Tuesday, January 06, 2009

India Holiday - Christmas Day, Thursday 25 December – pt 2 - Munnar

From Thattekkad Praveen drove us to our next location, the Olive Brook (http://www.olivebrookmunnar.com/), a homestead close to Munnar. The last few miles of the journey was through tea plantations, and the landscape grew progressively more stunning. They even make chocolate up here (all that chocolate and tea – Helen was most put out that we didn’t stop for either).

After the Hornbill Camp, the sight of a double bed with a duvet and a thick blanket looked like a small slice of heaven. We unpacked, had a salad sandwich and some coffee (Helen had massala tea – spicy and very milky, the milky bit I don’t understand but she seems to like it) and settled in. As we sat drinking local tea outside of our room, a Red-whiskered Bulbul came to investigate:

A couple of hours later we were joined by Jijo for our next birding trip, which surprisingly started from directly outside of our room, with a climb through a Cardamom plantation. Climbing away from the Cardamom we saw a Plain Flowerpecker and then got our first glimpse of one of the ‘target’ birds for this location, a Nilgiri Woodpigeon:

A group of birds were calling and moving around us, very much as a group of Goldcrests would at home, these however were Oriental White-eyes:

The only finch in this part of the world was also present in large numbers, namely the Common Rosefinch:

Next a beautifully deep blue Nilgiri Flycatcher, which allowed us to get reasonably close:

Further along the walk we encountered Canary Flycatchers:

a female Scarlet Minivet:

accompanied by a male Scarlet Minivet:

a Black-lored Tit:

an Asian Brown Flycatcher:

a Grey-breasted Laughing Thrush with prey:

Grey Wagtails, a Crimson-backed Sunbird preening:

Tickell’s Leaf Warblers, a Pied Bushchat male:

and then female:

The view across the hills as we climbed was quite dramatic:

a nesting Oriental White-eye, an Ashy Prinia (which refused to be photographed), a Black Bulbul:

and finally at the very top of the hill, after what felt like a long climb, a Black-shouldered Kite:

The kite, the view of the mountains at the top:

and the dramatic scenery all around was well worth the climb, although Praveen collected us about 1/3 of the way down, which was very much appreciated. I don't tend to cover much other wildlife and habitat in this blog but these flowers caught my eye:

as did this grassy/meadow habitat:

I intend to put together a post at the end of the main 'diary' consisting of flower and butterfly pictures for those who might be interested.

The evening at the Olive Brook consisted of watching a demonstration of cooking curry, in this case Mutter Paneer followed by dinner including said dish. The food was delicious and for once it wasn’t tourist hot (i.e. not hot at all) but flavoured and spiced as we wanted it, so actually really rather hot indeed :) I was delighted that Helen had now had a chance to enjoy the quality of cooking that I’ve experienced on previous visits, as I was beginning to think she might suspect I’d over-claimed in the past. What a Christmas Day!!

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