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Birding the Andaman Islands and Western Ghats
A Preliminary Report by Dave Sargeant
Andamans Islands and an update on the endemics and specialities of the western Ghats of India.
I have just returned from a very successful trip of six days in the Andaman Islands and 12 days in the western Ghats.
In the Andamans we saw all the gettable endemics by visiting two sites -- Chiriya Tapu and Mount Harriet, although other sites were visited over the six days. Two distinctive island forms were however not seen -- the endemic races of Barn Owl and Sunda Teal.
In the western Ghats we used Jon Hornbuckle's trip report as a basis. However, we used the extensive experience of local guide Eldhose K.V. Email: thattakad.at.rediffmail.com whom we can thoroughly recommend. On Eldhose's suggestion we had the following itinerary: Thettakad 6 days, Munnar 2 days, Ooty 1 day, Masinagudi 1 day, coast 1 day. With his knowledge of, and access to, local birds in these areas we were able to successfully find all the western Ghat endemics, together with an impressive array of night birds including 8 species of owl (including Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl and Oriental Bay Owl), Sri Lankan Frogmouth and four species of nightjar.
On a negative note, contrary to Jon's report, we had a poor experience renting a vehicle from TourIndia. We were supplied with an old, sub-standard vehicle, a less than satisfactory driver, and probably paid too much for the privilege. I would strongly recommend finding an alternative car rental, or making arrangements via Eldhose if using his guiding services.
A full trip report will follow, but may take some time due to work commitments. In the interim if anyone requires further details, contact me at akalat [at] gmail.com.