Thattekad – birder’s paradise

posted in: Asia, Birding, India, Kerala | 14
Thattekad is a bird sanctuary in Kerala. Located at the base of western ghats, it covers a small area of 25 sq km. Also known as Salim Ali bird sanctuary, it is a place well renowned to looks for the birds endemic to western ghats in addition to migratory birds in winter.


Orange headed thrush


Salim Ali described this sanctuary as the richest bird habitat in peninsular India next only to the Eastern Himalayas. That itself is a testimony for the variety in avian life.


A lake in Thattekad


I rarely visit the same place again but Thattekad was an exception. My first visit was in the month of October last year. While returning back, I and Sankara felt that we need to visit again!! Before we reached the Aluva railway station, the dates of the next trip was already finalized and booking done!!


Bronze winged Jacana


For Bengaluru people, Thattekad is conveniently located for a weekend trip. The nearest railway station to Thattekad is Aluva and Cochin airport is also nearby. It takes about an hour to reach Thattekad from railway station or airport. Overnight trains are convenient and there are many flights between Bengaluru and Cochin. Choice is yours!!


White bellied treepie


During both visits, we reached the sanctuary Saturday morning and spent two full days before departing on Sunday evening. A perfect weekend trip.


Streak throated woodpecker


This is different from typical bird sanctuaries like Ranganathittu that attracts aquatic birds. In Thattekad, it requires you to walk in the forest in search of the birds. There are few hides constructed by few private parties with food thrown over to attract birds. They serve good for calendar photos.


Pygmy woodpecker


A typical itinerary in the sanctuary involves walking in Salim Ali trail, Baza trail, Palamattam area and Uralanthanni. My personal favorite was Uralanthanni in the morning which provides good opportunity to shoot birds.


Sri lankan frogmouth


This is not a place to chill out or visit as a tourist. But for a birder it is a paradise. Being an amateur in birding, Thattekad provided me an opportunity to get better understanding of birds.


Blyth’s starling


There are many home stays available in Thattekad which provide basic stay and food with guide services. You can see my review of the place I stayed in my trip advisor page.


Malabar trogon


While traveling, we happen to meet many people and some of them will be crazy ones!! While birding in Palamattam area, a guy comes with his huge lens and tripod. Being very restless, he is concerned that he is not getting enough birds!! He puts music player that imitates bird’s call. Few yellow browed bulbuls come nearby but a brach in front of it obstructs to get a ‘good’ snap or the sky background is not appealing. Very soon, he picked up a fight with his guide for not getting birds in close view!! What a guy!!!!


Heart spotted woodpecker

Here is the list of birds I saw in my Thattekad visit. It is not an exhaustive list!!

Red spurfowl
Grey Jungle fowl
Lesser whistling duck
Cotton Pygme goose
Common Kingfisher
White breasted Kingfisher
Racket tailed drongo
Bronze Drongo
Ashy Drongo
Drone Cuckoo
Common Hawk cuckoo
Banded Bay Cuckoo
Grey bellied cuckoo
Large cuckooshrike
Black headed cuckooshrike
Rufuos treepie
White bellied treepie
Oriental Magpie Robin
Asian Fairy Bluebird
Golden oriole
Black headed oriole
Paradise flycatcher
Asian brown flycatcher
Rusty tailed flycatcher
White Cheeked barbet
Malabar barbet
Orange minivet
White bellied woodpecker
Brown capped pygmy woodpecker
Lesser golden backed woodpecker
Heart spotted woodpecker
Lesser yellow nape woodpecker
Streak throated woodpecker
Blue faced Malkoha
Hill Myna
Jungle Babbler
Asian Koel
Honey Buzzard
Green Imperial pigeon
Grey fronted green pigeon
Golden fronted leafbird
Grey hornbill
Purple dumped sunbird
Purple dumped sunbird
Flame throated bulbul
Red vented bulbul
Red whiskered bulbul
Yellow browed bulbul
Dollar bird
Forest wagtail
Yellow wagtail
Orange headed thrush
Indian black bird
Pond heron
Cattle Egret
Little Egret
Rosy Starling
Bronze winged Jacana
White breasted kingfisher
Small kingfisher
Little cormorant
Whiskered tern
Black Baza
Malabar parakeet
Plum headed parakeet
Jungle owlet
Large billed leaf warbler
Blyth’s starling
Nilgiri flower pecker
Crested Goshawk
Great tit
Srilankan frogmouth
Malabar trogon
Emarald dove
Indian Pitta
Brown cheeked Fulvetta
Black naped monarch

14 Responses

  1. Santosh bs


    That's a Streak-throated Woodpecker and not Steak 🙂 Let me know if you are visiting any place for birding and I can provide inputs if I have.

  2. aravindgj

    Thanks for the correction. Looks like a typo. Will correct it.
    Thanks for your inputs. I will let you know when I plan my next birding trip.

  3. Sudhir R

    That is a huge list, I was close to the area but could never make it. Whats the best time? What lens did you use?

  4. aravindgj


    Thanks for your comment.
    Winter (November to February) is the best time for birds.
    I used Tamron 150-600 mm lens.

Leave a Reply