South India & Sri Lanka 10 Feb. - 2 March 2010
Birding trip report  -  John van der Woude  -
Photos of birding sites South India.    See also report.


Near Thattekad, the moist lowland birding site of South India on this trip, in the state of Kerala.

Salim Ali bird sanctuary near Thattekad. We did not get far here, as we heard elephants roaming around where we wanted to go birding. No risk was taken. Yet we managed to see Indian Pitta before we left.

Malabar Grey Hornbill in Salim Ali bird sanctuary. One of the 27 Western Ghats endemics.

Hill road near Thattekad, also photo below. Good for Malabar Parakeet, White-bellied Treepie and, a bit lower, Wynaad Laughingthrush. The car below was ours for this trip in South India.

The habitat diversity around Thattekad is very high, hence its long species list.

In a taller forest near Thattekad, we searched and found White-bellied Blue-Flycatcher.

Sri Lanka Frogmouth, a semi-endemic species shared by South India and Sri Lanka. Jijo knew a stake-out on our way from Thattekad to Munnar. Other good species along this road were Crimson-backed Sunbird, Legge's Hawk-Eagle, Flame-throated and Grey-headed Bulbul. For the latter endemic species it was our last chance, but Jijo didn't rest before he got it for us.

Walking uphill from Munnar. Blue-capped Rock-Thrush, Tytler's Leaf-Warbler, Malabar Barbet, Nilgiri Flycatcher.

Above the forest zone of Munnar the grassy slopes provided us with an elusive Broad-tailed Grassbird. This is one of the more difficult endemics, and reportedly easier only when displaying around April.

Low forest between the two photos above. Here we had Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, also not an easy bird to get.

The splendidly situated Olive Brook guesthouse above Munnar. This is where we would have stayed if we had arranged this trip earlier (it was fully booked).

Tea plantations above Munnar. Here, only the uppermost forest is left.

White-browed Wagtail

The tea plantations can be very scenic of course. Hill Swallow was flying around.

At a pass above Munnar, along the road to Ooty, we had a succesful walk along some shrubbery, with ...

.... Nilgiri Flycatcher, and ....

.... Nilgiri Pipit.

Also Indian Blackbird here, the best view of the whole trip.

A group of c. 45 Black-headed Ibises migrated across the pass. Reportedly a rare sight here.

Still at the same pass, a good view of the rather common Square-tailed (Black) Bulbul.

Nilgiri Langur near Munnar.

Malabar Whistling-Thrush is much easier to view than its cousin on Sri Lanka.

In Chinnar wildlife sanctuary, along the road from Munnar to Ooty, the vegetation is much drier. The only new endemic here was Yellow-throated Bulbul, but we also saw Rufous-bellied Eagle and Blue-faced Malkoha.

The endangered Grizzled Giant Squirrel is the specialty of Chinnar.

Along this creek in Chinnar we tried to find Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl (one of the very few misses on this trip, more chances in the Himalayas later), but we got Brown Fish-Owl:

The area around Chinnar wildlife sanctuary deserves more than half a day, even though it is only needed for one (rather easy) endemic.

This dull forest floor above Ooty provided us with one of the absolute highlights of the trip, Nilgiri Thrush (Zoothera neilgherriensis), see photo below.

A bit further on along the same track, we had the best views of Black-and-orange Flycatcher, which we had seen at Munnar as well. Along this track we also had our last endemic laughingthrush (Nilgiri or Black-chinned L'thrush).

View of Ooty town from the Dodabetta mountain.

Indian Pond-Heron is a common bird wherever there is a little bit of water.

On our way to Mysore, Jijo knew a stake-out for Malabar Lark, and he was right again.

Indian Peafowl in Mudumalai NP.

Elephants in the rather dry Mudumalai forest.

A typical roadside view in Karnataka state (the former Mysore state). The birding trip had ended and Jijo had taken the bus back to Kochi. We drove on with Prasad for the last three days, for short visits to three famous temple complexes, and to be brought to Bangalore airport for our flight to Sri Lanka.

Along the road from Mysore city North to the temples.

Rocky outcrops a few kms N of our comfortable lodge near the temple complexes Belur and Halebid (Hoysala Village Resort). Some nice birds, but no lifers. Montagu's Harrier and Blue Rock-Thrush, plus prinia's etc.

Asian Koel (female) in the garden of Hoysala Village Resort.

For photos of the Hoysala temple complexes Belur and Halebid, click here.
See also report (introduction, maps, species list).