Researchers Peter Long and Richard French-Constant compiled the guide following a detailed study last year of important bird habitats in the region, including saltmarshes, mangroves, Euphorbia scrub, spiny forest, beaches and offshore islands.
The research showed that Andavadoaka and its surroundings possess a highly diverse bird community. The saltmarsh habitats, located inland just south of the village, are particularly important, supporting high densities of breeding Madagascar plover, a threatened shorebird which is endemic to Western Madagascar.
It is likely that Andavadoaka’s saltmarsh is one of the most important sites in the country for this threatened species. The marshes also provide excellent habitat for the Madagascar sandgrouse, another rare sight.
Local mangroves are home to small passerine birds such as the green jerry, the bright red Madagascar fody and the Mascarene martin, with feeding shorebirds such as the curlew sandpiper and white-fronted plover on the outskirts.
Pied crows, whimbrels, ruddy turnstone and yellow-billed kites were found along the beach.
Closer to the village, the very dry coastal Eurphorbia scrub is exceptionally rich in birdlife, in particular for larger species such as the Madagascar kestrel and the Madagascar buzzard. The spiny forest, dominated by baobab trees and ‘octopus trees’ of the genus Didieraceae, is home to the Madagascar coucal, chabert’s vanga and the Madagascar magpie-robin.
In collaboration with the Malagasy league for bird conservation (ASITY), Peter and Richard are working to develop a Madagascar-wide bird monitoring scheme. Blue Ventures volunteers will be involved in data collection, with the aid of the new illustrated guide identifying the most common birds in the five terrestrial habitat types around Andavadoaka.