We leave Cochin, Kerala mid-morning and reach Thattekad (Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary) by noon on Day 1. We spend two days exploring the small sanctuary for a significant chunk of south Indian bird specialities.
The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is located on the banks of the Periyar River on the foothills of the Western Ghats of Kerala. The habitat matrix of the location, which includes riverine, lowland evergreen and plantation forests, contain an amazing density of birds and offers excellent photographic opportunities for several Western Ghats bird specialities among an impressive bird-list of over 300 species. Renowned ornithologist, the late Dr. Salim Ali, once suggested that Thattekad contains among the highest species density of birds in India outside of the Eastern Himalaya. Some of the south India’s endemic birds found here include the Greyheaded Bulbul, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Parakeet, White-bellied Treepie, Wynaad Laughing Thrush (rare), White-bellied Blue Flycatcher and White-cheeked Barbet. Sightings of rarities such as the Black Baza, Crested Goshawk, Red Spurfowl, Malabar Trogon and the Sri Lanka Frogmouth are not uncommon. Winter is interesting for several migrant flycatchers and warblers.
Elephants are regularly seen in and around the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, along with several other mammals including rare sightings of top predators such as Indian wild dogs and leopards. The wet, humid habitats of the location also contain an exciting diversity of plants, herpetofauna and invertebrates.