The next morning we hired Jungle Hut's bird expert, Siddha, and were disappointed to discover that he palmed us off to two friends who could not speak English. Nonetheless, we enjoyed a pleasant early morning strolling with them through open Acacia savanna reminiscent of East Africa, with elephants rumbling in the distance. The top bird here was a male White-bellied Minivet, always a difficult species to find.
Other birds included Crested Serpent-Eagle and Indian Nuthatch.
We drove to a dry, open hillside nearby where a regional specialty, Malabar Lark, was quickly found. (Siddha had told us falsely that this was a difficult bird and we would need to hire him for two days to find it.)
At another stop in a well-wooded gully, we found a Grey-bellied Cuckoo.
That evening, I was too ill to join the others for dinner (two of the four of us suffered from food-related illness at the Jungle Hut), when I heard an Oriental Scops-Owl calling. I was able to track it down for excellent views.
The next morning we visited Theppakada for a bus ride through the national park, seeing plenty of peafowl.
Some of the best birding was in the Jungle Hut grounds, where we birded and relaxed for a full afternoon and morning. Nilgiri Thrush was an unexpected find at this altitude, although we had seen it at Ooty.
The endearing if noisy Yellow-billed Babbler was common in the grounds.
As was the lovely Purple-backed Sunbird.
White-browed Wagtail was a fixture at a waterhole near our rooms.
White-bellied Drongo was another regular.
Two or three Tickell's Blue-Flycatchers were ridiculously tame.
Malabar Parakeet and Malabar Starling were regular visitors to fruiting trees around the Jungle Hut.
An Indian Pitta was often out in the open at all times of the day - unusual behaviour for pittas.
I will file separate posts on mammals, culture and the like.