Birding in the Nilgiris

Last week(9th to 12th April 2009) I visited Ooty and the surrounding Nilgiri peaks. The botanical garden and the suburbs of the town are brimming with Oriental white eyes and house sparrows. they are as common as the abundant wild flowers that intoxicate you. Another common bird is jungle myna, so is jungle crow. A group of coots seems to be anchored in the lake. Blackbirds and bushchats were also fairly visible. Sunbirds are literally absent in the Nilgiris at the moment. Some interesting sightings are:
Nilgiri Laughing Thrush at Dodabetta peak deep down in the shola.

  • Common Rosefinch
  • Blackbird
  • Oriental White eye
  • Common Coot
  • Grey Wagtail
  • Pond Heron
  • Little Cormorant
  • Spotted Dove
  • Great Tit etc.

Some photos are posted here.

Birding the Buddhist Trail

Early morning on Friday(3rd April 2009) we began the journey on a Kawasaki eliminator near Pally purthau kavu of Kodimatha in Kottayam and ended it at Thottappally in Alapuzha district.

Plenty of cotton teals, whistling teals and a solitary spot-billed duck were there in Kodimatha marsh at that early hour. Little cormorants and Bronze-winged Jacanas were also out.

During the whole-day journey we covered the premises around Pally Bhagavathy temple at Neelamperur (an ancient Buddhist Pally or temple shrine), the recovered Buddha statues at Karumady, Mavelikara, Krishnapuram and various parts of Karthika pally/Karunaga pally taluks.

In Neelamperur we saw an un id. falcon, a brown shrike, purple-rumped sunbirds and an ashy prinia.

just a few miles west in Kavalam and Kainadi we saw large congregations of Terns. We could identify Whiskered and Black-bellied terns only. Thousands of Yellow wagtails were also present in the fields. Plenty of Little, Median and Cattle Egrets were also seen. Some un id. swifts were also seen high above. A few purple herons also showed up.

Then we moved south through Kidangara – Edathwa – Thakazhy and reached Karumady in the west near Ambalapuzha. Plenty of mixed Egrets and un. id. Aquilas were around.

After paying homage to this half destructed stone Buddha of AD 8th century we moved west to enter NH 47 and then south to reach Thotta pally, one of the ancient holiest shrines on the western coast considered in Buddhist legends along with the submerged and lost city of Srimulavasam.

Thousands of Brown headed and other gulls, green shanks, and common sandpipers were there in the backwaters and on the beach to welcome us. A few images are posted here. We had our belated lunch there and rested there for a few hours and began the return journey through Kayamkulam – Mavelikkara route. In between we saw the more than a millennium old intact granite Buddhas in Krishnapuram, Mavelikkara and Pallikkal. We reached Kottayam before 8 pm.

We ended this short, little journey of eco-cultural inquiry with great contentment and enlightenment. We consider this as an attempt to rediscover the erased and forgotten legacies of conservation and ethical, egalitarian, and sustainable living. The surviving and still sociable gulls of Thottapally are as unforgettable as the black Buddhas of Karumady and Karthika pally regions.