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

 

 

HK Bird Market- Lets shut it down!

Its been a while since I last visited Yuen Po Street Bird Garden. My last visit as I recalled were just stores mainly selling parrots and “prayer birds” for release such as Japanese White-eyes, Munias and Finches, etc.

Yesterday, a visit to the bird garden exhibited more species for sale than I initially expected. An overwhelming 30 species of birds cramped in very small cages, many of which I couldn’t ID but some of which I could included:

Mongolian Lark

Hwamei

Chestnut-backed Thrush

Pied Bushchat

Orange-bellied Leafbird

Golden-fronted Leafbird

Siberian Rubythroat

Magpie Robin

Bluethroats

Chinese blue flycatcher

Hill Blue Flycatcher

Common Starling

Mugimaki Flycatcher

Black Crested Bulbul

Orange-headed Thrush

Hill Myna

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

 

Top- Mugimaki Flycatchers Bottom- Common Starlings

Top- Mugimaki Flycatchers
Bottom- Common Starlings

Left- Hainan Blue flycatcher for sale at HKD550, Right- 2 Mongolian larks in a small cage with poor feather condition.

Left- Hainan Blue flycatcher for sale at HKD550, Right- 2 Mongolian larks in a small cage with poor feather condition.

Chinese blue flycatcher looking miserable!

 

Birds big and small get the same small cage

Birds big and small get the same small cage

It’s a miserly sight and very heartbreaking to see and definitely questions why Hong Kong resounding status as a World Class City still allows bird trade to exist and that HK law on Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170) does not prohibit the importation and sale of wild birds, and even more so, the HK Tourist Board promotes it as a HK highlight! :-/

Only a small percentage of birds survived the ordeal of trapping and logistics to get to where they are now and even so, many were clearly distressed and in poor condition. It does make one wonder how many died to get one bird on display in the small cage. While Birdlife , CITES and NGOs around the world work to combat the threats resulting from wild bird trade…HK, being a world class city should step up and mirror European Union Ban on wild bird trade/import.

While some old Chinese hobbies should be nurtured, this is clearly NOT one of them! Dear HK, please let’s just shut this bird market.