Today was our first day hiking through one of Madagascar’s deciduous forests: Isalo National Park, a beautiful hilly area in the eastern part of the island. The deciduous forests differ from the rainforests in that they see little rain outside the spring cyclone season. It’s winter now in Madagascar, and many deciduous trees and bushes have already lost their leaves. … Read more
Poinsettias (the shrub with the bright red leaves—shaped like flower rosettes—at the center of the photo above) are native to the Americas, but plenty are to be found in Madagascar. They were brought here as a decorative plant and, as often happens with garden introductions, got loose with the help of birds. Because it never freezes in Madagascar, poinsettias here … Read more
This bug gets its name from its huge proboscis (nose). The young ones, pictured, excrete a waxy, cottony substance as a defense against birds, who don’t like the texture. At about three months, they become adults — and much tastier, because they stop producing “cotton.” Instead, they develop mottled wings that serve to camouflage them. They keep the awesome red … Read more
Because we are no longer in the rainforest, we got to meet the Oustalet’s chameleon today. It prefers dry forest, but it’s adaptable nature makes it common in towns and gardens as well. The guidebooks say the Oustalet’s chameleon is not bright green. I think they have a different idea of what constitutes bright than I do.
I’ve never before seen this color in nature, so of course I had to take a picture. Our guide told us that this plant is the wild coffee bush, introduced to Madagascar when humans first began inhabiting the island 2,000 years ago. The berries are white or pale yellow at first. They then turn turquoise and finally red when ripe, … Read more
To see the Milne-Edwards sifaka at Ranomafana National Park, you need to hike up and down a slippery path of clay, tree roots, and rocks, then go off the path to squeeze through closely spaced trees and vines until you spot black and white fur through the brush. The foliage is so crowded that most of your pictures will be … Read more
Although bulbuls exist in Africa, the Madagascar bulbul (Hypsipetes madagascariensis) is more closely related to bulbuls from Asia. The Hypsipetes genus is found only in Asia and the Indian Ocean islands. Read more …