As I said in last posting, we will going to totally different habitat, from Rann of Gujarat to Western Ghat forests of Kerala. One of my favorite places for Birdwatching, Thattekkad & Munnar. I was really looking forward for the trip. 4 of us, Me, Adesh, Dr. Vaibhav & Dr. Deepali were in train, rest were coming by flight. A train journey of about 23 hours was a bit long. We reached Ernakulam Town railway station at about 4.00pm. We sent one jeep ahead for the paritcipants who were already at airport, so that they can go a bit early and relax. We started in another jeep and picked Amey, Rujuta & Anand from the airport. Its about 2 hours journey from airport to reach Thattekkad Bird Sanctury.
Our stay was with Gireesh Chandran, a lawyer by profession and a good bird guide by hobby :-). We were greeted by Gireesh & Amma (Gireesh's mother). Amma is one of the is official guides for the sanctuary. After a small round of introduction we had nice diner and went off for our first night trail of the trip, to a nearby trail from where we were staying. First sighting was of a Malabar Pit Viper. Then we tried for Srilanka Frogmouth and it responded!!, after few seconds we all could see a male Frogmouth sitting quitely on a branch. We also saw a Bark Gecko carrying eggs. The eggs could be seen clearly. Time for good night sleep, as we need to start early next morning.
First session was at my favorite spot, a rocky patch not very far from the sactuary. As expected the birding was awesome. Yellow-browed, Grey-headed & Ruby-throated Bulbuls, White-bellied Treepie, Malabar Parakeets, Crimson-fronted Barbets, Crested Goshawk, Asian Fairy Bluebirds we seen by all through scope. Later we went inside the forest and got some nice views of Brown-breasted & Blue-throated Flycatcher, Forest Wagtail etc. Afternoon session was at an interesting place, called "Bhootatankettu". We were fortunate to see Sri-lanka Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon, Black Baza were seen among other birds. In the evening we got an opportunity to meet Dr. Sugathan, colleague of Indian Birdman, Salim Ali, who played a major role in declaring Thattekkas as Salim Ali Bird Sanctury and discovering Ceylon (Sri-lanka) Frogmouth in India. His thoughts we were very inspiring and gave an insight about work done by forest department in Thattekkad.
Day 2 is for Munnar. We need to start at 4.30 hours from Thattekkad. In Munnar, Eravikulam National Park, though famous for Nilgiri Tahr, is special place for birdwatcher to see few endemic species like Nilgiri Pipit, Nilgiri and Black & Ornage Flycatcher, Pacific Swallow, White-bellied Blue Robin (White-bellied Shortwing), Grey-breasted Laughingthrush,. We saw all these... :-) After lunch we spent some time at another place in Munnar and then started to move back to Thettekkad. It was a very hectic day as lot of travelling was involved.
Last day and last session for few members (as they were to leave early to catch flight). This session was also equally good with some special sightings of Malabar Trogon, Rufous-bellied Eagle, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, Little Spiderhunter etc... Time to say goodbye to those going by flight. But rest, travelling by train had opportunity for another session, we went to a forest patch opposite to sanctuary and saw a mix-hunting party of Black-hooded Orioles, Racket-tailed & Bronze Drongos, Black-rumped Flameback etc...
Another wonderful trip to this wonderful place. One of my favoite birding destinations!! After saying goodbye to all participants, me & Adesh searched for 2/3 hotels and finally check-in Hat Residency. We will be staying here for next 3 days to welcome batch-2. But we didn't have time to relax, as we need to announce few trips, 2 for Bhigwan and 1 for Bandhavgarh... We distributed the work, I will be woking in cyber cafe and Adesh from his notebook.