Birding Without Borders

Day 216: The Road to Ground-Rollers

Tough birding in Mantadia nets rewards.

August 4, 2015, Anjozorobe, Madagascar — This morning I pulled on cold, wet shoes and pants and headed for Mantadia National Park with Genot and Luc. Fortunately the rain held off, and the sun even peeked out near lunchtime.

Mantadia is accessed by a muddy road and yesterday’s rain soaked it pretty well. I’ve noticed something this year: When North Americans and Europeans talk about “terrible roads,” they mean a few potholes; but when people in the tropics say a road is “a little bumpy,” they mean you need a 4x4, an experienced driver, and a willingness to push if necessary. We didn’t get stuck this morning, but had to take several attempts at one particularly expansive mudpit to make it through.

Luc was on his game again today. On arrival he marched us straight off the trail and we didn’t reemerge from the forest until several hours later, wet and muddy and leechy, with a new hole ripped in my pants. The big highlight was a Scaly Ground-Roller, a mostly silent, cryptic species of an endemic bird family which walks on the rainforest floor. It’s a beautiful creature and I took wonderful photos, but my card reader got wet and fried the camera’s SD card this evening when I tried to import them. The memories are more important anyway—it’s amazing how much one bird can sweeten the whole day!

With that, we’re on the move again. Genot and I said goodbye to Luc and repositioned this afternoon, passing through Tana en route to Anjozorobe, where I’ll spend my last two nights in Madagascar. The microclimate is higher and drier here than in the humid rainforest below; the locals get most of their electricity from solar panels, and I’ve swapped my raincoat for a down jacket against the cold tonight.

New birds today: 7

Year list: 3831

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