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Blog by MBP Volunteer, Julia





Our next find was a sleepy, tiny kingfisher. I was probably more excited about it than anybody else, because this wasn’t the common kingfisher we see darting over the river near KAFS sometimes. It was one of Madagascar’s pygmy kingfishers, tiny and bright red-orange all over, fluffed up roundly on a branch as it dozed for the night. These little red birds are not apparently that uncommon, but this was my first encounter of one, and I’m always thrilled to check new birds off the list! Not to mention that, it being nighttime, this diurnal bird was checked out for the evening and couldn’t care less how much we chatted and rustled near it as we jostled for pictures.

Perhaps fittingly, we concluded the night with some familiar faces. Adam and Sheila both swore they saw eye-shine in some distant trees, and when I looked I saw it too. Seeing those eyes glow out of the dark is seriously creepy, I do have to say. It reminds me of haunted houses, or the kind of evil forest you see in fairy tale movies, with the sinister eyes of beasts blinking out of the hollows of trees. Meters and meters above the ground, there’s just darkness, shifting shadows, unplaceable noises…and then, eerie and silent, five or six set of perfectly round, luminous, red eyes. Just staring.

It was impossible to stay unsettled, though, when I heard a familiar chuckling call. These were bamboo lemurs! Nothing to be spooked by. I imagine it must have been the Northwest group given our location at the time, up and about for a bit of a nighttime jaunt. Simus, unlike many of Sangasanga’s other species, do occasionally move around in the dark. It was a cheerful end note to what had been an awesome hike, turning for home with the familiar rustlings and calls of my study species pacing us in the trees overhead.

We concluded the night with a tenacious praying mantis that kept flying at Adam’s headlamp, and by almost stepping on a delightfully huge and lazy snake that posed obligingly for several wonderful pictures. Tasting the forest by night only made me hungry for more- I look forward to someday having the chance to explore the dark side of Sangasanga again.

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