More about these birds here from Wiki
Most of the guides in Thattekad, if not all of them, know one or two places where these singular birds roost. Being nocturnal in their habits they need to conserve energy during the day and they roost on low shrubs till dusk. Which means that after your birding in the early hours you can devote a leisurely hour or two, after the sun has climbed up, in pursuit of these lovely birds!
Frogmouth Fotography For Dummies!!
I never thought I'd add this section in a trip report but after seeing some photographers describe their experience in Thattekad and elsewhere I thought it I had to put my thoughts on record. Unfortunately, with the sudden upsurge of wannabe wildlife photographers, these birds have to face a lot of unwanted attention. The Srilanka frogmouths have a bad habit. They roost in the same branch of the same tree for months unless they get disturbed too much. It would have been alright if they were high up in the canopy but they prefer branches closer to the ground, perhaps a couple of meters from ground level.
My belief is that most travelers to Thattekad are serious bird watchers. They know how to behave in the presence of these beautiful creatures. However there are people who would do anything to get 'the perfect shot', which means a little bit of clearing of leaves and twigs to get a better access for their cameras. Some even use flash in broad daylight.
If you want to photograph the Frogmouth just follow some basic rules.
- If you have been brought to the presence of a frogmouth, especially with a chick, DON'T GO TOO CLOSE.
- DON'T poke your camera in the face of the bird. Use a telephoto lens to 'reach' it instead.
- DO NOT try to move any branches or leaves to gain access. Once disturbed they may abandon the branch.
- AVOID FLASH photography. If you have a fast lens use its widest aperture and hike up the ISO.
- If you have a monopod or tripod set it without knocking on the branches.
- If needed lie down on the ground or kneel in any odd position but don't shake the perch!
20th January, 2014 (10 am - 11 am)
After our mornings sojourn at the Kinacherry area we packed up to move to Urulanthanni. We took a small detour thorough the forest just to enjoy the sounds of nature.
I was hoping we'd run into another snake but the reptiles were not willing to play ball. I guess the sun wasn't beating down strongly enough for them to consider leaving their hiding places for a warm up!
On the way we said hello to the first Frogmouth of the day again. It was there in the exact same spot where we left it. It was like a frozen toy, only the big eyes giving away the fact that it was aware of our presence.
It was tricky trying to get a good shot of the pair but I managed to get off a few from an awkward position without causing much disturbance. The one looking at me must have thought that I was off my rocker!
To give you a fair idea of how difficult it is to spot a pair in the wild, look at this next photo. If they had not been where they were, right in the center, I guess most of us would not have picked them up at all! We would have walked past, without even giving a glance at what looks like some dried leaves!
It was past almost a quarter to 11 in the morning and our stomachs were really protesting. We decided to go back to the home stay and grab a well deserved breakfast. When we reached the Duster there was nobody around and we peered into the bush where we had seen the old man looking. It was there, our 4th Frogmouth of the day!
I count myself as fortunate to have witnessed this unique scene. Nesting frogmouths are rare and not easily seen. Records of nesting behaviour are sketchy and based on the limited observations of these birds, mostly from Srilanka. The one we had the fortune to behold was a male, characterized by its grey brown plumage.
During the day it is the male who takes it's turn at incubating a single egg. It is assumed that the female takes over at night with intermittent exchanges of place with the male.
When disturbed at the nest the bird apparently just stretches upward and positions itself at an angle of 45 degrees to the branch. It blends remarkably with the rest of the tree that a casual glance will give the appearance of a broken branch covered with lichen!
The nest itself is a circular pad constructed with down feathers and moss gathered from around the site. A single egg is laid in it and once the chick hatches the nest is destroyed by the male.
It was time to go. Our presence was making the bird restless. When it dropped its nearly immobile chin, it was the signal for us to move!
We moved back up the track to the 'bird bath'. The 'bird bath' itself has an interesting story. It is nothing more than a shallow depression on a rock. During the rains it would fill up with water but in the dry months it would be filled with nothing more than fallen leaves. One gentleman, who worked in the rubber estate adjacent to the forest started filling the depression with water. Now he has taken it as a daily duty and fills the little depression with water everyday. This daily practice ensured that the birds came in small groups to the same spot in the evenings. It goes to show the lengths the people of Thattekad go to care for their feathered friends.
|Red whiskered bulbul|
|Orange headed thrush & Yellow throated bulbul|
|Orange headed thrush|
|Flame throated bulbul|
|Flame throated bulbul & blue throated flycatcher|
|Dark fronted babbler & blue throated flycatchers|
|Blue throated flycatchers|