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Birds of Madagascar, with Doug Cheeseman – Evening Meeting Reminder: Tuesday, April 2, 7:30 p.m.

March 29, 2019

With five** endemic families, Madagascar has some of the most unusual birdlife on Earth.

Schlegel’s Asity (D. Cheeseman)

Madagascar has some of the highest biodiversity on Earth and some of the most cooperative and photographical endemics, especially among the mammals, that you can find anywhere on the planet! It’s a wildlife photographer’s paradise with so many species of lemurs, birds, chameleons and other reptiles, even charming colorful insects. Each geographic area is unique with a different set of wildlife, some with closest relatives from Africa and some from the South Pacific, South America and elsewhere.

Coquerel’s Sifaka (D. Cheeseman)

Doug and his wife, Gail, began taking groups to Madagascar in 1990 when lodging was nonexistent in some of the best wildlife hotspots and vehicles hardly had rubber on the tires. The changes are amazing with lovely lodges and excellent vehicles, altho the roads are still plenty bumpy in places. Over the years with tourism, protected wildlife became habituated to people in the parks and reserves.
Doug has gathered photos mostly from their most recent trip taken by himself and their generous fellow travelers who have also contributed to this presentation. Doug will cover a wide range of wildlife from Perinet and Masoala in rainforest habitat to Ampijoroa (Ankarafantsika NP) in deciduous forests to Ifaty and Berenty in the southern spiny desert regions. Doug and Gail will be leading more Madagascar safaris in Aug/Sept 2020, for Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris, the wildlife tour company that they founded in 1980.

Spotted Fanaloka (D. Cheeseman)

Since starting Cheeseman’s Ecological Safaris in 1980, Doug and Gail Cheeseman have led wildlife tours to all continents, including over 70 safaris to Africa, especially Tanzania and Kenya. Doug was Professor of Biology at De Anza College near San José from 1967, when the college opened, until he retired in 1998. After establishing the college’s molecular biology, zoology and ecology programs, he created the college’s Environmental Studies Area in 1971. Continuing to advocate strongly for protecting wildlife and natural habitats worldwide, Doug and Gail enjoy taking fellow wildlife enthusiasts to see and photograph the precious mammals, birds, and other creatures on our planet.

Sickle-billed Vanga (D. Cheeseman)

Our meetings are at Christine Emerson Reed Park, 1133 7th Street. (between 7th St. & Lincoln Blvd., California Ave. & Wilshire Blvd.), Santa Monica. Previously known as Lincoln Park. If coming from outside Santa Monica, exit the #10 Fwy at Lincoln Blvd., turn north and drive 5 blocks north to Wilshire Blvd.

Not upside-down trees or carrots, but large relatives of the Baobab, endemic to the Spiny Forest. (D. Cheeseman)

Link to Google Map

Meeting Room: Mid-park in Joslyn Hall, accessible from Lincoln Blvd, California Ave. and 7th St.  Its glass wall faces north towards St. Monica Church on California St. If you’re walking from Lincoln Blvd., it’s located directly behind (west) of the large Miles Playhouse building. Not accessible directly from Wilshire Blvd.

Meetings begin at 7:30 sharp with a little business, and then our main presentation. Refreshments are served afterward. Please leave your coyote at home, however much they whine to come.

Parking: The entire block between Wilshire Blvd. and California Ave, 7th St. and Lincoln Blvd., on the sides closest to the park, is metered. $2/hour meter enforcement (except on Wilshire) ends at 6PM, so free parking for the meeting! However, the local natives are engaged in a survival-of-the-fittest scramble for free parking, so the after-6pm free parking spaces disappear quickly.  We suggest that you arrive no later than 7:15 pm.

If all those spaces are filled, we found free parking as follows:
California Ave. between 6th and 7th
9th St. north of Wilshire Blvd.
10th St. north of California Ave.
Washington Ave. (next street north of and parallel to California)

If that fails, go south of Wilshire, not north of the park, as resident-only permit parking zones abound to the north. The east side of Lincoln Blvd. across from the park is by permit parking only. Spaces are more available on 7th St. or Lincoln south of Wilshire. Some of those are “until 9PM” meters also. You may need a flashlight to read & operate the meter. Wherever you park, please read parking signs carefully and avoid a big fat $40+ parking ticket.

** Well, technically only four endemic families: Cuckoo-roller, Ground-Rollers, Asities, and Malagasy Warblers. The Vangas were an endemic family until recently, when they were lumped with the Helmetshrikes, Shrike-flycatchers, Woodshrikes, Flycatcher-shrikes and Philentomas of Africa and Southeast Asia. The Couas are a Cuckoo subfamily endemic to Madagascar. So it’s an honorary five. Madagascar earned it; give it to them. Then again, some might not count the Cuckoo-Roller – a monotypic family – as endemic, as they are also in the nearby Comoros Islands. Of course, the Cuckoo-Roller family Leptosomidae (and its monotypic order Leptosomiformes) might not be monotypic, as some think the Comoros version is a separate species. On the other hand…
[Chuck Almdale]

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