My first birding outing in a Kerala rainforest...among my most memorable outings till date

This story 'Birding in a Kerala Rainforest' was published in the Newsletter for Birdwatchers
Vol. 39 (Issue 6), Nov - Dec. 1996.

It was early November and the sky was free of haze in this part of Kerala bordering Tamil Nadu. It seemed strange the road from Punalur to Tenmalai showed no signs of battering it had received by the monsoons over the past few months. All along the journey I was accompanied by the sweet calls of Orioles and the mimicry of Racket tailed Drongos. I rode my two wheeler amidst the unending chain of the blue coloured Western Ghats. As I neared Tenmalai, the head quarters of Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, the rubber plantations gave way to teak plantations on the banks of Kallar river. I had to stop for a few minutes due to sharp outburst of showers, which subsided as quickly as they had started. A few curves ahead and I was in the very heart of an Evergreen forest. As I was winding my way up a sharp curve, a bright yellow coloured bird the size of a bulbul forced me to park my friend’s two-wheeler hurriedly besides the road. As I scrambled for my field glasses, two more birds of the same variety joined the earlier one. By the time I could confirm them as Yellow browed bulbuls, my attention was drawn towards a female Paradise flycatcher being playfully chased by a male. Just above these two birds was a Greater Racket Tailed Drongo hot in pursuit of some insects. It seemed I had chanced upon a birdwave / mixed hunting party. Amidst this, a flock of Jungle babblers moved around noisily. I was yet to come to terms with electrifying atmosphere when a flock of scarlet minivets added brightness to this dark evergreen jungle. Just when my attention was drawn to the overhead metallic noise of an Indian Tree Pie, I heard the loud wing flapping of some big birds. A few metres away were a pair of Malabar Grey Hornbills, easily recognised by the absence of casque over their bills. My joy transgressed every limit by the high-pitched drama, which I witnessed. It was my first experience of birding in a Kerala rainforest; my most memorable one till date.

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