Owls and Nightjars in Thattekad, Kerala

Who doesn’t love owls and nightjars? According to the bird list given to us prior to birding in Kerala, we should see a few and we were not disappointed. The first and probably a common owl in Kerala is the Jungle Owlet found in Thattekad area! This one came up close to check on us.. 🙂

jungle owlet commonly seen in Kerala

jungle owlet commonly seen in Kerala

Then there was Mottled Wood Owl on the list. This was a tricky one as the pair was found in a thorn forest! We battled with thorny shrubs to get close but then they flew away before we got anywhere near! :-/ We battled our way out again and was about to leave in our torn clothes when the pair flew out into the open…phew! It’s definitely worth the scratches.. Like all wood owls, Mottled Wood Owl is huge in size. Notice its got orange eyelids. 🙂 This is a second wood owl for me, the first being Spotted Wood Owl. Click here.

mottled wood owl in Kerala

mottled wood owl in Kerala

The pair flew out from the thorny forest and landed on tree above us

The pair flew out from the thorny forest and landed on tree above us

After a day’s birding, our guide fished out a torch and told us to wait for the evening. Stood in the midst of a dense forest, birds were still very active and we were entertained by their melodic calls as we waited for the Jerdon’s nightjar. But instead came the Indian Scops Owl! The owl was very cooperative and flew to a branch right in front of us! Much thanks to the guide’s torch I had enough light to take a picture of the tiny owl!

Indian scops owl came after dark

Indian scops owl came after dark

The Jerdon’s Nightjar finally came and left in a jiffy after much waiting and again I’m left with a blurry picture of the pretty bird! Apart from the Jerdon’s nightjar, we also saw the Jungle Nightjar (tick off bird list) thanks to our guide who pointed it to us! It took me quite a while to spot the bird at the location. Kerala is a great place for birding, not only do we get to see local endemics but also Sri Lanka birds! Notably, the Sri Lankan Frogmouth. Click here.

 

The elusive nightjar

Jungle Nightjar in Kerala Can you see the bird?

Jungle Nightjar in Kerala Can you see the bird?

Birds love Waterhole

Thattekad, being the best birding destination in South India is a place covered with lowland and montane forests with various eco habitats that are ideal for forest birds! The 4 of us- Owen, Siuyuen, Davis and I were birding in a forest in noon when our guide Eldhose came up to us and said “one of you follow me first, and next one tomorrow, etc.” Everyone was puzzled and scared! But surely its safe?! So I volunteered and the next minute I was in a tuk-tuk waving goodbye to my friends and they wished me well! >.<”

The tuk-tuk ride seemed like forever! My heart pumped  hard- where is he taking me? And at that moment, I realised I left my wallet with my friends and various scenarios popped in my head. The tuk-tuk went off trail and uphill to some quiet paddy field which made me worry more! But very soon I was comforted by the sight of a birding hide!

Slowly we made our way to the hide. I could see now why only one person could bird here- the path was small to only accommodate a one-man hide! As I positioned myself in the hide, I could see a small waterhole in front of me. Very soon birds came out for a drink and bath, the first being the Orange-headed Thrush followed by Puff-throated Babbler, White-cheeked Barbet, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Black Crested Bulbul, etc!

orange-headed thrush at waterhole at Thattekkad

orange-headed thrush at waterhole at Thattekkad

puff-throated babbler had a bath at waterhole

puff-throated babbler had a bath at waterhole

 

white-cheeked barbet

white-cheeked barbet

 

yellow-browed bulbul came for a drink

yellow-browed bulbul came for a drink

Left : Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher. Right: Tickell's Blue Flycatcher Easily separated from throat colour

Right : Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher. Left : Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher
Easily separated from throat colour

Black crested Bulbul also a waterhole fan!

Black crested Bulbul also a waterhole fan!

It was a cool way to bird and while I watched the birds come by the waterhole… I heard a loud shrieking call from behind. The call was constant and had shifted to my left. I peeped through the small “window” from my hide and I was astounded…my dream bird! It very quickly flew to the waterhole and I had no time to change the setting in my camera! It took a dip and flew off! :-/ And what I had was a blurry picture of the Asian Paradise Flycatcher, male! None of my friends who visited the waterhole after me saw the Asian Paradise Flycatcher..

the bird that got away

the bird that got away

Waterhole is a great way to see birds up close! This was my second time birding at a waterhole. First time was in Thailand, please click here! My South India Guide, Eldhose has delivered his birds as promised. I highly recommend him! 🙂

South India Guide

South India Guide