South India Birding Tour
Southern India is home to some of the best National parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India. Most of these parks are located on the sides of the Western Ghats, one of the 35 bio-diversity ‘hot spots’ on earth due to its large volume of endemic species and diversity. The South India Endemic Birding Tour will take us through the lowland forests of Thattekkad to Periyar Tiger Reserve and onwards to the high altitude mountain forests & grasslands at Munnar, Ooty, the dry forests at Chinnar & Mudumalai & ending up at Ranganthittu near Mysore.
Day 1, 2, 3 – Thattekkad
Thattekkad is a lowland forest with several types of eco-systems – riverine, grasslands, evergreen, scrub, dry deciduous, lowland forest, enabling it to be one of the best birding destinations in India. This is also home to most of the endemics of the Western Ghats. One should sight the White bellied Treepie, Rufous Babbler, Crimson backed Sunbird, White Bellied Blue Flycatcher, Wayanad Laughing Thrush, Malabar Parakeet and Malabar Grey Hornbill, Flame-throated Bulbul, Malabar Woodshrike, Grey Fronted Green Pigeon, Malabar Barbet, Blyth’s Starling besides owls like the Mottled Wood Owl, Sri Lanka Bay Owl, Oriental scopes owl, Brown Fish Owl, Indian Scopes Owl and Spotbellied Eagle Owl. You should also be able to sight the Red Spurfowl, Grey Jungle Fowl, Indian Pitta, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Great Eared Nightjar, Malabar Trogon, White Bellied Woodpecker, Streak- throated Woodpecker, Heart-spotted Woodpecker…
Day 4 & 5 – Periyar
Periyar Tiger Reserve is one of the finest wildlife & birding destinations in South India. With over 320 bird species identified and a leading habitat for the Bengal Tiger, this sanctuary is an ideal destination of the tour. Periyar National Park contains a variety of habitats from grassland and dry deciduous forest to evergreen forest and riverside scrub. We will spend the day searching here for some very special species including the Waynad Laughingthrush. Other birds to look out for include Brown-backed Needletails, Oriental Honey-Buzzard, Black Eagle, Black Baza, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Lesser Fish Eagle, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Gray-breasted Prinia, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, , Thick-billed Warbler, Blue-throated Flycatcher, Brown-breasted Flycatcher, and the Asian Fairy Bluebird among other more widespread species. We may also sight the Woolly-necked Stork, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Jungle Owlet, White-rumped Spinetail, Black-naped Monarch and the Little Spiderhunter.
Day 6 & 7 – Munnar
We will leave for Munnar via the Ghats to Khambam where we should sight the Large Grey Babbler, Common Babbler, Jungle Bush Quail and the Grey Fancolin. We will proceed to Bodi Ghats en-route Munnar and stop over for sighting the rare Yellow Throated Bulbul, Indian Robin, Sirkeer Malkoha, Short Toed Snake Eagle, Bluefaced Malkoha and the Black eagle. We will reach Munnar by evening. The next day we will go birding in the sholas (high altitude montane forests) and grasslands for the Nilgiri Pipit, Painted Bush Quail, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Black & Orange Flycatcher, Nilgiri Flycatcher, White bellied Blue Robin, Broad-tailed Grassbird and Grasshopper Warbler.
Day 8 – Ooty
We will start early in the morning birding at Chinnar (dry scrub forest) looking for White-bellied Drongo, Blue faced Malkoha, Blue-beared bee-eater, Sirkeer Malkoha, Jungle Bush Quail and the Yellow-legged Button quail. From here taking the long drive, we will reach Ooty by evening. Ooty - a hill station, at about 2,200m in the Nilgiri Hills - is where we will look for the endemic Nilgiri Laughing , Nilgiri Blue Robin, and Black-and-rufous, Rusty-tailed and Nilgiri Flycatchers.
Day 9, 10 – Masinagudi/ Mudumalai
After birding at Ooty, we will make our way to Mudumalai located at the foot of the of the Nilgiris hills. The terrain is varied with hills, valleys, ravines, watercourses and swamps, moist deciduous forests, dry deciduous forests and scrub forests and hence is ideal birding country. Here we can spot the Jerdon’s Bushlark, Sirkeer Malkoha, Indian Blue Robin, Indian Nuthatch, White-bellied Minivet, Yellow-billed Babbler, White-bellied Woodpecker, Large Cuckooshrike, Banded-bay Cuckoo, Thick-billed Warbler, Malabar Lark and Painted Bush Quail.
Day 11 – Mysore
We will proceed towards Mysore birding along the way. Here we have a chance to look for any of the endemics missed especially the very rare Broad-tailed Grassbird near the Bandipur Reserve. Also seen are the Paddyfield Pipit, Richards Pipit and the Ashy crowned Sparrow Lark.
Day 12 – Bangalore
We depart early morning to visit the famous heronry on an islands on the Cauvery River at the Ranganthittu Wildlife sanctuary. Rowing boat cruise enables view of Eurasian spoonbill, Black-crowned night heron, three species of Cormorant, River Tern and Thick Knee, and many others. Transfer to Bangalore birding along the way. Check into the airport hotel by late evening.
Day 13– Depart
Drop to the airport. We end our South India Birding Tour.