The birding was decent, but the constraints on birding there are high. You are not allowed to walk any of the trails without a local forest-service guide accompanying you. There actually is a fairly high danger of being mauled by a Gaur (Water Buffalo), a smaller chance of being bitten by a venomous snake, and a miniscule chance that a Tiger may attack you. So yeah, good reasons for having a guide accompany you, but rather annoying when I can’t get into the habitat that is home to so many endemic birds. I did manage to see quite a few birds during the trip, including 11 new species for me (lifers). Not bad, considering I was with a group of very loud Tamil Zoology students who were on (believe it or not) their first ever trip into the jungle to look for wildlife… The best birds of the trip were definitely the nocturnal species that I saw while we were out at night with spotlights driving around looking for mammals. A Spot-bellied Eagle Owl was by far the highlight. This species is rare and not nearly as active at dawn and dusk as many of the other owl species. Relton said that he has seen a grand total of two in his 20+ years of birding, so I definitely feel extremely fortunate to have seen this species. Other nocturnal species I added included the Brown Fish Owl, Jungle Owlet, and Indian Nightjar. The other species I want to mention was the Brown-backed Needletail, an enormous swift that is literally the size of a nighthawk that I saw twice as it swooped in low over the canopy. I’ve seen the White-rumped Needletail before which is about the same size as most of the swallows and swifts, but this species was so huge that I was very impressed by it. I wasn’t able to get many photos of birds up in the
I also enjoyed bumping into a few Australians and a group of five Polish birders who had just arrived in the
By the way,
All for now, I’ll leave you with a view of the reservoir (that the previously mentioned fish eagle was at) in Kerala at dawn on Tuesday…oh yeah it was nice and cool up in the mountains too!