Saturday, October 12, 2019

Madagascar Day 18 - Masoala

The first night in a new bed is always a little hard when it comes to getting a good sleep and so it was true last night as well.  Of course the bathroom break at 2AM did a lot to wake me up since you have to unzip the tent, zip it back up so the bugs don't get in, walk down the stairs without killing yourself, do your business, play with the frogs, then walk up the stairs, unzip the tent, zip it back up, stub your toe, and then finally get back into bed.

Phew, it's an ordeal I tell you.

Anyway, the plan this morning was a trip to Masoala National Park which is actually a boat ride away.  But, first I got to enjoy the calm morning.

View of the sundeck

All the fishermen we saw used traditional dugout canoes still:
Fishermen in dugout canoe

Broken record time...another nice thing about MFL are the breakfasts. They are awesome.  You have breakfast on the "sea deck" which you can see overlooking the water in one of the pictures above.  There they have coffee waiting along with fresh baked bread.  Then you can order pretty much anything you want and they make it to order for you right there.  By far, these were the best breakfasts of the trip and I actually looked forward to them every morning.  I loved having my coffee overlooking the rocks and waves.  I watched fish, crabs, and even mud skippers daily.  It was a great way to wake up.

At 8:30AM we met for our boat ride to the national park which would be aboard a zodiac.  The ride, which was less than 30 minutes, wasn't bad.

Our ride

The forest looked pretty pristine from the water:
Masoala National Park

We ended up doing a 3 hour hike which unfortunately was pretty sparse when it came to wildlife.  A major draw of this park is the red ruffed lemurs (Varecia rubra) and we were able to see some. However, they didn't pose readily for pictures.  Which is a good for the animals since that means they are hopefully not habituated.

Red Ruffed Lemur

Red Ruffed Lemur

The only other wildlife photo I have from that hike is of a red-breasted coua:
Sunning Red-breasted Coua

When our 3 hours were up we got back to our landing point and there was no boat:
Pickup Point

Eventually, we could hear a motor and saw a boat coming towards us but it was an outrigger and couldn't be our transfer boat right?  Wrong...

Hey, that's not the right ride...

Well, getting inside that boat with the waves moving it constantly was no easy feat.  Somehow, the 4 of us managed to time it well enough to keep our shoes dry but the other couple wasn't so luckily and one of them got pretty wet (although they actually have a "dry room" at the lodge that worked wonders on his shoes apparently).

Lunch was another great meal of fish kebabs, couscous, vegetables and papaya cake. This one got a star too.

After lunch we split up since Peggy and Bill decided to go snorkeling. We learned later that they had a great time.  We preferred to walk the trails in the lodge's private reserve.

It was too hot right after lunch to do anything so we didn't head out on the hike until 3PM.  We took the yellow trail (all the lodge trails are color coded) and we saw nothing but crabs in an hour and a half.  We did hear some birds but never saw them.

Earlier in the day, one of the camp managers clued us in to the fact that bamboo lemurs like a couple of the small groves of bamboo at dusk near the last tent.  So, we headed there during happy hour to see if we could see them.  At first, there was nothing around.  Then we could see and hear some distant movement.  The moving limbs and branches got closer and pretty soon we saw the outline of a lemur.  Luckily, they decided to eat in this little grove so I was able to get some pictures.

Western Lesser Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur occidentalis):
Western Lesser Bamboo Lemur

Bamboo Lemur

Now THAT, was a good happy hour.

During dinner, a streaked tenrec came out to say hello briefly.  Apparently, they live under the dining area.  But, this would be the only night we would see one unfortunately.

After dinner, we did another hour walk with Felix that started at 7:45.  We had a bit more luck tonight.  We ended up seeing 3 wooly lemurs and a few other things as well.

Moore’s Wooly Lemur (Avahi mooreorum):
Moore's Woolly Lemur

Boophis Masoala which was first described in 2018 and are endemic to this area:
Boophis masoala (First described in 2018)

We also saw a greater dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus major) but the picture was only good enough for an ID.

After the hour with Felix was up we decided to stay out by ourselves and we managed to see a scops owl, what we think was another dwarf lemur, and a masoala mouse lemur.  It's officially called miccrocebus sp. nova since the species at masoala is separate but not fully described yet apparently.

The last sighting of the night was more of a audible thing.  We heard what we thought was a female calling out with pleasure, if you know what I mean.  But, it wasn't coming from the direction of the cabins.  So, with a little trepidation we followed the calls and they led us to a frog.  I have no idea what the common name was but the scientific name had to be something like boophis screaminum orgasmius.

"I'll have what she's having"...

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