Anamalais Trip Report

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Introduction

Thank you for joining this bulletins list from www.clementfrancis.com. We hope you enjoy reading the bulletins and seeing the images from nature we click each week. Right now as you know it is the beginning of the monsoon season and birding and photography is very limited, but let us wait for the winter to set in and bring all our feathered visitors along. Meanwhile let us enjoy the rains.

Through this bulletin we hope to announce any photo/birding tours organized by Clement, share trip reports and recent images clicked, and anything and everything related to birding and photography that Clement wishes to share with you.

 

Trip Report

Birding trip to the rainforests of Anamalais in Pollachi District of Tamil Nadu, India Dates: 9th June to 11th June 2006

Dennis Shumaker (an American friend of mine) and I made a quick trip in to the rain forests of Anamalais. We proceeded from Bangalore to Coimbatore on the Air Deccan late evening flight at 8:30PM. The flight by surprise was on time and we reached Coimbatore at 9:30PM. We got in to a taxi from the Airport and traveled to Pollachi town, which is around 65kms from Coimbatore. The journey by car took us around 1Hr and 15Mins. The roads are very good out here. We stayed at the Shakti hotel on Coimbatore-Pollachi Highway at Pollachi. The room rents here are Rs.350 for regular and Rs.500 for Executive rooms. The hotel is pretty clean and has a decent restaurant and a small bar. This was all that happened on Friday Night.

Saturday:

CRESTED SERPENT EAGLE
CRESTED SERPENT EAGLE

Early morning at 4:30AM our cab driver picked us up at the hotel and we proceeded straight to Top-slip; at the forest department check post at the foothills we found out that the check post opens only at 6:30AM, but we arrived here an hour early. Hence we birded around that area and found around 8 adult Large Grey Babblers feeding around 4 fully fledged young ones. The adults were pretty shy and kept themselves under cover in the lantana bushes. There were also good number of Jungle and Yellow billed babblers in that area. A Hoopoe was seen digging for grubs in the loose rain drenched soil and a few female Grey Jungle Fowls were seen feeding on the road with young. The Sun was coming up by then and we spotted a Crested Serpent Eagle perched on a low tree close to a bus stop in the golden morning light. From our car we were able to click some good close ups of this majestic predator.

At exactly 6:30AM the forest guards opened the check post and we started the climb to Topslip in the hired car. On the way we encountered the stunning Malabar Trogon a bird endemic to Western Ghats. Both the male and female were present in a very dark area of the forest. They had already established a nest hole and were courting each other. We watched this spectacle through our binoculars and did not try photographing them as this was their prime breeding season. Very close to this area was a gorge, this place was not accessible by foot due to the thick lantana growth. In the gorge there was lots of bird activity due to the presence of termites. There was a feeding frenzy out there and the birds consisted of Ruby-throated Yellow Bulbuls, Fairy Bluebirds, Pied Cuckoo, Common hawk Cuckoo, Red- whiskered bulbuls, Red-vented Bulbuls, Iora, Greater Racquet-tailed Drongos, White-bellied Drongos and a few Brown-cheeked Fulvettas. We watched this magnificent event for almost 30mins and proceeded to the Topslip area.

GREY JUNGLE FOWL (FEMALE AND YOUNG)
GREY JUNGLE FOWL (FEMALE AND YOUNG)

At exactly 6:30AM the forest guards opened the check post and we started the climb to Topslip in the hired car. On the way we encountered the stunning Malabar Trogon a bird endemic to Western Ghats. Both the male and female were present in a very dark area of the forest. They had already established a nest hole and were courting each other. We watched this spectacle through our binoculars and did not try photographing them as this was their prime breeding season. Very close to this area was a gorge, this place was not accessible by foot due to the thick lantana growth. In the gorge there was lots of bird activity due to the presence of termites. There was a feeding frenzy out there and the birds consisted of Ruby- throated Yellow Bulbuls, Fairy Bluebirds, Pied Cuckoo, Common hawk Cuckoo, Red- whiskered bulbuls, Red-vented Bulbuls, Iora, Greater Racquet-tailed Drongos, White-bellied Drongos and a few Brown-cheeked Fulvettas. We watched this magnificent event for almost 30mins and proceeded to the Topslip area.

 

 

After a quick lunch at around 12:30noon, we proceeded to the Valparai region of the Ghats. This is around 4 Hrs drive from Top-slip and there are around 40 Hairpin bends. The drive is really breath taking as you are surrounded by the Western Ghats ecosystem and also large tea gardens. Also this place is littered with water falls and streams. Around the 20th Hairpin bends we saw around 3 Lion-tailed Macaques feeding on leaves and buds on the Canopy. Also the patches of rain forest out there produced Scarlet Minivets, Small Minivets and Golden fronted leaf birds. Even a Crested Serpent eagle was seen perched majestically in the evening sun. At around 6PM we started our journey back to hotel.

MALE LION-TAILED MACAQUE & ITS CANOPY HOME
MALE LION-TAILED MACAQUE & ITS CANOPY HOME

Sunday :

The spotting of Lion-tailed Macaques (LTM) on the previous day invoked more eagerness in us hence we started our journey to the same place in the wee hours of Sunday. We reached the spot by 7AM and did not see the LTMs. We birded in that area till mid afternoon and witnessed Scarlet Minivets, Small Minivets, a group of Pacific Swallows perched on the electric wire, Crested serpent eagle, Red-whiskered bulbuls, White-browed bulbuls, Heart-spotted Woodpeckers, Nilgiri pipits, Indian Robins and Hill Mynas. We struck gold around 12:30Noon when we found around 3 female LTMs with young. They were hesitating to come to the ground and preferred to stay at the top of trees. I just wanted to take a chance of keeping my camera equipment in the Car and sat on the forest floor. After around an hour or so, one of the females came to the ground and started to feed on the fallen ripe jackfruits. This gave confidence to the whole troop and around 25 LTMs came to the ground and were bold enough to venture close to us. Many disturbed the grass and flushed out large number of grass hoppers and fed on them. This area contained scores of Jackfruit trees and this fruit being the favorite food of the LTMs they were in good numbers in that area. Once the LTMs got accustomed to our presence we took out our cameras and started photographing them. We had some memorable moments with these endangered primates and endemic species to the Western Ghats. We even spotted a few Nilgiri Tahrs on the slopes on our way back. We stayed in that region till around 4PM and proceeded on our journey back to the Airport at Coimbatore.

LION TAILED MACAQUE
LION TAILED MACAQUE
LION TAILED MACAQUE FAMILY
LION TAILED MACAQUE FAMILY
LION TAILED MACAQUE – MALE
LION TAILED MACAQUE – MALE
LION-TAILED MACAQUE (FEMALE AND YOUNG)
LION-TAILED MACAQUE (FEMALE AND YOUNG)
NILGIRI TAHR ON THE SLOPES – THE WAY TO VALPARAI
NILGIRI TAHR ON THE SLOPES – THE WAY TO VALPARAI
WESTERN GHATS – ON THE WAY TO VALPARAI
WESTERN GHATS – ON THE WAY TO VALPARAI

 

Let us all strive hard to protect this great bio-
diversity hotspot of the world “The Western Ghats”

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