Thattekad Diaries – Day 5

The fifth and final post from the superb trip to Thattekad.

Our trip was coming to an end. We woke up early and stepped out of the homestay to find an Oriental Magpie Robin greeting us.

We walked to the bridge across Periyar hoping to get some more pictures. The previous day had been a rewarding experience. This time we were lucky to get the solitary boat in the river in our pictures. It added to the loveliness of the pictures. We spent some time here till Eldhose came.

Early Morning Bliss

We headed back towards Idamalayar dam to the same area where we had been two days back. En route we stopped when we sighted a Grey-breasted Prinia. It looked so cute and posed for us beautifully. A Red-whiskered Bulbul and a Cattle Egret could be seen in a field on the side of the road.

Grey-breasted Prinia

Red-whiskered Bulbul

Mirror, mirror, who is the fairest of them all?

When we reached there the first sighting was of a White-bellied Treepie. We followed it around for quite some time and managed to get much better pictures than the previous time. A Loten’s Sunbird could be seen sucking nectar high up a tree. Some of the other birds that we spotted here were Black Drongo, Racket-tailed Drongo, Flame-throated Bulbul and Malabar Parakeets far away.

White-bellied Treepie

Eldhose's trusted jeep

We stopped at a wooded area where we saw a Brown-breasted Flycatcher which posed for the cameras.

Brown-breasted Flycatcher

On the way back to Thattekad we saw a Common Kingfisher in a small pond by the side of the road. We spent reasonable time here following this beautiful bird.

Common Kingfisher

A Jungle Babbler caught our attention a little further ahead in a field. As we were watching it, we spotted a Black-rumped Flameback Woodpecker busy pecking a tree.

Black-rumped Flameback

When we reached the bridge across Periyar, a Stork-billed Kingfisher came into view. We decide to head towards the river later to get this lovely bird. A juvenile Oriental Magpie Robin had come right outside our homestay when we reached.

Oriental Magpie Robin

Eldhose would come back soon as we were leaving around 4.30 evening for the airport. He wanted to try and get the Malabar Trogon for us before we left. We told him that the cut-off time for us was 4. We went to the river and stalked the Stork-billed Kingfisher and finally managed to get some close-up shots. It was a hide and seek game though to get close to the bird. Me and Lakshmikanth walked away from where the bird giving it the impression that we had left. All this while Nagesh had gone behind the rocks and reached pretty close to the tree stump where the bird was perched. It was a satisfactory experience after all!

Stork-billed Kingfisher

We headed back to the homestay for lunch after which we did most of the packing. Eldhose came around 2.30 and we walked to a wooded area near the homestay where there is a watch tower. Unfortunately the place was locked and we could not go up. We had to come back and take the jeep to head elsewhere.

Eldhose took us to another wooded area where we spotted a Large-billed Leaf Warbler, Pompadour Green Pigeon and a Golden-fronted Leafbird.

Pompadour Green Pigeon

Golden-fronted Leafbird

In another field nearby we saw a couple of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters flitting around. A Chestnut-headed Bee-eater could also be seen in the distance.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater

It was almost 4 by the time we left back for the homestay. A Grey Wagtail basking in the evening sunlight was our last sighting. Eldhose wanted to take us to another place but we told him to skip it as we didn’t want to be late in reaching the airport which was a good 40 odd kms from Thattekad. As Eldhose himself would be dropping us to the airport we wanted to go early so that he could be back home early as well.

The family at the homestay where we had a fantastic time came to bid us farewell when we were leaving. The old grandmother who knew only Malayalam and hence could not talk to us came and hugged me. I was touched by this gesture. The whole family had been friendly throughout our stay and treated us like family. They had ensured that we were comfortable at their home. All in all our first experience of staying in a homestay had been pleasant and we hope to go back someday!

Jungle Bird Homestay

On the way to the airport we stopped to buy some banana chips and chakkara varatti (banana chips soaked in ginger flavored jaggery syrup) which is a local delicacy. We reached the airport around 7 and bid farewell to Eldhose.

Cochin Airport - Departure

Our Guide – Eldhose KV
As this series on the Thattekad Diaries draws to an end, a few details on our guide for the tour. Eldhose KV is considered one of the best, if not the best, birding guides in South India. In the Thattekad area he is the best there is. I think we can safely vouch for that. The man is a revelation and not just as a birding guide. He is such a lovely person as well and goes well out of his way to put us at ease and provide all that is needed. And no, I am not exaggerating. If anyone needs a birding guide in this area, our recommendation would be firmly with Eldhose. And here is how you can reach Eldhose.

Contact details can be found from his website.

From our experience, to be specific Lakshmikantha’s – he did all the talking with Eldhose upfront, after the first one or two phone calls it is best to continue the conversation with Eldhose on the details of the trip over email. Probably justifiably so. There are many that Eldhose will be dealing with and email probably helps provide him the necessary context.

Will close out with a little photograph of Eldhose pointing out the Nilgiri Flowerpecker near Munnar to Nagesh and Lakshmikantha. Thanks Eldhose for the super trip!! We WILL be back for sure :)

Scouting for that elusive bird

Bird Log

Common Name Species Family
Babbler, Rufous Turdoides subrufa Timaliidae
Bee-eater, Blue tailed Merops philippinus Meropidae
Bee-eater, Chestnut headed Merops leschenaulti Meropidae
Bulbul, Flame throated Pycnonotus melanicterus Pycnonotidae
Bulbul, Red-whiskered Pycnonotus jocosus Pycnonotidae
Cuckoo, Common hawk Hierococcyx varius Cuculidae
Dove, Emerald Chalcophaps indica Columbidae
Drongo, Black Dicrurus macrocercus Dicruridae
Drongo, Racket tailed Dicrurus paradiseus Dicruridae
Eagle, Crested Serpent Spilornis cheela Accipitridae
Egret, Cattle Bubulcus ibis Ardeidae
Flycatcher, Brown breasted Muscicapa muttui Muscicapidae
Heron, Indian Pond Ardeola grayii Ardeidae
Hornbill, Malabar Grey Ocyceros griseus Bucerotidae
Kingfisher, Common Alcedo atthis Alcedinidae
Kingfisher, Stork billed Pelargopsis capensis Halcyonidae
Leafbird, Golden Fronted Chloropsis aurifrons Chloropseidae
Minivet, Little Pericrocotus lansbergei Campephagidae
Oriole, Black-hooded Oriolus xanthornus Oriolidae
Oriole, Eurasian Golden Oriolus oriolus Oriolidae
Parakeet, Malabar Psittacula columboides Psittaculidae
Pigeon, Pompadour Green Treron pompadora Columbidae
Prinia, Grey breasted Prinia hodgsonii Cisticolidae
Robin, Oriental Magpie Copsychus saularis Muscicapidae
Sunbird, Loten’s Cinnyris lotenius Nectariniidae
Treepie, White bellied Dendrocitta leucogastra Corvidae
Warbler, Large-billed Leaf Phylloscopus magnirostris Phylloscopidae
Wagtail, Grey Motacilla cinerea Motacillidae
Woodpecker, Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense Picidae
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