Trip report: Southern India Extension (Jan 2019) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Ken BehrensThis was a set departure tour; it is an extension to our Sri Lanka tour, but can also be taken as a stand-alone trip

The riches of the Indian Subcontinent are well known. There is remarkable diversity, from the deserts of the west, to the Himalayas of the north, to the Nilgiri mountains of the southwest. The latter was the focus of this short trip that immediately preceded our Sri Lanka set-departure tour. The Western Ghats are the richest part of India for endemic birds, and this short trip was focused on seeing as many of these as possible. We were quite successful, locating 33 Indian endemic birds, most of which are only found in the Western Ghats, and some of which are highly local even within that zone. This endemic tally neatly matched that of Sri Lanka, where we found all of the island’s 33 endemic birds. So those who did both trips went home with 66 endemic birds, a good total for a 3-week trip anywhere in the world.

South India is unheralded as a mammal-watching destination, but is also excellent on that score. Although our itinerary didn’t particularly focus on mammals, we recorded 22 species. These included two sightings of Asian Wild Dog, a frustrating Sloth Bear that unfortunately disappeared before we could see it well, Blackbuck, and the endangered endemic Nilgiri Tahr. In combination with the Sri Lanka trip, we saw an impressive 37 species of mammals.

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