The other bonus for me was to find a fellow birder at the resort. Manjunath Desai, a keen birder from Bangalore happened to be at lunch at the same time and spotting his camera I asked him if he'd like to come birding with me the following day. And he immediately agreed, giving me a great companion to go birding with. So we set off for Coonoor early the next morning to meet with Aggal Sivalingam, bird guide extraordinaire and a legend in those parts. With a reasonable amount of confusion on the rendezvous point, we finally landed up at Coonoor's Sims Park.
Deeper into the park and a much coveted (and awaited) lifer manifested. The Black and Orange Flycatcher is a Nilgiri endemic and this beautiful bird is almost like a signature bird of the Ooty/Coonoor area. We spent a lovely half an hour with a pair of these lovely birds, quite close to us and reasonably unconcerned with all the tourist hubbub in the background. This session done, we moved on to look for two more coveted species - The Nilgiri Blue Robin and the Bar Winged Flycatcher Shrike. The Robin is a skulker and we had glimpses of him in thick, dark bush... net, no pictures.
|Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike|
The Flycatcher Shrike on the other hand proved a far more willing ally. It came up close, posed for pictures at eye level and then flitted on to its next assignment. And we, most targets done, sauntered around the park for a bit. When a bird with a brown belly came and sat right in front of us. At first glance, I thought it was a Black and Orange, so didn't lift the camera, but a second look and the rufous belly had me scrambling for said photographic equipment - it was a robin! He gave me a look which said 'you had your chance and you blew it' and flew off without a backward glance leaving me with no chance to even get one frame. Manjunath though was quicker on the draw so he did manage a good picture. And the insult to injury was inflicted by my old adversary, the Indian Scimitar Babbler - who threw up a sighting but as usual was too quick to provide a picture.
|Painted Bush Quail|
|Vernal Hanging Parrot|
This is where I stayed in April. It's a lovely resort full of all the mod cons, but reasonably distant from Coonoor or Kotagiri. It has a lot of birds in its own campus, so that is a plus.
The local legend is Aggal Sivalingam. What he doesn't know about the area is probably not worth knowing. He's a fantastic birding guide and a lovely person. Give him a call on +91-9486530021