Friday, 8 December 2017

Western Ghats - 8th December (Day 14)

Our final full day at Thattekad and after a sleepless night, having developed a terrible cough, we were up at 05:30. As we left the room at just after 06:00 a fantastic Indian Pitta was hoping around on the ground metres away from our tent. We had a coffee and headed into the field. We drove towards Makarachal and birded a quiet road leading to the dam. This was a fantastic forested valley and provided us with a few hours of highly enjoyable birding. One of the first birds we encountered was a calling Mountain (Legge’s) Hawk-eagle which flew across the road and perched in a roadside tree but was directly into the sun and it was not possible to obtain any photographs. I snuck a little nearer to obtain a sound recording but the bird dropped down the valley giving good flight views. Next we encountered the remarkable Fork-tailed Drongo-cuckoo, a Cuckoo that looks just like a Drongo but few its head shape. Other new birds included Malabar Woodshrike, Indian Cuckooshrike, a sub-adult male Grey Junglefowl, Indian Pygmy Woodpecker, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Banded Bay Cuckoo plus Dark-fronted Babbler, a female Malabar Trogon, White-bellied Treepie. This was some of the best birding of the trip to date and as the heat increased through the morning we were reluctant to leave. We headed back to the hotel for the heat of the day and, for me, a welcome siesta.

Chestnut-tailed Starling of subspecies blythii, sometimes split as Malabar Starling but HBW Alive consider the song, plumage and genetic differences too small to justify the split - Thattekad

Fork-tailed Drongo-cuckoo, this species is a brood parasite on a range of species including Babblers and Ioras. In the north of its range it is nomadic but in south-west India it is resident - Thattekad

Fork-tailed Drongo-cuckoo - Thattekad

This spectacular vine like plant was common along the forest edge - Thattekad

Green Warbler - Thattekad

Common Lascar Pantoporia hordonia - Thattekad

Malabar Woodshrike - Thattekad

Banded Bay Cuckoo, the host species are Common Iora and Scarlet Minivet - Thattekad

A skulking young male Grey Junglefowl - Thattekad

Male Crimson-backed Sunbird - Thattekad

Female Malabar Parakeet - Thattekad

Dark-fronted Babbler of the nominate subspecies which is endemic to the Western Ghats - Thattekad

Small Minivet of the subspecies malabaricus - Thattekad

Changeable Hawk-eagle of the nominate subspecies cirrhatus, sometimes split as Crested Hawk-eagle - Thattekad

A spectacular bee probably of the genus Xylocopa - Thattekad

The beautiful forests at Thattekad

Three on a bike

The forest and track we birded this morning produced one of the most enjoyable sessions of the trip

We birded this quiet track all morning

The birding bus

We were out again at 15:00 and after stocking up on further beer supplies we wandered an area of plantation woodland. It was fairly slow going but we recorded Rufous Woodpecker and had fantastic views of a party of stunning Grey Jungle-fowl plus rather fleeting views of Mottled Wood Owl. As darkness fell we waited in a clearing and the Mottled Wood Owl again called, this time we were able to obtain better views as a pair responded and came into playback. Crested Treeswift flew over the clearing calling loudly and eventually three Jerdon’s Nightjar began calling and showing well. They have a remarkable bouncing ball call created through resonation of the chest but this is difficult to hear until the sound is slowed down. It was time to head back and we celebrated a very successful trip and our last full day birding with beers, Vodka and Whiskey on the veranda while taping in an Indian Scops-owl.

Loten's Sunbird (female) - Thattekad

Loten's Sunbird (male) - Thattekad

Cattle Egret of subspecies coromandus, sometimes split as Eastern Cattle Egret - Thattekad

The superb Grey Junglefowl - Thattekad

Indian Scops-owl, obligingly came to our chalets as we drank beer and completed the log - Hornbill Camp, Thattekad

I made a lot of recordings today most of which have been uploaded to the Internet Bird Collection. The downloads that can be generated are great as they produce a fairly good sonogram with the recording embedded and if clicked on one can listen to the recording or be directed to the IBC website where a larger version and details of the recording can be viewed.

This is a recording of the Mountain (Legge's Hawk-eagle) from first thing in the morning. This I believe to be the territorial call.

This is a recording of two Crested Serpent-eagle that were heard but not seen as they soared over the forest canopy.

The rattling tacking of a Dark-fronted Babbler reacting to a small amount of playback. The bird was in a bamboo thicket and moved into the canopy.

A Blyth's Reed-warbler with tacking calls and harsh alarm calls, the tacking calls are distinctive but the alarm calls are fairly similar to Common Reed-warbler.

Calls of a loose flock of around 20 Crested Treeswift as they flew above a woodland clearing at dusk.

Call of Mottled Wood-owl at dusk.

Duetting Mottled Wood-owl described in HBW Alive as the main breeding-season vocalisation and described as quavering 'chuhuawaarrrr' which seems fairly accurate to my ear. In this recording there are two calls and I believe the hoot is the female while the 'chuhuawaarrrr' is the male. Below shows the ''chuhuawaarrrr” (first note with harmonic) followed by the hoot.

This is the remarkable bouncing ball song of Jerdon's Nightjar, the enlargement of one of the calls shows the unusual waveform of one of the calls.

Links to Other Days of the Trip (Click to View)