Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Birding in the Western Ghats

Birding in the Western Ghats is what came to our minds; the moment we knew we had a week at our disposal. (i.e. from 11th March 2013 to 17th March 2013).

Our earlier trip to this region was jeopardized, during the last week of October 2012 as the rain gods were very happy and kept showering all along our birding route.

Our journey from Mumbai to Dandeli was approx 600 kms. We drove on the Mumbai-Pune express highway which connects to the NH-4.  Just about 48Kms after Belgaum we took the right turn towards Kittur a small town and the moment we left the highway along the underpass located a water body. There was a decent sized flock of Open-billed Storks, Painted Storks, Pheasant-tailed jaccana’s, Black winged stilts also found a Brahminy Kite circling the area. After Birding there for sometime moved towards Dandeli on a two lane state highway SH93. Transiting through Alnavar reached Haliyal. We were told to visit the water body which was located just behind the Fort in Haliyal. Pheasent tailed jacana’s, water hen, Moorhens, river terns and drongos riding on sheep in large numbers were sighted.

Soon, we drove towards Dandeli from Haliyal and by evening reached Milind’s Homestay. Milind the owner was waiting for us. He checked us into a decent sized room. Soon we realized he would be multi-tasking for us. His hospitality is commendable, drives well and can sight wild life like a Hawk. During our two nights and three day stay with him were served with authentic food. The family has traditional accommodation with modern amenities and can home even a large group with ease.

In the nights he would drive us into the trails he had mastered and during the day he would take us on birding trails around the Dandeli timber depot, Ganeshguddi, Kali adventure camp. During the safari’s we saw the Malabar Giant Squirrel, Flying Squirrel, Paw civet, Taranchula spider, Night Jar apart from many birds.
Malabar giant squirrel
Tarantula Spider

Jungle Nightjar (Caprimulgus indicus)

1.    DANDELI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY - (475.02 sq. Kms) Located in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, is a evergreen and deciduous forest a heaven for sighting forest birds.

The next morning we began our quest to sight birds. Spotted an Indian Grey Hornbill pair, White-bellied sea eagle begin chased by a pair of Brahminy Kites. Just a few steps into the trail we were delighted to sight the Malabar Pied Hornbill in large numbers, Jungle Owlets (a pair), Greater Flameback, Yellow-footed pigeons feeding on fig trees. 

Malabar Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus)
After a short break, headed towards the Jungle lodge (Kali Adventure Camp). Spotted the Rufous-bellied woodpecker, Tickle’s blue flycatcher, and a couple of crocodiles. They were basking in the sun along the Kali river.
Crocodile basking in the sun in Kali river - Dandeli
Dark-fronted Babbler (Rhopocichla atriceps)
Brown-headed Barbet or Large Green Barbet (Megalaima zeylanica)
Common Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica)
Small Minivet (Pericrocotus cinnamomeus)
Rufous Woodpecker, (Micropternus brachyurus)
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae)
Soon we returned to Milind’s Home for a delicious lunch and headed towards Kollur.

By evening just as the sun was setting reached Murdeshwar. The beaches are clean and after a quick dosa snack and filter coffee, hit the road again. Kollur was our destination for the night. Enroute near Yellapur forest sighted a Jackal, who was enjoying a kill. Looks like we scared him. All we wanted was a click.

2.    MOOKAMBIKA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY in Kollur (247 sq. Kms) 

Our friend Chandrashekhar Adiga was waiting for us. He soon checked us into the Hotel and asked us to rest. Early morning 6 am we woke up to the sounds of the Whistling Schoolboy!

Had heard the calls but personally had never seen it, soon we all were on the trail led by Chandrashekhar around his farm. Orange headed thrush and many more can be seen chirping here. Vernal hanging parakeet, Malabar parakeet come in pairs to feed. After about three hours we had sighted some beauties.

To our surprise, our friend had arranged a trip to the Arishinagundi falls. The jeep was waiting to drive us the moment we finished our breakfast. Just a couple of Kms from Kollur was the entrance to the Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary gate to our right. The tracks were like unused for a while, loose soil and stones were making the drive really bumpy. There were spots when the steep climbs, drops and turns made us feel we were on a grand prix trail combined with a rollercoaster effect.

After about 30 minutes (5 Kms) we stopped to gather the stuff from the jeep, that was all scattered due to the bumpy drive and entered the walking trail towards the fall.

Soon we realized the track was fairly difficult and tricky. The dried leaves wouldn't let us have a firm grip. We either had to slide down or we had to hold on to the branches to climb up the trail. With cameras in our hand, had to balance and keep walking. Yash and I rushed down the trail. Suddenly there was silence and heard our fellow birder Gopi calling us back!

“Why are you rushing” - he asked, look what chandrashekahar has spotted he whispered.

Behold we saw the Mountain imperial pigeon for the first time. Soon we had frames filling our memory cards from all possible positions and angles.

Mountain Imperial Pigeon (Ducula badia)
The decent to the falls, there are diversions and no sign boards. Lucky, chandrashekhar knew the trial like the back of his palm. In about an hour or so, we reached the scenic fall. The clear waters indicated that not many had been here earlier in recent times. We did find plastic bottles and wrappers thrown around – visitors come take memories and leave memories!!

Hope, some day people will appreciate nature and not leave trails that nature can’t destroy.

The afternoon sunlight reflects on the falls and the entire area looks golden. The precise reason why the falls are named Arsiniguddi. One of the most scenic locations I have been to in the western ghats.
Arsinaguddi Falls
To watch video click here :

After spending an hour or so, decided to trek back to the Jeep. Our last drop of water and strength was exhausted by the time we reached back. 

After some awesome rice and sambhar, took some rest, transferred the photos and prepared our selves to walk around  the farm. Soon we found a spot in the shrubs next to the stream where it was shallow. We saw the bulbul's coming and taking a dip in the flowing stream. 
Ruby-throated Bulbul
Grey-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus priocephalus) - Image by Yash Kothiala
Common Kingfisher had perched just a few feet away. Though the branch, did not allow us to get the complete bird in frame, sat motionless and kept admiring its colours and activity.
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
While we sat and watched them dipping and drying, Yash and Chandrashekahar moved further into the farm and we soon joined them to sight the Heart spotted woodpecker, Lesser Golden-backed woodpeckers, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Asian fairy blue bird to name a few.

Asian Fairy-bluebird (Irena puella)
 Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker
(Dinopium benghalense)
The sun set and we started our walk back to the hotel, this time from a different road. Just as were to reach, sighted a pair of Woodpeckers who were busy knocking together.

Early morning we drove towards Udupi, where we decided  to spend our day, just relaxing and watching our clicks.

3.    KUDREMUKH NATIONAL PARK - Kudremukh (563 sq Kms) 

Saturday morning is what we were waiting for as were to meet the birding legend Mr. Shiva Shankar. By the wee hours we drove towards Karkala and Durga forest accompanied by Prashanth Poojary, Gopinath, Yash and Shiva Sir. Shiva Sir had indicated earlier itself that it’s the nesting time and bird activity would be restricted to their specific region and sighting would not be great.

He has been birding in the region for more than eight years and is a naturalist too. We did sight the female Malabar Trogan and soon were on the road to Kudremukh National Park. The forest was very dense and the climate was getting cooler, though it was summer. We drove slow and stopped on hearing chirps. Located in the Western Ghats, it has one of the most beautiful landscapes, with evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, and grassland habitat.

Grey jungle fowl, Crimsion headed barbet, Emerald dove, Mountain imperial pigeon to name a few were sighted. No visit to this region is complete without the sighting of the Malabar Trogon.
Malabar Trogon (Harpactes fasciatus)

Grey Junglefowl (Gallus sonneratii)
It was almost dark, by the time we reached back to Durga forest. 

Mr. Shiva wanted to show us the Ceylon frogmouth, who was sighted earlier in the region. We waited for quite some time, it was pitch dark. Could hear them call, but sighting in the dark with a LED wide angle light was difficult.

We moved to another location and waited but in vain. As we were to head back to Udupi, thought to return to the first spot and try again. And within minutes could hear them call. Mr. Shiva was quick and flashed the light in such a manner that the bird was visible to us. Click click was what I could hear in the silence of the night…. 

Finally a beautiful day came to an end.

Ceylon Frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger)

4.    SOMESHWARA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY - Someshawara (88.4 sq. Kms) The Kudremukh national Park lies to the southeast of this Sanctuary. 

Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary  - Kali River
Sunday Morning we drove towards Someshwar wild life sanctuary. It was an exotic location with the Kali river flowing along but appearing still. It is surely a source of life to the wildlife and fishermen who habitat in the karwar and uttar Kannada district. 

The stream in the forest is where we were to spend some time. So got into slippers and folded the trousers, started to wade in the waters. Moving slowly and watching around, soon with the help of Prashanth sighted the Blue-eared Kingfisher. 

Blue-eared Kingfisher (Alcedo meninting)
White-bellied Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis pallipes)
Happy with the sightings, began our journey towards Agumbe, Lion-tailed Macaque was what Gopi  wanted to see. We drove up the entire hill and to our luck on way back sighted sitting the Macaque under the canopy shade, waiting to be clicked.

lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus)
By late afternoon and after feasting on the local delicacies the Gunda, Goli bhajias and Buns dropped Prashanth and headed to Sirsi. Night stay in Hotel Madhuvana.

5.    Attiveri Bird Sanctuary - located near Mundgod in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka

The next morning we took the road to Hubli and visited Attiveri Bird sanctuary, as we were not aware the distance was long also as we drove slow and kept birding enroute reached only by 10am.

On entering the main gate, saw a nicely maintained garden, which had Common Iroas, Puff-throated Babblers, Yellow-billed babblers, Flycatchers in decent numbers.
Yellow-billed Babbler or White-headed Babbler (Turdoides affinis)
Black-lored Tit,( Parus xanthogenys )
Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia)
On taking a stroll over the birding trail (made along the water body), spotted Spoonbills.

There is an option, wherein you can hire a boat the R.F.O accompanies you into the water body. As we had less time on hand, moved out of the sanctuary towards Mumbai. We had 27 lifers to our list and the following sighting.

Happy Birding!

TwitterFacebookGoogle PlusLinkedInInstagramEmail

HORNBILLS :-       
       1.    Malabar grey hornbill
       2.    Indian grey hornbill
       3.    Malabar pied hornbill

       4.    Indian peafowl
       5.    Grey junglefowl

        6.   Garganey
        7.   Ruddy shelduck

       8.    Speckled piculet
       9.    Yellow crowned woodpecker
      10.    Rufous woodpecker
      11.    Heart spotted woodpecker
      12.    Lesser yellownape
      13.    Black rumped flameback
      14.    Greater flameback

      15.     Crimson - fronted barbet
      16.     Coppersmith barbet
      17.     Brown - headed barbet

       18.     Malabar trogon
       19.     Indian roller

       20.     Common kingfisher
       21.     Blue - eared kingfisher
       22.     White throated kingfisher

       23.     Green bee - eater
       24.     Chestnut headed bee - eater

       25.     Common hawk cuckoo
       26.     Indian koel

       27.     Southern coucal

      28.      Vernal hanging parakeet
      29.      Malabar parakeet
      30.      Rose ringed
      31.      Plum headed parakeet

      32.     Jungle owlet

      33.     Srilankan frogmouth
      34.     Indian nightjar

      35.     Eurasian collared dove
      36.     Spotted dove
      37.     Emerald dove
      38.     Rock pigeon
      39.     Pampadour green pigeon
      40.     Yellow footed green pigeon
      41.     Mountain imperial pigeon

      42.    White -  breasted waterhen
      43.    Purple swamphen
      44.    Common moorhen
      45.    Common coot

      46.    Common snipe

      47.    Wood sandpiper
      48.    Common sandpiper
      49.    Little ringed plover
      50.    Red wattled lapwing
      51.    Black winged stilt
      52.    Little egret
      53.    Little cormorant
      54.    Purple heron
      55.    Grey heron
      56.    Indian pond heron
      57.    Black headed ibis
      58.    Eurasian spoonbill
      59.    Painted stork
      60.    Asian openbill
      61.    Wolly - necked stork
      62.    Bronzed winged jacana
      63.    Pheasant tailed jacana

      64.    River tern

      65.    Osprey
      66.    Black shouldered kite
      67.    Black kite
      68.    Brahminy kite
      69.    White - bellied sea eagle
      70.    Crested serpent eagle
      71.    Shikra
      72.    Oriental honey - buzzard
      73.    Greater spotted eagle
      74.    Rufous - bellied eagle
      75.    Common kestrel
      76.    Changeable-hawk eagle (Id to be confirmed)

      77.    Asian fairy bluebird
      78.    Blue winged leafbird
      79.    Golden fronted leafbird
      80.    Brown shrike
      81.    Long tailed shrike
      82.    Rufous treepie
      83.    House crow
      84.    Large billed crow
      85.    Indian golden oriole
      86.    Black - hooded oriole
      87.    Ashy woodswallow
      88.    Black headed cuckooshrike
      89.    Small minivet
      90.    Scarlet minivet
      91.    Black drongo
      92.    Ashy drongo
      93.    Greater racket - tailed drongo
      94.    White - throated faintail
      95.    Black - naped monarch
      96.    Asian paradise - flycatcher
      97.    Common iora
      98.    Large woodshrike
      99.    Blue - capped rock thrush
    100.    Malabar whistling thrush
    101.    Orange headed thrush
    102.    Asian brown flycatcher
    103.    Rusty - tailed flycatcher
    104.    Brown breasted flycatcher
    105.    White - bellied blue flycatcher
    106.    Tickell's blue flycatcher
    107.    Oriental magpie robin
    108.    White rumped shama
    109.    Common stonechat
    110.    Pied bushchat
    111.    Chestnut - tailed starling
    112.    Brahminy starling
    113.    Common myna
    114.    Jungle myna
    115.    Hill myna
    116.    Velvet - fronted nuthatch 
    117.    Great tit
    118.    Black - lored tit
    119.    Red - rumped swallow
    120.   Wire - tailed swallow
    121.    Grey - headed bulbul
    122.    Flame - throated bulbul
    123.    Red - whiskered bulbul
    124.    Red - vented bulbul
    125.    White - browed bulbul
    126.    Yellow - browed bulbul
    127.    Grey - breasted prinia
    128.    Ashy prinia
    129.    Oriental white - eye
    130.    Blyth's reed warlbler
    131.    Common tailorbird
    132.    Tickell's leaf warlbler
    133.    Greenish warbler
    134.    Puff - throated babbler
    135.    Dark - fronted babbler
    136.    Common babbler
    137.    Rufous babbler
    138.    Jungle babbler
    139.    Yellow - billed babbler
    140.    Brown - cheeked fulvetta
    141.    Indian bushlark
    142.    Malabar Lark (ID to be confirmed)
    143.    Plain flowerpecker
    144.    Crimson - backed sunbird
    145.    Purple - rumped sunbird
    146.    White wagtail
    147.    White - browed wagtail
    148.    Yellow wagtail
    149.    Tree pipit
    150.    House sparrow
    151.    Chestnut - shouldered petronia
By late evening we were back to our habitat, feeling great. Thanking Yash Kothiala, Gopinath Kollur, Prashanth Poojary, Shiva Shankar, Chandrashekar Adiga, Raj Mohan and Milind (Homestay) for this memorable trip.

Happy Birding !!

More images on Birds in Western Ghats      



  1. Awesome blog ..... very informative for any one planning a visit to this amazing birding destinations.

  2. Thank you So Much @Santosh BS for your comment.

  3. An trip to this place should be made very often. Its indeed a heaven for birds.

    Thank you for passing by @Gopi (The Wild Eye)

  4. Impressive list, sir! Mouth watering.. thanks for the detailed report!

  5. Thank you @Deepak B, we ourselves were happy with the sightings at the end of the birding week.

  6. Enviable list and awesome pictures

  7. Namaskar @Tapas ji, it is all thanks to fellow birders, Gopi for choosing the destination and Yash who pushed us :)

    Appreciate your Comment :)

    Happy Birding !!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Excellent, Just glanced the photos and I will go through the report in detail later.

    The nightjar is Grey (jungle) nightjar.
    The Mountain imperial pigeon photo is taken at KNP I believe, would be interested in seeing the one you saw at Kollur (since there were two, cud be juv with parent).


  10. Thank you Shiva Sir for the ID correction, will do that right away.

    Will post the image taken in Kollur, we sighted two but on different times. (Not Together)

    Best Regards,


  11. Awesome report
    Great snaps,
    Lot of hard work and good fortune,

    Keep Birding !!!

  12. Thank you @DrSajid Ji :)

    Appreciate you took time out to read and enjoy our experience.

    Happy Birding !!!

  13. Excellent images, brief yet sufficient story details. Thanks. Felt travelling along with the story teller.
    Who organized this trip? Can anybody join in if organized again?

  14. Thank you @Dr. Rujuta ji!

    Had planned the trip with my son and a friend.

    Can send all the possible leads to you. In case, you choose to drive, will make a detailed road plan with stop over points for the day and night!!

    Not sure, when we will repeat this destination :)

    Happy Birding !!

  15. Thank you @Sudeep Garg for your kind comment.

  16. Replies
    1. Thank you so much Sudhir, glad you liked the post. Happy Birding!!

  17. Amazing share. Might as well try and visit Tadoba National Park. It's scenic and tranquil and full of beautiful birds, wildlife and fauna.

    Tadoba Jungle Safari is not to be missed :D

    1. Glad you liked the post, thanks so much. Will surely try and visit your referred place!

  18. Your blog is in a convincing manner, thanks for sharing such an information with lots of your effort and time
    ruby on rails training India
    ruby on rails training hyderabad


Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites