Eldhose Birding lodge in Kerala

One early morning, we were taken to Eldhose home which was supposed to be a very birdy site! Built in the middle of the forest, we could hear birds of all sorts sing their hearts out as we hurtled into the forest towards Eldhose’s home.

We sat at the front porch and sipped our morning coffee while waiting for the star bird…it was none other than the Black-rumped Flameback, also known as the Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker. The black throat finely marked with white spots separates it from other golden backed woodpeckers in the Indian region. This gorgeous male didn’t let us wait long! The woodpecker was just too obliging- came to the tree right in front of us and started pecking away! It was almost as it was putting a show for us! Its red crown is just too eye-catching, isn’t it? 😛

Black-rumped flameback at Eldhose birding lodge

Black-rumped flameback at Eldhose birding lodge

There were some quality birds at Eldhose birding site which included Grey Junglefowl couple, Black-throated munia, Jungle babbler, which were all endemics! There was also a Red Spurfowl which peeped through the scrubs and nosy squirrels that came for a peek-a-boo! :-/

It was a brilliant morning session before we moved on to Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary where we saw many sunbirds, flowerpeckers, hornbills and of course the Indian Pitta– a must see in India! With over 120 birds seen in that sanctuary, I need time to consolidate my thoughts before doing a write-up about it! *cough* Stay Tuned…

grey junglefowl couple, endemic to South India

grey junglefowl couple, endemic to South India

jungle babbler in South India are plentiful

jungle babbler in South India are plentiful

Black-throated Munia is a resident in foothills of Southwest India

Black-throated Munia is a resident in foothills of Southwest India

 

Munnar- Almost In Heaven

A 3 hour drive from Kerala will land you in the place of heaven and I’m not kidding! The landscape was absolutely breathtaking with peaks undulating as the car moved uphill! But the drive in the dark before dawn was hairy-considering the narrow twirls up the mountainous region, which by any mistake could also take you to heaven! >.<”

A 3 hours drive from Kerala will land you in heaven

How heaven looks like

Awesome landscape in Munnar

Awesome landscape in Munnar

Our first stop at Munnar was actually a resting area for drivers. It looked pretty bare at first sight with bits of rubbish, but according to Eldhose team, this is where the Nilgiri Pipit is! A pipit (listed as Vulnerable on IUCN list) that is endemic to the mountains of Southern India, something not to be missed and we didn’t! 🙂

Other birds we saw at this dumpster resting site included

  • Pied bushchats
  • Hill Swallows
  • Oriental White-eyes
  • Common Rosefinch
  • Malabar Whistling Thrush (pity we didn’t hear it whistle!)
nilgiri pipit can be found in Munnar

nilgiri pipit can be found in Munnar

 

Pied bushchat couple came close at the resting area

Pied bushchat couple came close at the resting area

Left-Malabar whistling thrush Right-  Hill Swallow

Left-Malabar whistling thrush Right- Hill Swallow

Situated at high altitude of Southern India, quality birds restricted to the region simply could not be missed! Some of these birds have special names which start with Nilgiri, or Kerala or Malabar! As our car sauntered along the narrow road, we spotted a bird hopping around the bushes by the curb and it was quickly identified as Kerala Laughing Thrush by its distinctive laugh! Nearby, we also saw the Nilgiri Flycatcher and hiked for a Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, which at first sight I thought it was a Spotted dove! :-/

There were also creeks at Munnar where we found the Black and Orange Flycatcher, endemic to the hills in Southern India, along with Blue-capped Rock Thrush, all colourful birds with wow factor!

kerala laughing thrush on high altitude region in Munnar

kerala laughing thrush on high altitude region in Munnar

Nilgiri flycatcher and Nilgiri wood pigeon at Munnar

Nilgiri flycatcher and Nilgiri wood pigeon at Munnar

 

blue capped rock thrush at Munnar

blue capped rock thrush at Munnar

black and orange flycatcher, endemic to hills of southern India

black and orange flycatcher, endemic to hills of southern India

Besides forests and creeks, there’s plenty of tea plantations at Munnar! It was a great day at Munnar-birds, beautiful landscape and cool weather!  By the end of the day, we had tea and local chocolates before another 3 hour hairy drive back to Kerala!

tea plantation at Munnar

tea plantation at Munnar

 

 

Who loves a Frogmouth? 印度观鸟 (领蟆口鸱)

I finally pulled myself together to write about Kerala, South India…but with over 120 birds in just 5 days, I really don’t know where to start! >.<

Joined by a few friends, we hired a bird guide who is a pioneer in South India and leads an avid team that served us! I remembered Eldhose promised that we’d see some raptors and nightjars and I was very surprised, because I have not met any bird guide that promises anything!

On one afternoon, we went to a low forest plantation area in search for the frogmouth, but to no avail. but we were promised that we’d see them the next day! And sure enough we did! It seemed that our bird guide recruited another team to help search the frogmouths for us! It was amazing to see 2 individuals and 1 pair of Sri Lankan Frogmouths (领蟆口鸱), as these species is only found in the Western Ghats of southwest India and Sri Lanka! We moved in quietly and carefully not to disturb them as its their breeding season (January to March)! They roosted so low in the plantation area, and so camouflaged that if the guide hadn’t pointed them to me, I’d thought they were just leaves!!! 🙂 They look awfully cute! Who loves a frogmouth? 😛

Sri Lankan Frogmouth

Sri Lankan Frogmouth

Sri Lankan Frogmouth

Sri Lankan Frogmouth

A pair of them!

A pair of them!