Birding in Nilgiri Hills of India

17 Nights/18 Days

Destinations covered: Bangalore – Mysore – Coorg – Mysore – Masinagudi – Ooty – Coonor – Kotagiri – Anaikatti – Parambikulam – Munnar – Thattekad – Kochi

Highlight Species

Tour Overview - Birding in Nilgiri Hills of India

This tour will take you through the different landscape and the habitat of the Western Ghats. We will mostly be focusing on the Nilgiri Hills. Rolling grasslands, dense sholas, waterfalls, streams, lakes, vast expanses of tea plantations, interspersed with vegetable gardens, breathtaking view points, an amazing variety of flora and fauna, wonderful trekking trails, countless heritage sites, spellbinding sunrises and sunsets, magical light, pollution-free atmosphere, mist, clouds, fog, starry skies, serenity, etc. most importantly the most diverse birdlife of all.

A really spectacular mix of artistic delights and moving encounters may be found in Nilgiris. The Nilgiri hills’ hill towns of Ooty, Coonoor and Kotagiri, which have average elevations of 6000 feet above sea level, make good birding locations.

Birds in the Nilgiris include the Black-and-Orange Flycatcher, the Nilgiri Flycatcher, the Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, the Kashmir Flycatcher, the Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, the Nilgiri Laughingthrush, the Nilgiri Flowerpecker, the Painted Bush Quail, the Crested Goshawk, the Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, the Indian Blue Robin, the Blue-capped Rock Thrush, Hill Swallow, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Malabar Parakeet, Plum-headed Parakeet, Southern Hill Myna, Grey-headed Bulbul, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Large-billed Leaf Warbler, Black Eagle, Grey Junglefowl, Streak-throated Woodpecker, White-cheeked Barbet, etc.

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Detailed Itinerary - Birding in Nilgiri Hills of India

Day 01 : Bangaloru – Mysore (145 km, 03 – 04 hrs)

On arrival at the airport our representative will meet you. He will hand over the travel related documents and transfer to Mysore. On arrival in Mysore check-in to the hotel.

The common Black Drongo and Indian Roller, which frequently perch along the roadside wires, should be among our first bird encounters. The town of Kokkare Bellur, where the regional Spot-billed Pelican and occasionally the Painted Stork nest in the village trees, is where we will make our first scheduled stop.

Then, we will travel to Ranganathittu, a renowned bird sanctuary, where we will take a small boat on the Cauvery River. From the boat a Great Cormorant and Black-headed Ibis roost can be enjoyed, along with a variety of other species, including the impressive Great Stone-curlew, Oriental Darter, Little Cormorant, Asian Openbill, River Tern, attractive Red-wattled Lapwing and Marsh Crocodile, while along the banks of the sanctuary we may find the endemic White-spotted Fantail, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Pale-billed Flowerpecker and White-cheeked Barbet. Tonight we will overnight at a lovely hotel in the town of Mysore, commonly described as the “City of Palaces”.

asian fairy bluebird
Day 02 : Mysore – Coorg (120 km, 03 hrs drive)

Morning birding around the lake Kukkarahalli, or Lingambudhi, or Karanji. Here we have a chances of seeing Indian Spot Billed-duck, Little Grebe, Spotted Dove, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Grey Headed Swamphen, White Breasted Waterhen, Whit Throated Kingfisher, Common Iora, Blacked naped ibis and many more. Later in the afternoon transfer to Coorg. On arrival check-in to the lodge. Evening birding photography from a bird hide. Overnight at the lodge in Coorg.

Day 03 : Coorg

Morning and afternoon visit Birding Observatory. Many species of the Western Ghats are easily photographed at these observatories. There is a wide variety of birds on the land and in the Devarakadu.

Two of them are feeders, one for evening and one for early photography. One is a water observatory that offers good opportunity to capture reflections of various birds that come to bathe in the evening. A Parakeet Observatory is the newest feature. In addition to the birding observatories, the estate has some walking trails that can offer many more possibilities for birdwatching. According to your interest, focus, and most significantly, luck on the trip, there are many opportunities for macro photography of butterflies, insects, frogs, snakes, and other creatures because the lodge’s land borders the Devarakadu (Gods Forest) on one side.

Some of the key species of birds you get to see in Coorg are Oriental White Eye, Yellow Browed- bulbul, Greater Racket-tailed drongo, Scarlet Minivet, Golden Fronted Leaf bird, Malabar Barbet, Asian Fairy Blue Bird and many more.

Overnight at the lodge in Coorg.

malabar parakeet

Day 04 : Coorg – Mysore (120 km, 03 hrs drive)

Early morning visit to one of the observatory for bird photography. Later transfer to Mysore. On arrival check-in to the hotel. Evening birding at lakeside. Overnight at the hotel in Mysore.

Day 05: Mysore – Masingudi (90 km, 02 hrs drive)

We will be doing most of the birding in lakeside in Mysore, as it is home to maximum number of migratory birds during the winter season of the month in India. Later transfer to Masinagudi. On arrival check-in to the lodge. Evening proceed for birding around the property. Overnight at the lodge in Masinagudi.

Day 06 : Masinagudi – Ooty (30 km, 01 hrs drive)

After our final morning of birding in Masinagudi, we move on to our next stop Udagamandalam, also known as Ooty, which is located at a height of roughly 2,200 metres. Initially inhabited by a number of local hill tribes, Ooty eventually gained popularity as a tourist destination during the British colonial era. On arrival in Ooty check-in to the lodge. And later in the evening proceed for birding to Botanical Garden, it is one of the best place to photograph and observe some of the endemic species of birds in Western Ghats. The birds you will possibly see and can photograph in the region are Black and Orange Flycatcher, Nilgiry Flycatcher, Grey-headed canary flycatcher, Nilgiri Laughing Thrush, Nilgiri Sholakii, Nilgiri Flower Pecker, Bar winged Fly Catcher, Nilgiri Wood pegion, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher and many more.

Come back to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Otty.

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

Day 07 : Ooty – Coonoor (20 km, 50 min drive)

Morning birding at Cairn Hill. A haven for bird enthusiasts, Cairn Hill is another location in ooty where you may see a wide variety of bird species. The Malabar Hornbill, Grey Headed-Canary Flycatcher, White-Throated Kingfisher, Kestrel, Pied Bushchat, Crested Serpent Eagle, and numerous other species are among them.

Later check-out from the hotel and transfer to Coonoor. On arrival check-in to the lodge. Evening proceed for birding at Sim’s park. At an elevation of roughly 1798 metres, the Park is spread out over 12 hectares of undulating terrain and benefits from a number of natural features. There are numerous tree and shrub species in the park cum botanical Garden that are absent from the Nilgiris. Because of having indegenios plants the area has the several species of birds of Western Ghats and one of the best place to photograph them.

Overnight at the hotel in Coonoor.

Day 08: Coonoor – Kotagiri (20 km, 50 min drive)

Morning proceed for birding in Sim’s Park. Later transfer to Kotagiri, on arrival check-in to the lodge. Evening proceed for birding to Longwood Shola. Kotagiri is the region where the natural habitat of Nilgiri is completely visible closer to the city. Shola forest is a kind of tropical montane forest. In between the grassland of the hilly terrain there will be formation of the small dense forest in a valley of Nilgiris called as shola forest. These forest says the different story all together.

Numerous significant bird species, including the White-bellied Shortwing, Nilgiri Laughingthrush, and Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, may be found at Longwood Shola. In this region, 10 of the 16 Western Ghats endemics have been identified. Due to its proximity to the eastern Nilgiris, the area is home to some species that prefer lower altitudes, such as the Yellow-browed Bulbul (Iole indica), Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia), White-bellied Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis pallipes), and Verditer Flycatcher (Eumyias thalassina). Only as vagrants are these species reported from the Upper Plateau.

Overnight at the lodge in Kotagiri.

heart spotted woodpecker
Day 09: Kotagiri

Today full day of birding in and around Kotagiri today. In search of Nilgiri endemics such the Nilgiri Sholakili, Nilgiri chilleppen and Nilgiri thrush, we visit a little shola early in the morning. On this stroll, there’s a chance of seeing migrant birds such the pied thrush and blue and white flycatcher.

After returning from the shola, we eat breakfast before setting out once more, this time to the edge of a tea estate. One of the greatest areas to look for red avadavats and the loud Malabar lark is in this area’s habitat of hedgerows and meadows. In this region, there is also a small population of Indian Eagle Owls. We head back to the lodge for a nap and some food.

Afternoon proceed for birding towards Kodanad road in the search for soaring raptors and the beautiful Great Hornbills, we travel to the lower Kotagiri area. Today’s top priority on the menu is black eagles. A tiny wood nearby is also home to crested tree swifts, vernal hanging parrots, and occasionally a huge hawk cuckoo.

At dusk in the evening, we return to the lodge. Overnight at the lodge.

Day 10: Kotagiri – Kottathara (Near Anaikatti) (160 km, 05 hrs drive)

Today we head out for another birding session in the morning, maybe repeating some of the previously visited areas to check for birds that could not be found on the earlier attempts. Depending on interests, a spot plan can also be made for specific birds in the morning.

Later check-out from the lodge and transfer to Kottathara. On arrival check-in to the lodge. Later in the evening visit Anaikatti river for birding. This place is popular Fireflies show, the place is a micro forest having huge fireflies during the best season. Seeing them is spectacular. Overnight at the lodge in Kottahthara.

Overnight at Kottahthara.

Day 11: Kottathara – Parambikulam (250 km, 7 hrs drive)

Morning short birding around the property. Later chaeck-out from the lodge and transfer to Parambikulam. We will start birding as soon as we get there, if there is time. We’ll take a little walk around the camp after dinner in search of the amazing Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Oriental Scops Owl, Brown Hawk-Owl, Jungle Owlet, and, maybe, the uncommon Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl.

Overnight at Parambikulam.

Day 12: Parambikulam

After early breakfast proceed for birding around the region. Around the Parambikulam region, it is not allowed for outsider to walk inside the Nation Park so the Parambikula Tiger reserve offers the same for the guests who are staying with them. We will provide the local birding guide.

In the foothills of the Western Ghats, at Parambikulam, we will spend the entire day exploring the area’s extensive forested areas. The dawn chorus of birds and monkeys alike brings this deep lowland tropical forest to life each morning. The magnificent White-bellied Treepie, Malabar Grey Hornbill, retiring Red Spurfowl in small bamboo stands, Grey Junglefowl, the outstanding Malabar Trogon, Malabar Whistling Thrush, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, and Crimson-backed Sunbird are a few of the specialties we will be looking for.

Some of the potential species we might find in this amazing area includes the Blacked-napped Monarch, Dark-fronted Babbler, Flame-throated Bulbul, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Southern Hill Myna, Malabar Starling, bamboo-loving Rufous Babbler, Black-hooded Oriole, and perhaps the locally adapted Black-throated Munia.

Overnight at the tent in Parambikulam.

Day 13: Parambikulam – Munnar (135 km, 04 hrs drive)

Birdwatching on the property in the morning. Later, after a leisurely breakfast, depart from the lodge and travel the 135 km (about 4 hours) to Munnar. bird watching en route to Munnar. Once there, check in at the lodge. At the inn, free time. Birds can be seen on the land as well. Spend the night at the Munnar lodge.

Day 14: Munnar

This morning we will explore the Eravikulam National Park, which is located in the Western Ghats’ tall Cardamom Hills. This reserve, which was first created to safeguard the Nilgiri Tahr, a swift-footed goat, also supports a wide variety of birds and numerous regional species. These include the migratory Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, the localised and habitat-specific Nilgiri Pipit, the extremely rare Painted Bush Quail, White-bellied Blue Robin, and Nilgiri Flycatcher. The sharply grassed mountain slopes in the region are home to the shy and challenging Broad-tailed Grassbird, while the stunning Palani Laughingthrush can be found in the forested ravines.

Overnight at the lodge in Munnar.

nilgiri flycatcher birding
Day 15: Munnar – Thettakad (65 km, 1-2 hrs drive)

Morning birding around the lodge. After relaxed breakfast check-out from the lodge and transfer to Thettakad Bird Sanctuary. On arrival check-in to the lodge. Evening proceed for birding.

Along the Periyar River’s banks, amidst rubber groves and woodlands, sits the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, also known as the Thattekaad Bird Sanctuary. Thattekaad, the only lowland evergreen forest in India, is a popular destination for birdwatchers in that region. Over 300 species of birds are supported by the 25 sq. km sanctuary, many of which are found solely in the area of this woodland patch. Although it can be difficult to view any wildlife in these forests due to the thick undergrowth, tall trees, and dense foliage, local guides have over the years changed this and created an incredible wilderness experience in Thattekaad.

Overnight at the lodge in Thettakad.

Day 16 & 17: Thettakad

Morning birding around the lodge. After relaxing breakfast, check out from the lodge and transfer to Thettakad Bird Sanctuary. On arrival check-in to the lodge. Evening proceed for birding.

Along the Periyar River’s banks, amidst rubber groves and woodlands, sits the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, also known as the Thattekaad Bird Sanctuary. Thattekaad, the only lowland evergreen forest in India, is a popular destination for birdwatchers in that region. Over 300 species of birds are supported by the 25 sq. km sanctuary, many of which are found solely in the area of this woodland patch. Although it can be difficult to view any wildlife in these forests due to the thick undergrowth, tall trees, and dense foliage, local guides have over the years changed this and created an incredible wilderness experience in Thattekaad.

Overnight at the lodge in Thettakad.

Day 18: Thettakad – Kochi (65 km, 1-2 hrs drive)

The morning after a relaxed breakfast, check out from the lodge and transfer to Kochi airport to board a flight home or onwards journey.

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