I specially panned to finish my Kerala trip in the sea coast. I believed I will find some new species of Terns and Gulls in the southern seaside. But one month ago when I visited Fort-Kochin I watch only two species of Terns (both known to me) and no one species of Gull! Seaside without Gulls! But I later saw in FB group “Birdwatchers of Kerala” the photos of Gulls from sea coast. So I expected Gulls, especially Brown-headed one. First day I have very short birding because I tired in long time road from Munnar. But in second day morning I found seven species of Terns and four species of Gulls, including of course the Brown-headed Gull. All field guides pay attention to pale eyes as main feature of Brown-headed Gull, but I have one question - how I can view the little eye of Gull from a long distance? But when I found mixed flock of Black-headed and Brown-headed Gulls I distinguished them very easy. First feature – size; Brown-headed Gull larger at least of 25% than Black-headed Gull. Mixed flock easy separated to large (Brown-headed) and little (Black-headed) Gulls. Second feature – bill; Brown-headed Gull has heavy bill, but the Black-headed Gull has thin sharp-tipped bill. Third feature – wing-pattern; adult Brown-headed Gull has two large white spots in PM, juvenile has too much black in PM, in fly looks very contrasted. And the last, very nice, but not so useful in field feature – the pale eye, which is visible only in adult birds. The color of bill and legs are same in both species; adults have dark-red bill and legs, juveniles have orange ones.
Two other species of Gulls are Slender-billed and Heulgin's Gulls. The presence of Heulgin's Gull and absence of Caspian Gull are strange to me. Because first one is numerous but second one is rare in nesting and migrating in my country. So when I watched immature white-headed Gulls I think they are really Caspian Gulls, but 3 or 4 adults I saw were surely not Caspian Gulls at least. They were with dark mantle, pale eyes, streaks in head and neck.
Terns. Three species were id very easy – Caspian, Lesser Crested and Great Crested Terns. All three terns have large bills of different colours. Then I found two middle-sized black-white Terns, first one mostly stays near metal constructions, and has almost full black cap, black shoulders and long tail and wings. This tern was id as Common Tern. Another one mostly stays near fishermen. It has short tail and wings, less size, short and slightly heavy bill, and black mask; was id as Whiskered Tern. The sixth Tern is almost white, long-winged; it was id as Gull-billed Tern. And the last little Tern with black long bill and long wings was id as Little Tern. Different species of Terns stay in different parts of coast.
All the time I hope to find Skua. Dream comes true – I took photo of Arctic Skua. Common bird to inhabitants of seaside but very significant record to citizen of country located in the center of Eurasia.
Waders. Common Sandpipers and Common Greenshanks are usual birds of coast. I saw Greenshanks rested staying in one leg. At my approaching two birds started jumping in one leg. I thought – oh my God, too much birds lost legs. But this moment both birds began to run by two legs. Greenshaks seems can to jump by one leg. But why they firstly jumped in one leg? Twice I noticed Eurasian Curlews – single bird, and flock of 7 birds.
Ducks. Flock of 50 Garganeys and one Northern Shoveler flew by in southern direction.
Herons and Egrets. Western Pacific Heron, Little Egret, Indian Pond Heron are common birds in all coastal line. Intermediated Egret (single bird) was recorded only in metal construction.
Raptors. Brahminy and Black Kites, common everywhere.
People are a lot until 8.30 am and after 4 pm. Visitors and fishermen separate beach in two parts. Visitors not walk and run in territory of fishermen, fishermen not enter to tourists territory. Only I walk in all beach.
1. Brown-Headed Gull (Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus) in front, Black-Headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) in back.
2. Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
3. Tourist part of Alappuzha beach
4. Indian Humpback Dolphin (Sousa plumbea)
5. Western Reef Herons (Egretta gularis)
6. Adult Black-Headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
7. Lesser Crested Tern (Thalasseus bengalensis)
8. Crabs are the food of most of birds
9. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
10. Gull-Billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)
11. Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
12. Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida)
13. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
14. Heuglin's Gulls (Larus heuglini)
15. Fishermen's part of beach
16. Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)
17. Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)
18. Common Greenshanks (Tringa nebularia)
19. Western Reef Herons (Egretta gularis)
20. Adult Brown-Headed Gull (Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus) in winter plumage
21. Great (in front) and Lesser Crested Terns
22. Arctic Skua (Stercorarius parasiticus)
23. Slender-Billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)
24. Lesser Crested Terns (Thalasseus bengalensis)
25. unusual shell
© Askar Isabekov
Eravikulam National Park. Munnar, Kerala.