Thattekad Diaries – Day 3

The third day from the amazing trip to the Birding heaven of Thattekad nestled in God’s own country.

Inside Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Eldhose told us that we would try and use a hide to watch the Grey Junglefowls. The hide to be used turned out to be a set of makeshift tents where we would have to sit down without making any movement/sounds. These birds are extremely shy and will go into the bushes as soon as they sense the presence of any humans around. To reach the hide, we had to cross a small bridge over a stream made of two logs with just one log to hold on to while crossing.

Log crossing

When we reached the tent, some grains were being scattered for the birds by one of Eldhose’s helpers. There were two tents and we split into two groups. Me and Nagesh in one while Eldhose, Lakshmikanth and Shalini in the second tent. Given that the ground was slushy from a spell of rain early in the morning, we decided to squat down. As he didn’t have his tripod, Nagesh had to carry his bulky camera in addition. There was a small opening in the hide through which we could peep and see outside. When the birds came we would have to point the lens through the opening to click pictures. Nearly 45 minutes passed with no signs of the birds. Only the squirrels were making merry on the grains! We took turns carrying the camera. We aren’t really used to squat for such long durations and boy was it tough! Finally we saw a retinue of Junglefowls shyly making their way towards the grains. The cameras got into action swiftly. The effort had been worth it :) We had also spotted Red Spurfowls amidst the flock of Junglefowls.

Grey Junglefowl

Grey Junglefowl

After the Junglefowls left, it was time for us to return back. We went to Pappalil restaurant in Punnekadu village for breakfast. After feasting on the delicious Appam and Stew, we headed towards Idamalayar Dam. We stopped a few kms before the dam and then proceeded on foot on the winding road in the hill looking for birds. As always, Eldhose seemed to know exactly where to look! This area was lush green and small bushes with flowers attracted the Honey bees.

Honeybee

The initial sightings were of a Nilgiri Flowerpecker and a White-bellied Treepie. The Treepie looked so majestic and it was hard to believe that it is a cousin to the humble Crow! As we headed further a Yellow-browed Bulbul came into sight. The striking yellow colors make this bird such a lovely sight.

Yellow-browed Bulbul

A Dark-fronted Babbler darted into the bushes and we managed to get just a brief glimpse of this bird. We realized that a Blue-bearded Bee-eater was nearby but it was a tad too dark in the shade of the tree where it was perched. We could only get record shots of this beautiful bird unfortunately.

Blue-bearded Bee-eater

The next sightings were of an Asian Brown Flycatcher and a Flame-throated Bulbul which seemed to be posing for us willingly :)

Asian Brown Flycatcher

Flame-throated Bulbul

Though the Banded Bay Cuckoo could be heard it remained elusive and did not venture out of its hiding nook. Eldhose tried to flush it out by making the calls which he makes to flush out birds. But the bird only responded back without showing itself :( We finally gave up and walked back to the jeep as it was almost lunchtime. Scarlet Minivets and Racket-tailed Drongos could be seen far ahead.

After a hearty lunch at the homestay we had a brief siesta in the afternoon before the evening session started. We stepped out at 3.30 and first sightings within the sanctuary gates were of the Malabar Grey Hornbill and a group of noisy Malabar Parakeets.

Malabar Grey Hornbill

A pair of Little Cormorants perched on the left and right sides of a bare tree stump seemed to be acting as bodyguards to a White-throated Kingfisher which was perched atop the centre.

The King and his Guards

Eldhose pointed out a Little Heron slightly farther than the Kingfisher. If not for Eldhose’s keen eyes, we would have mistaken it for the regular Pond Heron.

Little Heron

The weather was very pleasant and the pond near the sanctuary looked so serene. A flock of Lesser Whistling Teals could be seen on one side of the pond.

Serene Lake

Lesser Whistling Teal (Duck)

After watching these birds making merry in the water we drove towards the other side of the pond. A Shikra had been spotted but we missed taking pictures as it disappeared. An Indian Pond Heron basking in the golden light came into view and we didn’t miss this one :)

Indian Pond Heron

As we were driving a Greater Coucal landed on a tree nearby and we managed to follow it for a while as it basked in the lovely evening sunlight.

Greater Coucal

Our next stop was in a wooded area where Eldhose said we could find the Jungle Owlet. We managed to get just a brief glimpse of this bird which has always eluded us till now. It flew off as soon as it realized our presence. The light was fading fast as the ominous clouds loomed over. As we turned back disappointed, a surprise was in store for us. A pair of Heart-spotted Woodpeckers were pecking at a tree nearby and we were more than happy watching these beautiful birds.

Heart Spotted Woodpecker

It started raining and we were forced to head back. We stopped at Pappalil restaurant for some snacks and tea before returning to the homestay.

Pappalil Restaurant at Punnekadu near Thattekad

Bird Log

Common Name Species Family
Babbler, Dark fronted Rhopocichla atriceps Timaliidae
Babbler, Rufous Turdoides subrufa Timaliidae
Bee-eater, Blue bearded Nyctyornis athertoni Meropidae
Bluebird, Asian Fairy Irena puella Irenidae
Bulbul, Flame throated Pycnonotus melanicterus Pycnonotidae
Bulbul, Grey headed Pycnonotus priocephalus Pycnonotidae
Bulbul, Yellow browed Acritillas indica Pycnonotidae
Cormorant, Little Microcarbo niger Phalacrocoracidae
Coucal, Greater Centropus sinensis Cuculidae
Cuckoo, Banded Bay Cacomantis sonneratii Cuculidae
Drongo, Racket tailed Dicrurus paradiseus Dicruridae
Flowerpecker, Nilgiri Dicaeum concolor Dicaeidae
Flycatcher, Asian Brown Muscicapa dauurica Muscicapidae
Heron, Indian Pond Ardeola grayii Ardeidae
Heron, Little Green Butorides striata Ardeidae
Hornbill, Malabar Grey Ocyceros griseus Ocyceros griseus
Junglefowl, Grey Gallus sonneratii Phasianidae
Kingfisher, Stork billed Pelargopsis capensis Halcyonidae
Leafbird, Golden Fronted Chloropsis aurifrons Chloropseidae
Minivet, Scarlet Pericrocotus flammeus Campephagidae
Myna, Common Hill Gracula religiosa Sturnidae
Needletail, White rumped Zoonavena sylvatica Apodidae
Owlet, Jungle Glaucidium radiatum Strigidae
Parakeet, Malabar Psittacula columboides Psittaculidae
Prinia, Grey breasted Prinia hodgsonii Cisticolidae
Shikra Accipiter badius Accipitridae
Spurfowl, Red Galloperdix spadicea Phasianidae
Sunbird, Crimson backed Leptocoma minima Nectariniidae
Teal, Lesser Whistling Dendrocygna javanica Anatidae
Treepie, White bellied Dendrocitta leucogastra Corvidae
Woodpecker, Greater flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus Picidae
Woodpecker, Heart spotted Hemicircus canente Picidae
This entry was posted in Kerala and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Thattekad Diaries – Day 3

  1. Ekta says:

    Awesome pics and post! I think the time is now ripe for you both to compile all these into a book and publish it, you have one assured customer in me! :)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s