Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Thattekkad & Munnar - The Richest bird habitat in Western Ghats (8th Dec - 11th Dec,2016)

It is said that if you want to get almost all of Western Ghats bird species then its here, where Dr.Salim Ali once said "Thatekkad is the richest bird habitat in Peninsular India, perhaps only comparable to the Eastern Himalayas" .... if you want this and more to experience, then embark for a Birdwatching trip to one of the India's richest birding hot-spots within the place revered as "God's Own Country" with Nature India...


Date: 8th December, 2016 to 11th December, 2016 (travels days excluded). The bookings for Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary / Munnar bird-watching trip are open…..book your seats now (for complete details about charges, itinerary etc. see at the end).....

See one of the previous report.....


Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Thattekkad

Thattekkad is the richest bird habitat in peninsular India, comparable only with the eastern Himalayas” this is how Dr.Salim Ali described the place when he visited Thattekkad in 1930’s.

If you desire to see Western Ghat endemic bird species at one place, then Thattekkad & Munnar "Is" the place. This lesser known place untill now is fast becoming a favorite destination of birders not just across India but also the world as it offers the variety, quality and ambience that can be rivaled by few places.

Thattekkad bird sanctuary located at an approximate distance of 20 kilometers from Kothamangalam on the Kochi Munnar route situated in Idukki district. The serene sanctuary came into being in the year 1983 and was discovered by Dr. Salim Ali the famous ornithologist. This 25 sq.kms sanctuary is home to 250 plus species of birds and other birds that migrate to this place during the migratory seasons. This sanctuary has since being named as "Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary" in honour of the great man.

(PS: Some images for this blog has been taken from internet)

Nestled among evergreen forests this sanctuary is home to endemic birds like the Malabar grey & Pied Hornbill , Malabar black woodpecker, Blue winged parakeet, Flame-throated Bulbul, Dark-fronted & Rufous Babbler, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Malabar Trogon, Crimson-throated Barbet, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, White-bellied Treepie,.................

Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Grey Jungle Fowl, Grey-headed and Yellow-browed Bulbul, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Black throated Munia, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Southern Hill Myna etc…… But the most celebrated species here would be the Sri Lanka Frogmouth,  perhaps due to the ease at which it is seen here and most of the photographs taken in India of this species are from this place.

The other uncommon species that can also be encountered regular here are Black Baza, Black Eagle, Great-eared Nightjar, Dollar Bird, Red Spurfowl, Lesser Yellow-nape Woodpecker, Speckled Piculet, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Drongo Cuckoo, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Mottled Wood Owl, Green Imperial Pigeon, Crested Goshawk, Malayan Night Heron, Indian Blue Robin…… This list will lure any birder to come running here :-)

Apart from the birdlife there are various mammals that are recorded from here including leopard, porcupine, bear, deer and various other animals and the majestic elephants. Cobras and pythons are common among the reptiles. The place is also noted for the majestic king cobra which is revered through out India.

The sanctuary also is abounding in plant life with mahogany, teak and rosewood vying for places. There are also a variety of plants which are endogenous to the region .These huge trees provide the lush canopy. The thick forest coverer apart from being a safe haven for birds is also a treat for wildlife lovers and bird enthusiasts alike.

Munnar & Eravikulam National Park

Not very far, Munnar compliments the Thattekkad Sanctuary well due to its altitude. It is a hill station 125 kms from Kochi to the West. The altitude above 1600 m above MSL means an agreeable climate throughout the year, though in December-January the temperatures can fall to the single digits. The rain fall of over 300 cm is recorded mainly during June to September. The shola-grassland eco- system so typical of Munnar is home to large numbers of birds, many of them endemic. Sightings of endemics like the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Nilgiri Pipit, Greyheaded Bulbul, Black & Orange Flycatcher, Broadtailed Grassbird, Crimsonbacked Sunbird, Greybreasted Laughing Thrush, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Indian Rufous Babbler, Whitebellied Blue Flycatcher, Whitebellied Shortwing, Whitebellied Treepie & the Wyanad Laughing Thrush can be the highlights of a birding trip to Munnar & surroundings.

Eravikulam National Park is 97 sq. km. in extent, situated along the crest of the Western Ghats in the High Ranges of Idukki district of Kerala state, India. The Park holds the largest viable population of the endangered (IUCN) Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius).

About 120 species of birds have been recorded which include endemics like black and ornage flycatcher, Nilgiri pipit, Nilgiri wood pegeon, white bellied shortwing, Nilgiri verditer flycatcher and Kerala laughing thrush. Endemics confined to the shola-grass land ecosystem like the red disk bushbrown and Palni fourwing are among the 100 odd butterflies listed inside the park.

Have a look at some of these wonderful trip experiences...

(click for part 1 to 6)


Click below to get the Bird Checklist of Thattekkad


Complete Trip Details

Travel upto Cochin and Back to be done by participants, however we can provide assistance for train travel if required

Tour Itinerary: Ernakulam to Ernakulam (Cochin to Cochin)

1. Thursday, 8th December, 2016:Pick-up at Ernakulam Station / Airport at 02.30pm ….. Departure in jeep for Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary......Check-in at Jungle Bird Homestay- Quick eve. birding trail - Light Snacks and Birdwatching for Nightjars and Owls - Dinner and Early Bed. 

2. Friday, 9th December, 2016: (Strenuous day) Start early morning (@05:00 am) for Munnar and Eravikulam National Park to watch Nilgiri Pipit, Black & Orange Flycatchers, White-bellied Shortwings, Nilgiri Laughing Thrush, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Painted Bush Quail and other endemics of the shola forests...... Lunch at Munnar ---- continue watching birds and return back to Thattekkad for night stay. 
Note: Munnar trip is purposely kept on Friday to avoid weekend rush at Eravikulam National Park, Munnar
3. Saturday, 10th December 2016: Whole Day Birding in Thattekkad Sanctuary and surrounding areas for the Western Ghat Endemics on foot.....Lunch - visit the Bhoothathankettu forests (The place is famous for its natural rocky topography, which according to the myth is believed to have been built by bhootams (spirits/demons)....a wonderful birding place not very far from TBS - Stay at Jungle Bird Homestay.

4. Sunday, 11th December, 2016: Early morning birding in Thattekkad - Lunch - Continue birding in Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary and adjoining areas to see the elusive Ceylon frogmouth, Malbar Trogon, Black baza & other endemics- Dinner - drop at Ernakulam Railway Station by 9 pm 

Travel Options: (to be done by participants, however we can provide assistance for train travel if required)....

Preferred trains...
1) 07th Dec, 2016: Train No. 16345 Netravati Express from Mumbai (Departure 11:40) to Ernakulam (Arrival 14:45) on 8th Dec'16. 

OR 12618 MNGLA LKSDP EXP (From Vasai Road)

2) 11th Dec, 2016: Train No.12224 +ERS LTT Duronto Express from Ernakulam (Dep.23:30) to Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) @ 23:55 on 12th Dec'16.

3) Air Travel: Regular flights from Mumbai - Cochin & Bangalore - Cochin

Trip charges : (Ernakulam to Ernakulam only)…. Rs. 14800/-

Includes Twin sharing in Gireesh's Jungle Bird Home-stay, Local transport , all Park entry charges, local guide charges, All meals (veg/non-veg food), Entry permits , Articles on Thattekkad & Munnar and bird checklist, on board mineral water and snacks………

This does not include Mumbai - Cochin - Mumbai travel charges or any other charges and also any individual camera charges ....Individuals will have to pay additional charges if any to the forest dept. as per the rules.

Stay Arrangements

(images below) Jungle Bird Homestay; Birdwatching ; Giresh's mother and Grandmother ; Gireesh Chandran

Registration: You can register by sending a confirmatory mail to natureindiatours@gmail.com and by paying a non refundable Advance of Rs.8000/- and  after getting registration mail by us (The seats will only be confirmed after receiving the advance amount) …..the remaining amount will be collected during the trip.......

Please Register at the earliest as only limited seats are available.

Resource Persons: Mr.Gireesh Chandran and his Mother Sudha (Both are excellent guides) & Mr.Adesh Shivkar 

Mode of Payment: You can either

1. Transfer non-refundable advance amount of Rs. 8500/- directly to Adesh's HDFC A/c : (please call Adesh @ 09820455713 for A/c no.) .... please mention your name, date and other details….OR

2. Courier a cheque of Rs.8500/- to the following address
Name: Mr. Adesh Shivkar
Address: D-8, The Adi Janata Society, Behind HP Petrolpump, Near Sion Signal, Sion (East), Mumbai - 400022
Ph.: +91-9820455713

Please Note:
1) Once registered, the advance amount of Rs. 8500/- is strictly non-refundable
2) Alcohol & Smoking is strictly prohibited on all Nature India Tours
3) Nest photography or any collection of specimens is prohibited
4) Kindly register on this trip only if you agree with  
 Nature India's rules and policies

Please revert on natureindiatours@gmail.com ID, in case you need any clarification.

For any queries we are also available on 9930318665 / 9967518665 (Mandar) or 9869071091 / 9820455713 (Adesh) ..... 

Hope to see you for this wonderful trip

Thanks for your patience.

Warm Regards,


Adesh Shivkar & Mandar Khadilkar

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Appreciate, Respect & Care for Nature