Malabar birds at Kerala, South India

I thought it would be easy to spot a big bird at Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary (also known as Salim Ali Sanctuary) but I was wrong! The Malabar Grey Hornbill, a must-see South India endemic, preferred a sheltered spot very high up on a tree! :-/ Fortunately, hornbills are big, hence despite that its high up feasting on figs, a reasonable photo could still be taken.. It’s supposed to have an hysterical crackling call but I never got to hear it! But the Malabar Grey Hornbill had a cheeky look. 🙂

Luckily, we got to see this big bird again the next day while on a pitta hunt. The second picture was taken at eye level…!

malabar grey hornbill at Kerala

malabar grey hornbill at Kerala

Endemic hornbill to South India

Malabar grey Hornbill

The Malabar Grey Hornbill was not the only hornbill we saw at Kerala. Equally excited as us, our guide spotted the rare Malabar Pied Hornbill. As he called out in a quivering voice with excitement, I knew we’re in for a rarity! Despite it is distributed in both India and Sri Lanka, the Malabar Pied Hornbill is classified as Near Threatened species under its conservation status. At first sight, it looked pretty similar to the Oriental Pied Hornbill, but its easily differentiated by the black casque on the Malabar Pied Hornbill. 🙂 According to the guide, its a very rare record in Kerala.

Malabar pied hornbill, near threatened species

Malabar pied hornbill, near threatened species

Surely birds with the name starting with “Malabar” is an endemic to the Malabar region! Apart from these two Malabar bird species, there’s the Malabar whistling thrush- click here, and also this cute Malabar Parakeet! 😛

Malabar parakeet, endemic to South India

Malabar parakeet, endemic to South 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