Sunday, February 26, 2012
For those about The Rock
The last few posts from Thattekad Bird Sanctuary in the Keralan Western Ghats have all made reference to a place we all came to know as The Rock - a hidden clearing / hill in the reserve's unspoilt, forested interior, created by swirling lava flows, long since solidified and blackened, and providing an unrivalled vantage point across a stunning panorama.
Gireesh, our always enthusing and effervescent host, was consistently on the money with where to find pretty much everything (see forthcoming posts) - but in the Rock he held the show-stopper, reached through a drive along an obscure track to a small rubber tree plantation, and then a hike up through the forest, and unknown and unavailable to pretty much anyone else.
The Rock provided the ideal clearing by which to catch 360 degrees of forest birds, and the unique habitat mix (flowering and fruiting shrubs and trees, grassland, thorn scrub, thickets, etc) at the forest edge attracted a killer roll-call of local specialities amongst many commoner species. Gireesh often proudly exclaimed "this is the best place to birdwatch in India, yes Mark?", and it has to be said, it was hard to disagree.
By getting in position just before the sun rose, all we had to do was kick back and enjoy the parade for the next three hours or so; or at most, wander a few metres in any direction down the lava streams for a little variety. Some of the best birding hours of the whole eight-month trip were enjoyed here - and along with the homestay, we very highly recommend (see forthcoming post for full details).
More avian highlights from here and the rest of the reserve to follow.
Barbara, Andrew, Gireesh, a happy author and Amity
fresh elephant dung (we heard the perpetrators close by in the jungle around us here several times, but thankfully never too close)