Birds of Periyar

Periyar has one of the most diverse bird population and unlike the huge tourist rush ( we were there during Christmas) to see elephants we were able to manage some relatively less crowded nature walks.



Day-1 :
In the morning when we woke up at the Club Mahindra resort we were greeted with the rather hoarse sound of the Malabar grey Horn Bill and the racket tailed drongo.




In the afternoon we took a nature walk to the island opposite the boating jetty. This is a guided trip organized by the forest department and we took a bamboo raft to cross the lake.

We saw velvet fronted nuthatch, Drongo and Malabar whistling Thrush. Then we heard a rather loud swooosh-swooosh sound and when we looked up my initial thought was what is this colourful glider? I realized that this was the first time I was looking at the Great Indian Hornbill. It's size and beauty and the stunning colors kept us in awe for quite sometime..


We walked further in the forest and were hit by a shower of beries from the trees and saw the Malabar Giant squirrel eating with its head upside down.


One of the endemic birds  that I wanted to watch was the Malabar Trogon. While I was shooting another Racket tailed drongo.......


...our guide nudged us to look the other way and there in front of us between branches was the Malabar Trogon. The light was poor but it was the 3rd Lifer in the day and I was very excited.




Day 2 :

We went to Gavi the next day. It is a day long trip from Kumily and is the western end of the Peryar tiger reserve. Known to host the Lion tailed Macaque.  We ended up seeing lots of Nilgiri Langurs,


Souther Hill Myna, Malabar Parakeet, Nilgiri Wistling Thrush, Yellow throated Bulbul.





The othet thing that stood out was the diverse butterfly population. Though my knowledge of butterflies is very limited, I couldn't help clicking a few of them. These included the Blue Admiral, the Malabar tree Nymph, Tailed Jay, Common Blue bottle, Paris Peacock and Dragonfly.








Day 3:
The 3rd day was spent mostly walking around the periphery of the forest. We also saw some wild elephants straying into the tourism area and unfortunately feeding on trash left by tourists.



The highlight was the night walk in the forest accompanied by a forest guard and a guide. We heard night jars, sound of animals and the entire experience was eerie and exciting at the same time !!








Day 4:
We took another nature walk and we saw some woodpeckers like Greater Flameback and White breasted woodpecker. We also saw Nilgiri Laughing Thrush and had a fleeting glance of the Fairy Bluebird and a forest wagtail.




Near the lake saw Asian Openbill, Cormorants, Grey Hornbill, White breasted and common kingfishers.....


.......and then as we were moving near the water we saw a herd of elephants at a distance of 15 feet from us. This was the closest I was to wild elephants and that too on foot !!



Periyar is a very unique reserve. It has a host of endemics and has managed a very effective balance between tourism and conservation.


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