Birding Kerala, India 19-24 Feb 2020
This is my third visit to Kerala State, India. The first was in May 2016 and lasted for a week; the second was in March 2019 for four days.
This time I contacted Eldhose to do a 5-day birding tour. Communicating with him and scheduling a birding tour he advertised on his website was very easy. He offers three-meal lodging, transport, and birding guiding.
Eldhose Birding Lodge offers full package birding tours. See his website at https://birdingsouthindia.com/
EDIT: I have just heard the news that Eldhose passed away three months ago. It is sad news indeed. He was such a nice gentleman and keen to show us the birds. I was hoping to have another tour with him after this monsoon.
Eldhose Birding Lodge is an excellent birding hotspot. It is situated inside the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, which hosts 268 bird species (according to eBird.org). It is a superb birding place, Mr. Eldhose himself is a very enthusiastic birder with a huge amount of knowledge of the birds of India.
Day 1: 19/02/2020 (lifers in RED colour)
I arrived at the Eldhose Birding Lodge in the afternoon, had lunch, and started birding 2km northeast of the Lodge. It was a feeding station for birds built by Eldhose himself.
At the feeding station, I had a lifer, the Red Spurfowl, a common bird with four Western Ghats endemic birds; White-bellied Treepie, White-cheeked Barbet, Malabar Starling, and Flame-throated Bulbul. A wintering bird seen was a Rusty-tailed Flycatcher.
Other birds seen include
Grey Junglefowl, Spotted Dove, Asian Emerald Dove, Black-rumped Flameback, Streak-throated Woodpecker, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Rufous Treepie, Large-billed Crow, Orange-headed Thrush, Jungle Babbler, Malabar Whistling-Thrush and Golden-fronted Leafbird
After sunset, we had dinner and went out to look for the owls; just outside Eldhose Lodge we were shown the Mottled Wood-Owl, a lifer for me, and Brown Fish-Owl. What a day with two lifers!
Day 2: 20/02/2020
We started the morning by birding with Eldhose around the Lodge. We soon saw the Slaty-breasted Rail, Cinnamon Bittern, Black, and Ashy Drongos.
After that went to an area near Urulanthanni forest camping station, which is half an hour’s drive from Eldhose Birding Lodge, there were many tourists, including birders. Indian Swiftlets and Brown-backed Needletail, were circling overhead; the latter was a lifer! We had Malabar Trogon and a roosting Indian Scops Owl, which many accompanied birders enjoyed, and Also Rusty-tailed and Asian Brown flycatchers.
We then drove back to the Lodge. On our way, we had a Whiskered and River Terns.
After lunch, Eldhose took us birding close to the Lodge, where we had a Slaty-legged Crake and Brown (Philippine) Shrike.
We then drove to another feeding station about 5Km from the Lodge to find:
Two Greater Coucal, Fork-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Indian Pitta, two White-cheeked Barbets, two Black-rumped Flameback, Bronzed Drongo, five Greater Racket-tailed Drongos, two Indian Paradise-Flycatchers, 4 Rufous Treepies, 2 Flame-throated Bulbuls, sixteen Malabar Starlings, four Yellow-browed Bulbuls, twelve Jungle Babblers, five Orange-headed Thrushes and White-bellied Blue Flycatcher.
Wintering birds seen were Brown-breasted, Blue-throated, and Rusty-tailed flycatchers.
After 8 pm, we went to an agriculture field about 800m east of the Lodge. After a search with a torch, we succeeded in finding a Jungle Nightjar and a Jerdon’s Nightjar. We then moved to a nearby field to find two Spot-bellied Eagle Owls. The latter three were lifers and the Brown-backed Needletail seen in the morning.
Day 3: 21/02/2020
We drove away from the Lodge. At a brief stop, we had fifteen Jungle Babbler and one Brown, (Philippine) Shrike, a Greater Coucal, White-throated Kingfisher, and Indian Roller
Today we revisited the Urulanthanni forest camping station to join many visiting birdwatching. Our guide found us a Sri Lanka Frogmouth, a Brown Fish-Owl. We saw a Common Hawk-Cuckoo, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, and a Shikra. There were White-rumped Needletails and a Crested Serpent-Eagle flying overhead. We also had similar birds as yesterdays, such as Ashy Drongo, Indian Scops Owl, Five Flame-throated and Yellow-browed Bulbuls, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Brown-breasted, Blue-throated, and Rusty-tailed Flycatchers.
In the afternoon, we birded again near the previous spot to find a Black Eagle, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Malabar Parakeet, Vernal Hanging-Parrot
Cinereous Tit, Flame-throated Bulbul, two Southern Hill Mynas, two Malabar Starlings, Brown-breasted Flycatcher. Indian Swiftlets were flying high overhead.
After dinner, we went out birding. After two to three stops, we found two Great Eared-Nightjars, lifers for me!
Day 4: 22/02/2020
After breakfast, we drove for 2:30 hours to Eravikulam National Park. Unfortunately, the reserve was closed, so we had to bird outside the reserve.
We managed to find Black-and-orange Flycatcher, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Square-tailed Bulbul, Tytler’s Leaf Warbler, Western Crowned Warbler, seven Palani Laughingthrushes, two Nilgiri Flycatchers, Blue-capped Rock-Thrush, Nilgiri Flowerpecker, five Common Rosefinches, Grey Wagtail and White-cheeked Barbet.
We continued driving to stop at Rajmalai National Park. We found two Indian Spot-billed Ducks, White-breasted Waterhen, Red-wattled Lapwing, Brown and Long-tailed Shrikes, and two Jungle Mynas.
Day 5: 23/02/2020
This morning we drove to Urulanthanni forest camping station, where we had
Green Imperial-Pigeon, Oriental Darter, Shikra, Indian Golden Oriole, Ashy Woodswallow, three Grey-fronted Green-Pigeons, three Green Imperial-Pigeons, five Indian Swiftlets, six Black Bazas, two Malabar Grey Hornbills, four Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, two Dollarbirds, five Malabar Barbets, four Malabar Parakeets, Malabar Woodshrike, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, two Indian Paradise-Flycatchers, five Flame-throated Bulbuls, three Southern Hill Mynas, two Malabar Starlings, Crimson-backed Sunbird, three Golden-fronted Leafbirds.
In the afternoon, we returned to the place we visited on the first, the feeding station 2Km northeast of the Lodge. In addition to the birds we saw on the first day, we managed to add Fork-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Malabar Grey Hornbill, White-throated Kingfisher, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Black-naped Monarch, Indian Paradise-Flycatcher, two Chestnut-tailed Starling, six Malabar Starling, two Brown-breasted Flycatchers, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, Blue-throated Flycatcher, Malabar Whistling-Thrush, Little Spiderhunter, Blue-faced Malkoha, and two Oriental Magpie-Robins.
Day 6: 24/02/2020
This morning we drove east, crossing the Kerala – Tamil Nadu border to Rajmalai National Park.
On our first stop, we had the endemic, Yellow-throated Bulbul, two birds perched on top of a leafless tree. Walking a little further to see two Sirkeer Malkohas. Two lifers on one spot!
We also had two Blue-faced Malkohas, two Laughing Dove, Short-toed Eagle, Black Eagle, three Bonelli’s Eagles, White-throated Kingfisher, Small Minivet, two Black-hooded Orioles, three Common Woodshrikes, two Common Ioras, two White-bellied Drongos (lifer), Indian Paradise-Flycatcher, Common Tailorbird, three Dusky Crag Martins, five Red-vented Bulbuls, two White-browed Bulbuls, Yellow-billed Babbler, two Common Mynas, Indian Robin, Pale-billed Flowerpecker, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Crimson-backed Sunbird, and Purple Sunbird.
We then drove back to the Lodge and then to the airport, my flight at 9 pm.
Species List: 122 of which 16 lifers including two Western Ghats endemics (RED is my lifers):
- Indian Spot-billed Duck Anas poecilorhyncha
- Red Spurfowl Galloperdix spadicea
- Grey Junglefowl Gallus sonneratii
- Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
- Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis
- Asian Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica
- Grey-fronted Green-Pigeon Treron affinis
- Green Imperial-Pigeon Ducula aenea
- Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
- Sirkeer Malkoha Taccocua leschenaultii
- Blue-faced Malkoha Phaenicophaeus viridirostris
- Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus
- Fork-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo Surniculus dicruroides
- Common Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx varius
- Sri Lanka Frogmouth Batrachostomus moniliger
- Great Eared-Nightjar Lyncornis macrotis
- Jungle Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus
- Jerdon’s Nightjar Caprimulgus atripennis
- White-rumped Needletail Zoonavena sylvatica
- Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus
- Indian Swiftlet Aerodramus unicolor
- Crested Treeswift Hemiprocne coronata
- Slaty-breasted Rail Lewinia striata
- White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
- Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides
- Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus
- Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
- River Tern Sterna aurantia
- Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster
- Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus
- Interte Egret Ardea inter
- Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
- Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii
- Crested Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus
- Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes
- Crested Serpent-Eagle Spilornis cheela
- Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus
- Rufous-bellied Eagle Lophotriorchis kienerii
- Black Eagle Ictinaetus malaiensis
- Bonelli’s Eagle Aquila fasciata
- Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus
- Shikra Accipiter badius
- Indian Scops Owl Otus bakkamoena
- Spot-bellied Eagle Owl Bubo nipalensis
- Brown Fish-Owl Ketupa zeylonensis
- Mottled Wood-Owl Strix ocellata
- Malabar Trogon Harpactes fasciatus
- Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus
- White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
- Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops leschenaulti
- Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis
- Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
- Malabar Barbet Psilopogon malabaricus
- White-cheeked Barbet Psilopogon viridis
- Heart-spotted Woodpecker Hemicircus canente
- Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense
- Streak-throated Woodpecker Picus xanthopygaeus
- Ring-necked Parakeet Psittacula krameri
- Malabar Parakeet Psittacula columboides
- Vernal Hanging-Parrot Loriculus vernalis
- Indian Pitta Pitta brachyura
- Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus
- Indian Golden Oriole Oriolus kundoo
- Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus
- Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus
- Malabar Woodshrike Tephrodornis sylvicola
- Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus
- Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus picatus
- Common Iora Aegithina tiphia
- Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
- Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
- White-bellied Drongo Dicrurus caerulescens
- Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus
- Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus
- Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea
- Indian Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi
- Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
- Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
- Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda
- White-bellied Treepie Dendrocitta leucogastra
- Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
- Cinereous Tit Parus cinereus
- Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
- Dusky Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne concolor
- Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
- Flame-throated Bulbul Rubigula gularis
- Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer
- Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus
- Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus
- White-browed Bulbul Pycnonotus luteolus
- Yellow-browed Bulbul Iole indica
- Square-tailed Bulbul Hypsipetes ganeesa
- Tytler’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tytleri
- Western Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus occipitalis
- Palani Laughingthrush Montecincla fairbanki
- Jungle Babbler Argya striata
- Yellow-billed Babbler Argya affinis
- Southern Hill Myna Gracula indica
- Chestnut-tailed Starling Sturnia malabarica
- Malabar Starling Sturnia blythii
- Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
- Jungle Myna Acridotheres fuscus
- Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina
- Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica
- Brown-breasted Flycatcher Muscicapa muttui
- Indian Robin Copsychus fulicatus
- Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis
- White-bellied Blue Flycatcher Cyornis pallidipes
- Blue-throated Flycatcher Cyornis rubeculoides
- Nilgiri Flycatcher Eumyias albicaudatus
- Malabar Whistling-Thrush Myophonus horsfieldii
- Rusty-tailed Flycatcher Ficedula ruficauda
- Blue-capped Rock-Thrush Monticola cinclorhyncha
- Pale-billed Flowerpecker Dicaeum erythrorhynchos
- Nilgiri Flowerpecker Dicaeum concolor
- Purple-rumped Sunbird Leptocoma zeylonica
- Crimson-backed Sunbird Leptocoma minima
- Purple Sunbird Cinnyris asiaticus
- Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra
- Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons
- Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
- Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus