Western Ghats & Andamans, India
22nd January - 5th February 2018
Leader: James Eaton
Max group size: 8
Morning arrival into Port Blair. We will bird around Mount Harriet National Park, a tropical moist evergreen forest for the rest of the day. Our first endemic could include Andaman Woodpecker, Andaman Wood Pigeon, Andaman Cuckoo Dove, Andaman Crake, Brown Coucal, Andaman Cuckooshrike, Andaman Treepie, Andaman Drongo, Andaman Starling. In the evening we have our first chance of the two endemic boobook; Hume’s and Andaman, along with Andaman Scops Owl.
Night at Port Blair.
Three full days birding at least three different areas in search of the islands imaginatively named endemics: Andaman Teal, Andaman Scops Owl, Andaman Barn Owl, Andaman Boobook, Hume’s Boobook, Andaman Nightjar, Andaman Serpent Eagle, Brown Coucal, Andaman Drongo, Andaman Shama, Andaman Woodpecker, Andaman Crake, Andaman Treepie, Andaman Starling, Andaman Woodpigeon, Andaman Green Pigeon, Andaman Flowerpecker, Andaman Cuckooshrike and Andaman Cuckoo Dove.
Night at Port Blair.
Early breakfast then to the airport for our flight to Chennai, connecting with onward flight to Coimbatore, then a bit of a drive into the hills of Ooty, a renowned hill station situated at 2,200m in the Nilgiri Hills.
Early morning birding around Ooty in search of Painted Bush Quail, Black-and-orange and Nilgiri Flycatchers and Nilgiri Laughingthrush before heading down into the lowlands at Mudumalai. The terrain is varied with hills, valleys, ravines, watercourses and swamps, moist deciduous forests, dry deciduous forests and scrub forests and hence is ideal birding country. Our targets include Indian Pygmy Woodpecker, Jerdon’s Bushlark, Indian Nuthatch, White-bellied Minivet, Yellow-billed Babbler, White-browed Bulbul, White-cheeked Barbet, Malabar Lark, Nilgiri Flowerpecker, Bright-green Warbler, Red Spurfowl and Grey Junglefowl all being possible.
Night at Mudumalai.
A full morning around Mudumalai once again before heading back up to Ooty. It may not be the prettiest of hill stations but does contain Nilgiri Laughingthrush, Nilgiri Bush Robin, Indian Blackbird and Black-and-orange, Kashmir, Rusty-tailed and Nilgiri Flycatchers. Night at Ooty.
After a final morning at Ooty, in search of the regions most difficult endemics, Nilgiri Thrush, we leave for Munnar via the Ghats to Khambam, with little birding en-route. Any freetime around Munnar will be spent birding. Night in Munnar.
Birding in the sholas (high altitude montane forests) and grasslands for the Nilgiri Pipit, Painted Bush Quail, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Black-and-orange Flycatcher, Kerala Laughingthrush, Nilgiri Flycatcher, White-bellied Bush Robin, Yellow-throated Bulbul and Malabar Whistling Thrush. We will spend the late afternoon hiking up above the treeline in search of the most difficult of the regions specialities, the monsoon-breeding Broad-tailed Grassbird. Night at Munnar.
Mornings birding around the sholas once more for any species we may have missed the previous day before heading further south to Periyar, with some possible birding stops on the way. In the late afternoon we search for Wynaad Laughingthrush, while no doubt stumbling across several other regional endemics, notably White-bellied Treepie, Loten’s Sunbird and Malabar Barbet. Night at Periyar.
Periyar Tiger Reserve is one of the finest wildlife and birding destinations in South India. With over 320 bird species and is ideal habitat for Tiger. Periyar National Park contains a variety of habitats from grassland and dry deciduous forest to evergreen forest and riverside scrub. As a result of its wide range of habitats it boasts an impressive list of resident species including about half the peninsular endemics and near-endemics. We spend the day searching here for some very special species including the Wynaad Laughingthrush. Other birds to look out for include Indian Spinetail, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Brown-backed Needletail, striking Black Baza, Grey-fronted Green Pigeon, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Rufous Babbler, White-bellied Treepie, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Malabar Trogon, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher and Asian Fairy Bluebird among other more widespread species. Night at Periyar.
Night at Periyar.
Depending on our success depends on when we leave Periyar for Thattekkad.
Thattekkad is a lowland forest area with several types of eco-systems – riverine, grasslands, evergreen, scrub, dry deciduous, lowland forest. This is also home to most of the endemics of the Western Ghats. Grey-headed Bulbul, White-bellied Treepie, Rufous Babbler, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Indian Spinetail, White Bellied Blue Flycatcher, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Grey Hornbill besides owls like Brown Wood Owl, Sri Lanka Bay Owl, Oriental Scops Owl, Brown Fish Owl, and Spot-bellied Eagle Owl are all possible, among a whole range of more numerous species. We could also come across Red Spurfowl, Grey Junglefowl, Indian Pitta, Black-throated Munia and Grey-headed Fish Eagle. Night at Thattekad.
Full day inside and around Thattekad for our remaining targets. Night at Thattekad.
After a final morning birding at Thattekad, afternoon departures to Kochi (Cochin) International Airport for our flight departures.