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The Western Ghats has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site for its biodiversity and rightly so. There have been about 508 bird species recorded in Western Ghats of which 16 are endemic. This carefully crafted birding tour attempts to give an overall flavour of birding in the western ghats as also we attempt to spot many of the endemics. As you travel through the signature western ghat locations in the states of Karnataka and Kerala, some of the iconic species we will be targeting are the Sri Lankan Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon, Black & Orange Flycatcher, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Black Baza, Ceylon Bay Owl etc. We also get a reasonable shot at iconic mammal species of the western ghats – the Nilgiri Tahr, Lion Tailed Macaque and the Nilgiri Langur.
Target Species: Painted Bush Quail, Black Baza, Flame-throated Bulbul Tytler’s Leaf Warbler, Green Warbler, Indian Scimitar Babbler, White-bellied Woodpecker Indian Pitta, Malabar Woodshrike, White-bellied Minivet, Nilgiri Laughingthrush, Slaty-legged Crake, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka Bay Owl, Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl, Mottled Wood Owl, Brown Wood Owl, Palani Laughingthrush, Rufous Babbler, Wayanad Laughingthrush, Malabar Starling, Nilgiri Thrush, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Indian Blue Robin, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, Kashmir Flycatcher Black-and-orange Flycatcher, Nilgiri Flowerpecker, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Great Eared Nightjar, Malabar Trogon, Oriental Dollarbird, Nilgiri Pipit, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Barbet, White-bellied Treepie, Malabar Lark, Grey-headed Bulbul
Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary at Galibore
After landing in Bangalore, you will drive south to the Cauvery (Kaveri) Wildlife Sanctuary. Here you will be staying and relaxing at Galibore Nature Camp.
Starting with Ramnagara Vulture Sanctuary would be a great choice since it provides an opportunity to catch a sight at Yellow-throated Bulbul and Long-billed Pipit.
The lunch would take place at Galibore and have a nice talk with true experts in the wildlife of this area guiding us through their exciting stories making us feel even more connected.
What better way to end the first day than with a ride on the river in Coracle on a traditional round bamboo boat diving deep into the waters of exploration.
Exploring Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary
The first species in your checklist should be none other than the rare Grizzled Giant Squirrel that too whilst lounging in your hammock. Another top wishlist is the Lesser Fish Eagle.
And then, of course, there is a great list of species such as Blue-faced Malkoha, Green Imperial Pigeon, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Crested Treeswift, White-bellied Drongo, Jerdon’s Bushlark, and Jerdon’s Leafbird, while some rare ones being, Painted Spurfowl, Painted Sandgrouse, White-naped Woodpecker, Marshall’s Iora and White-naped Tit.
Galibore to Masinagudi
There are two routes to reach Masinagudi, each offering its own set of benefits.
While the route via Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary would allow you to experience a short boat ride, observing the colony of storks, egrets, and cormorants along with some amazing set of bird species.
On the other hand, taking a cross-country route across the river at Talakadu, which is a heritage site and also a birding viewpoint occasionally hosting wintering Black-bellied Terns.
Taking either of the routes, we reach Masinagudi where one can see species like Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Jerdon’s Bushlark, Blue-winged (Malabar) Parakeet, Small Minivet, Black-headed Cuckooshrike, and Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark.
mudumalai National Park
Owing a full day to bird-sitting is totally worth it when it comes to visiting Mudumalai National Park. White-bellied Minivet would be our major attraction, along with, other species including, Red Spurfowl, Brown Fish Owl, Blue-faced Malkoha, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, White-naped Woodpecker, Indian Pygmy Woodpecker, Indian Nuthatch, and Malabar Lark.
Do not miss the Mudumalai National Park!
On day 5, you will drive from Masinagudi to Ooty via Kalhatty Ghat. Ooty is quite famous for beautiful hills and forests, pleasant climate, and locally made chocolate!
The next day, you will go into remnant forest patches amongst the extensive tea estates meeting the Indian Blue Robin, Indian Blackbird, Nilgiri Sholakili (Nilgiri Blue Robin), Kashmir Flycatcher, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Black-and-orange Flycatcher, Tytler’s Leaf Warbler, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon and Painted Bush Quail.
Ooty Awaits You!
The next destination would be Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.
Be ready to meet Great Hornbill along with Indian Pitta, Malabar Trogon, Emerald Dove, Grey-fronted Green Pigeon, Malabar (Crimson-fronted) Barbet, Orange Minivet, the scarce Grey-headed Bulbul, Malabar Starling, Brown-breasted Flycatcher, and Thick-billed Warbler.
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
The day will start with an energetic trek to the forest at Parambikulam followed by a birding spot, later in the day, at Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and if you missed the chance of watching the Yellow-throated Bulbul earlier on the day 1, don't miss it now! Also, Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl is waiting for you along with some other species.
If you've got time, don't miss an evening tea at Karadippara, setting in the mood for the rest of the trip.
A little tip, if you are planning this trip in December or January, you will experience cold enough weather, while June to September, are the highest recorded rainy months out there, though here, it can rain any time.
So, if the weather conditions are in your favor, you will get to see various mammals and endemic birds, including Nilgiri Tahr along with Palani Laughingthrush, White-bellied Sholakili, Nilgiri Pipit, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon and, especially, Broad-tailed Grassbird.
Birding in Munnar
You really have to try your luck this day, because along with the opportunity to watch, Brown-backed Needletail, Black Eagle, Besra, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Thick-billed Warbler, Asian Fairy Bluebird and Little Spiderhunter, if you get really lucky, you might catch an eye for Wynaad Laughingthrush.
That's not it, the next day, you would be going for a ride on a jeep safari in the Gavi forest. Not just birds, here you have a chance to see Lion-tailed Macaque along with some tigers.
Periyar National Park
This place has a lot to offer.
Starting from afternoon birding, getting to see, Fork-tailed Drongo Cuckoo, Black-throated Munia, Red Spurfowl along with, this place's specialty, Black Baza.
While, later in the afternoon, you would be laying your eyes on Indian Blue Robin, Blue-throated and Tickell’s Blue Flycatchers, Puff-throated Babbler, and Orange-headed Thrush, and even a Slaty-legged Crake, Brown-breasted Flycatcher, Malabar Trogon, and Malabar Parakeet.
How about, you return to your hotel or resort, as to wherever you'd be staying and continue the venture, the next day?
The next day is a jackpot since you get to see majorly all the birds of Western Ghats, you've missed so far!
A night birding is highly recommended since you would get a chance to see the Great Eared as well as Jerdon’s Nightjar, and Spot-bellied Eagle Owl and Sri Lanka Bay Owl.
Also, during the day time, you can spot the other species, but especially, do not miss out at Malabar pied hornbill, Malabar parakeet.
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary!
As much as you will be loving the trip, this day would be the day you would head to Kochi for a flight back home. But, here's the catch! Most of the international flights are in the evening, so how can you not explore some more? Why not go for some good birding and add new species to your check-list before you go?
The Western Ghats is a hub for wildlife lovers. This trip is totally worth it and you won't regret visiting this place.