Photos with this report (click to enlarge)
White-bellied Blue Robin
I booked a flight with Air Sri Lanka for £435 a couple of weeks before the departure date. Due to the time constraints, I attempted to maximise my chance of connecting with the greatest number of Western Ghats endemics by restricting myself to 3 sites where I knew all the birds were available. In the event, I missed Wynaad laughingthrush, broad-tailed grassbird and grey-headed bulbul (though I’ve seen this previously in Goa), but considered the trip to be a success nonetheless.
The weather was as expected; hot & sultry near the coast, but rather more pleasant up in the hills. On one night in Munnar, it rained quite heavily and there were one or two showers here in the late afternoon on two days, but otherwise it remained dry. At Munnar and (particularly) Ooty, it was quite cool in the early morning, but quickly warmed up to the high 20’s. I hardly saw a mosquito throughout the trip: the biggest surprise at Thattekad, where I assumed that they would be plentiful, particularly as my accommodation overlooked a lake – I think I saw one! The worst place was the Royal Wings hotel at Cochin airport on my last night, where the room was humming with them, but fortunately I’d brought a mossie-net with me, so had a disturbance-free night. I ate well & had no problems with any bugs. As usual when I visit India, I went “veggie” for the duration of the trip, apart from the last night back on the coast, when I treated myself to a fantastic fish mollee. Bottled water was readily available everywhere at c.12Rs for a litre bottle. I discarded one bottle bought at Thattekad as the seal seemed to have been broken. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find anywhere that sold beer, although other trip reports suggest that it is available.
The flight was to Cochin via Colombo and arrived at c.8am on the morning of the 12th. At the airport, I changed up some money at the rate of 82 Rs to the pound and then went about getting to my first destination, the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Thattekad. As I was travelling alone, I’d decided against hiring a vehicle & driver as I felt that it would work out just too expensive. So I largely used public transport (mainly buses), with one or two exceptions. Fixed rate taxi seems to be the only obvious way to get away from the airport and I had originally planned to get to the bus station at Ernakulam (the main transport centre for Cochin) and then on by bus to Kothamangalam (13km from the Salim Ali sanctuary). In the event, as Cochin airport is about 30km north of the town, it was more or less the same fare to get direct to Kothamangalam. Taxi rates were 12-13Rs/km, so it cost just over 600Rs to get direct to the reserve.
Thattekad (Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary):
I was met on arrival at the gates by one of the local guides called Vinod Narianan. He told me that he was a protégé of the Eldo mentioned in Jon Hornbuckles 2002 report. His rates were 500Rs per day - essentially a morning & a late afternoon session, with a break in the middle of the day when it got too hot. I used him on two days and he was very useful, particularly for arranging a vehicle to visit the bit of forest at Orullanthany, at the far end of the reserve. He offered me two options for accommodation – the watchtower that is situated in the reserve at 970Rs per night, or a room in a Rest Stay (basically living in someone’s house) for 420Rs. Despite having read what a great option the watchtower was, I opted for the rest stay at the Sanctuary View and didn’t regret it. On visiting the watchtower, I discovered that it’s a small, grubby twin room (& an even smaller, grubbier single), with no facilities. That might be OK for one night, but it wasn’t really an option for four. The rest stay is 100m from the entrance to the reserve proper and the room was basic, but clean, with a shower, fan, lights, socket for a battery charger etc. And on my arrival, the biggest spider I think I’ve seen in the bathroom! It was evicted without delay & thankfully didn’t re-appear. Food was available as an extra, prepared by the house-holders and was simple, but plentiful. I opted for breakfast & evening meal and the total cost for the duration of my stay was c.200Rs. I bought some bananas from a roadside stall to see me through the middle of the day – 1Kg for 10Rs!
The owner of the house also had a jeep and, as mentioned, Vinod arranged for him to drive me to the far end of the reserve – the only site where Wynaad laughingthrush is regularly seen. Once again, rates were 13Rs/km. Additionally, after waiting half an hour for a bus back to Kothamangalam at the end of my stay, he decided that the jeep could run me to the bus station. They weren’t going to charge for this, but I tipped the driver anyway.
Costs for entry into the reserve was 100Rs per day. Due to the numbers of wild elephants in the reserve, access around the main entrance is fairly restricted – you’re permitted to walk the main track out to the watchtower (a km or so), but are not encouraged to wander off this onto numerous side trails unless accompanied by a guide. These guidelines don’t seem so rigidly adhered to else where. Vinod was unable to accompany me on my final morning, but I was able to take the jeep up to Orullanthany and spent the morning wandering trails & stream beds myself. Outside the park and back across the Periyar river towards Kothamangalam, there are a number of tracks leading off from the road that take you through areas of forest & plantation that are well worth a look. The first is on the right, just beyond the small roadside lake and follows the river bank for some distance through good forest. I followed two other tracks, both on the left of the road. The first I only followed briefly, but the second led down to a lake and then up through plantations to a radar facility for the airport, before rejoining the road.
I spent two mornings & an afternoon on the reserve “locally”, two mornings at Orullanthany and the remaining three afternoons outside the reserve on the other side of the river. On the final night of my stay, the local temple held a “Theyyam”, or “Indian drama” as it was described to me (though “pantomime” might be a more accurate description). Vinod was helping to organise it & invited me along to watch. It featured tales from the life of Shiva, dramatised by a touring band of actors & dancers. These events are immensely popular with the locals and usually go on long into the night – I left well before the end.
Bird highlights included white-bellied treepie, rufous-tailed, white-bellied blue & blue-throated flycatchers, blue-faced malkoha, heart-spotted, streak-throated & white-bellied woodpeckers, Malabar grey hornbill, Malabar parakeet, Malabar whistling thrush, Indian pitta, forest wagtail, yellow-browed bulbul, Sri Lanka frogmouth, Indian blue robin, dollarbird, orange-headed ground thrush, grey junglefowl, red spurfowl, brown shrike, brown hawk owl, brown fish owl & Indian scops owl.
I got a bus from Kothamangalam direct to Munnar for 45Rs. The journey time was c.3hours.
On arrival, I consulted my Lonely Planet & trip reports for some suitable accommodation, but was accosted by some local “wide-boy” who offered me “good accommodation” from 300Rs a night. Slightly dubious, I followed him, but the room he showed me on the third floor of the N.G. Tourist House (slightly up the hill behind the statue of Ghandi on the main street) was fine at 400Rs a night. I paid for 3 nights up front. There didn’t appear to be any hot water & the bathroom light didn’t work, but it was adequate for my needs. I ate at places recommended in the Lonely Planet – either the vegetarian restaurant at Hotel Saravan Bhavan (get here early, as it gets really busy. No plates, they use banana leaves!), or Rapsy Restaurant in the covered bazaar. This place serves possibly the best masala chai I’ve tasted.
Once I’d sorted out my accommodation, I contacted Senthil Kumar (who I’d emailed from the UK – firstname.lastname@example.org), who is involved with Kestrel Tours, based in the town. They mainly cater for trekkers, but are able to provide birding guides & drivers/vehicles. I arranged to go out with a colleague of Senthil’s called Chinnu to hopefully “clean up” on the local endemics. The cost for the day was 600Rs for the guide. We also got the use of one of the company’s jeeps for the afternoon session at a cost of 300Rs. Senthil also arranged a driver and vehicle to take me on the following morning to the yellow-throated bulbul site at Bodi Ghat. This trip worked out at 1000Rs. I’d recommend this set-up to visitors who haven’t got their own guide with them.
Chinnu met me at 7am the following morning and we took an auto-rickshaw to Kannimalai, about 6km from Munnar. The site where most of the birds are is a tiny patch of shola on the tea estate near the local school. There is a bus shelter and a sign for the school by the main road and a track running down into the trees to a small bridge over a tiny stream.. The whole patch of woodland is barely 100m long and is nowhere more than 30m wide! There is also another smaller patch further along the estate road, which was also good as it had some fruiting trees. I birded here with Chinnu the first morning & on my own the 2nd evening. Birds seen here included: grey-breasted laughingthrush, Nilgiri & black and orange flycatchers, white-bellied blue robin, Indian scimitar babbler, blue-capped rock thrush, hill swallow, painted spurfowl, grey junglefowl, Nilgiri blackbird, streak-throated woodpecker, Indian blue robin, velvet-fronted nuthatch & white-cheeked barbet.
The grassbird site that we visited in the afternoon is well-documented in most other trip reports for the area. A road now takes you all the way up to the now-completed (& very expensive looking) Devashan Resort and beyond. Where the road ends, paths take you to the site. The grassland is difficult walking on very steep slopes, but various rocky outcrops give you a firm base to scan the grass. At the time of my visit grass burning had begun, but there was still plenty of available habitat. Just no grassbirds. Lots of other birds though, including 2 Nilgiri pipits, a fly-by Nilgiri woodpigeon, grey-breasted laughingthrush, Indian scimitar babbler, painted bush quail, bright-headed cisticola, scarlet rosefinch & oriental white-eye. The forest on the way up to the site looks well worth exploring further.
The following morning, I was picked up at 6am sharp by the arranged car and driven over the border into Tamil Nadu. We crossed the state border at Bodimettu just before 0730, so had made very good time. Driving down the ghat, I stopped the car just beyond the 6km marker, where there is a wide forested valley, with a waterfall. This provided excellent birding, with bucket-loads of bulbuls, but no yellow-throated. Highlights here included white-browed bulbul, Malabar whistling thrush, rufous babbler, blue-capped rock thrush, golden-fronted leafbird, dusky crag martin, oriental honey buzzard & small sunbird.
I stopped at various likely-looking spots further down the ghat, without success and, by the time we had got to the 10km marker, I had decided that I was going to have to walk the road, with the driver “leap-frogging” me with the car. Just beyond the 12km marker and past the final bend in the road, where it then runs in a straight line along the lower slopes of the ghat, I eventually found at least three yellow-throated bulbuls. They were in a dry, but vegetated stream-bed that is culverted under the road. Just past this, a large area of bare rock comes right down to meet the road on the left hand side as you go downhill. This area also held painted spurfowl, blue-faced malkoha, brown shrike & blue rock thrush.
A timetable along the main street by the bazaar indicated that the bus to Coimbatore left Munnar at 0700 & 1300 hours. As this was to be the longest bit of travelling, I was at the bus stop, enjoying a cup of chai well before 7. Logic had told me that the bus would leave from the stand with the timetable. Unfortunately, this was India and the bus to Coimbatore left at 0700 from further along the road! Plan B meant waiting an hour and getting the first bus to Udumalai at 0800. This bus cost c.25 Rs and took about 3 and a half hours. From Udumalai, I jumped straight onto a bus going to Coimbatore for another 19Rs. On arrival at the Ukkadam bus stand on the souther side of the town, I checked times of buses to Thrissur (for my return journey to Cochin), but wasn’t too encouraged, as the last bus of the day went at 2pm. I walked up to the railway station, but again was disappointed as the only train to Thrissur/Cochin was at 12.30. My time in Ooty was disappearing! I took an auto-rickshaw from the railway station to the Central bus station to get the Ooty bus, only to be confronted by a huge queue. My hopes of getting accommodation sorted & doing some birding in Ooty were disappearing fast. But I had a word with one of the bus inspectors and, having assured him I was travelling alone, he ushered me onto a nearby bus that was standing empty. So I got away relatively quickly, although the journey still took about 4 hours, at a cost of 37RS. The bus journey is something of a white-knuckle ride as these ancient vehicles grind up the steep inclines of the Ghats, over-taking even slower lorries. I smiled grimly as we passed buses coming in the opposite direction, their outsides streaked with vomit, where the occupants had been throwing up out of the windows! I had that to look forward to…
I arrived in Ooty at dusk and walked quickly round the lake to the Reflections guest house, but unfortunately they were full, so I got a room next door for 250Rs a night. I can’t remember the name of the hotel, but it was OK and clearly popular with backpackers doing India on a budget, including one bloke from Gravesend! It’s a small world. I ate at another hotel/restaurant a couple of hundred metres back towards the town, whose name also escapes me. It was pretty ho-hum, but the food was fine.
The next morning, I walked the 3km to the Cairnhill Forest reserve and spent the best part of the morning there, following the well marked trails. Most of the birds that I wanted to see were quickly found in the area around the small pond by the entrance. In the late morning, I wandered up through the town to the Botanic Garden (entry 10Rs) and then back, doing a bit of shopping en route. I went back to Cairnhill Forest in the late afternoon but, for whatever reason, I hardly saw a bird in the couple or so hours that I spent there. Just as well I’d cleaned up in the morning! Walking back to town, you pass very close to the famous model railway and the locals use this as an alternative road. I followed the track there, which runs along the side of the lake, past a fairly unsavoury drainage channel and an interesting looking swampy area. I only saw white-breasted waterhen here, but it certainly looks like it would warrant further investigation.
Best birds here were: Nilgiri blue robin, Nilgiri laughingthrush, Kashmir, black and orange & Nilgiri flycatchers, Tickell’s & large-billed leaf warblers, white-throated fantail and Indian blue robin
The following day I caught the 0730 bus back to Coimbatore for 27Rs. The journey downhill wasn’t actually as bad as the journey up it, surprisingly. At Coimbatore, a man who had been on the Ooty bus helped me get a bus to Thrissur from the bus station across the main road from the Central bus stand. This was an express bus and cost 65Rs. From Thrissur, another express bus dropped me c.5km from the airport, where I took an auto-rickshaw to the Royal Wings hotel. The authors of two of the trip reports I had had both stayed there and while there are numerous others in the immediate area that may be better, it was OK for the night. Despite having to wait no more than 20 minutes for any of my on-going connections, it still took me 9 hours to do the trip of maybe 200km. I was able to do some “waste ground” birding before dark seeing, amongst other common species, yellow-billed babbler, Jerdon’s bush-lark, tailorbird & green bee-eater.
The hotel is a 10 minutes walk from the airport terminal, so I enjoyed a last cup of chai and a leisurely stroll over before my flight home.
This follows the nomenclature & order found in The Ripley Guide (Rasmussen & Anderton)
1. Little grebe – Two on Ooty Lake
2. Little cormorant – Daily records of > 30 at Thattekad.
3. Oriental darter – 1-2 most days at Thattekad
4. Little egret – Small numbers seen from various buses
5. Intermediate egret – 1-2 at Thattekad and other road-side birds also seen
6. Eastern cattle egret - Common
7. Purple heron – A single at dusk on 12th, with two at the lake just outside Coimbatore
8. Indian pond-heron – Widespread in small numbers
9. Lesser whistling duck – Up to 200 daily at Thattekad
10. Black-shouldered kite – A single from the bus at Chinnar NP
11. Black baza – One at Thattekad on 13th
12. Black kite – Recorded on most days
13. Besra – One female at Orallanthany forest on 16th
14. Shikra – One over Ooty lake on 20th
15. Oriental honey buzzard – Two at Orallanthany on 14th and singles at Bodi ghat and Ooty
16. Crested serpent eagle – Daily at Thattekad
17. Booted eagle – A single over the Tamil Nadu border check-point in Chinnar NP
18. Crested hawk eagle – A juvenile near the watch-tower at Thattekad on two dates
19. Kestrel – A single at Bodi ghat
20. Painted bush-quail – A female with at least two chicks at the grassbird site, Munnar
21. Red spurfowl – A single flushed from riverside vegetation at Thattekad on 15th
22. Painted spurfowl – A male and two females at Kannimalai on 17th and a pair at Bodi ghat
23. Grey junglefowl – Common at Thattekad (> 8 daily), with others in the Munnar and Ooty areas
24. White-breasted waterhen – Up to 4 at Thattekad and Ooty
25. Common moorhen – Only recorded at Ooty lake
26. Eurasian coot – Thousands on the lake south of Coimbatore, with smaller numbers on Ooty
27. Bronze-winged jacana – Two at Thattekad on 14th
28. Red-wattled lapwing – Odd pairs at Thattekad and in the Munnar area
29. Green sandpiper – 4 around Ooty lake
30. Common sandpiper – A single at Ooty
31. Whiskered tern – Up to 40 daily at Thattekad
32. (Rock pigeon – Daily records away from Thattekad)
33. Green imperial pigeon – A single at Thattekad on 12th, with two on 13th
34. Mountain imperial pigeon – Up to three on both dates at Orallanthany
35. Nilgiri woodpigeon – A single fly-by at the grassbird site at Munnar on 17th
36. Spotted dove – Common and widespread
37. Emerald dove – Singles at Thattekad on 15th and Munnar on 16th
38. Vernal hanging parrot – Recorded daily at Thattekad
39. Malabar parakeet – Up to 5 at Orallanthany
40. Rose-ringed parakeet – Small numbers in the Thattekad area
41. Asian koel – A pair by the rest stay at Thattekad and one near Coimbatore
42. Common hawk-cuckoo – Up to 6 daily at Thattekad
43. Blue-faced malkoha – Singles at Thattekad on 13th and at Bodi ghat
44. Southern coucal – Recorded in small numbers on most dates
45. Brown hawk owl – Two birds around the entrance of the Salim Ali BS. One would hawk for insects from telegraph poles on the causeway by the rest stay
46. Brown fish-owl – Two at a daytime roost near the building where we signed in prior to visiting Orallanthany
47. Indian scops owl – One roosting in a bamboo stand by the Salim Ali BS offices at Thattekad
48. Jungle owlet – 1-2 on two dates at Thattekad
49. Ceylon frogmouth – A pair at a daytime roost stakeout, beyond the watch-tower at Thattekad and another roost site by the first (open) dry stream bed at Orallanthany
50. Crested treeswift – Three over Thattekad on 13th
51. Indian swiftlet – Small numbers recorded on most days
52. Indian white-rumped spinetail – One with Indian swiftlets at Orallanthany on 16th
53. Little swift - 6 by the Periyar river bridge at Thattekad on 12th
54. Indian roller – Several seen from buses around Coimbatore
55. Dollarbird – 1-2 most days at Thattekad
56. Common hoopoe – Two from the bus between Munnar & Udumalai
57. Malabar trogon – A pair in a flock near the entrance gate at Thattekad on 13th, with a female in the rubber plantation at Orallanthany on 14th
58. White-throated kingfisher – recorded on most days
59. Lesser pied kingfisher – A single on the Periyar river on 15th
60. Common kingfisher – A single at Thattekad on 13th
61. Chestnut-headed bee-eater – A single at Thattekad on 12th, with two from the bus from Ooty to Coimbatore on 21st
62. Little green bee-eater – Two behind the Royal Wings hotel on 21st
63. Malabar grey hornbill – Small numbers daily at Thattekad
64. Coppersmith barbet – Small numbers at Thattekad and at Bodi ghat
65. Malabar barbet – One at Bodi ghat
66. White-cheeked barbet – Common & widespread
67. Heart-spotted woodpecker – A single at Thattekad on 12th, with a pair and a single male at Orallanthany on 14th
68. Indian pygmy woodpecker – 1-3 on three dates at Thattekad
69. Streak-throated woodpecker – Singles at Thattekad on 13th and at Kannimalai on 18th
70. Lesser yellownape – Two on 13th and a single on 15th at Thattekad
71. Rufous woodpecker – Singles on two dates at Thattekad
72. Black-rumped flameback – Two males at Thattekad on 15th and a single at Bodi ghat on 18th
73. Greater flameback – The commonest woodpecker, with small numbers daily at most sites
74. White-bellied woodpecker – A single female at Orallanthany on 16th
75. Indian pitta – A single by the watch-tower at Thattekad on 13th
76. Jerdon’s bushlark – A single in song at Cochin airport on 21st
77. Dusky crag martin – 10+ along the Bodi ghat road
78. Hill swallow – Two hawking over a tea plantation on the road back to Munnar from Bodi ghat, with another bird that afternoon at Kannimalai
79. Barn swallow – Several seen from the bus between Coimbatore and Trissur
80. Red-rumped swallow – Recorded daily away from Thattekad
81. Grey wagtail – Common up in the Western Ghats
82. Forest wagtail – One along a small stream bed close to the watch-tower at Thattekad
83. White-browed wagtail – Small numbers recorded most days
84. Blyth’s pipit – At least 4 on a roadside grassy area (where the locals were processing root ginger) between Thattekad and Kothamangalam
85. Nilgiri pipit – One showed well at the grassbird site at Munnar, with a second bird seen in flight.
86. Ashy woodswallow – Up to 8 daily at Thattekad
87. Malabar woodshrike – Two at Thattekad on 12th, with two at Orallanthany on 16th
88. Orange minivet – At least 7 at Orallanthany on 14th, with a single male near Conoor on 19th
89. Red-vented bulbul – Small numbers most days
90. Red-whiskered bulbul – Common & widespread
91. Square-tailed black bulbul – common in the hills
92. Flame-throated bulbul – Up to 5 on three dates at Thattekad
93. Yellow-throated bulbul – 3 between 11 & 12km markers at Bodi ghat
94. White-browed bulbul – 10+ at Bodi ghat
95. Yellow-browed bulbul – Up to 8 daily at Thattekad
96. Common iora – Small numbers daily at Thattekad, with 4 at Bodi ghat
97. Gold-fronted leafbird – Small numbers daily at Thattekad, with two at Bodi ghat
98. Asian fairy-bluebird – Two males at Thattekad on 13th, with a pair on 15th
99. Long-tailed shrike – Occasional road-side birds noted
100. Brown shrike – Singles at Thattekad (15th) and Kannimalai, with 3 at Bodi ghat. One of these birds showed signs of the “Phillippine” shrikes that I had seen in Sri Lanka ie it was a much greyer bird on the upper-parts, particularly on the crown
101. Black-naped monarch – Small numbers daily at Thattekad
102. Asian paradise flycatcher – Daily records at Thattekad included males of both colour morphs
103. White-spotted fantail – Two along the railway track at Ooty
104. Blue-capped rock-thrush – Single males at Kannimalai and Bodi ghat
105. Blue rock-thrush – A female at the yellow-throated bulbul site at Bodi ghat
106. Orange-headed thrush – Up to 10 daily at Thattekad
107. Malabar whistling thrush – Daily records at Thattekad, two en route to Bodi ghat and two heard singing pre-dawn from my bed in Munnar!
108. Indian blackbird – Recorded most days, with 10+ at some sites around Munnar
109. White-bellied blue robin – Two males and a female at the two patches of shola at Kannimalai
110. Nilgiri blue robin – A singing male at Cairnhill forest reserve
111. Indian blue robin – Single males on 4 dates: at Orallanthany, Kannimalai and Cairnhill forest
112. Oriental magpie-robin – Recorded on most dates
113. Pied bushchat – Small numbers recorded daily in the hills
114. Brown-breasted flycatcher – Two at Thattekad on 13th and two on 16th
115. Asian brown flycatcher – 1-3 daily at Thattekad
116. Rusty-tailed flycatcher – a single at Orallanthany on 16th
117. Kashmir flycatcher – A stunning male in Ooty botanical gardens on 20th. Totally un-expected and one of the birds of the trip
118. Black-and-orange flycatcher – Relatively common in the western ghats. The bird that I’d most wanted to see and I wasn’t disappointed. A peach!
119. Tickell’s blue flycatcher – A single on 12th, with three on 13th at Thattekad
120. Blue-throated flycatcher – Three on 13th and two on 15th at Thattekad.
121. Nilgiri flycatcher – Up to 5 at Kannimalai, with single females at Cairnhill forest and Ooty botanical gardens
122. White-bellied blue flycatcher – 1-2 on three dates at Thattekad
123. Nilgiri laughingthrush – Two at Cairnhill forest on 20th
124. Grey-breasted laughingthrush – Fairly common in the Munnar area
125. Dark-fronted babbler – Small parties on both days at Orallanthany
126. Jungle babbler – Daily records at Thattekad
127. Yellow-billed babbler – A single with jungle babblers at Thattekad on 14th and 4 on waste ground at Cochin airport on 22nd
128. Indian rufous babbler – 4 seen well at Km 6 on the Bodi ghat road
129. Indian scimitar-babbler – A single at Kannimalai, with two at the grassbird site, Munnar
130. Brown-cheeked fulvetta – Two in a mixed flock at Orallanthany on 14th
131. Bright-capped cisticola – One at the grassbird site, Munnar
132. Zitting cisticola – Occasional records in suitable habitat
133. Ashy prinia – At least 4 seen around Ooty
134. Plain prinia – 6+ at the grassbird site, Munnar and a pair at Cochin airport
135. Blyth’s reed warbler – Common and widespread
136. Common tailorbird – One at Thattekad on 12th, with two at Cochin Airport on 21st
137. Grey-headed canary-flycatcher – One at Munnar on 16th, with two at Cairnhill forest on 20th
138. Tickell’s leaf warbler – Three at Cairnhill forest, with a single at Ooty botanical garden
139. Greenish warbler – Common and widespread
140. Green warbler – Daily records at Thattekad
141. Large-billed leaf warbler – Small numbers daily at Thattekad, with three at Cairnhill forest, Ooty on 20th
142. Great tit – Small numbers at Thattekad and Ooty
143. Velvet-fronted nuthatch – A single by the roadside at Munnar and a pair at Kannimalai
144. Pale-billed flowerpecker – One seen at Bodi ghat, but almost certainly overlooked
145. Thick-billed flowerpecker – Common and widespread. Most flowerpecker records were of fly-over “flowerpecker sp.”
146. Oriental white-eye – Only recorded at the grassbird site and at Ooty
147. Purple-rumped sunbird - Common and widespread
148. Small sunbird – Single males at Thattekad (15th) and Bodi ghat, with a single female at Orallanthany on 16th
149. Purple sunbird – A single at Bodi ghat appears to be the only record, but probably overlooked
150. Loten’s sunbird – Common at Thattekad
151. Little spiderhunter – 2 at Thattekad on 12th, with a single at Orallanthany on 14th
152. Common rosefinch – Up to 6 daily in the Munnar area
153. House sparrow – Common in all built up areas
154. Indian golden oriole – Common at Thattekad
155. Black-hooded oriole – Common at Thattekad
156. Black-naped oriole – A single heard at Thattekad on 13th, with at least 6 seen on 15th
157. Black drongo – Commonly seen in open country from the bus
158. Ashy drongo – Small numbers recorded most days in suitable habitat
159. Bronzed drongo – Small numbers daily at Thattekad
160. White-bellied drongo – A single at Thattekad on 14th
161. Greater racket-tailed drongo – Very common at Thattekad
162. Malabar white-headed starling – A flock of 12 at Thattekad on 13th, with a pair on 14th
163. Common myna – Very common everywhere except Ooty
164. Jungle myna – Seemed to replace the previous species in the Ooty area
165. Lesser hill-myna – Up to 4 daily at Thattekad
166. House crow – Common and widespread
167. Indian jungle crow – Not as common as previous species, but still widespread
168. Rufous treepie – Daily records at Thattekad
169. White-bellied treepie – 5 on 13th and 3 on 15th at Thattekad
Indian elephant – Plenty of signs of their presence at Thattekad, but I didn’t actually see a wild one.
Bonnet macaque – Several small troops at Bodi ghat
Nilgiri langur – A small group high in conifers at Cairnhill forest
Indian jackal – One strolling along the tea estate road at Kannimalai
Sambar – Occasionally flushed from close to the tracks at Thattekad
Malabar giant squirrel – Quite common at Thattekad, with one or two at Cairnhill forest
Assorted small squirrels
Not a very extensive mammal list – I think Periyar NP gives you a much better chance of seeing many of the big mammals of the region. Also failed to connect with either Nilgiri thar or gaur at Munnar