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25 November 2016 / leggypeggy

Thankful for amazing wildlife sightings

Sri Lanka frogmouths

Sri Lanka frogmouths—the female is on the right

Today was Thanksgiving in the United States (wishing everyone a happy one) and we certainly had a lot to be thankful for in terms of our activities, food and wildlife sightings in India.

It began with our second kayaking trip on the Periyar River in Kerala, followed by a splendid breakfast at our lodge, the Soma Birds Lagoon Resort. The rest of the morning gave us time to get caught up on photos and emails (this was one of the best internet connections we’d had in a month, even though it kept dropping out regularly).

Lunch was another feast (and the lodge staff didn’t even know it was Thanksgiving in the US).

But the best was still to come, and it had nothing to do with food.

Anand and Deepti arranged an afternoon bird-watching tour in the Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary. We arrived about 3:30pm and paid the entry fee. Then Deepti inquired about getting a guide.

Yes, yes, a guide is available for 1000 rupees (or $20 across five people). So the guide, Vinod, was booked.

Malabar trogon, male

A Malabar trogon shows off his colourful back

As soon as Vinod arrived, we set out on foot and he pointed out various kingfishers and cormorants. Marian wisely interrupted and explained that we’d seen plenty of both species. What we really want to see is the Sir Lanka frogmouth and Malabar trogon, she said.

Vinod eyes brightened and he said We need to go in your van. These species aren’t here. We need to travel to the other side of the sanctuary.

So we hopped in the van and raced (as much as you can race on narrow and bumpy roads) the 8 kilometres to the other side of the sanctuary.

We paid a second admission to the place and set out on foot.

Within 15 minutes, Vinod had led us to a roosting pair of Sri Lanka frogmouths.

Turns out it wasn’t quite as challenging a search as we thought. He’d been in the area earlier in the morning and had spotted the pair (and had also been confronted by a baby and mother elephant at the same time!).

According to Vinod, if these frogmouths are not unduly disturbed (especially by humans) they will nest in the same place/area for months at a time. so he pretty much knew where to look.

The Malabar trogons were a different matter. These birds are not endangered, per se, but they are extremely elusive. They live in dense forests and are hard, if not impossible, to spot.

Vinod wandered along the path and, from time to time, disappeared into the dense scrub. All the while he was mimicking the trogon’s cry or playing it on his phone.

Suddenly he motioned us to follow him. Then with whispering, pointing and waving, he managed to show us one trogon perched high on a limb.

So two magnificent sightings within an hour. What a gift of thanksgiving.

pair of Sri Lanka frogmouths

I can see you, but I’ll ignore you—Sri Lanka frogmouths

How clever science is helping frogmouths survive and multiply
According to Vinod, almost 20 years ago, the park rangers in Thattekkad saw frogmouth numbers declining. In the late 1990s, they reckoned only four to six breeding pairs still existed.

Research showed that the women who were collecting wood for cooking were using the bark from a certain branch to tie up their bundles of twigs. These happened to be the branches that frogmouths liked to sit on. This major disturbance affected roosting, mating and more.

So the rangers went to work explaining the situation and handing out strings to women gathering wood. It worked—sort of—but the best solution is that no most people cook with gas (so no need for wood). Frogmouths pairs in the area now number about 80.

A bit more about frogmouths and trogons
The Sri Lanka frogmouth occurs in Sri Lanka (obviously) and the Western Ghats of southern India. They usually live in pairs and grow to about 9 inches in height. They have great camouflage and resemble a bunch of dried leaves, which makes them extremely difficult to spot in the wild.

The Malabar trogons are more widespread in that they occur in Sri Lanka and Western Ghats, as well as parts of central India and the Eastern Ghats. They are brightly coloured, although their front is more colourful than their back (which is all that I managed to photograph). Their populations are declining because of forest fragmentation.

Malabar giant squirrel

Malabar giant squirrel

Other beasties
We saw quite a few other wild things, including kingfishers, cormorants, Malabar giant squirrels (and one being approached by a macaque monkey), interesting mushrooms, a millipede, a scorpion being consumed by ants and a green imperial pigeon.

48 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. sidilbradipo1 / Nov 25 2016 3:55 am

    WOW… that’s wonderful: stunning photos, amazing wild nature!
    Ciao
    Sid

    Liked by 2 people

  2. beetleypete / Nov 25 2016 4:12 am

    What a great trip. I had never heard of the Malabar Squirrel, nor the Trogon. That scorpion looks best avoided, unless you are with a lot of ants!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 26 2016 3:22 am

      The ants are definitely taking care of the scorpion. His days are over.

      Like

  3. Alison and Don / Nov 25 2016 4:44 am

    What a fabulous expedition. I would ave loved doing that! I imagine that scorpion’s very confused 🙂
    Alison

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 26 2016 3:24 am

      Sadly, or happily, that scorpion was very dead and being chomped to bits by ants.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Shiva Malekopmath / Nov 25 2016 4:50 am

    👍 That’s seems to be a pleasurable trip around India and the sightings.
    Good going !
    All the best for the rest of the days.
    Shiva

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Laurie / Nov 25 2016 5:19 am

    Thank you so much for your postings! Such wonderful adventures and you are so kind to share with us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 26 2016 3:26 am

      I’m so glad I am able to share. Works like a diary for me, and I’m pleased when other people enjoy it too.

      Like

  6. Dorothy / Nov 25 2016 8:01 am

    Wow, that $20 for your guide saved a lot of hunting. You certainly picked the right one who knew where everything was. Loved how they found out why the frogmouths were not thriving and fixed the situation. It would be wonderful if that could be done with other endangered species. Like the orangutan , just stop destroying their habitat. Thank you for another very interesting post Peggy.

    dorothysstories.wordpress.com

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 26 2016 3:30 am

      That was $20 so very well spent, and it was really only $4 per person across the five of us. I loved the frogmouth solution, too. If only it was so easy to rectify the situation for other species.

      Like

  7. GP Cox / Nov 25 2016 8:27 am

    A trip of a lifetime! Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Vicki / Nov 25 2016 9:26 am

    Sounds like a wonderful array of wildlife. I’m sure I would have a ‘field day’ trying to spot them in the trees (and then the challenge of photographing them).

    Good to hear the Frogmouths have survived and thrived. There’s too many birds, animals & insects faced with extinction in modern times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 26 2016 3:38 am

      India has a remarkable array of wildlife, and we have been fortunate to see so many species. My heart breaks to think about creatures becoming extinct. So not right.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. gerard oosterman / Nov 25 2016 10:32 am

    The scorpion is more than confused, I reckon he is being infused. Beautiful frogmouths. Glad they are increasing in numbers. The more the merrier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 26 2016 3:39 am

      Oh yeah, the ants are taking care of that scorpion. And the forest is taking care of the frogmouths.

      Like

  10. wineandhistory / Nov 25 2016 4:23 pm

    Those frogmouths look like little cartoon characters! Happy thanksgiving Peggy!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. wildlife-reporter / Nov 25 2016 6:56 pm

    Nice blog, lovely pics, following!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 26 2016 3:45 am

      Thanks so much. I look forward to checking out your blog when I’m back in Australia and have a half decent internet connection. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Curt Mekemson / Nov 26 2016 6:44 am

    You just have to love the Frogmouths, Peggy. They look like cartoon characters. Thanks for sharing. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 26 2016 12:08 pm

      You are right. The frogmouths look exactly like cartoon characters, especially the female.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. hiMe / Nov 28 2016 8:14 pm

    Amazingly big squirrel!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 29 2016 7:40 pm

      They are really big for squirrels and their tails are especially long.

      Like

  14. Bouesso / Nov 29 2016 9:44 am

    Very nice your pictures for animals

    Liked by 1 person

  15. thegreyeye / Nov 30 2016 3:47 am

    Seriously kerala is extremely beautiful. Sad, I still didn’t see it… 😞😔

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 1 2016 8:52 am

      Kerala is wonderfully beautiful. I hope you get a chance to see it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thegreyeye / Dec 1 2016 1:34 pm

        I want to go to munnar and aleppi, both very nice. And definitely experience the houseboat.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Dec 1 2016 5:22 pm

        I can highly recommend both Munnar and Aleppi. The houseboats are fantastic.

        Like

  16. Steph McCoy / Dec 2 2016 10:25 am

    Nice photos Peggy. The frogmouths look so content.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. IreneDesign2011 / Dec 4 2016 7:06 pm

    Thank you for sharing all this beauty, Peggy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 4 2016 11:06 pm

      My pleasure. We have been travelling very remotely, so it’s nice when I can post. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Sascha Darlington / Dec 8 2016 1:23 pm

    Love this! I always love to see wildlife and I have never heard of some of these creatures. Great pics!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 8 2016 1:53 pm

      Thanks. India is filled with wonderful creatures.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sascha Darlington / Dec 8 2016 3:33 pm

        I am always rollercoaster about the whole exploration thing. You have my admiration on your adventures!!

        Like

      • leggypeggy / Dec 9 2016 8:31 pm

        Trust me, if you ever want to travel widely in India, I can highly recommend Overland Expeditions India with Anand and Deepti. We’ve done three trips with them in three years.

        Like

  19. milliethom / Dec 14 2016 6:31 am

    A wonderful place to visit, Peggy, and such beautiful wildlife. You also did well to find that guide who knew just where to look for the frogmoths. I have to say, the pics of Sri Lanka frogmouths made me laugh and I can see how the bird got its name. The Malabar trogon is very pretty, and I think he knows it, too. A real poser, that one. A fabulous trip, especially at that price.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Dec 14 2016 7:24 pm

      The frogmouths are so cute and really quite small. Only about 6–7 inches tall. The trogon is a beauty but I think if he was really a poser, he’d have shown us his front which is even flashier.

      Like

  20. Minnie Musings / Apr 11 2017 3:09 pm

    Nature beats historical sites any day. No offense to history buffs! Thanks for sharing! The birds look like Siamese twins. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Clare Hopkins / Apr 14 2017 5:10 pm

    Woah – some beautiful photos! Great blog ❤

    xxx

    https://colourpotblog.wordpress.com/

    Liked by 1 person

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