Thattekad – A paradise for Bird watchers…

The year 2012 started with a fantastic get away to Thattekad with Santosh. Visiting thattekad was on a wish list and it came true in 2012.
Santosh confirmed our bookings in KSRTC club class airavat to Muvutuppuza on Jan 6th 2012. I wrapped all my office work a bit early and started to my place, collected my back pack and reached Shanthinagar bus station.

The journey towards thattekad took off at 7.30Pm; santosh joined me at Christ college junction, we whiled away the hours chatting… sharing our wildlife experiences…planning next trip….finally with nothing else to do we went for a nap.

The plan was to alight at Perambavoor and catch a bus to Kothamangalam and from kothamangalam a bus to thattekad… J when bus reached perambavoor time ticked 5.45am. Strange land to us, Joseph, a friendly passerby helped us to take a bus to kothamangalam.

Same old buses since decades… chilled 30 mins drive landed us in Kothamangalam; from there we took a bus to thattekad.

            A shiva temple in front of thattekad bird sanctuary.                         
 A hearty welcome from Sudha Chandran and family gave us the feel as if we are in our own place. Sudha chandran is a great guide and a master bird spotter, though she is aged more than 60 years, her enthusiasm is still at the age of 18 years…. 
I will take few lines to tell you about Thattekad topography: Courtesy Wikipedia.
The Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, covering an area of hardly 25 km², and located about 60 km north-east of Kochi, is one of the important bird sanctuaries of India. Salim Ali, one of the best known ornithologists has described this sanctuary as “the richest bird habitat on peninsular India”. The literal meaning of Thattekad is flat forest; the region is an evergreen low-land forest and is located between the branches of Periyar River, the longest river in Kerala.
 We had a hot cup of tea and checked-in to our room, finished our daily routines and we had to wait for the guide to accompany us in the trail. After an hour or so, Sudha informed us the guide is ready and she introduced us to him. Sannu was our guide for the morning session.
 As we started our trail, sannu spotted 2 Brown Hawk owls roosting on the tree. It was sleeping with out noticing the world watching them. It was too high to capture the pic…
 Most of the birds which we spotted were a “Lifer” to me, in the sense a new species to add on to my bird repository…
We crossed the bridge which had an excellent view of backwaters beside us; “Darter” aka “Snake bird” was basking on the dead tree, moved on further after clicking few photos of it. We also got to see the “Oriental Mag-pie Robin” which took off with its prey in its mouth.
 As we walked into the tree plantation we spotted ‘Rufous Tree-pie’ sitting on the trunk of the tree. We moved on slowly after photographing it. A “Racket tailed Drongo” drew our attention to capture its beauty.All of a sudden sannu spotted some bird which just flew in front of us and perched on a tree; though it was far enough to identify the species, I captured the photograph. It was later acknowledged as “Chestnut winged cuckoo”. Further on we spotted “Asian Brown Flycatcher”. I must say all these were lifers to me… The trail continued in spotting “Drongo Cuckoo”, “Rufous wood pecker” “Lesser napped wood pecker”, “Greater flame back wood pecker”, “Golden leaf bird”, “Black hooded oriel”….
Sudha madam had accompanied few other guests and they were ahead of us, she called on sannu’s mobile and informed us that they had spotted “Malabar Trogon”. I was really excited to see the colorful bird. We rushed to the place and the trogon had taken its seat on the top most trunk of the tree.
A fruitful day, we stayed watching the trogon for 15 mins and walked away with the smile on our faces. Sannu identified the call of “White belied tree-pie” from quiet a distance, we tracked the bird and after half an hour of hide and seek we finally got an opportunity to capture the beauty.
We called the session to an end. Returned back to home stay and relaxed for sometime, mean while geeresh was back from morning birding session. We had sumptuous home made kerala food. During the course of our lunch we met Falguna Shah and Manisha Shah, two wildlife enthusiasts from Ahmedabad and Mumbai.Evening plan was to go in search of “Ceylon Frogmouth” to the place called Bhoothathankettu” and “Idamalayar” dam a tourist spot situated in the village of Pindimana.
The place was a dense canopy of high standing trees, geeresh made us to stand at one place and he went in search of “Ceylon Frogmouth” where it usually roosts in the evenings. But unfortunately we dint get to spot the bird in spite of hard search.
Geeresh took us to a place which had a small water source, and told us to sit silently and observe birds which would come to quench its thirst.
Yes the patience was rewarded with the spotting of “Orange headed Thrush”, “White belied Blue Flycatcher” and another bird which was later identified by Adesh Shivakar as “Indian Blue Robin” female.
Time was 6.00Pm we almost lost the hope of spotting “Ceylon Frogmouth”, Geeresh went in search of the bird for last time before we wrap up. He came swiftly and informed us not to make any sound and silently follow him.
The torch beam penetrated the dense canopy and he focused on a branch of a tree and told me to photograph it, It took me 10 seconds to just spot where exactly the bird was. Ahhh there it was a master camouflage “Ceylon Frogmouth”.
Happily we returned back to the home stay had nice dinner and went to bed.
 Jan 8th 2012

Early morning the chirping of birds woke us up from the bed. We were ready to visit a new place and this time it was in the search of “Black Baza”.

We reached the beautiful landscape at 6.45Am; a group of gray hornbills were flying all around. Silently we approached a place and hid behind trees waiting for the birds to come close.
 Witnessed and captured the nearly threatened “Gray headed bulbul”.
All of a sudden we heard the alarm call of barking deer, we moved closer in the direction of the alarm call and sat there for a while awaiting some action.
After a long wait of 45 mins not witnessing any action we planned to return back to our home stay. Just as we started the trail back the “Oriental Honey Buzzard” flew down and perched on a tree in front of us. Capturing the last winged beauty we returned.
We had to catch a bus from Muvatupuzza at 7.30Pm. Falguna and Manisha offered to drop us at kothamangalam. From kothamangalam we took a bus to muvatupuzza where we took a return bus to namma Bengaluru.

     Jungle Bird Home Stay

    Thattekad Bird Sanctuary.
    Geeresh Chandran: 09847034520
   Sudha: 09947506188
Birds spotted at Thattekad Bird Sanctuary:
Bird Name
1. Indian Pond Heron
2. Cattle Egret
3.Little Cormorant
4. Darter
5. Oriental Honey Buzzard
6. Whiskered Tern
7. Pompadour Green Pigeon
8. Plum-headed Parakeet
9. Chestnut-winged Cuckoo
10. Common Koel
11. Brown Hawk Owl
12. Sri Lankan Frogmouth
13. Jerdon’s Nightjar
14. Crested Treeswift
15. Malabar Trogon
16. Stork-billed Kingfisher
17. White-throated Kingfisher
18. Common Kingfisher
19. Green Bee-eater
20. Malabar Grey Hornbill
21. White-cheeked Barbet
22. Crimson-fronted Barbet
23. Rufous Woodpecker
24. Lesser Yellow-naped Woodpecker
25. Common Flame-backed Woodpecker
26. Greater Flame-backed Woodpecker
27. Heart-spotted Woodpecker
28. Ashy Woodswallow
29. Small Minivet
30. Scarlet Minivet
31. Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike
32. Eurasian Golden Oriole
33. Black-naped Oriole
34. Black-hooded Oriole
35. Black Drongo
36. Ashy Drongo
37. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
38. Asian Paradise-flycatcher
39. Rufous Treepie
40. White-bellied Treepie
41. House Crow
42.Grey-headed Bulbul
43. Red-whiskered Bulbul
44. Red-vented Bulbul
45. Asian Fairy-bluebird
46. Jungle Babbler
47. Hill Myna
48. Common Myna
49. Chestnut-tailed Starling
50.Orange-headed Thrush
51. Oriental Magpie-Robin
52. Asian Brown Flycatcher
53. Rusty-tailed Flycatcher
54. Golden-fronted Leafbird
55. Purple Sunbird
56. Grey Wagtail
57. White Wagtail
58. Ruby throated BulBul
59. Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
60. Red Wattled Lapwing
61. Spotted-necked Dove
62. Malabar Parakeet
63. Asian Drongo-Cuckoo
64. Common Iora
65. Black headed Cuckoo shrike
66. Large-billed jungle crow
67. Great Tit
68. Yellow browed bulbul
69. Jungle Myna
70. White-bellied blue flycatcher
71. Purple rumped sunbird
72. Loten’s sunbird
73. Blue throated flycatcher
74. Plain flowerpecker