Bird Sightings Of 2014

Most other years this would be a top ten, but with 3 major birding trips this year I am struggling to make it a top thirty!  If you want to see last year’s birds click here.   There is no way I could single out one top bird with so many to choose from so they are being presented in chronological order.  I haven’t finished blogging the Queensland road trip or the African Adventure so I have to cheat a bit with the photos.  They are my photos but just pasted in.

1.  Carnaby’s Cockatoo – seen at several places in Western Australia, Feb 2014.


2.  Western Rosella – seen at Dryandra and Stirling Range in Western Australia, Feb 2014