Tuesday, January 06, 2009

India Holiday - Christmas Day, Thursday 25 December – Thattekadd to Munnar

We’d agreed that rather than head straight to Munnar we should go back into the Thattekadd Bird Sanctuary, which proved to be an excellent decision. The light of the morning was perfect so we walked to the first clearing and stayed in roughly one spot for about an hour and a half. Normally Helen (in particular) and I don’t have the patience for that kind of birding, but this spot was amazing. The birds just keep coming in, and I got to shoot some of the best photographs I have taken thus far. It was hard to stop smiling as there was so much going on.

The first bird on our walk in and the last bird on our walk out was a roosting Hawk Owl, in the canopy only 10 metres inside the entrance:

Also visible from this spot was another Grey-fronted Green Pigeon. In the clearing we saw Malabar Trogon, Ashy Woodswallow:

Black-naped Oriole:

Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Lesser Yellow-naped Woodpecker, an eclipse male Purple Sunbird:

Grasshopper Warbler, a male Plum-headed Parakeet:

a Rufous Treepie (was also spotted the White-bellied Treepie but I didn't manage any decent pictures of that species):

Black Baza - shown here partly obscured:

and then having flown a little way, in the clear:

The next bird is an interesting one as it is very common in the UK and Europe and this bird bears the same name, but it's different coloured, has a different call and I believe is actually a distinct species, despite the name, and that's a Great Tit:

We also saw Black-crested Bulbul (Ruby-throated race – soon to be its own species):

Brown Shrike:

Loten’s Sunbird, first posing:

then feeding:

and Blue-throated Flycatcher. On the walk back we did a little detour and located a pair of Sri Lanka Frogmouths though well hidden in their roost and we didn’t want to disturb them, so this was the best picture I got:

And I couldn't resist taking a picture of a Little Cormorant drying out on a stick above a small lake:

On the way towards the entrance we heard calling and then saw a Stork-billed Kingfisher. On the way back to Camp for breakfast we stopped off again outside of the Sanctuary entrance for a better picture of the Red-wattled Lapwing, which we achieved:

We also got a better picture of Golden-fronted Green Leafbirds:

and spotted a Common Iora:

We were attracted to where this bird was by a cacophony of noise from the seven sisters (Jungle Babblers), they were mobbing a Mottled Wood Owl - another new bird:

Back at camp we had some food, packed-up and were chatting with the staff when Helen spotted this Greater Coucal just three metres away from our tent/cottage (the loo is the cottage the bedroom is the tent), and in perfect light, first with its back to us:

then strutting along a plank– possibly the best picture I think I’ve yet taken – thank you Helen:

(click on the picture for a bigger image and better detail)

I have split Christmas Day into two posts as there were some very good picture taking opportunities, hence more space needed!

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