Also known as Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad is indeed a heaven for aviary aficionados.
This birdman, interested in all things feathered and winged, spent 3 full days exploring various areas of the sanctuary with Vinod, my own personal ornithologist.
The First day took flight at 6am at a picturesque spot with flowering trees and bushes perfect for many of my feathered friends including Sunbirds, Bulbuls, Ioras, Orioles, Minivets, Leafbirds, Thrushes, Parrots, Hornbills and Woodpeckers to name a few. It was an exciting morning watching them feed as the morning sun gave a glistening hue to their colourful feathers. The first spotting was magnificent – the Ceylon Frogmouth.
After breakfast, we went looking for the Asian Paradise Flycatcher (PFC) adult male. I refer to the male PFC as a gothic angel because of its combination of black head and beautiful white body with a marvellous long tail. Instead we were greeted by a Malabar Trogan who struck a regal pose for us. As we continued on our search, Brown Breasted Flycatcher, Monarch, Rusty Tailed Flycatcher joined us but no sign of the PFC. After lunch, we followed another trail where we were greeted by the Black Baza for a few moments. The Black Baza is not indigenous to the western Ghats and visits for only 3 months. It’s not easily spotted, so perhaps I got lucky. I was then called by this melodious shining bird, the Malabar Whistling Thrush. Oh my, what an incredible combination of sight and sound!
The next two days was well spent spotting Indian Pitta, Nightjar, Black Baza, and at last my Gothic Angel. Enjoy the pictures as I reflect and rejuvenate after my all-time favourite Avian experience!
Robin is the founder of Serene Journeys, a boutique travel company in India and a freelance travel photographer, birder and rural explorer. Follow him on Instagram @ serenejourneys or Facebook @ Serene Journeys or tweet @serenejourneys1
Steve is Director (UK & Ireland) with Serene Journeys and a freelance travel writer and photographer.
How to reach Thattekad: From Kochi airport, it is an hour and half drive. Most hotels will arrange airport pickup and drop.
Where to stay in Thattekad: Seventh Heaven Resort http://www.7thheavenresort.in (upmarket) or Thattekad Birds Song Homestay http://www.thattekadhomestay.com (Budget)
Naturalist to contact in Thattekad: Vinod, Mobile +91 9746 248274, +91 8943 894087, email at firstname.lastname@example.org