Sunday, 2 December 2012

Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Well it was certainly worth all of the effort involved to get here as our first morning session on the Indian peninsula resulted in a kaleidoscope of superb birds, endemics of all denomination and specialities galore combined with good views of most things. A short drive from the lodge and a ten minute walk through the forest brought us to an open area within Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary and around a large tree we had Malabar Parakeet, Ashy Drongo, Cinereous Tit and Lesser Hill-Myna. Moving up the rocky slope led us to a wonderful vista across the canopy of the surrounding forest where the all of the magic took place. We literally didn’t know where to turn next as new birds kept appearing at a fast and furious pace. A Blue-bearded Bee-eater was one of the stars of the morning and looked wonderful through the scope although a bit too distant for photos, but closer at hand Small (Crimson-backed) Sunbird, Flame-throated Bulbul, Greenish Warbler and Blyth’s Reed-warbler were much appreciated. 

Common Hawk-cuckoo

A Common Hawk-cuckoo was called in nicely, then a Black Baza was scoped at the top of a tree, both Indian and Black-hooded Orioles showed well and Malabar White-headed Starlings put in constant appearances. Other goodies included Dollarbird, Plum-headed Parakeet, Verditer and Tickell’s Blue Flycatchers, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Black-headed Cuckooshrike and Orange Minivet. A trio of woodpeckers also made their way onto our lists with Black-rumped Flameback, the spectacular White-bellied Woodpecker, and Malabar Flameback. Overhead a flock of Indian Swiftlets were joined by a cruising Indian White-rumped Spinetail and several stunning Brown-backed Needletails

White-cheeked Barbet

More endemics were also seen on the treetops and several Malabar Grey Hornbills were nice, Grey-fronted Green-pigeons obliged, along with White-cheeked and Malabar Barbets as well. Dragging ourselves away from all of the action was hard but ample compensation came in the shape of a day roosting Sri Lanka Frogmouth just a metre away, Fork-tailed Drongo Cuckoo, a closer Malabar Grey Hornbill, and along a quiet forest track a few of the group managed to get on a calling Grey-headed Bulbul

Malabar Grey Hornbill

There was also a trio of Oriental Honey-buzzards soaring overhead, Asian paradise-flycatcher, both Asian Brown and Brown-breasted Flycatchers and Jungle Owlet, but an extremely obliging Indian Pitta really stole the show. 

Oriental Honey-buzzard

Indian Pitta

It came straight into the tape and perched inside the bushes on a tree stump. And there it stayed for ages, even coming out into the open for a minute and allowed my best photos of this species so far. So what a morning and we then returned to the lodge for lunch and a rest over the hottest time of the day before setting out in the mid-afternoon…. 

White-bellied Treepie

And we continued our success with cracking views of several White-bellied Treepies – a much-wanted endemic as the saying goes! Also had a pair of very confiding Malabar Trogons that came into the tape, as well as Crested Serpent-eagle, Bronzed Drongo, and Crested Treeswift

Malabar Trogon

We returned to the lodge in the dark for a 7pm dinner and then set out again for some night birding. And pretty successful it was too, with an Indian Scops-owl called in first, followed by a pair of Jerdon’s Nightjars and ending up with a Brown Hawk-owl teed up in the scope to end proceedings. 

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