5 Jan 2014

5 Jan 14 - On Vinod's Manor

It was a very early start from Munnar to get to Thattekad Bird Sanctuary for dawn on the last day of the trip with Vinod & Brian. This is an area of lowland forest about 2 hours drive from Munnar. It was going to be a busy day as there were still a number of ticks that we needed & only 1 final day to see them. Arriving soon after dawn, I was already struck by the temperature as we were only about 35 metres a.s.l. We had been much higher for all the time we had been in the Western Ghats up to now. We had a few roadside stops around Thattekad as we saw birds & these were productive including seeing my first Malabar Grey Hornbill.
Common Hawk-cuckoo: The breast spotting confirms this is an immature bird
Little Swift: Little Swift taxonomy is complex in the Subcontinent. The peninsula birds are regarded as Little Swifts, whereas those in the Himalayas are split as House Swift
Little Swift: Little Swift is darker & has a more forked tail than House Swift
Malabar Grey Hornbill: That's the first tick seen
We then arrived at the birding trail & I was pleased that 3 more ticks were came in rapid succession, with Flame-throated Bulbul & Small Sunbird in the same tree & a party of Grey-faced Green Pigeons that flew over while I was photographing the new birds.
We were birding in some good forest
But also walked through this rubber plantation
The rubber collectors
Crested Goshawk: Adult 
Crested Goshawk: Immature
Ceylon Frogmouth: Male of a pair roosting together. This is the male which has more extensive white spotting
Ceylon Frogmouth: Female
Greater Flameback Woodpecker: The Malabar subspecies. This is the only Goldenback Woodpecker in range with a split moustachial
Flame-throated Bulbul: Another great looking Western Ghats endemic Bulbul
Rufous-tailed Flycatcher
Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher: Another skulky Blue Flycatcher like the bird at Parambikulam. As well as the blue throat, the bird had some orange on the breast (but a lot less distinct than on a Tickell's Blue Flycatcher)
Small Sunbird: This tiny Sunbird is endemic to the Western Ghats
Little Spiderhunter
Indian Giant Squirrel: Been a couple of days since the last photos!!!
The final stop before we dropped into Vinod's house for a great Indian meal was to look for another Owl for the trip. The impressive thing about the Indian bird & forest guides we had was their ability to locate roosting Owls & Nightbirds, thus allowing good views in the daytime. Sadly, this doesn't always work as the hoped for ticks of Sri Lankan Bay Owl & Mottled Wood-owl couldn't be found this time. However, Vinod came up trumps with a pair of roosting Indian Scops Owls, in addition to the pair & single Ceylon Frogmouths seen earlier in the morning.
Indian Scops Owl: One of a pair roosting low down in a small & dense clump of vegetation
The Indian Scops Owl roost site: Without local knowledge how many birders would just walk past & miss these Owls
There are also some good wetland areas at Thattekad
Vinod's little daughter was pleased to see her dad
Vinod's wife had arranged some excellent vegie food for us

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