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South India - The Western Ghats - A week-long trip in late March 2007 with The Bird ID Company

Published by Stuart White (stuart AT birdtour.co.uk)

Participants: Stuart White et al

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Introduction

This was a short trip of just 7 days and aimed at seeing as many of the endemic species as possible plus a good range of South Indian birds. We did a standard loop from Cochin taking in the Bird Sanctuary in Thattekkad, Munnar, the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Ooty, Sighur Ghat and river, a small bit of Masinagudi and finally the Koele wetland near Thrissur before heading back to Cochin. We were pretty successful seeing 17 of the 21 endemics, only actually missing one we tried for, we also saw lots of other good birds with a total 230 species and a few good mammals including a close encounter with wild Elephants.

Daily Itinerary

24th March 07
We flew from London Gatwick to Dubai and after a fast transfer we boarded the next plane onto Cochin one of the main cities in Kerala, Southern India.

25th March 07
We arrived at Cochin around 3am and got through immigration pretty quickly. Our driver was waiting at the airport and drove us the fairly short distance to Thattekkad. On arrival at Hornbill camp we rested for an hour and then as the sun came up went into the Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary with our guide. Lunch and a sleep were taken back at camp, in the afternoon we had a walk outside the sanctuary. Overnight at Hornbill camp.

26th March 07
After an early breakfast we birded around the Damalayar reservoir. We came back for a late lunch then did some late afternoon birding near the camp. Overnight at Hornbill camp.

27th March 07
After breakfast, packed and drove up the western slope of the ghats stopping en route for some good birding. Had lunch in Munnar then went to a good patch of secondary forest and scrub to look for some more of the endemics. Stayed at a hotel in central Munnar.

28th March 07
An early start saw us at the forest patch to get better views of a pair of pied thrushes we had seen the evening before. We then took the road towards periyar for some grassland birding and carried on towards Chinnar having the last 3 hours of the day in the Wildlife sanctuary. Overnight at the Park Hotel in Marayoor.

29th March 07
Up early to go back to Chinnar wildlife sanctuary where we spent the morning, after an interesting encounter with elephants on the road we had brunch in Udumalpet. In the afternoon we stopped briefly at Coimbatore lake then headed back up the ghats to Ooty having a birding stop on the way in some good forest. Overnight at the Regency Villa in Ooty.

30th March 07
Some pre breakfast birding took us to Cairnhill forest then after that to doddabetta. We then headed down sighur ghat birding as we went. We arrived at the river around lunchtime and rested or birded in the shade through the heat of the midday sun. Around 3pm we took a walk up the river seeing some good birds then for the last hour of the day we walked near the Jain resort. We were due to stay in the area but due to a strike in Tamil Nadu had to leave for kerala that evening. Overnight in Nilambus.

31st March 07
After a leisurely start we headed towards Kochi having a lunch stop at the Cheruthurutty River where a few new birds were picked up then onto the very good Koele wetland near Thrissur. We had dinner with our driver and guide then checked into the airport hotel for a few hours before our very early flight home the next day.

Species Lists

Grey Francolin Several Masinagudi area
Small Buttonquail One seen very well on the ground at Chinnar
Yellow Legged Buttonquail Seen in flight at Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary
Red Spurfowl 3 at Chinnar and one at Sighur river
Grey Junglefowl Fairly numerous in forest around Thattekad, forest patch at Munnar and Chinnar
Indian Peafowl 2 on road near Chinnar
Lesser Whistling Duck 30+ Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad
Cotton Pygmy Goose Coimbatore lake and Koele wetland
Garganey Coimbatore lake and Koele wetland
Heart Spotted Woodpecker 2 at Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Brown Capped Pygmy Woodpecker Chinnar and from the road below Ooty
Yellow Crowned Woodpecker Chinnar & Sighur river
Lesser Yellownape 2 Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad
Streak Throated Woodpecker Outside sanctuary in Thattekad and Chinnar
Common Flameback male+female Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Black Rumped Flameback Seen at the bird Sanctuary and Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad,
Greater Flameback Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad and Chinnar
White Naped Woodpecker Fabulous male+female at the Sighur river
Brown Headed Barbet Chinnar
White Cheeked barbet Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad, from the road below Ooty and Cairnhill forest in Ooty
Crimson Fronted Barbet Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Coppersmith Barbet Chinnar
Malabar Grey Hornbill Seen in the Bird Sanctuary and Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Indian Grey Hornbill 2 along Sighur river
Common Hoopoe Only seen at Chinnar
Malabar Trogon male seen at the bird Sanctuary and another Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Indian Roller Between Chinnar & Coimbatore lake
Dollarbird Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Common Kingfisher Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad, Chinnar and Koele wetland
Oriental Dwarf kingfisher Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Stork Billed Kingfisher Seen in the Bird Sanctuary and Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad and Koele wetland
White Throated Kingfisher Fairly common near water
Pied Kingfisher Koele wetland
Blue Bearded Bee Eater Only seen briefly at Chinnar
Green Bee Eater Outside sanctuary in Thattekad, Chinnar and Cheruthrutty river
Blue tailed Bee Eater Outside sanctuary in Thattekad & Koele wetland
Chestnut Headed Bee Eater Seen at the Bird Sanctuary & reservoir, Thattekad, Chinnar, from road below Ooty and Sighur Ghat
Common Hawk Cuckoo Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Indian Cuckoo Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad
Grey Bellied Cuckoo One at Chinnar and one Jain resort, Masinagudi
Asian Koel Thattekad area and Chinnar
Blue Faced Malkoha Only seen at Chinnar, 2 birds, one seen very well
Greater Coucal Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad, Chinnar & Koele wetland
Vernal hanging Parrot male+female Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad and Sighur Ghat
Rose Ringed Parakeet Only seen at Chinnar wildlife sanctuary
Plum Headed Parakeet Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Malabar Parakeet Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad, Chinnar and from the road below Ooty
Indian Swiftlet Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad, munnar and Chinnar
White Rumped Needletail 2 at Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Brown Backed Needletail 6 birds at Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
House Swift Seen around Munnar
Crested Treeswift Thattekad-munnar road, Chinnar & Sighur river
Motteld Wood Owl Roosting outside sanctuary in Thattekad
Jungle Owlet 2 at Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Sri Lanka Frogmouth male seen roosting at close quarters in the Bird Sanctuary at Thattekad
Jerdon's Nightjar Seen well at dusk in village near Thattekad
[Savannah Nightjar] Heard at Jungle Hut, Masinagudi
Rock Pigeon Common around human habitation
Nilgiri Woodpigeon Only seen in forest patch near munnar but seen well on both days we were there
Green Imperial Pigeon Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad and Chinnar
Laughing Dove Chinnar
Spotted Dove Outside sanctuary in Thattekad and Chinnar
Eurasian Collared Dove Chinnar
Emerald Dove 5 at Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad alos at Munnar
Pompadour Green Pigeon Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
White Breasted Waterhen Hornbill camp, Thattekad, Chinnar and Koele wetland
Watercock female Koele wetland
Purple Swamphen Thattekad area, Coimbatore lake & Koele wetland
Common Moorhen Thattekad area and Koele wetland
Common Coot Coimbatore lake
Pintail Snipe Koele wetland
Common Greenshank Cheruthrutty river
Green Sandpiper Munnar
Wood Sandpiper Koele wetland
Common Sandpiper Cheruthrutty river and Koele wetland
Pheasant Tailed Jacana Coimbatore lake
Bronze Winged Jacana Hornbill camp, Thattekad
Oriental Pratincole Koele wetland
Pacific Golden Plover Koele wetland
Little Ringed Plover Cheruthrutty river
Yellow Wattled Lapwing Several near Jain resort, Masinagudi
Red Wattled lapwing Outside sanctuary in Thattekad, Cheruthrutty river and Koele wetland
Gull Billed Tern Koele wetland
River Tern 4 along the river at Hornbill camp, Thattekad also at the Idamalayar reservoir
Whiskered Tern Seen along the river at Hornbill camp, Thattekad, Cheruthrutty river and Koele wetland.
White Winged Black Tern Koele wetland
Black Shouldered Kite Chinnar and 3 at Koele wetland
Black Kite Below Munnar and Cheruthrutty river
Brahminy Kite Hornbill camp & Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad. Also Cheruthrutty river and Koele wetland
Grey Headed Fish Eagle Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Crested Serpant Eagle 2 in the Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad
Black Eagle Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad, Chinnar
Marsh Harrier Koele wetland
Crested goshawk pair seen at the Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad
Shikra male from road below Ooty and 1 at Cheruthrutty river
Besra Seen well in village near Thattekad also Between Chinnar & Coimbatore lake
Oriental Honey Buzzard 2 at the Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad & Chinnar
Indian Tawny Eagle Seen perched near Jungle Hut, Masinagudi
Bonelli's Eagle Only seen at Chinnar
Booted Eagle 2 seen at Chinnar
Rufous Bellied Eagle 3 at Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Common Kestrel Below Munnar
Peregrine Falcon Jungle Hut, Masinagudi
Little Grebe Munnar, Coimbatore lake & Koele wetland
Darter Hornbill camp & Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad, Coimbatore lake and Koele wetland
Little Cormorant Coimbatore lake, Cheruthrutty river and Koele wetland
Indian Cormorant Koele wetland
Little Egret Fairly common in the wetlands
Great Egret Present in most wetland areas though less numerous than little egret
Intermediate Egret same as species above
Cattle Egret Fairly common in wetland areas
Indian Pond Heron Fairly common in wetland areas
Grey Heron Coimbatore lake & Koele wetland
Purple Heron Hornbill camp, Thattekad, Coimbatore lake & Koele wetland
Little Heron Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Yellow Bittern Koele wetland
Cinnamon Bittern Koele wetland
Glossy Ibis 11 in flight at Koele wetland
Black Headed Ibis 4 at Koele wetland
Asian Openbill Seen over Bird Sanctuary and Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad, Cheruthrutty river & Koele wetland
Wooly Necked Stork 4 on the Cheruthrutty river
White Stork Koele wetland
Indian Pitta Seen well in village near Thattekad and Chinnar
Asian Fairy Bluebird Idamalayar reservoir and from road below Ooty
Blue Winged Leafbird Chinnar
Golden Fronted Leafbird 4 seen on first morning at Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad, and from the road below Ooty
Brown Shrike Seen in forest patch at Munnar and Chinnar
Bay Backed Shrike Chinnar
Long Tailed Shrike Munnar and Sighur river
Rufous Treepie Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad
White Bellied Treepie 2-4 birds seen on first morning at Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad also Sighur river
House Crow Common around human habitation
Large Billed Crow Hornbill camp Thattekad, Chinnar and Koele wetland
Ashy Woodswallow Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad
Eurasian Golden Oriole All 3 species of oriole often in the same tree at the Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad also a nice male Eurasian outside the sanctuary and from the road below Ooty
Black Naped Oriole also at the Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad
Black hooded Oriole also at the Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad and Chinnar
Black Headed Cuckooshrike male Chinnar and female Jain resort, Masinagudi
Small Minivet Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad, from the road below Ooty and at the Jain resort, Masinagudi
Scarlet Minivet Chinnar
Bar Winged Flycatcher Shrike Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad and Chinnar
White Throated Fantail Sighur river
White Browed fantail Chinnar and Sighur Ghat
Black Drongo Near Kochi airport & Koele wetland
Ashy Drongo Seen in village near Thattekad and Sighur river
White Bellied Drongo Chinnar and Sighur river
Bronzed Drongo Seen at Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad, also Sighur River
Greater Racket Tailed Drongo Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad
Black Naped Monarch Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Asian Paradise Flycatcher White phase seen at the Bird Sanctuary & another at Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad & male+female Sighur river
Common Iora Chinnar
Large Woodshrike Sighur river
Common Woodshrike Chinnar
Blue Capped Rock Thrush Munnar
Blue Rock Thrush female at Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad also seen on Thattekad-munnar road
Malabar Whistling Thrush 4 at Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Pied Thrush One of the shocks of the trip a pair showed well in forest patch at Munnar on both days we were there.
Orange Headed Thrush 3+ birds of the white throated striped phase form at the Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad, also Sighur River
Eurasian Blackbird Forest patch at Munnar & Cairnhill forest Ooty
White Bellied Shortwing White bellied blue form seen well in scrubby forest near Munnar on both days often singing. Also 2-3 of the orange flanked form at Cairnhill forest Ooty.
Asian Brown Flycatcher Chinnar, from the road below Ooty and Sighur Ghat
Rusty Tailed Flycatcher 2 seen at Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad also seen on Thattekad-munnar road and Sighur Ghat
Black and Orange Flycatcher male+male+female seen in forest patch at Munnar on both days
Nilgiri Flycatcher male+female seen in forest patch at Munnar and at Doddabetta in Ooty
White Bellied Blue Flycatcher Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Blue Throated Flycatcher female seen on Thattekad-munnar road
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher From the road below Ooty and male+female at Sighur River
Indian Blue Robin males at Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad, Cairnhill forest and Doddabetta in Ooty and Sighur river
Oriental Magpie Robin Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad & forest patch at Munnar
White Rumped Shama Sighur river
Indian Robin Chinnar
Pied Bushchat Several seen around Munnar and Ooty.
Chestnut Tailed Starling Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Brahminy Starling Sighur River
Common Myna Common around human habitation
Jungle Myna Chinnar, Ooty and Koele wetland
Lesser Hill Myna Chinnar
Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch Jungle Hut, Masinagudi
Velvet Fronted Nuthatch Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad, Below Munnar and Sighur Ghat
Great Tit Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad, Chinnar and Doddabetta, Ooty
Dusky Crag Martin Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad and below Munnar
Barn Swallow Coimbatore lake & Koele wetland
Hill Swallow Seen around Munnar
Red Rumped Swallow Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad, Chinnar and Koele wetland
Grey Headed Bulbul Thattekad-munnar road
Ruby Throated Bulbul This newly split from the Black Crested bulbul was seen at Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad
Red Whiskered Bulbul Common
Red Vented Bulbul Fairly common
White Browed Bulbul Chinnar and Sighur River
Yellow Browed Bulbul Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad, Sighur Ghat
Square Tailed Black Bulbul Seen in forest patch at Munnar
Grey Breasted Prinia Sighur Ghat
Plain Prinia Munnar area and Koele wetland
Ashy Prinia Seen at Sighur river and Koele wetland
Zitting Cisticola Koele wetland
Oriental White Eye Forest patch near Munnar and Sighur Ghat
Rama Booted Warbler Sighur River, one seen well showing supercillium behind the eye, unlike blyth’s reed warbler
Booted Warbler 2 birds seen hopping on the ground at Jungle Hut, Masinagudi and at Koele wetland
Blyth's Reed Warbler Fairly common
Clamorous Reed Warbler Koele wetland
Common Tailorbird Thattekad-munnar road and Jain resort, Masinagudi
Tickell's Leaf Warbler Seen at Cairnhill forest and Doddabetta, Ooty.
Greenish Warbler Fairly common
Large Billed Leaf Warbler Seen in forest patch at Munnar
Nilgiri Laughingthrush Seen at Cairnhill forest and Doddabetta, Ooty.
Grey Breasted Laughingthrush Seen well in scrubby forest near Munnar
[Wynaad Laughungthrush] only probable see at Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Indian Scimitar Babbler Cairnhill forest Ooty
Tawny Bellied Babbler Chinnar
Dark Fronted Babbler Quite numerous at Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Large Grey Babbler 4 at Chinnar
Rufous Babbler Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
Jungle Babbler Hornbill camp, Chinnar
Yellow Billed Babbler 6+ Outside sanctuary in Thattekad, Chinnar
Brown Cheeked Fulvetta Idamalayar reservoir, Thatteka and, Sighur River
Pale Billed Flowerpecker Chinnar
Plain Flowerpecker Idamalayar reservoir and from the road below Ooty
Purple Rumped Sunbird female outside sanctuary in Thattekad, Thattekad-munnar road, Chinnar and Sighur Ghat & river
Crimson Backed Sunbird Idamalayar reservoir and Thattekad-munnar road
Purple Sunbird Thattekad area, Chinnar, Sighur Ghat & river
Little Spiderhunter Idamalayar reservoir, Thattekad
House Sparrow Munnar and Chinnar
Chestnut Shouldered Petronia Outside sanctuary in Thattekad and Chinnar
White Browed Wagtail 2 Hornbill camp, Thattekad, forest patch at Munnar and Cheruthrutty river
Yellow Wagtail Grey headed race seen at Koele wetland
Grey Wagtail Munnar area, Chinnar and Sighur River
Paddyfield Pipit Munnar
Nilgiri Pipit Below Munnar on the Periyar road
Baya Weaver small colony at Koele wetland
White Rumped Munia Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad
Black Throated Munia 5 from the road below Ooty