On a Highway to Helmet

Friday was the big day: our first attempt at Helmet Vanga, one of Madagascar’s most coveted birds.  A 5:30am start, followed by a 2 hour 4×4 trip, which nearly two of the three vehicles completed.  Then a walk down into the forest, stopping only to clamber down a bank for a stunning Short-legged Ground-Roller, and on to the nest.  The only problem was that the nest was empty and did not fill in the couple of hours that we stayed.  As we headed back to the cars we got a shout that Patrice, our indefatigable local guide, that he had found another nest with a bird on only 3km away.  Brilliant, although that 3km was of clambering through the forest on a shocking track that crossed the same river about 20 times.  Finally, muddy and worn out we arrived to find another empty nest.  Aaaaaaargh! With light failing we only had half an hour to wait, but fortunately it only took a quarter before it arrived at the nest: just stunning.  All we had to do then was get home, on a track that was already difficult in the dark with only a few torches.  Eventually we got back to the cars, utterly covered in mud and knackered, at 8:15 pm and eventually got back for dinner at 10:30pm.  An unforgettable, and hopefully unrepeatable, day.

Here’s a couple more lemurs from a night walk on Saturday.



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