Birds and Beasts: Part One

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Tuesday, January 12th, was our full day at Thekkadi and it was loaded. I am going to break it into a couple of entries and hope that I will get a wifi connection that will let me post them.

Our day began with no breakfast and a 6:30 onto the bus call. We drove a short distance to the Periyar Tiger Preserve for an early morning birding walk. The walk began with a ride . . . On a bamboo pole raft. Periyar Lake is a reservoir created by the damming of the river about 120 years ago. There are teak trees sticking up out of the water that have been submerged for all of that time and, although dead, have not rotted. No wonder they make patio furniture out of teak.

Our guide, Anish, was charming; a young, “tribal not educated” person (his words, not mine). He so wanted us to be able to see what he was seeing but his keen ears and sharp eyesight found things that most of our, let’s just say, less sharp eyesight couldn’t pick up. He worked so hard and was so disappointed for us when we failed to spot the birds. It was wonderful when we were able to reward his hard work and earnest, good intentions by actually seeing a particular bird and not just a leaf posing as a bird.

Had my eyes been better, I could have seen all of the following (I did see some of them): Jungle fowl, pied kingfisher, wooly necked storks, Ospreys, greater and lesser cormorants, racket tail drongo (which sounds like a character out of “Blazing Saddles” to me), and Malabar hornbills. By the end of the walk, for want of breakfast, all that I really wanted to see was a Mallowmar hornbill. You know, the kind that comes with a chocolate biscuit topped with marshmallow and dipped in chocolate.

The photo above is of a giant Malabar squirrel. We saw one in the trees before our walk began. Actually, we first saw a stream of urine raining down from the tree tops and followed it up to the squirrel. I couldn’t really tell just how “giant” the beast was but judging from the strength and duration of his wee, his bladder must have been the size of a cantaloupe.

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Crossing over to the other side.  Please note the leech socks.

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