We caught the 5am ferry to the other side of South Andaman Island and drove to a superb stretch of roadside forest where we literally spent the next four hours trying to find Andaman Crake. Well we certainly heard several, even got quite close to one or two, had one individual sneak up behind us allowing only myself and Vikram views, and tried and tried again at various spots along our walk. It was getting tedious to say the least and I’m pretty sure everyone had had enough and would have been glad to give up but just before 10am we gave it another go and followed a narrow trail inside the forest. This time after a few bursts of tape a stunning vision of bright chestnut and black & white barring walked sedately into view – ANDAMAN CRAKE! What a relief and this bird casually began to feed right in front of us and I daren’t raise my camera to take a photo, it was that close. It was on view for a couple of minutes before slowly making its way into denser vegetation and onto my group’s life lists. So with that done we drove further and walked through another patch of forest, getting nice looks at more White-headed Starlings, Andaman Drongos and plenty of common species, although Large Cuckooshrike was a new bird for the trip. We kept on looking for new birds to no avail and finished the morning session with a large mixed feeding flock that we scanned for Andaman Cuckooshrike without any joy.
|Andaman Masked Owl - our 5th species of owl on the Andamans|
After lunch we were picked up at 3pm and drove back to Chidiyatapu Forest and were not surprised to see how quiet it was. But we walked a little along the road before staking out the nightjar and only hearing it call again. However, we finished the day off with a flourish when an Andaman Masked Owl flew right at us and landed just a couple of metres above our heads before flying off to a more reasonable perch to stare balefully at us. What a cracker and a great way to end a rather tough day’s birding.