Bird Photography / Madagascar / Wildlife

Birds of Lake Tsarasaotra – Madagascar

28 Mar ’15

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Tsarasaotra – My first stop during my short trip to Madagascar was Lake Tsarasoatra located in the capital Antananarivo. This 27ha area has an important role providing a refuge and nesting site for waterbirds such as herons and ducks in the highly human modified environment that is Antananarivo. It plays a pivotal role for 14 threatened waterbird species and subspecies that are endemic to Madagascar and seek shelter there during the hunting season. This is the only known site on the Malagasy highlands to host the endangered Madagascar pond heron (Ardeola idae). Other important species such as Meller’s duck (Anas melleri) and the vulnerable Madagascar little grebe (Tachybaptus pelzelnii) can also be found on this site. It is a regular stop for birdwatchers travelling through the island.

I did not get to see all those threatened species but nonetheless spent a few hours on a raft with my godfather photographing all the other birds in the early hours of the morning. It was a great moment and I was very happy to discover all those new species.

Black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) photographed by Nicolas Rakotopare in Lake Tsarasaotra

Black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) photographed by Nicolas Rakotopare in Lake Tsarasaotra


Humblot’s Heron (Ardea humbloti)

This species is listed as Endangered on the IUCN list due to their habitat being degraded by modification and conversion for human use. The photo does not do it justice but it is truly a large bird.

Madagascar Heron (Ardea humbloti) photographed by Nicolas Rakotopare at Lake Tsarasaotra


 

White-faced Whistling Duck ( Dendrocygna viduata)

There were not many of these ducks around during my visit. They congregate in larger numbers during hunting season and of the few that were present many were off foraging for the day).

white-faced whistling duck (Dendrocygna viduata) photographed by Nicolas Rakotopare at Lake Tsarasaotra


 

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

The birds were often following the same path when flying back to their roost, therefore I was able to somewhat anticipate this heron’s arrival and get this sharp shot.

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) in flight photographed by Nicolas Rakotopare at Lake Tsarasaotra


 

Black Heron (Egretta ardesiaca)

This was one of the most numerous species at the lake during my stay and probably my favorite for the day. I love their dark plumage and the interesting shapes they make with their wings. In these photos the bird is drying out it’s wings in the sun.

Black heron (Egretta ardesiaca) photographed by Nicolas Rakotopare at Lake Tsarasaotra

Black heron (Egretta ardesiaca) photographed by Nicolas Rakotopare at Lake Tsarasaotra

This lake is classified RAMSAR (International Convention on Wetlands) due to it’s importance for the birds of the area and it’s role as a refuge and breeding ground. You can find more information about the birds and the history of the lake here http://boogiepilgrim-madagascar.com/tourisme-durables/tsarasaotra-parc/?lang=en . If you are in Antananarivo I highly recommend a visit, it is privately owned and you will have to enquire with Boogie Pilgrim to gain access. I would like to thank the property owners gain helping me in getting those shots :)

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I am a nature photographer specialising in wildlife photography. I have a special passion for this type of photography which comes from my background as an ecologist & conservation biologist.

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