Cardamom County Day One

Red-whiskered Bulbul

I awoke this morning to one of the loudest dawn choruses I have ever heard.  I quickly rushed outside, camera and binoculars ready, for what would be a fantastic day of birding.  Staying within the confines of the resort proved to be an insignificant handicap, as in the parking lot I was immediately surrounded by Red-whiskered Bulbul, White-cheeked Barbet, White-throated Kingfisher, Nilgiri Flowerpecker, Crested Treeswift, Common Tailorbird, Loten’s Sunbird, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Rufous Magpie, and Lesser Hill Myna.  The beautiful colors of an Orange Minivet radiated from the top of a nearby tree, and in the adjacent tree a Golden-fronted Leafbird was busy foraging.  Kites and eagles soared effortlessly overhead, and I soon understood why Kerala (and the Western Ghats in particular) is such an attractive birding location.

Today is the beginning of my ten-week stay here in Cardamom County in the state of Kerala, India.  The goal for the next ten weeks will be to explore the nearby Periyar Tiger Reserve where I will hopefully learn a great deal about the avifauna and the local wildlife.  I hope to pass along my acquired knowledge of the area so that guests of the resort can benefit from it as they travel into the Reserve.  The plan is to participate in many of the resort’s outdoor activities on my own in an attempt to better understand where to best view wildlife and what to expect to see.  My main focus will, of course, be birds, and there are an amazing 323 species that can be found in Periyar.  There is so much to see and so much to explore, and I cannot wait to see how the next ten weeks unfold.

Tomorrow will be my first official day in the Reserve, and I could not be more excited to begin this adventure.  We are planning on hiking all day in addition to bamboo rafting through the Reserve.  I have very high expectations for tomorrow, and I expect the birds to be out in force, if today’s birding around the grounds of the resort was any indication of what is to come.  Hopefully, my next report will contain sightings of hornbills, jacanas, barbets, trogons, kingfishers, the list goes on and on.  Who knows what the day will hold?

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