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Thattekad Bird Sanctuary

2017-10-28| Askar Isabekov

The Thattekad Bird Sanctuary is located in the peninsula formed in joining of Idamalayar and Periyar rivers. The wild part of sanctuary called “Forest” by the staff contains three important parts: open water, foothills forest, and large-leaf forest in the rivers floodlands. There are no birds in water, probably because water is a bit. Or probably not a season. The foothills forest is very tall trees staying between rocks. Branches of trees up to 15 meter are almost absent. I was going in this forest and seeing and hearing nothing. Only very large Squirrel slowly moved from one tree to another, also it sounded the first calls which I heard here. By the way this sound is similar to the sound of Red Squirrel. I was going slowly in full silence because I was expecting to view or hear any of birds. But they were absent. But once the flock of medium-sied black birds very quickly and with sharp sounds moved from crown of one tree to another one. I of course nothing noticed. Moreover, it was impossible to view perching birds in the dense leaves. Then these black birds two more times again moved from the one tall tree to another, but I again noting viewed. I understood there was no reason to wait and go via the dam bordered by bamboo to the “island”, because I heard the birds sounds there.

The dark large-leaves forest, with low branches, crossed by bushes and acacias, is probably the best habitat for birds in this place and in this season, because birds were a lot. Of a tens of birds the majority is formed by three medium-sized birds: Hill Mynas, Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, and Malabar Starlings. But despite of the numerous of these bird, it was very hard to take photos of them. Because all of birds were moving and sounding always in the top of trees, mostly in shadow of leaves, and very rare I had opportunity to take photo. I wanted to have photos of these birds therefore they were most popular of all, so I lost the large part of my time and power for the common birds, but without significant results. I note that local Bee-eaters are smaller than ones I saw previously, and prefer to stay in crowns. These Bee-eaters are more louder than other ones too. There were small-sized birds too. I tried to take photos of them when there is a bird's movement, I didn't try to id or even to view, I knew it's impossible in forest. When I later looked photos I see that most popular of single birds was the Malabar Shrike. Two different Flycatchers, Asian Fairy-Bluebirds, probably Flowerpeckers were observed by one or two of each. Of the large birds I need to say about White-bellied Treepies. Very beauty birds which I saw first time. Treepies were not all the time before my eyes. But once the couple of them were staying close to me, moving in branches, but not fly away. I looked to the ground and saw the Besra caught Common Myna which were crying loudly. So two long-tailed beauties just were waiting when Besra kill Myna. Beauty not always means romantic, but may be pragmatic too, especially in nature. Trying to take photos of raptor with prey I flushed besra and Myna flew off alive. It's very surprisingly because twice I saw the Besra very easy moved at he distance about two ot three meters with the prey in legs. But Myna was alive.

Some words about Woodpeckers. I saw three of them. First one is commonest here Black-rumped Flameback; second one is Lesser Yellownape I saw two years ago in Himalayas, and the third one is very little black Woodpecker firstly alleged as passerine bird. Some times this Woodpecker very comfortable to me posed though in the leaves shadow, but I couldn't catch it in frame. Then I took some photos of head only, unfortunately not full bird. It's very easy to lost bird in jungle. I looked for it some time but unsuccessfully.

Birds in floodplain always sounded, at least calls of Mynas and Babbler were audible all time. I came back to the mountain part of forest, and again enter to the silence. During a half of hour I saw five birds, two Malabar Grey Hornbills and one Yellow-browed Bulbul. Nice birds but I wanted more than that. I came back to island. Here I again was watching to the birds in the crowns. But in one time all the sounds were off. In silence I noticed two birds of prey flying by. After one minute of silence the shout returned again. Close to 2pm the birds activity was decreased. The number of birds became a bit. I flushed wild Peafowl and then heard its calls similar to Pheasant's ones. I wanted to looked for it but it was a time to come back.

I was in sanctuary almost 5 hours. I didn't find expected Owls, but it probably means not Owl season. Sanctuary is small but very nice. The sanctuary staff told the Black Bazza arriving time is soon. I thought the Indian Pitta time is soon too, and probably need to come back here one month later. Or probably two days later.

1. Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis)

2. Crested Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis cheela)

3. Typical view in tropical forest

4. Malabar Woodshrike (Tephrodornis sylvicola)

5. Black-hooded Oriole (Oriolus xanthornus)

6. Lesser Yellownape (Picus chlorolophus)

7. Besra (Accipiter virgatus) caught Common Myna

8. White-bellied Treepie (Dendrocitta leucogastra)

9. Indian Giant Squirrel (Ratufa indica)

10. Heart-spotted Woodpecker (Hemicircus canente)


12. Malabar Parakeet (Psittacula columboides)

13. Malabar Gray Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus)

14. Yellow-browed Bulbul (Iole indica)

15. Southern Hill Myna (Gracula indica)

16. Malabar Starling (Sturnia blythii)

17. Asian Fairy-bluebird (Irena puella)

18. Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti)

19. Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

2021-09-16. Jim Roosa:

These are great photos. I have been birding in South America for the past year, and if I am reading this correctly, and it was considered a challenging day to view birds, then you have an embarrassment of riches in Kerala

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