Working for birds in Africa


Wed, 02/06/2013 - 14:38 -- abc_admin

The following largely unconfirmed records were published in the Bulletins of the African Bird Club and are for information only.

from ABC Bulletin 24.1

A Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos photographed at a lake c.6 km north of Toliara on 16 November 2016 (Fig. 18) was apparently just the second for Madagascar, the first having been reported in September 2008, also from the Toliara area (cf. Safford, R. J. & Hawkins, A. F. A. eds. 2013. The Birds of Africa. Vol. 8). At least two Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica were also there on the same date (RG); the species is less scarce than thought until quite recently and appears to be a regular, if highly localised, Palearctic migrant concentrated around wetlands in the south-west (cf. Gardner & Jasper 2011. Bull. ABC 18: 207–210).

from ABC Bulletin 23.1

House Sparrows Passer domesticus were observed at Mahajanga on 30 November 2015; this appears to be the first record of this invasive species on the west coast of the country (cf. Safford & Hawkins. 2013. The Birds of Africa. Vol. 8) and it is only known to be established within a 50 km radius of Toamasina, on the east coast. 

from ABC Bulletin 22.1

A Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis was photographed at the Betsiboka Estuary, Mahajanga, on 14 November 2014; there are only three previous records for Madagascar, in August 1990 and September 2008 (Safford & Hawkins 2013) and November 2013, and this appears to be the first to be documented photographically. In the harbour, at least 14 House Sparrows Passer domesticus, among them three males, were found; the species is largely restricted to within 50 km of Toamasina on the east coast, with records in Tana in 2004 (but not since) and Antsiranana in 2011 (Safford & Hawkins 2013). 

from ABC Bulletin 21.1

A downy juvenile Madagascar Rail Rallus madagascariensis in the company of at least one adult at Mananara Lodge on 29 November 2013 differed in some respects from published descriptions in having a very obvious medium pink base to the maxilla, no pale patch on the rear ear-coverts and lacking any evidence of barring on the underparts; there seems to be confusion as to whether the published description truly refers to the downy young or not, given that it mentions the presence of feathers on some tracts. On 14 November, a winter-plumaged Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis was observed on the crossing to the Masoala Peninsula, but could not be documented with photographs; there are only two previous records in Madagascar, in August 1990 and September 2008. Also between Maroansetra and Masoala, Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus, Brown Noddy Anous stolidus and Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus were recorded on 6 - 9 December.

Three Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica were observed on the island of Nosy Ve, off the south-west coast, on 19 November, further emphasising that the species appears to be a regular visitor in the boreal winter to this part of Madagascar. A Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe was photographed near Berenty, Madagascar, on 16 July 2013; the first documented record of this species for Madagascar was in December 2005, on the Anjiabe Plateau, in the north-west. Two or three House Crows Corvus splendens were found in Tamatave on 2 January 2014; these are apparently the first for Madagascar.

from ABC Bulletin 20.1

In October 2012, two species were recorded that are not included in the ABC Checklist of the birds of Madagascar and are thus apparently firsts for Madagascar: Buff-breasted Sandpiper Calidris (=Tryngites) subruficollis, photographed between Toliara and Ifaty, in the south-west, on 1st, and Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus, located at a small wetland along the same road on 28th. A White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus was photographed at Anakao, near Toliara, on 4 October; this species breeds on the rocky northern coast but is seldom seen in the south. A Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva, a rare vagrant to the island, was found at Ifaty on 30 September. A Madagascar Plover Charadrius thoracicus was breeding at Ifaty on 30 September; as is known for this species (and other Charadrius plovers), the bird covered its two eggs with dry vegetation upon leaving the nest. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica was seen at Toliara on 4 October.


In early October 2010, a female Bernier's Vanga Oriolia bernieri was photographed in Périnet Special Reserve; this appears to be only the second confirmed record for Périnet of this scarce and patchily distributed evergreen forest species, the first, also of a single female, dating from several years ago.

An adult Sooty Gull Larus hemprichii, presumably the same individual returning for its third (?) year, was observed on Nosy Ve, off the south-west coast, on 18 October 2007. On the coast near Tulear, a Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus was seen on 15 and 17 October.

Five Madagascar Fish Eagles Haliaeetus vociferoides were seen in a single morning at Anjajavy, c.140 km north of Majunga, on the north-west coast, on 30 August 2006, with three Madagascar White Ibises Threskiornis (aethiopicus) bernieri also there.

An adult Sooty Gull Larus hemprichii observed at the island of Nosy Ve, south-western Madagascar, on 11 November 2005 constitutes the first for the country. A pair of Madagascar Red Owls Tyto soumagnei was found at c.1,000 m elevation in Montagne d’Ambre National Park, in the far north of the island, on 10 June.

Records in October-November 2004 include the following. In the Betsiboka Delta, 36 Madagascar Teal Anas bernieri were counted on 2 November. A pair of  Madagascar Cuckoo Hawks Aviceda madagascariensis was nest building in Berenty Reserve on 26-27 October. On 21 October, a Red Knot Calidris canutuswas found at Tulear harbour; there are no published records of this species for the country, but it has been seen previously at Maroantsetra in two consecutive years. A Madagascar Long-eared Owl Asio madagascariensis was observed in a large gum tree along the main road at Périnet on 18 October and a Marsh Owl A. capensis at Nose Ve on 24th. A single Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica was spotted at Lakana Veso Resort, north of Tulear, on 8 October; this is a rare visitor with a few scattered records only.

Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus bernieri and 34 Madagascar Teal Anas bernieri were seen on the Betsiboka Delta, south of Mahajanga on 7th. On 27th, 36 Madagascar Teal were counted at the same site. A Madagascar Sparrowhawk Accipiter madagascariensis was seen at Analamazaotra ('Périnet') Special Reserve on 10th, and another observed for an extended period at Berenty Private Reserve on 14th. A male of the seldom seen Slender-billed Flufftail Sarothrura watersi was found at Anjozorobe marsh on 12th.

The sightings of Sakalava Rails Amaurornis olivieri undoubtedly constitute the most sensational report. The species was observed and photographed at Lake Ampandra, Besalampy District, on 29 November 2002 and at Lake Kinkony, in the lower Mahavavy River basin, south-west of Mahajanga, on 23-24 April and 8-9 May 2003. These sightings appear to be the best of this critically endangered species since those of Rand's expedition in March 1931.

A European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus was claimed from Kirindy forest on 25 October 2001; this species does not figure in Morris & Hawkins (1998, Birds of Madagascar), the most recent work on the island's avifauna.

Seawatching from Fort Dauphin in the first half of 2000 produced the following noteworthy records. A Barau's Petrel Pterodroma baraui on 30 January was the first seen from the mainland of Madagascar and the second record overall. A total of 909 Flesh-footed Shearwaters Puffinus carneipes flew north in four hours on 18 March; this constitutes the third record, second from the mainland, and by a long way the largest number recorded (in the western Indian Ocean?). A sub-adult Masked Booby Sula dactylatra feeding with the Flesh-footed Shearwaters Puffinus carneipes and Lesser Crested Terns Sterna bengalensis on debris left by feeding tuna, was also the second record for Madagascar, and the first from the coast. A White-tailed Tropicbird Phaeton lepturus flying around Fort Dauphin during the same period was a long way out of range; the species is fairly common around Nosy Be and the northern tip of Madagascar, but had never been recorded in the south. It was captured when it attempted to enter a hole in the roof of a building, and later died. At Morondava, an estimated 5,500 Lesser Crested Terns Sterna bengalensis and about 120 Caspian Terns S. caspia flew north in the last three hours of daylight on 5 May. All the Caspian Terns S. caspia and probably about half of the Lesser Crested Terns S. bengalensis were in breeding plumage. Possibly the latter were moving north to breeding grounds in the Arabian Gulf.

An adult Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti seen at Isalo National Park on 4 August 1999 constitutes the first definite record of this very rare bird away from the eastern humid forests; there are, however, similar unreported sightings. An exceptionally early adult Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica was seen at Bedo, near Kirindy on 18 September. In Andranomena Special Reserve, a Western Tylas Vanga Tylas (eduardi) albigularis, one of the rarest western forest birds, was seen on 12 September 1999.

Records from November­ - December 1997 include the following. A female Slender-billed Flufftail Sarothrura watersi responded to playback and was flushed twice from an area near Périnet on 20 November. A Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus was observed at Maroansetra on 22 November. A Little Stint Calidris minuta was at saltpans south of the Mora Mora hotel, Ifaty on 30 November. A Scaly Ground Roller Brachypteracias squamigera was seen at Mantady on 21 November. A Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica, a rare migrant in Madagascar, was seen 70 km north-west of Antananarivo on 15 November and another at la Mangrove, 15 km south of Tulear on 1 December. A claim of two Red-tailed Newtonia Newtonia fanovanae at Périnet on 23 November remains to be confirmed; this species is only known from a single specimen collected in 1931. A male of the recently described Red-shouldered Vanga Calicalicus rufocarpalis was seen along the St Augustin road on 15 November. Records from 23­25 November from the Masoala Peninsula include a Madagascar Serpent Eagle Eutriorchis astur at Andranobe, Bernier’s Vanga Oriolia bernieri, two Helmet Vanga Euryceros prevostii on nests, and adult Dusky Tetraka Xanthomixis tenebrosa with juveniles. During surveys conducted by the ZICOMA Project, the Important Bird Areas programme in Madagascar, a flock of 67 of the endangered Madagascar Teal Anas bernieri was found in a mangrove near Tambohorano, Mahajanga, on 29 May. In October, Tsaratanana Integral Reserve and Marotandrano Special Reserve, in the north-east, were both found to hold Madagascar Serpent Eagle Eutriorchis astur, Madagascar Red Owl Tyto soumagnei and Yellow-bellied Asity Neodrepanis hypoxantha. Kalambatritra Special Reserve, in the south-east, was a new site for Cryptic Warbler Cryptosylvicola randriansoloi, discovered there in November. At the same site Rufous-headed Ground Roller Atelornis crossleyi was found to be relatively common. In the south-west, several individuals of the newly described Red-shouldered Vanga Calicalicus rufocarpalis were seen in spiny scrub between Itampolo and Androka, near Ampanihy, on 6-7 August. This is well to the south of the previously recognised distribution (ZICOMA). An aerial feeding flock of c 250 Madagascar Pratincoles Glareola ocularis near Miandrivazo on 10 January constituted a remarkably large congregation.

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