Vernal Hanging Parrot (Loriculus vernalis)

The Vernal Hanging Parrot (Loriculus vernalis) is a small parrot which is a resident breeder in the Indian Subcontinent and some other areas of Southeast Asia. It undergoes local movements, driven mainly by the availability of the fruit, seeds, buds and blossoms that make up its diet. They frequent the Banyan tree for the fruit and Plantain trees for the nectar from the flowers.

Vernal Hanging Parrot shows where they get their name

Vernal Hanging Parrot shows where they get their name

This is a small, mainly green hanging parrot, only 14 cm long with a short tail. The adult male has a red rump and bill, and blue throat patch. The female has a green patch. Vernal Hanging Parrot is a bird of dry jungle and cultivation. It nests in holes in trees, laying 2-4 white eggs. Immature birds have a duller rump, and lack the throat patch. Vernal Hanging Parrot is less gregarious than some of its relatives, and is usually in small groups outside the breeding season. Its flight is swift and direct, and the call is a raucous chattering.

Since I couldn’t get a close up, here’s the Wikipedia one.

With a such a large range, this diminutive parrot will be on most national park’s bird lists from the Western Ghats of Southern India (Central Asia award) to Thailand, Laos & Vietnam (South-east Asia award).  So far, I have seen them in Thattekad and Wayanad.

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At least they are not as shy as some other parrots and will perch out in the open………….albeit a bit far from my camera!

IMG_1287a Thattekad Vernal Hanging Parrot IMG_2660 IMG_2663a IMG_2666aLEARN MORE ABOUT THIS PARROT

Wikipedia

World Parrot Trust

Birdlife

The Guardian

VIDEO

Asian Fairy-bluebird (Irena puella)

The Asian Fairy-bluebird (Irena puella) is a medium-sized, arboreal passerine bird. This fairy-bluebird is found in forests across tropical southern Asia from the Himalayan foothills, India and Sri Lanka east through Indochina, the Greater Sundas and Palawan (Philippines). Two or three eggs are laid in a small cup nest in a tree. It was described by British ornithologist John Latham in 1790. The only other member of the genus and family is the Philippine Fairy-bluebird, I. cyanogastra, which replaces the Asian Fairy-bluebird in most of the Philippines.

Thattekad Asian Fairy-bluebird3

I saw this one in Thattekad Bird Sanctuary in Kerala, India.  It’s quite easy to get there using airline miles as you can see by my detailed blog post on “Getting to Central Asia“.

Asian Fairy-bluebird range with red dot indicating Thattekad Bird Sanctuary

Thankfully this beautiful bird is not endangered as it is quite widespread.  This also makes it more likely you will be lucky enough to see one in the wild.  Places to visit include Sri Lanka; the western coast of India from Travancore up to the latitude of Belgaum and Sawantwadi; Sikkim and the lower ranges of the Himalayas to Dibrugarh in Assam; the Khasi Hills; Cachar; Manipur; Arrakan; Bago and Taninthayi Division in Burma; the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In southeast Asia it occurs throughout most of Indochina (including Peninsular Malaysia), Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Palawan, and on smaller nearby islands. In the Indian part of its range this species is confined to the evergreen forests of the hills and plains, but elsewhere it is regular in various types of humid and deciduous forests from lowlands up to about 1,600 metres (5,200 ft).

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS BIRD

Birdlife

Wikipedia

VIDEO

 

Lodge Review: Hornbill Camp, Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

With a stunning location just across the river from Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, you can’t go wrong!

Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary Across the River

Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary Across the River

I absolutely LOVED this place and I would come back here in a heartbeat but next time not during monsoon! The safari tents are charming and the location is stunning on the banks of the Periyar River. The staff are very friendly and made way too much food considering we were the only 2 tourists there, I kept urging them to join us but they wouldn’t. The service was excellent.

I had 2 birding guides, both of whom were very knowledgeable and good at spotting birds. The first one, Danesh was also the camp manager and he also organized the transport in either rickshaws or a hired private car for one day. He found the Malabar parakeets that were my target bird! The 2nd guide, Abhilesh lives at the actual Salim Ali Sanctuary which is currently closed to visitors due to some politcal issues but he did take me to the buffer zone just outside the boundaries and luckily birds don’t know the borders!  You can see more on their website and book direct from there or book this place in advance through Lemongrass Eco-lodges for great service and they were running a special at the time we booked in 2011.

 

At Hornbill Camp, we provide an unusual stay, which is in tent houses. We have total 10 deluxe tents (Single fly living tent), 7 of which are water front.
Accommodation here is simple and harmless to the nature. Here we are redefining luxury. Each tent house has its own private bathroom and an exclusive balcony. You can simply laze on the cane chairs in the balcony in front of the tent and enjoy the true colors of nature along with the humming of a 1000 birds.

Among the specialties of this camp are the comfortable beds, en-suite attached European style closet, shower and hot running water. We also provide limited power supply available for lights and fans as well as charging facilities for laptops and mobiles (the camp is on the fringe areas with limited mobile reception)

Our Gazebo is a huge water front restaurant and relaxing place. It would indeed be the ultimate experience to watch the rain forest from the gazebo on the banks of the gently flowing river Periyar and loosen up in the calm atmosphere provided by the evergreen forest.

Tariff

USD 110 per day  for 2 persons on full board

(Kayaking, cycling & spice plantation visit included)

Birding tour with guide on special request.

Birding Guide Charges: Rupees 1500 per day

(This does not include park entry fees)

It’s about 900 rupees in prepaid taxi from the airport to here. The roads were very muddy and bumpy due to monsoon season.

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Meals are served on your deck

Meals are served on your deck

Way too much food for just 2 people!

Way too much food for just 2 people!

Tara with Danesh

Tara with Danesh

 

 

 

Getting Around Kerala

I have already blogged about how to get to the Kochi airport and how to use your miles to get to India.     Getting from the airport to the sanctuary is economical and very easy.  As you come out, you will notice a kiosk for prepaid taxis.  They are safe and reliable.  The one thing you may want to do is get directions from your accommodation in Malayalam as it is easy to get lost getting to the lodges.  To get back to the airport, your lodge manager will be able to arrange another taxi.  The region is pretty spread out and you will need transport to get to the birding areas so you may want to consider hiring the driver for a few days.  This can be negotiated at the kiosk.  Otherwise, the lodge manager will organize a driver for you.

Kochi Prepaid Taxi

TRAIN

You can also get  to Thattekkad by train.  The nearest station is Aluva which is close to the airport or Ernakalum if you are coming from the south.  You can see the relative distances on this map.  “A” is the airport and “B” is the train station.  If you can’t get a prepaid taxi from the train station you can always take a taxi to the airport and use the prepaid taxi kiosk.