Sunbirds & Flowerpeckers in Thattekkad, Kerala

At Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, there’s no shortage of sunbirds and flowerpeckers. Flowers were plentiful and these little birds seemed very engaged in their favorite tree! It was lovely to see some of the species just in one tree! But getting a decent picture is another story. Here are some of my best shots.. having stood by the tree for the whole morning! *Cough*

The Loten’s sunbird below (named after Dutch governor of Ceylon, Joan Loten), is also known as Long-billed sunbird or Maroon-breasted sunbird, is endemic to peninsular India and Sri Lanka.

Female Loten's sunbird at Salim Ali Sanctuary

Female Loten’s sunbird at Salim Ali Sanctuary

The male Loten's Sunbird is more obliging!

The male Loten’s Sunbird is more obliging!

Another endemic to India Subcontinent is the Purple-rumped Sunbird! There were quite a few of these sunbirds hovered about the flowering tree. The male has a beautiful collage of colours as compared to the female,  I was totally captivated by it. 🙂

purple-rumped sunbird

purple-rumped sunbird

purple-rumped sunbird-female in India

purple-rumped sunbird-female in India

Also found in the same tree was the common yet sassy, glossy looking Purple Sunbird!

purple sunbird

purple sunbird

Found in Southern India is the resident, Nilgiri Flowerpecker.  This species is said to be differentiated from the other sub species by its pale brown on the upperside, whitetish underside along with a wider white brow.. !  This little fellow had been feasting on nectar the whole morning, evidenced by the coloration on its face! 😛

nilgiri flowerpecker

nilgiri flowerpecker

And here’s us four, waiting patiently by the flowering tree. 🙂

The four of us at Salim Ali Sanctuary

The four of us at Salim Ali Sanctuary

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

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