Left at 6am with a packed breakfast and drove for around 45 minutes to an area outside of Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, seeing Malabar Grey Hornbill, Shikra, Dollarbird, Brahminy Starling and the endemic White-cheeked Barbet along the way. We followed a wide path into the forest, seeing our first Plum-headed Parakeet, Grey-fronted Green-Pigeon and scoping a Malabar Barbet perched in the treetops. A group of endemic Rufous Babblers came in to check us out, there was a Nilgiri Flowerpecker, and then we walked up to a nice viewpoint situated on a huge flat rocky area overlooking the surrounding forest.
With scopes at the ready we enjoyed a great couple of hours here as numerous birds perched in the treetops in the early morning sunshine and we saw endemics such as Malabar White-headed (Blyth’s) Starling, Small (Crimson-backed) Sunbird, Malabar Barbet, Malabar Flameback, Malabar Parakeet, Flame-throated Bulbul and Orange Minivet. Other species seen included Crested Goshawk, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Indian Golden Oriole, Indian White-rumped Spinetail, Indian Swiftlet, Ashy Drongo, Greenish Warbler, Cinereous Tit, Common Hill Mynas and Purple Sunbird.
Once things had quietened we walked back into the forest and tried to find a calling White-bellied Woodpecker, but all we had was a flyover appearance. Some calling Indian Elephants had me a little concerned so we walked in the opposite direction and came across a large feeding party. Amongst all the Greater Racket-tailed and Bronzed Drongos was a pair of Malabar Woodshrikes, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Brown-cheeked Fulvettas, Dark-fronted Babbler, a brief Grey-headed Bulbul, an even briefer Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, more Malabar Starlings, and another Heart-spotted Woodpecker to add to the bird found by Maggie a little earlier.
A pair of Ceylon Frogmouths were roosting right next to us as it turned out and looked very cute indeed huddled together. Then a female Malabar Trogon appeared and we followed her out onto the main path where the male showed fantastically well as he excavated a nest hole in a dead tree stump overhead.
So by now it was 11am and getting rather warm so we walked back to the minibus, hearing an Indian Pitta on the way and returned to the lodge for lunch.
At 2.30pm we set out for our afternoon excursion beginning with a day roosting Mottled Wood Owl – wow! In the vicinity were also Green Bee-eater and Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker.
|Mottled Wood Owl|
We then spent the next few hours walking along a trail through dry deciduous woodland seeing our first White-bellied Treepie, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Green Bee-eater, Rufous Woodpecker, Black-hooded Oriole, Indian Blackbird, as well as Brown-backed Needletail, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Plum-headed Parakeet, and scores of Jungle Babblers. So not a bad first day on the mainland.