January 7, 2016

Thattekad Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Trip details
550+ Kms from Bangalore, 50 Kms from Kochi(Cochin), 195 Kms from Coimbatore
Birds and Bird Photography (Best season: From Nov to Feb)
Kids will love to see the Nature, Birds in their natural habitat
Days needed
Just one night stay, extend to two days stay based on the interest
Bird watching twice a day i.e. Morning and evening
Best time to visit
November to February
Stay options
Jungle Bird Homestay, Hornbill camp
Where you stay
Nearby places
Munnar, Athirapalli falls, Cochin, Thrissur, Valparai, Coimbatore
Related Blogpost
Other tips
·         In Google maps search for “Hornbill camp” incase if you are driving.
       From Cochin airport this place is just 50 Kms.
·         Bring binoculars to see birds
·         Bring a high end telephoto lens and camera for photography
·         Stay for a night atleast and go for two birding sessions. If possible  stay for two nights and you might be able to see many varieties of  birds.
·         Many foreigners visit this place for bird photography with high end camera gears.

I was checking with my friend who is a professional photographer about some place to visit during this Christmas holidays and he suggested Thattekad for birding and he also told he has plans to visit this place. I immediately asked him if I can join with him. He agreed and we decided to drive. He also suggested this Jungle Bird Homestay where his friends already stayed. So I did a Google search and called up Mr. Girish who is the owner of this homestay for availability. Girish told us that he already have 20+ guests from Sweden and only on Sunday we can occupy. We are okay with that and confirmed with Girish. No advance or money paid, just over phone Girish told us that he reserved the room for us on Sunday for a day.
Click here for their website: http://junglebirdhomestay.blogspot.in/

We drove to this place from Bangalore. Started early morning at 4AM from Bangalore and we reached Coimbatore in 4.5 hours time after breakfast. Till Coimbatore it is a NH Toll road so no need to explain about the road condition,  But right after Coimbatore,  there is no NH or toll road and it was so painful to drive and it was full of traffic elsewhere.

Finally we reached the homestay by noon. Girish came to nearby place to pick us up from a nearby place. This homestay is located inside the Bird Sanctuary entrance and without Girish they may not allow the cars. Homestay is located just beside a pond where you can spot whistling ducks, cormorants, king fishers and Malabar Giant Squirrels. Very nice place. The home is well designed in a Kerala style with sitouts.

Read my TripAdvisor review about this place for more details.

Girish is an Advocate by profession and Birder by passion. He could locate the birds so easily with sounds. He showed us many variety of birds in just two sessions.  Unfortunately I did not have a high end lenses for my camera, so photos are shared below are just for you to get some idea about this place. Girish arrange two birding sessions, one in afternoon at 3:30PM and this goes on till dark. And other bird watching session is at early morning 6 or 6:30 and it goes on till 10AM morning. He is very skilled birder.

Let me start with few photos and add comments in between the photos.....

Thattekad Bird watching trail
Wov, isn't it so beautiful ? 
Look at that path where you will be trekking in search of birds. You need lots of patience and keep standing for hours to catch some birds. Sometimes there are leeches below and sometimes mosquitoes bite you as well.

Thattekad Bird watching trail
Small stream in Thattekad Bird Sanctuary Trail
You might end up walking on the stream to cross. It was a beautiful and scenic trek for us. Guide helped us spot the birds in these areas.

Thattekad Bird watching trail
Cemented Road inside for Bird watching.... !

In some places there are cemented roads with tube-lights on both sides throughout the path to help you in dark late in evening.

Our Guide Girish was keep searching near the bushes where there were many dead leaves around. We did not knew he is searching for a bird. Suddenly he stopped us and asked us to follow him. He took us near a bush which is just above your head level where there were many dead leaves around. He asked us to spot a bird there. We kept searching in all angles and directions for a minute but could not see any. He laughed at us and shown us the place where this bird was sitting with eyes wide open.

Wov, that is Srilankan Frogmouth. It's color blends so well with the surrounding, so camouflaged we could not spot him at first sight. Wov, such a big eye and his feathers were like the dead leaves only. See below the photos.

Thattekad Srilankan Frogmouth
Did you find the bird or not ? It is so camouflaged, difficult to spot it right ?  

Thattekad Srilankan Frogmouth
He looks like a dead leave itself right? Wov....amazing !

Thattekad Srilankan Frogmouth
If you zoom in centre, you will find just the eyes of Srilankan Frogmouth... difficult to spot though !

Thattekad Srilankan Frogmouth
Here is another, find him..... Srilankan Frogmouth Did you spot him?

Thattekad Srilankan Frogmouth
Look at his mouth !

It was late evening on the day we arrived at Thattekad and Girish told us we should atleast spot an Indian Pita. He had a spot light in his hands. It was becoming dark as well. He was keep searching in all directions. Suddenly he called us to come close and pointed his spotlight on this bird. Wov..... what a color.... We spotted Indian Pita. 

Thattekad Indian Pita
Hey Beauty, how did you get those colors ? You look amazing ! Indian Pita

Thattekad Indian Pita
Another closeup shot of Indian Pita, taken with spotlight in dark !
Thattekad Dollarbird
Cute Dollarbird ..
Girish took us to a special place where there will be many dollar birds usually sit on a electric wire. But unfortunately there were no birds on the wires that day. Instead he spotted one dollar bird sitting on top of a coconut tree leaf. We could take a picture of the bird.
Thattekad Frog
Frogs are ugly / yuck you say? Look at him, so colorful and beautiful .... !!

Thattekad KingFisher
Wov, what a color on it's feathers..... simply amazing ! KingFisher 

Thattekad KingFisher
How on earth you guys get such a nice colors? :-) Amazing !

After a sound sleep we woke up early in morning at 5AM and took bath. By 6:15 we were served coffee / tea and biscuits at homestay. We had and started for the morning birding session with Girish.

After reaching the place, we were walking for sometime and came to a place where there were rocks.
From this place he said we can spot many varieties of birds he said. We spotted a woodpecker first taking sun-bathe. See pics below.

Thattekad Golden backed woodpecker
Hey Woody.... are you taking sunbathe? Golden backed woodpecker

Thattekad Black drongo
Look at the tail and shiny black color, Black drongo !

Thattekad Cocoa Fruit
Cocoa fruit raw, have you seen this before?

Thattekad Cocoa Fruit ripen
Thattekad Cocoa Fruit ripen !

Thattekad Trees
Let us reach to sunlight together.... Tree on Tree.... !
More than the Birds, I was amazed by the forest. We saw tall trees and vines like in Tarzan. Really I felt like swinging using those vines like Tarzan.

Thattekad Trees
So tall and straight tree....  

Thattekad Bird watching trail
Passage inside .... 

Thattekad Bird watching trail
I remember Tarzan who keeps swinging from one tree to other using those vines !!

Thattekad Bird watching trail
Taken from a rock where most people come to watch for birds ...  

Thattekad Red Whiskered Bulbul
Red Whiskered Bulbul ... .it's color blends so well with the tree... 

Thattekad Rusty Tailed Flycatcher
Haha.... I am so happy and jumping up and down !! Rusty Tailed Flycatcher

Thattekad Rusty Tailed Flycatcher
Take a shot now, I am sitting quite !!

Thattekad Rusty Tailed Flycatcher
Rusty Tailed Flycatcher

Thattekad Brown breasted flycatcher
You are so small and cute birdie !!

Thattekad Bird watching trail
This tree is being worshipped and people tie a red color cloth... 

Thattekad White Bellied Woodpecker flight
White Bellied Woodpecker in flight, I remembered the movie "Fox and the hound" ! (Boomer and Dinky) Must watch for kids ! :-)

Thattekad Tree on Tree
Yeah, let us reach to the sunlight together... Twin trees .. Notice those vines around the tree, they make markings as shown in below picture.. amazing nature !!

Thattekad Tree
See those circles/impressions made by the vines on this tree. ! (Not sure if I am right though ! )

Thattekad Tree Termites
Look at that line, it was reaching the tree top.... inside thousands of termites living...

Thattekad Tree Termites
See the Termites .....

Thattekad Tree
Fungi growth over the Tree
While we were inside the forest waiting to hear the bird callings, we heard a loud hammering and Girish said there is a White Bellied Woodpecker. He was hammering the tree and making a big hole.
It reminded me of watching a movie with my kids, Disney classic "Fox and the Hound". Remember ? Boomer and Dinky. Kids will love that scene from this movie. Do a Google search in videos section you will find it.

Thattekad Whitebellied Woodpecker
On Duty, Whitebellied Woodpecker.. this guy made a big "dok dok" noise and we found him ! See below picture.... this was on top of the tree...

Do you see him, on top ? Whitebellied Woodpecker Look for a black spot on tree top ...there he is !
While we were looking at the tree top for woodpecker, and picking the wood pieces that were chipped off by him, we did not notice a dangerous guy below. :-) He was so well blended with the background, you hardly can notice him. Yeah, it was a viper, a small one. See below the pics ... We were very lucky not bitten by him being so close.

Thattekad Viper Snake
While we were watching the Woodpecker on tree top, we did not notice this Viper. So camouflaged, Viper Snake

Thattekad Viper Snake
Did you spot the Viper? Yes above this tree only we were looking at woodpecker. But this viper color blends so well with surrounding, we could not see him.... ! Good we escaped his bite !

Thattekad Bird watching trail
Water droplets collected on this from air, you shall watch this by early morning !

Thattekad Bird watching trail
Small stream we saw during the trek inside....

Thattekad Bird watching trail
Dont touch me !.... So thorny !

Thattekad Tree Termites
Look at the colors ! Termites again on tree and a climber on right side !

Thattekad Tree
Parasitic plants on Tree

Thattekad Malabar Giant Squirrel
Hey we caught you while eating that fruit ! Malabar Giant Squirrel

Thattekad Malabar Giant Squirrel
Look at the colors on his body, Wov.... Thattekad Malabar Giant Squirrel

Thattekad Bird Santuary Info Board
Thattekad Bird Santuary Info Board in local language - Malayalam

Thattekad Junglebird Homestay
Sitout in Thattekad Junglebird Homestay

Thattekad Junglebird Homestay
Mr. Girish, owner of Jungle Bird Homestay, he helped us in finding / spotting many birds !

Thattekad Cormorants
Just beside the homestay, in the pond, we saw this cormorants taking sunbathe !

Thattekad Bird Santuary Info Board
Thattekad Bird Santuary Info Board in English language

Thattekad Bird Santuary Info Board
Inside the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary 

Thattekad Bird Santuary Entrance
Thattekad Bird Santuary Entrance

Hope the details and the photos above help you decide/plan your trip to Thattekad. Enjoy the nature, Relax, meditate with Bird's callings, capture them with your lenses, notice their colors, their structure, amazing forest........ Wov.... I had only one day stay and need to plan for more in future with good lenses.

Hope you enjoyed reading, add your comments below and share with your friends. 


  1. Thans..as usual nicely blogged your experience. While reading I felt that i was there and had bird watch with u guys. Keep it up!!!

    1. Thank you for the feedback, happy to know you liked it. !

  2. Nice locations and photos :)

  3. Forgot to mention, the birding season is from November to February here.

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