A trip to Kerala, SW India 19-25 May 2016 Part 1

The birding trip was all arranged and led by Sajan Raju, who did all the logistics, booked hotels, guides etc. I really recommend him as a tour guide to the southern part of India, he knows where the birds are and has a network of friends and birdguides through the southern part of India. With his help I had 107 lifers and saw 151 birds in total within one week, albeit of long car drives.

I flew to Cochin airport from Kuwait, and was greeted by Sajan at the airport early in the morning and off to Thattekkad.

At Thattekkad we were met by photographers and birders; Sunil Jaleel, PJ George, Pushpa CR, Santhosh Kumar, Teddy Nirappan and Rajeev Thattekkad who was the guide to find me the Sri Lanka Frogmouth. Here the forest is humid, hot and full of land blood-sucking leeches, these leeches bite the foot and introduce anticoagulant that prevents the victim blood from clotting, so when removed it produces a bleeding bite that may bleed more than a normal wound. Fortunately Rajeev our guide in the forest had an antiseptic diluted Dettol, he pours the antiseptic over the leech so it let it go and drops to the floor. I had a couple of bites but they soon let it go when poured with Dettol.

The first birds I saw in the forest where the Heart-spotted Woodpecker, River Tern and the Asian Openbill. I was so excited so to forget about the hot humid weather.

Acknowledgment: I would like to thank the following people who Sajan and I met during the trip and provided some help and guidance: Sunil Jaleel, PJ George, Pushpa CR, Santhosh Kumar, Teddy Nirappan, Rajeev Thattekkad, Roshnath Ramesh, Kuttettan Munnar, Anoop Kartha, Anish Elanad, Anith Anilkumar, Sunish Ashokan, and Yazdy Palia.

Below are the birds I saw at every site:

Bird names and taxonomy follows IOC v.7 (www.worldbirdnames.org)

19/05/2016 at Thattekkad, Kerala (45 species of which 34 lifers)

Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans) 3, Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis) 2, Indian Cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis) 2, Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster) 2, Great White Egret (Ardea alba) 2, Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) 3, Eastern Cattle Egret (Bubulcus coromandus) 2, Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii) 4, Crested Honey-buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus ruficollis) 1, Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle (Lophotriorchis kienerii) 1, Shikra (Accipiter badius) 1, Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus) 2, River Tern (Sterna aurantia) 3, Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) 1, Common Hawk-Cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius) 1, Indian Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena) 1, Sri Lanka Frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger) 2, Little Swift (Apus affinis) 2, Crested Treeswift (Hemiprocne coronata) 2, Malabar Trogon (Harpactes fasciatus) 1, Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) 1, Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) 1, White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) 2, Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) 1, White-cheeked Barbet (Psilopogon viridis) 2, Malabar Barbet (Psilopogon malabaricus) 1, White-bellied Woodpecker (Dryocopus javensis) 1, Heart-spotted Woodpecker (Hemicircus canente) 1, Plum-headed Parakeet (Psittacula cyanocephala) 2, Vernal Hanging-Parrot (Loriculus vernalis) 3, Ashy Woodswallow (Artamus fuscus) 2, Orange Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus) 2, Black-headed Cuckooshrike (Lalage melanoptera) 1, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus) 2, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis) 2, Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) 2, Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) 3, Yellow-browed Bulbul (Iole indica) 1, Jungle Babbler (Turdoides striata) 1, Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis) 2, White-bellied Blue-Flycatcher (Cyornis pallipes) 1, Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata) 2, Purple-rumped Sunbird (Leptocoma zeylonica) 1, Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus) 1, White-browed Wagtail (Motacilla maderaspatensis) 2, Black-throated Munia (Lonchura kelaarti) 5.

20/05/2016 at Munnar, Idukki County (48 species of which 31 lifers)

Lesser Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna javanica) 50, Cotton Pygmy-Goose (Nettapus coromandelianus) 7, Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) 2, Little Cormorant (Microcarbo niger) 3, Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) 3, Crested Honey-buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus ruficollis) 1, Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malaiensis) 1, Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) 1, White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) 2, Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) 1, Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) 1, Common Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) 1, Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) 1, Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis taprobana) 1, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti) 2, White-cheeked Barbet (Psilopogon viridis) 2, Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker (Dendrocopos nanus) 1, Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense) 1, Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus peregrinator) 1, Malabar Parakeet (Psittacula columboides) 1, Vernal Hanging-Parrot (Loriculus vernalis) 2, Orange Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus) 1, Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach) 1, Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) 6, Dusky Crag-Martin (Ptyonoprogne concolor) 2, Hill Swallow (Hirundo domicola) 4, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher (Culicicapa ceylonensis) 2, Cinereous Tit (Parus minor) 2, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis) 1, Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) 2, Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) 5, Square-tailed Bulbul (Hypsipetes ganeesa) 1, Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) 1, Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus) 4, Palani Laughingthrush (Montecincla fairbanki) 1, Asian Fairy-bluebird (Irena puella) 1, Nilgiri Flycatcher (Eumyias albicaudatu, White-bellied Sholakili (Sholicola albiventris) 1, Malabar Whistling-Thrush (Myophonus horsfieldii) 1, Black-and-Orange Flycatcher (Ficedula nigrorufa) 1, Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata) 3, Southern Hill Myna (Gracula indica) 2, Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus) 5, Nilgiri Flowerpecker (Dicaeum concolor) 2, Crimson-backed Sunbird (Leptocoma minima) 1, Loten’s Sunbird (Cinnyris lotenius hindustanicus) 1, White-browed Wagtail (Motacilla maderaspatensis) 3, Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus) 2.

21/05/2016 at Karapuzha, Wayanad County (35 species of which 11 lifers)

Lesser Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna javanica) 50, Cotton Pygmy-Goose (Nettapus coromandelianus) 4, Indian Spot-billed Duck (Anas poecilorhyncha) 20, Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) 4, Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans) 2, Little Cormorant (Microcarbo niger) 3, Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis) 2, Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus) 1, Intermediate Egret (Mesophoyx intermedia) 2, Eastern Cattle Egret (Bubulcus coromandus) 2, Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus) 2, Crested Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis cheela melanotis) 3, Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus peninsulae) 1, Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) 2, White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) 1, Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) 3, Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) 5, Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus) 10, Bronze-winged Jacana (Metopidius indicus) 2, River Tern (Sterna aurantia) 4, Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) 1, Grey-bellied Cuckoo (Cacomantis passerinus) 1, Crested Treeswift (Hemiprocne coronata) 3, Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis beludschicus) 2, Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach) 1, Wire-tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithii) 2, Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) 10, Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis) 3, Yellow-billed Babbler (Turdoides affinis) 2, Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis) 1, Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata) 6, Brahminy Starling (Sturnia pagodarum) 3, Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) 4, Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus) 50, Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus) 8.

22/05/2016 at Masinagudi, Nilgiris County, Tamil Nadu (26 species of which 5 lifers)

Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) 6, Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) 1, Crested Honey-buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus ruficollis) 1, White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis) 1, Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus) 1, Black Kite (Milvus migrans) 7, Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) 2, Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) 1, Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) 5, Spotted Owlet (Athene brama) 3, Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis) 1, Brown-capped Woodpecker (Dendrocopos nanus) 2, Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia multicolor ) 2, Small Minivet (Pericrocotus cinnamomeus) 12, Orange Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus) 3, Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus) 1, White-browed Fantail (Rhipidura aureola) 2, Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda) 1, House Crow (Corvus splendens) 4, Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos culminatus) 2, Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica) 2, Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) 3, Yellow-billed Babbler (Turdoides affinis) 7, Brahminy Starling (Sturnia pagodarum) 10, Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus) 15, House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 10.

22/05/2016 at Mudumalai NP, Nilgiris County, Tamil Nadu (29 species of which 8 lifers)

Grey Francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus) 1, Grey Junglefowl (Gallus sonneratii) 2, Woolly-necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus) 28, White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis) 2, Changeable Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus cirrhatus) 1, Black Kite (Milvus migrans govinda) 8, Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) 3, Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis cambayensis) 3, Yellow-footed Green-Pigeon (Treron phoenicopterus) 1, Common Hawk-Cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius) 1, Spotted Owlet (Athene brama) 1, Little Swift (Apus affinis) 3, Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops ceylonensis) 2, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti) 2, Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis) 1, Coppersmith Barbet (Psilopogon haemacephalus indicus) 2, Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker (Dendrocopos nanus) 1, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker (Dendrocopos mahrattensis) 1, Streak-throated Woodpecker (Picus xanthopygaeus) 2, Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus objurgatus) 1, Ring-necked Parakeet (Psittacula krameri manillensis) 2, Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia multicolor) 1, Small Minivet (Pericrocotus cinnamomeus) 2, Black-headed Cuckooshrike (Lalage melanoptera) 1, White-browed Fantail (Rhipidura aureola) 1, Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica nipalensis) 3, Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus) 2, Indian Robin (Copsychus fulicatus) 2, Pale-billed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum erythrorhynchos) 1.

23/05/2016 at Pulpally, Wayanad County, Kerala (2 lifers)

Flame-throated Bulbul (Pycnonotus gularis) 1, Tickell’s Blue-Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae) 1.

23/05/2016 at Sarovaram Biopark, Kottoooli, Kozhikode County, Kerala (11 of which 2 lifers)

Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) 1, Great White Egret (Ardea alba) 1, Eastern Cattle Egret (Bubulcus coromandus) 2, Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) 2, Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) 6, Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) 1, Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense) 1, Black-hooded Oriole (Oriolus xanthornus maderaspatanus) 2, Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda parvula) 2, Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus) 2, Loten’s Sunbird (Lotenius hindustanicus) 1.

24/05/2016 at Elanad, Thrissur County, Kerala, Kerala (10 of which 5 lifers)

Grey-bellied Cuckoo (Cacomantis passerinus) 1, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker (Dendrocopos mahrattensis) 1, Lesser Yellownape (Picus chlorolophus chlorigaster) 1, Large Cuckooshrike (Coracina macei macei) 1, Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda parvula) 2, House Crow (Corvus splendens) 2, Orange-headed Thrush (Geokichla citrina cyanota) 1, Malabar Starling (Sturnia blythii) 1, Golden-fronted Leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons insularis) 2, House Sparrow (Passer domesticus indicus) 3.

25/05/2016 at Kole Wetlands–Aranattukara, Thrissur County, Kerala (9 of which 7 lifers)

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) 2, Watercock (Gallicrex cinerea) 5, Yellow-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus malabaricus) 8, Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis salimalii) 11, Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis) 2, Plain Prinia (Prinia inornata) 3, Streaked Weaver (Ploceus manyar) 4, Red Avadavat (Amandava amandava) 5, Tricolored Munia (Lonchura malacca) 5.

25/05/2016 at Kalamassery–HMT Estate Area, Ernakulam County, Kerala (8 of which 2 lifers)

Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) 2, Ruddy-breasted Crake (Zapornia fusca) 1, Grey-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio poliocephalus poliocephalus) 3, Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) 1, Stork-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) 1, Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus macrocercus) 2, Malabar Starling (Sturnia blythii) 5, Golden-fronted Leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons insularis) 2.


Wild Gaur Bos gaurus

Sambar Deer Rusa unicolor

Spotted Deer Axis axis

Asian Elephant Elephas maximus

Indian Palm Squirrel Funambulus palmarum

Indian Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica

Indian Boar Sus scrofa cristatus

Southern Plains Grey Langur Semnopithecus dussumieri

Acknowledgment: I would like to thank the following people who helped during my trip and bird guided me: My bird guide Sajan Raju, Sunil Jaleel, PJ George, Pushpa CR, Santhosh Kumar, Teddy Nirappan, Rajeev Thattekkad, Roshnath Ramesh, Ahmmed Basheer.

My new birds (lifers) 106 Species (updated on 27/02/2023 according to eBird.org taxonomy):

Indian Spot-billed Duck Anas poecilorhyncha
Grey Junglefowl Gallus sonneratii
Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus
Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans
Asian Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus
Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus
Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Little Cormorant Microcarbo niger
Indian Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscicollis
Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis
Crested Serpent-Eagle Spilornis cheela
Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus
Rufous-bellied Eagle Lophotriorchis kienerii
Black Eagle Ictinaetus malaiensis
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus
Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus
White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
Ruddy-breasted Crake Zapornia fusca
Watercock Gallicrex cinerea
Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malabaricus
Bronze-winged Jacana Metopidius indicus
River Tern Sterna aurantia
Nilgiri Woodpigeon Columba elphinstonii
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis
Asian Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica
Yellow-footed Green-Pigeon Treron phoenicopterus
Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
Grey-bellied Cuckoo Cacomantis passerinus
Common Hawk-cuckoo Hierococcyx varius
Indian Scops Owl Otus bakkamoena
Spotted Owlet Athene brama
Sri Lanka Frogmouth Batrachostomus moniliger
Crested Treeswift Hemiprocne coronata
Malabar Trogon Harpactes fasciatus
Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops leschenaulti
Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus
White-cheeked Barbet Psilopogon viridis
Malabar Barbet Psilopogon malabaricus
Coppersmith Barbet Psilopogon haemacephalus
Heart-Spotted woodpecker Hemicircus canente
Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Yungipicus nanus
Yellow-crowned Woodpecker Leiopicus mahrattensis
White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis
Lesser Yellownape Picus chlorolophus
Streak-throated Woodpecker Picus xanthopygaeus
Black-rumped flameback Dinopium benghalense
Plum-headed Parakeet Psittacula cyanocephala
Malabar Parakeet Psittacula columboides
Vernal Hanging-Parrot Loriculus vernalis
Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus
Common Iora Aegithina tiphia
Large Cuckooshrike Coracina macei
Black-headed Cuckooshrike Lalage melanoptera
Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus
Orange Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus
Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus
White-browed Fantail Rhipidura aureola
Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis
Cinereous Tit Parus cinereus
Flame-throated Bulbul Rubigula gularis
Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus
Yellow-browed Bulbul Iole indica
Square-tailed Bulbul Hypsipetes ganeesa
Hill Swallow Hirundo domicola
Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
Dusky Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne concolor
Ashy Prinia Prinia socialis
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata
Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
Jungle Babbler Argya striata
Yellow-billed Babbler Argya affinis
Palani Laughingthrush Montecincla fairbanki
Indian White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus
Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch Sitta frontalis
Southern Hill Myna Gracula indica
Jungle Myna Acridotheres fuscus
Malabar Starling Sturnia blythii
Brahminy Starling Sturnia pagodarum
Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina
Oriental Magpie-robin Copsychus saularis
White-bellied Blue Flycatcher Cyornis pallidipes
Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae
Nilgiri Flycatcher Eumyias albicaudatus
White-bellied Sholakili Sholicola albiventris
Malabar Whistling-Thrush Myophonus horsfieldii
Black-and-Orange Flycatcher Ficedula nigrorufa
Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons
Pale-billed Flowerpecker Dicaeum erythrorhynchos
Nilgiri Flowerpecker Dicaeum concolor
Purple-rumped Sunbird Leptocoma zeylonica
Crimson-backed Sunbird Leptocoma minima
Loten’s Sunbird Cinnyris lotenius
Streaked Weaver Ploceus manyar
Red Avadavat Amandava amandava
Black-throated Munia Lonchura kelaarti
Tricoloured Munia Lonchura malacca
White-browed Wagtail Motacilla maderaspatensis
Paddyfield Pipit Anthus rufulus