Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Having spent the night in Coimbatore we were due to take a six hour train journey to Ooty at the top of the Blue Mountains, it's a 26km ride but takes so long because of the many corners and indeed the steep climb up.  While we wanted to enjoy the experience we were also wary at losing a whole morning's birding.  In the end we decided to forgo the train trip.  This it turns out was a good decision, the previous night's rain had, as well as washing away one of the two roads up, caused a landslip onto the track as this picture of a local paper shows:

We gather the passengers were bussed up later on that day, which we're pleased to have missed :)

The clouds lingered around the peaks as we ascended:

We wanted to stop to photograph more of the scenery:

And birds, but were moved on by traffic police, keen to keep the only route up open for the day.

We arrived therefore much earlier than planned at the Fern Royal Palace in Ooty, our hotel for the night and a former estate of the Maharajah of Mysore.  And yes lots of English style hunting pictures abounded.  That aside the accommodation was delightful:

The main eating area was splendid:

This is our tourist picture from the stay:

The outside is impressive too:

It's actually a very large estate with much of it still to be restored but parts of it, like this original road, are now pristine:

We set off after lunch to the local forest for more birding.  As we walked in a group of schoolchildren ran across to us and surrounded us.  They are all from the Good Shepherd International School in Ooty and working on a project to understand the threat to the national Tiger population. 

We regaled them with stories from our previous trips to India and showed them the picture of the tiger we had photographed in Ranthambore.  I took this picture of the children and their teachers and driver, while the driver was photographing us:

Once parted we headed on down the track and were delighted with a male Orange-and-Black Flycatcher:

as well as Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher:

Jungle Myna (i really like this picture, click on it to bring it up and see if you agree):


As well as birds we really enjoyed seeing this Giant Malabar Squirrel, check out the hairstyle and colours:

As we headed out a forest Bison was on the side of the path.  It was huge, absolutely massive:

We kept a respectful distance as we walked back down to our car and from there back to the hotel.  

We were very much looking forward to dinner, which started with a power cut, but we were prepared and our torch got us to the restaurant area.  The first disappointment was finding out the hotel had no licence, so water was all we could have to accompany our dinner.  The menu was very slanted to non-veg, and the veg food they did serve us was so totally over-salted as to be inedible.  What we did eat also made us unwell for a good 7-10 days afterwards as our bodies sought to unload the massive excess of salt we'd been fed. 

A shocking dining experience then.  The night itself was comfortable and we had (surprise surprise) an early start scheduled for the following morning, for two birds in particular...


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4:19 pm  

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