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Date: 11th – 12th April 2015

Team Mates: M R Rajaram | M A Seshachalam | Gautham N V | Srihari | Suchit Puri
Location: Kalhatti Jungle Camp
NOTE: The checklist includes birds seen along the way to and from the camp site.
Route: Mysore – Gundelpet – Bandipur – Madhumalai – Kalhatti Campsite and back

One of the preplanned camping trips executed successfully! It was all planned in the month of March when Gautham asked me if we could do a trip to the jungle camp when we were browsing through some of the photos taken by me during my first visit. I immediately jumped on my feet all excited as it is one of the places where I would like to spend my entire life. It was then decided that we will go on the 11th and the 12th of April and we did go as planned.

Day 1: 11th April 2015
We all assembled in Mysore on the 10th night and wanted to leave on the 11th by 5:00 AM and by the time we left the house it was 6:00 AM. As it was summer, the sun was up and we had good light. Since it was a weekend, as expected there was a large crowd at the BNP and hence we decided to go ahead and do birding on the way. On reaching Madhumalai National Park and Wildlife sanctuary (Also a declared Tiger Reserve) we sighted about 25 Chestnut-Shouldered Petronia (AKA Yellow-throated Sparrow) (Petronia xanthocollis). It took us some time to identify the bird as it was the first time we sighted many of them at one time.

On entering Madhumalai, we were greeted by a family of Tufted Gray Langur (Semnopithecus priam) a sub species of Hanuman Langur (A group of old world monkeys). At the same time two Malabar Giant Squirrels (Ratufa indica) were playing on the tree tops, a sight unforgettable. 

It was about 9:30 AM and we could hear the growling from within ourselves which was a sign of hunger which we had forgotten amidst the serene and nostalgic drive in the jungle. We then cooked and gulped breakfast at our dear friend, Deepan’s New Mountania Resort, located strategically facing one of the big hills of Nilgiris at masinagudi.
After crossing the frangible and narrow bridge we sighted two Common Woodshirkes (Tephrodornis pondicerianus) but could not spend much time with them as we were obstructing traffic. 

The drive to the jungle camp was not long from there and we reached the Jungle camp entrance by 10:40 AM. As soon as we entered the gate, we spotted a Crested Treeswift (Hemiprocne coronata) at eye level that was perching on a leafless tree. The Crested Treeswift belongs to the family of Apodiforms and to the family of Hemiprocnidae. 

NOTE: Treeswifts are the order of Apodiforms, there are three families within this order, Hemiprocnidae (Treeswifts), Apodidae (True Swifts) and Trocilidae (Humming Birds). There is one Genus of Tree Swifts and four Species: Grey-Rumped, Crested, Whiskered and Moustached.

At this juncture, Seshachalam and Gautham got out of the car and decided to walk down to the camp site. As the rest of us drove down, we spotted the Square-tailed Bulbul (Hypsipetes ganeesa). Order: Passeriformes, Family: Pycnonotidae, Species: Song Bird. At the same time we observed some activity on the ground and to our surprise, it was a Gaur (AKA. Indian Bison) (Bos gaurus) which was quiet close. I immediately called up Seshachalam to let them know that they were in for a wild encounter. To their luck the Gaur moved into the thicket and disappeared. We reached the first campsite which was for regular accommodation, but we opted for the second site which was at a higher altitude and was a good vantage point for spotting wildlife and birds.

We parked the car near the first campsite and stacked all the luggage into a pickup. As we started walking to the second campsite, we sighted the inconspicuous Blue Bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis athertoni) belonging to the order of coraciiformes and family of Meropidae. It was 12 noon by the time we reached the second campsite. It had a breathtaking view. As the luggage was being unloaded, we saw a common sparrow (Passer domesticus) which is not so common in the city nesting right in front of the campsite. It had accustomed itself to living with humans as found in our history where sparrows used to nest in the house. This can be seen in some of the villages in India even to this day.

The bird calls were irresistible and  we started walking around. There was an Indian Coral tree (Erythrina variegata) which was a set stage for most of the passeriformes found in this region. We set up as audience for the show and prepared for the show. It started off with regular visits by the Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) occasionally disturbed by Red-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus cafer). The arrival of the Golden-Fronted Leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons) and the Vernal Hanging Parrot (Loriculus vernalis) in numbers drove the others from the stage.

As per the nature’s clock we had to feed ourselves to continue the birding session. A sumptuous meal was served and was devoured within minutes. It became quiet sultry and as expected it started raining and the weather changed quickly and the temperature dropped drastically. As we were resting on the verandah of the rooms provided to us, Seshachalam suddenly shrieked “ELEPHANT…ELEPHANT!!!” and there it was, a magnificent Tusker which was enjoying the rain and eating the grass and leaves. 

The Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is distributed in southeast Asia starting from India in the west to Borneo in the East.

The sun had gone down but the birds were still active and we had the opportunity to sight the restless Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis) which was in search of insects. Nearby an Indian Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus horsfieldii) was in its own world singing which was soothing to the ears. The Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher (Culicicapa ceylonensis) gave us a glimpse before vanishing into the thicket. The day ended with a excellent sighting of birds and two of the largest mammals of India. We expected the next day to be excellent for birdwatching as it had rained heavily.

Day 2: 12th April 2015

The day started out with the cacophony of bird calls at 5:00 AM. Seshachalam and Myself were up by 5:30 AM and got ready for the day. It started out with the spotting of the Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia). By this time all the others were up and we walked down to the first campsite. On our way we again had the privilege of seeing the Malabar Giant Squirrels (Ratufa indica) hanging down from the branch of the tree and feeding. As we walked down we heard the Malabar Whistling Thrush (Myophonus horsfieldii) singing, which is commonly mistaken to a human whistle. As the undergrowth in the valley was very thick it was very hard for us to spot any birds, but we managed to spot two Emerald Doves (Chalcophaps indica) which were foraging on the ground.

We then decided that an open canopy will give us an edge to do better birding and we walked back to the campsite that we were staying at. As our campsite was facing a valley which helped us watch a larger area as we were at good height. We planned to put up our chairs close to the valley and as soon as we were set, we got a rare visitor – A Lesser Yellownape (Picus chlorolophus), a type of woodpecker belonging to the order Piciformes. As we were watching the woodpecker, we noticed a blue coloured bird perching on a tree right next to us. It was the Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae) and right next to that branch was the female. Both of them were unwary of our presence and continued with their duties. As we were photographing the Tickell’s, we saw a small bird at the back, the Rusty-Tailed Flycatcher (Muscicapa ruficauda) one of the rarest birds that is not easily spotted. This was the find of the trip and a record for all of us. After some time we planned to move to an elevated place and decided to go behind the campsite. As we

settled, we sighted several Oriental White-eyes (Zosterops palpebrosus) on the Indian Coral tree. A Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) occasionally visited the tree for nectar and used to get back to the bushes just below the tree.

It was afternoon and we had to pack-up from the serene place and get back to the bustling city. We packed up and loaded everything on the jeep. Srihari and Myself got on to the back of the pick-up to get a better view of the canopy. As we drove down, we spotted two Yellow-throated Bulbuls (Acritillas indica) and one Western Orphean Warbler (Sylvia hortensis).

We then got on to our car and started the journey back to Mysore. As it was raining on our way back we could not spot much of the small birds but we got to see a Crested Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus) which I think was praying for the afternoon sun to come out. As we moved on an Indian Wild Boar (Sus scrofa cristatus) which crossed the road and vanished into the thicket.

We reached Mysore by 5:00 PM and had a long discussion on the birds that we had seen the last two days. All-in-all an excellent trip with an awesome five member team. I hope we do this often and keep increasing the team size and spread the awareness of wildlife and also learn about the Avian creatures that are graceful.

Checklist of Birds:
Gray Junglefowl (Gallus sonneratii) 1
Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) 5
Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala) 2
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) 1
Crested Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus) 1
Black Kite (Milvus migrans) 2
Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) 1
Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus) 1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon)) 5
Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) 2
Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis) 1
Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) 2
Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) 1
White-rumped Needletail (Zoonavena sylvatica) 5
Asian Palm-Swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis) 3
Crested Treeswift (Hemiprocne coronata) 1
White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) 1
Blue-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis athertoni) 1
Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis) 2
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) 1
Indian Gray Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris) 1
Coppersmith Barbet (Psilopogon haemacephalus) 1
White-cheeked Barbet (Psilopogon viridis) 1
Lesser Yellownape (Picus chlorolophus) 1
Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) 2
Malabar Parakeet (Psittacula columboides) 2
Vernal Hanging-Parrot (Loriculus vernalis) 2
Common Woodshrike (Tephrodornis pondicerianus) 2
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike (Hemipus picatus) 2
Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia) 2
Small Minivet (Pericrocotus cinnamomeus) 1
Indian Golden Oriole (Oriolus kundoo) 1
Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus) 1
Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) 4
Dusky Crag-Martin (Ptyonoprogne concolor) 4
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 2
Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica) 4
Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher (Culicicapa ceylonensis) 1
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis) 2
Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) 4
Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) 6
Yellow-browed Bulbul (Iole indica) 2
Square-tailed Bulbul (Hypsipetes ganeesa) 1
Thick-billed Warbler (Iduna aedon) 1
Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) 1
Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis) 1
Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus) 4
Indian Scimitar-Babbler (Pomatorhinus horsfieldii) 1
Yellow-billed Babbler (Turdoides affinis) 6
Asian Fairy-bluebird (Irena puella) 1
Rusty-tailed Flycatcher (Muscicapa ruficauda) 1
Indian Robin (Copsychus fulicatus) 2
Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis) 2
Tickell’s Blue-Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae) 2
Malabar Whistling-Thrush (Myophonus horsfieldii) 1 Only call
Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus) 2
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) 2
Golden-fronted Leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons) 2
Purple-rumped Sunbird (Leptocoma zeylonica) 2
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 8  
For more details visit: 
Treeswifts are tropical terrestrial forest birds and are found in evergreen forest, deciduous forest and mature mangrove stands. They require stretches of continuous forest, but can make use of areas with breaks in the canopy (for example, roads and rivers) and some edge habitat. They are found from lower elevations up to 2000 m.
Treeswifts are tropical terrestrial forest birds and are found in evergreen forest, deciduous forest and mature mangrove stands. They require stretches of continuous forest, but can make use of areas with breaks in the canopy (for example, roads and rivers) and some edge habitat. They are found from lower elevations up to 2000 m.
Treeswifts are tropical terrestrial forest birds and are found in evergreen forest, deciduous forest and mature mangrove stands. They require stretches of continuous forest, but can make use of areas with breaks in the canopy (for example, roads and rivers) and some edge habitat. They are found from lower elevations up to 2000