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Endemic Birds and Mammals of Kerala

Top Slip, Munnar and Thattekkad
06 nights & 07 days
Best season:: mid-October to March

Note: Should you choose to opt for your own dates, let us know and we will check the availability of the guide and services.
Tour Code: BSI02

ITINERARY
Day 01: Coimbatore to Top Slip
Day 02: Top Slip to Munnar
Day 03: Munnar
Day 04: Munnar to Thattekkad
Day 05: Thattekkad
Day 06: Thattekkad
Day 07: Thattekkad to Cochin

Highlights

Pristine forests
Endemic variety of birds
Amazing landscape
Excellent food
Comfortable lodging

This tour focuses on the endemic birds of the Western Ghats and South India generally. The area is known for its species richness - with more than 450 bird species and a good diversity of mammals ranging from Asian Elephant and Nilgiri Langur monkeys to the rare Mouse Deer to name just a few of the special fauna. With the help of an excellent bird guide, you should stand a good chance of picking up most of the endemic bird species associated with the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area (see BirdLife International website for further details). Species include White-bellied Treepie, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Parakeet, Nilgiri Woodpigeon and Nilgiri Flycatcher to name a few. In addition you will hopefully see the enigmatic Ceylon Frogmouth, colourful Malabar Trogon and Indian Pitta.

ITINERARY

Day 01: Ooty / Coimbatore - Topslip
Meals: lunch and dinner at Banyan Tree.
You will be met and driven to explore excellent birding habitat down from Top Slip. The drive of approx. 4 -5 hours. Situated in the Anamalai Hills, it is one of the best natural history locations in Southern India. Birdwatching in the forest can prove a challenge, so one good area is forest edge habitat and our guide knows the ideal location for some excellent birdwatching next to a canal. Check in at Banyan Tree, have lunch and relax for an hour or so before heading out later in the afternoon to explore. Species that occur locally include Grey-headed Bulbul, White-browed Bulbul, Malabar Starling (the South Indian subspecies of Chestnut-tailed Starling), Jerdon's Nightjar, Indian Pitta, Asian Fairybluebird, Loten's Sunbird, Black-hooded Oriole, Emerald Dove, Brown-breasted Flycatcher, Black-rumped Flameback, Thick-billed Warbler and many other species. Night at Banyan Tree.

Day 02: Topslip - Chinnar - Munnar
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
After an early breakfast, you will drive to Munnar, stopping at Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary on the way – take plenty of bottled water with you. One trail follows the river where you might have a chance of seeing Spot-bellied (Forest) Eagle-Owl – the main target species here. Other species include Malabar Whistling Thrush, Brown Fish-owl, Western Crowned Leaf-warbler, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher and Asian Paradise Flycatcher. Also look out for the rare Grizzled Giant Squirrel. Birds on the journey might include Paddyfield Pipit, Indian Roller, Brahminy Kite, Chestnutheaded Beeeater and Red Spurfowl. Towards the end of the morning you will leave Chinnar for the remainder of the drive to Munnar stopping at a restaurant on the way. Around Munnar, the pockets of the shola forest and Nilgiri mountain grassland eco-system are home to several of the endemic birds and various mammals including the endemic Nilgiri Tahr. The altitude above 1600meters means an agreeable climate throughout the year, though in December-January the temperatures can fall to the single digits. Rainfall of over 300 cm is recorded mainly during June to September, but it can rain at any time of year. Here we will look for several of the South Indian and Nilgiri Hills endemic bird species. Depending on the amount of time available, you will visit areas of shola forest on the way. Key species around Munnar include Grey-breasted Laughingthrush, White-bellied Blue Robin, Broadtailed Grassbird, Nilgiri Woodpigeon, Nilgiri Pipit, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Indian Scimitar Babbler. Towards the end of the afternoon you will visit a tea shack (Karadippara) with excellent vantage point across an extensive wooded valley. The species here might include Yellow-browed Bulbul, Crimson-backed (Small) Sunbird, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Crimson-fronted (Malabar) Barbet, Little Spiderhunter, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Golden-fronted Leafbird and Rustytailed Flycatcher. From here the drive to Olivebrook is approx 30 – 40 minutes where you will check-in and spend the evening.

Day 03: Munnar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Eravikulam National Park is a plateau at an average height of 6500 feet, about 30 kms from Munnar, high up in the mountains of the Western Ghats. This park was originally established to protect the Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius), which found its way into the endangered list of animals in the Wildlife schedule. It was declared as a sanctuary in 1975. Considering the ecological, faunal, floral, geo-morphological and zoological significance, it was declared a National Park in 1978. It covers an area of 97 sq. kms of rolling grasslands and high level sholas.We will look for Nilgiri Tahr on our visit and will focus on the endemics listed above along with all the other resident species of the area. Incidentally, you can see Atlas Moth locally too. If you are on track with seeing the main target species of the area and if you missed seeing Yellow-throated Bulbul on the first day, your guide could arrange a visit to some drier scrub habitat on steep slopes to look for this species. It is quite a drive though (approx. 1 ½ hrs each way), so a more relaxing option would be to spend the afternoon birding more local to Munnar. If time permits, a walk along the road further on from Olive Brook is worthwhile and one steep track (Portha Madu) leads you to an area of grassland where you can look for Broad-tailed Grassbird (difficult). Night at Olive Brook.

Day 04: Munnar - Thattekkad
Meals: Breakfast from Munnar, lunch and dinner at Thattekkad
For a couple of hours, explore on foot along the road from Olivebrook if there was no time the day before, then leave around 10.30 – 11.00hrs for Thattekkad. Check in at Eldhose Birding Lodge, then around 3pm head out for some local birdwatching around the signalling station. Here species might include: Drongo Cuckoo, Black-throated Munia, Red Spurfowl and Black Baza. If time permits the last 1 – 2 hrs of daylight around a small drinking puddle sometimes produces some good passerine species – including Indian Blue Robin, Blue-throated and Tickell's Blue Flycatchers, Puff-throated Babbler and Orange-headed Thrush. Brown-breasted Flycatcher, Malabar Trogon, Malabar Parakeet all occur locally. Night at the Lodge.

Day 05: Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, also known as Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, is a prime birding destination in South India. Specialties here include Grey-headed Bulbul, Wynaad Laughing Thrush, White-bellied Treepie, Ceylon Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon, Red Spurfowl, Bay Owl, Rufous Babbler, Blue-faced Malkoha, Brown-breasted, White-bellied, Blue-tailed and Rusty-tailed Flycatchers,. Other species include Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Bluebearded Bee-eater, White-bellied and Heart-spotted Woodpeckers, Black-throated Munia, Blacknaped Monarch and Brown Hawk-owl. Moreover, Thattekkad is ideal for seeing a good number of butterfly and mammal species. The more difficult birds are Wynaad Laughing Thrush, Greyheaded Bulbul, Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl and Ceylon Bay Owl and we'll look for these in the Orullathany area. Spend the evening looking for Indian Pitta and various owls and nightjars. Night at the Lodge.

Day 06: Thattekkad area
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Explore some superb forest areas outside of Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary. Key species include Black-crested (Flame-throated) Bulbul, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Large (Malabar) Woodshrike (the South Indian subspecies), Indian Swiftlet, Other species include Lesser Yellownape, Crested Goshawk, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Plum-headed Parakeet, White-rumped Needletail. White-bellied Woodpecker is also possible. Then a little later, you'll visit a shady spot along the Periyar River where you might be lucky enough to see Lesser Fish-eagle and other species like Dollarbird, Brahminy Kite, with Golden and Black-naped Orioles, Crimson-fronted (Malabar) Barbet, and Golden-fronted Leafbird all likely in local forest edge habitat. Relax for a few hours during the heat of the day and then around 3pm your guide will take you to scrub habitat on a hillside strewn with flat boulders – an ideal place to look for nightjars including Great-eared, Jerdon's, Grey (Indian Jungle) and Savanna. Here you can also look for Grey Junglefowl, Jungle Owlet, Plain Flowerpecker, Indian Rufous Babbler, Chestnut-headed Beeeater and many other species. Spend a final night at the Lodge.

Day 07: Thattekkad - Kochi (Cochin) and away.
Meals: Breakfast
Leave for Cochin airport, if time permits you may opt for sightseeing in Fort Kochi. Tour ends.

Services included:
-Accommodation on twin sharing basis in the hotels
-Meals as per the itinerary
-A bird guidet
-Permits and entry fee
-All surface transfers by a private air-conditioned vehicle

Services not included:
-Optional tours/excursions, personal & incidental expenses.
-Tips, laundry, phone calls, alcohol, camera fee etc.
-International and domestic air fare, visa, insurance.

Please ask for Terms and Conditions

Write to us: wildindiatours@vsnl.com  info@asianadventures.in



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