Thattekad birds II

Read the earlier post here
Photo courtesy - Amit Krishna

With a unplanned trip, called Gireesh and he reluctantly agreed as we were only 2 of us, next was the hectic task of booking tickets - all that I could manage was the last 2 seats in the 7pm KSRTC Volvo Multi Axle bus to Muvatupuzha (enroute Kottayam) from Bangalore and the return journey too in the last 2 seats of an similar service. I generally rely mostly on KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) services as they are efficient, time keeping and generally good (the bus being filled to capacity is another testimony for their efficient and reliable services).
It was a smooth transit from Perumbavoor to Kothamangalam to Thattekad in the local privates buses, the only hindrance being the Malayalam language, still could manage with the people speaking broken English :) Gireesh's home stay is right inside the sanctuary gates with a couple of more houses around and is in an excellent location. As we landed, Gireesh was out with a group on the morning trail and we met his wife and later his mom who told us the guide would be available in the next hour or so.
Sanu was our guide for the morning session, and it was almost around 9am when we started off, a little late for early morning birding. The roosting Brown Hawk Owls were our first captives for the day and we saw them almost the entire day perched in the same place dozing peacefully. The lake just beside the main road is another spot for Kingfishers and the common water birds like the Darter, Coots, Moorhens and a few migrants if you are lucky. As we entered the trail inside the sanctuary, there was absolute silence with fewer calls here and there just like 'a lull before the storm' and then the frenzy started everywhere. The canopy is high and thick and the birds perch far away and its no easy sighting them forget capturing them, its a tough task and many a times I had to back out owing to neck pain. Chestnut winged Cuckoo, White bellied Treepie, Drongo Cuckoo, Brown breasted flycatcher and a whole lot of Woodpecker were all lifers for me ( in the sense seeing them for the first time ) and to top it up, the Malabar Trogon made a brief appearance and so did the treepies', drongo's, sunbirds, oriole's and a hell lot more...
In an hour or so, we had sighted so many species and most of them first time for Amit and few of them for me too and we were enjoying every bit of the fun. Back at the homestay after an eventful morning session, we met Manisha Shah and Falguna Shah from the cities of Mumbai and Ahmedabad who were here for birding too and we would be going out in the same group in the later part of the day for those elusive Frogmouths.
For the evening session, we both along with Manisha and Falguna and a 3 'phoreners' were taken by Gireesh to the nearby Bhoothatankettu and Idamalayar dam region for some more birding activity. Gireesh knows nook and corner of the region and various roosting spots of many birds like the Frogmouth or different Owls and he is so accurate in sighting them and he knows their behavior too.. incredible to say the least! 
As the Frogmouths were missing from their usual spots, we went to a nearby small stream somewhere in the middle of thick jungle terrain and waited for the frenzy that was about to begin. The birds come to the stream to quench their thirst and have a bath and you can sit at a distance and silently observe all the fun that unfolds, you loose track of the time spent when doing this. White bellied Treepie's, Orange thrush, Rusty tailed flycatcher, White bellied blue flycatcher, Indian blue robin and many others paid a quick visit and entertained us, another good session and got to see some new species again. 
Sun goes down too fast and it was quite dark at 6pm and finally Gireesh searched out a lone Srilankan Frogmouth perched on a dead branch about to start for the day. With absolutely no light, we had to use the torch carried by Gireesh to sight and capture the elusive beauty. Frogmouths are so very difficult to identify even if you are standing right next to them as their camouflage is so very brilliant. They choose to roost on dead branches and their body color matches the surroundings and they are very still and that makes it all the more difficult to see them. 
This was the only individual we got to see and we were pretty excited about this sighting. After dinner, Gireesh drove us around for some nocturnal sighting of the Owls and Frogmouths, but all that we saw was the Jerdon's Nightjar right on the middle of the track, another first time sighting for me!
Next day, woke up to Gireesh's call at 6am (we were so damn tired of the long journey from home and all the walking and running for the entire day), we headed out to a nearby hillock passing through some rubber plantations and climbing up to get an wonderful view of the sun rising in all its glory. Elephant dung was all around and leopard scats too and that itself was quite exciting news early in the day. 
Here, another kind of frenzy started with the Malabar Grey Hornbills flying in from all over the place, I presume we saw nothing less than 50 individuals flying all around, it was a mela out there with many trees fruiting and these hornbills basking in the golden sunlight. Oriole's were all around and so were the many kinds of bulbuls, sunbirds, barbets, bluebirds, minivets and many others, it was a feast for the sore eyes.
The Black Baza was missing and so were the raptors except the honey buzzard that posed for us coming in from nowhere. All of a sudden the surroundings were reverberating with the alarm calls of a frantic barking deer very close in the dense thickets in the valley region beyond the hillock we were standing and in all probability it should be an leopard considering the fact that we saw their scats on the cliff we were standing on. The calls were so near and so loud, I'm sure he would have seen us and avoided coming into direct view of us, unluckily though! Back at the homestay, after breakfast we headed out to an secluded place for some quite birding and were not lucky to sight anything great in the afternoon sun.
After lunch and some rest and a small walk through the trails, Gireesh took us on the final ride to some nearby places to possibly sight some Owls and drongo cuckoos' instead we returned sighting the Whiskered tern, pygmy woodpecker, stork billed kingfisher and few more species. Falguna and Manisha dropped us till Kothamangalam and it was an uneventful journey back home from there.
Ideally 3 days is some good time to spend here and that is precisely my plan for my next visit to Thattekad and a re-visit to Gireesh's place. A wonderful birding trip to say the least and will surely not disappoint the birder in you :)


1. Ashy Drongo
2. Ashy Wood swallow
3. Asian Brown Flycatcher
4. Asian Drongo Cuckoo
5. Asian Fairy bluebird
6. Asian Paradise flycatcher
7. Black Drongo
8. Black headed Cuckoo shrike
9. Black hooded Oriole
10. Black naped Oriole
11. Blue throated flycatcher
12. Brown Hawk Owl
13. Brown capped Pygmy Woodpecker
14. Cattle Egret
15. Chestnut tailed Starling
16. Chestnut winged Cuckoo
17. Common Flame backed Woodpecker
18. Common Iora
19. Common Kingfisher
20. Common Koel
21. Common Myna
22. Crested Treeswift
23. Crimson fronted Barbet
24. Darter / Snake bird
25. Eurasian Golden Oriole

26. Golden fronted Leafbird
27. Great Tit
28. Greater Flame backed Woodpecker
29. Greater Racket tailed Drongo
30. Green Bee eater
31. Grey Wagtail
32. Grey headed Bulbul
33. Heart spotted Woodpecker
34. Hill Myna
35. Indian Pond Heron
36. Jerdon's Nightjar
37. Jungle Babbler
38. Jungle Myna
39. Lesser Yellow naped Woodpecker
40. Little Cormorant
41. Loten's sunbird
42. Malabar Grey Hornbill
43. Malabar Parakeet
44. Malabar Trogon
45. Orange headed Thrush
46. Oriental Honey Buzzard
47. Oriental Magpie Robin
48. Plain flowerpecker
49. Plum-headed Parakeet
50. Pompadour Green Pigeon
51. Purple rumped sunbird
52. Purple Sunbird
53. Red Wattled Lapwing
54. Red vented Bulbul
55. Red whiskered Bulbul
56. Ruby throated BulBul

57. Rufous Treepie
58. Rufous Woodpecker
59. Rusty tailed Flycatcher
60. Scarlet Minivet
61. Spotted necked Dove
62. Sri Lankan Frogmouth
63. Stork billed Kingfisher
64. Whiskered Tern
65. White bellied blue flycatcher
66. White bellied Treepie
67. White cheeked Barbet
68. White throated Kingfisher
69. Yellow browed bulbul

You can see Amit's blog here!


  1. Beautiful captures!! Nice photography.

  2. Sounds and looks like so much fun! Delightful captures, truly fascinating! Will check out Amit's blog too :)

  3. Wow lovely ,nice to see grey headed bulbul and heart spotted wp .

  4. Spectacular....

  5. Very enjoyable to see all the birds...and Gireesh's homestay in full technicolour :)

  6. Your birding trips are always an inspiration for me.. I would like to join you sometime on one of your birding trips... Lovely pics...

    1. thank you Arun, sure... why not, would love to have a traveler as company :)

  7. wow, haven't seen many of them, nice captures...

  8. thank you Niranjan, Arti, Dhiraj, Shirin, Deepa and Raja, feels good :)

  9. Super Naration maga... lovely images as usual :-)

  10. Lovely post! Liked the way you managed to take Srilankan Frogmouth.

  11. ultimate….

  12. thank you Amit, Archana and roses

  13. Ho.., you stayed with 'Sudhamma' and family??

  14. I am planning to visit this place in the next 2 days. I am a budget traveller doing my backpacking across India. How much it costed for the home stay?

    1. Its very economical Hamid, I think should be around 500 per day. Just have a check with Gireesh (+919847034520) for the availability and the fare.


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