First days in Munnar

2017-11-28| Askar Isabekov

Yesterday in arriving to Munnar I noticed from the bus window one large bird perching in the branch of tree in river side. After the check in lodge I immediately go to view this bird, unbelievable, it continue to perch in the same branch. But I was not so fast when I prepare my camera, bird flew away, and I didn't id it. I had a lunch and decided to walk along the river, because all the road I think about Malabar Whistling Thrush, which should be found in mountain rivers, of course if it behavior is similar to relative Blue Whistling Thrush. I found Malabar Whistling Thrush in the first 500 meters of my walking directly in Munnar. This Thrush sure should to be my first bird in the Western Ghats. In my opinion it's a reason why the large bird I saw from the bus car flew away when I prepare my camera. I found this bird in 15 minutes after Malabar Whistling Thrush in the opposite side of the river. It is Crested Serpent Eagle, the most popular raptor in Munnar.

Today I was going to visit area near one of waterfall I saw in road sides yesterday. In my opinion any specific species of mountain birds should be observed in the gorges near waterfall. In the road to bus stand I saw two interesting to me birds: the Long-tailed Shrike with grey mantle (not with rufous as our local subspecies) and the Peregrine Falcon of local subspecies peregrinator, also known as Shaheen. I noticed latter one in the tree sitting by back to me, but I viewed the red color in cheeks and of course wanted to view the underparts of bird. I hoped Falcon turned but three Hose Crows attacked it and Falcon flew off. So I could take photos of underparts in fly only.

My first attempt to use local bus was not successfully, I could to reach only half of way I planned. But I viewed really very nice landscapes of mountains and tea plantations in morning mist. There are Red-wiskered Bulbuls all around, really most popular bird in Munnar area. The second bird I saw in the tea plantations area is Dusky Crag Martin, my lifer. Very dark-brown Martins I saw yesterday in Munnar, but due to rain couldn't take photo, today I took photos of Martins but only viewable heads.

Under the tea plantation there are the tall tree forests. Very nice too. One of my main birding mode is watching bird in road sides. But branches of main road are preferable in this mode that the main road, due the latter's danger mostly. So I tried to observe birds in the branches of main road to Munnar. The first one was very short and finished in little village, where I took photos of quite numerous Malabar Parakeets, in second one I visited the no man farm where saw many species of birds, inluding Malabar Whistling Thrush, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Indian Golden Oriole, White-rumped Munias, Barbets, etc. Almost all the time the crying Crested Serpent Eagle was soaring in sky.

When I back to main road I quite accidentally met my Facebook friend Kuttettan Munnar, never seen in real life. He invite me to his home, where we photographed birds from the hidden place. Then we go to the forest where Kuttettan found to me the White-bellied Woodpecker. Many thanks Kuttettan! When driving Kuttetan all the time look to the roadside thickets. I do it like Kuttettan, perhaps all birders do it. Most of roadside birds (Bulbuls, Sunbirds) were found in the fruits trees.

1. Malabar Whistling Thrush (Myophonus horsfieldii)

2. Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela)

3. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus peregrinator), aka Shaheen

4. Red-Whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus)

5. Dusky Crag-Martin (Ptyonoprogne concolor)

6. Blue-Winged Parakeet (Psittacula columboides)

7. Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus)

8. White-Rumped Munia (Lonchura striata)

9. Crimson-Backed Sunbird (Leptocoma minima)

10. Blue-Capped Rock Thrush (Monticola cinclorhynchus)

11. Oriental White-Eye (Zosterops palpebrosus)

12. Little Spiderhunter (Arachnothera longirostra)

13. Flame-throated Bulbul (Pycnonotus gularis)

14. Golden-Fronted Leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons)

15. Meeting with Kuttettan Munnar

16. Kuttettan Munnar

17. Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)

18. White-Bellied Woodpecker (Dryocopus javensis)

19. Tea plantations near Munnar

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