Saturday, January 28, 2012

Varkala, Kerala - late Nov & early Dec 2011

Or, the calm before the storm. The United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and finally, India. The subcontinent was our home for the final five weeks of our eight-month journey, and for the first three weeks, our business concerned lapping up the unique delights of God's Own Country, Kerala.

A long travel day, involving three flights (Bangkok - Mumbai - Bangalore - Trivandum), saw us arrive at our accommodation in Kovalam at the southern tip of the landmass in the early hours of the 24th. Forty-eight hours there were neither unpleasant nor remarkable (although birds around the hotel and beach included the only Barn Owl of the trip, Lesser Coucal, Rufous Treepies, Blue-tailed & Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Pied Kingfishers and clouds of both kites), and we soon moved on up the coast to the small clifftop resort of Varkala.

Western Reef Egrets (of both morphs)

Which is where we wiled away a relaxing nine days, most of which were spent gleefully battling the notoriously hardcore wave action in the daytime and sipping cocktails at night. Birds were limited to commoner species, including ubiquitous Brahminy and Black Kites, Brown-headed & Black-headed Gulls, Little, Great Crested & Lesser Crested Terns, Little Cormorants, Ring-necked Parakeets (such a familiar sound, and almost tolerable when they're actually supposed to be here....), a Kentish Plover, loud and tame White-throated Kingfishers by the balcony, and the first endemic on the subcontinent - a calling Indian Scops Owl by the room.

It was always the plan to hit India and spend the first ten days or so doing as little as possible (at least that didn't involve the sea or beachside bars), and we left Varkala suitably relaxed and refreshed - and with the Western Ghats beckoning, full of anticipation.