Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Nilgiri Crackers.....!

Birded the Doddabetta Road after a great breakfast at 7am and despite the foul weather with thick mist and drizzle we quickly found one of our main target species, a superb Nilgiri (Black-chinned) Laughingthrush feeding beside the path. 

Nilgiri (Black-chinned) Laughingthrush

Well, to be honest they found us and were really rather bold as they foraged around the small shops & huts beside us! With poor visibility and the renowned skulking Nilgiri Blue Robin still to find, we knew a great deal of patience was required. In the meantime, as we staked out its favoured area, we were entertained by Indian Blackbird, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Oriental White-eye, and both Tickell’s & Tytler’s Leaf-Warblers feeding right in front of us. 

Oriental White-eyes fed right in front of us

As did this Tickell's Leaf Warbler

After a while a robin began singing but soon stopped when a Crested Goshawk flew in and landed right over where we thought it was singing! But it soon moved off and after a short wait, during which we saw a pair of Nilgiri Flycatchers, the Nilgiri Blue Robin appeared and eventually began feeding in an open area below the path where it remained for several minutes. Wow! 

Nigiri Blue Robin

With further views of the Laughingthrushes we then headed down to a lake where we saw Indian Spot-billed Ducks, Common Coot, Green Sandpiper and a few White-throated Fantails.

Indian Spot-billed Ducks

After a lengthy lunchtime back at our swanky hotel we birded the botanical gardens and found it crowded with many people enjoying the improving weather. Despite the hustle and noise a stonking male Kashmir Flycatcher posed nicely in the Pine trees above us and was a real surprise as this species hasn’t been reported here this winter so far. 

Kashmir Flycatcher

Then, a superb male Black-and-orange Flycatcher gave crippling views as it fed along a drainage channel just a metre away from us – the best views I’ve ever had actually. 

The stunning Black-and-orange Flycatcher

We also saw Scaly-breasted Munia, confiding Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Nilgiri Flowerpecker and a brief Olive-backed Pipit. Not a bad little haul and we were back at the hotel at 5pm to enjoy the facilities and get ready for a full-on day tomorrow - and boy how we are loving the birding here in southern India. 

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