Endemics of South India
Day 1: Bangalore – Mysore
Your guide will meet you and your group at Bangalore airport and you will be taken to Mysore (4 hours) for the evening. Night at Hotel Green.
Day 2: Mysore – Nagarhole
After breakfast drive to Nagarhole and check in at Kabini River Lodge. Enjoy for first safari at Nagarhole in the afternoon. Nagarhole comprises a varied selection of habitats, dominated by extensive dry deciduous forests. Brown Fish Owls are sometimes found close to the lodge. Raptors include Black-winged Kite, Shikra, Changeable Hawk-eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle and Osprey. The area is home to the endemic Grey Junglefowl, Common Peafowl, Asian Koel, Plumheaded Parakeet, the endemic Malabar Parakeet, Spotted Owlet, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, Indian Swiftlet, White-cheeked Barbet, Coppersmith Barbet, Malabar Lark, and two types of shrikes: Bay-backed and Brown.
We’ll also be on the look-out for many other bird species, including: White-bellied, Ashy, Bronzed and Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Chestnut-tailed and Brahminy Starlings, Southern Hill Myna, Rufous Treepie, Large and Black-headed Cuckoo-shrikes, Small Minivet, Common Iora, Yellow-billed Babbler, Common Tailorbird, Blyth’s Reed, Green and Greenish Warblers, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Indian Robin, Paddyfield Pipit, Pale-billed Flowerpecker, Purple-rumped and Purple Sunbirds, and Chestnut-shouldered (or Yellow-throated) Sparrow.
Not far from the lodge the Kabini River has been dammed and the resulting lake, together with its well-vegetated margins and stark, dead, partly submerged trees, provides a welcome habitat for Great and Intermediate Egrets, Spot-billed Duck, White-breasted Waterhen, Black-bellied Tern, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Ashy Wood-swallow and perhaps the endemic Malabar Pied Hornbill. We may see Jerdon’s Nightjars sitting on the trails at dusk and later in the evening we may well find Collared Scops Owl or Brown Hawk Owl close to the lodge.
Nagarhole, and the contiguous Bandipur National Parks, are a haven for mammals, though seeing the resident creatures requires a good deal of luck, especially as a third of the total area of these parks is designated a Wilderness Area from which human visitors are barred! It is estimated that over a thousand Indian Elephants roam the mighty tracts of forest and at times large herds assemble at favoured locations near water sources such the banks of the Kabini River. The massive Indian Bison, the Gaur, is another valued resident of the Park occurring in herds of up to 20 to 30 animals, placidly grazing the emerging grasses. Four species of deer inhabit the forests – the delicate and beautiful Spotted Deer or Chital is the commonest and most conspicuous, while smaller numbers of Sambar, Muntjac and Mouse Deer might be encountered. Wild Boar are numerous and, along with the Chital, provide prey for a formidable trio of predators: Tiger, Leopard and Dhole. Other mammal sightings which might entertain the visitor include the mostly nocturnal Sloth Bear, which can occasionally be seen digging for termites or lumbering across a clearing, Black-naped Hares, Jackals, Otter, four species of mongoose and the constantly active troupes of Grey Langur and Bonnet Macaques. In the world of mammal-watching nothing can ever be guaranteed, but Nagarhole is a perfect place to look for some of the most impressive examples of India’s diverse fauna
Day 3: Nagarhole
Morning and afternoon safaris. Relax in between in the grounds of Kabini River Lodge
Day 4 & 5: Nagarhole – Mudumalai. Night at Jungle Retreat.
After a final morning safari you will drive on to Mudumalai. Relax for the rest of the day at Jungle Retreat. Mudumalai is rich in bird life and many of the regions endemics can be seen on a trip to the Park. It is a good place to see Red Spurfowl, Grey Junglefowl, Malabar Pied and Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Parakeet, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, The Crested variety of the Changeable Hawk Eagle, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Mottled Wood Owl, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Indian Swiftlet, Jerdon’s Bushlark, White-bellied Drongo, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Rufous Babbler, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Indian Scimitar Babbler and Malabar Trogon. The road to Ooty is good for White-bellied Minivet, Grey-headed Bulbul, Malabar Lark and Malabar Whistling Lark.
Day 6: Mudumalai – Ooty
After a morning safari drive on to Ooty (4 hrs). Check in at Fernhill Palace or similar. Spend any remaining time exploring the local area for Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Common Woodshrike and Blue-winged Leafbirds, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Malabar Parakeet, Greenish Warbler and Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher. Black-throated Munia, Dark-throated and Tawny-bellied Babblers, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Rufous Babbler, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Nilgiri Laughingthrush, Black-and orange Flycatcher, Greater Flamebacks and Great Tit, Eurasian Blackbird etc.
Day 7: Ooty – Topslip (5 hrs)
An early start is scheduled today, taking packed breakfasts and lunches with us, to visit the legendary Top Slip (a distance of 180 kilometres), which is situated in the Anamalai Hills and is one of the best natural history locations in southern India.
The shola forests and diverse habitats of the National Park warrant a thorough exploration and we will be spending the remainder of the day, and the next, following a variety of trails in search of the very special birds and mammals that inhabit Top Slip.
Accommodation is limited here and basic in style, but it is important to be able to take advantage of the early morning and late afternoon periods when wildlife is most active. Although best known for its birdlife, the National Park boasts a very impressive mammal population including both Lion-tailed Macaque and Nilgiri Langur. Larger herbivores are also present and Indian Elephant, Sambar, Chital and Gaur have all been recorded in the Park. Night at Banyan Tree.
Day 8: Topslip – Munnar (4 hrs)
Night at Copper Castle. Munnar 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.
Day 09: Munnar
Night at Copper Castle.
Visit Eravikulam National Park is a plateau at an average height of 6500 feet, about 30 kms from Munnar, high up in the mountains of 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 as a National park in 1978. It covers an area of 97 sq. kms of rolling grasslands and high level sholas.
Day 10: Munnar – Periyar
Night at Lake Shore in best rooms. Inc an afternoon boat trip on the lake.
Periyar is well located as a centre for seeing most of these ornithological specialties of the Western Ghats, as well as large numbers of other resident hill species and migrants. In deciduous forest around Thekkady the commonest species in mixed foraging flocks are, in descending order Racket-tailed Drongo, Scarlet Minivet, Velvetfronted Nuthatch, Bronzed Drongo, Grey Tit, Goldenback Woodpeckers, Whitebellied Tree Pie, Jungle Babbler, Indian Rufous Tree Pie, Yellowbrowed Bulbul, Large Wood Shrike, Ashy Drongo, Small Minivet, Goldfronted Chloropsis, Small Green Barbet, Flowerpeckers. Other common members include Orioles, Fairy Bluebird, Leaf Warbler Flycatchers and Quaker Babbler. Very few species recorded in the sanctuary cannot at one time or another seen in the Tourist Zone, though it is necessary to climb to the grassy hilltops find some such as Brown Rock Pipit and Pied Bush Chat. The sanctuary is also one of the finest for wildlife viewing.
Day 11: Periyar – Thattekkad
Morning birding at Periyar. Late morning driver on to Thattekkad. They stay, especially if they have quite a few singles in Hornbill Camp / bird lagoon.
Day 12: Thattekad
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, also known as Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, is 12 km NE of Kothamangalam in Ernakulam District, Kerala state, about 50 km east of Kochi. This is the prime birding destination in South India. Specialties here include Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl, Ceylon Frogmouth, Red Spurfowl, Bay Owl, Rufous Babbler, Blue-faced Malkoha, Brown-breasted, White-bellied Blue-tailed and Rusty-tailed Flycatchers, Grey-headed Bulbul and Wynad Laughing Thrush. Moreover, Thattekkad is ideal for seeing a good number of the 16 endemics of the Western Ghats. The more difficult birds are Wynad Laughing Thrush and Grey-headed Bulbul. Proceed to Orullathany, at one end of the reserve, for the Bulbul and Laughing Thrush.
Day 13: Thattekad and estuary and paddy fields to increase the number of species.
Visit Edamalayar Power Plant land and the South side of the river for the owls, Streak-throated Woodpecker and Yellow-billed Babbler. Other notable species likely to be seen within the Reserve are Red Spurfowl, Ceylon Frogmouth, Blue-faced Malkoha, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Malabar Grey Hornbill, White-bellied and Heart-spotted Woodpeckers, Rufous Babbler, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, White-bellied Treepie and Black-throated Munia.
Overnight stay at the birding lodge.
Day 14: Thattekad – Cochin and away.