Birding at Nandi Hills

8:42 PM

Birding tour to Nandi Hills:

Nandi hills as we all know is a favorite tourist hotspot and closest hill-station for Bengalureans, famous for its sunrise and cloud covered views. But what is not much familiar is its bio-diversity and the long list of birds it hosts. Some of the rare birds which is otherwise endemic to forests like western ghats can be spotted here in Nandi hills.

This was my sixth visit to the Nandi hills but a first dedicated to bird watching. With great expectations to spot some of the exotic birds of Nandi hills, filled my bucket-list with the Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon, Indian Paradise-Flycatcher, Indian Blue Robin, Blue-capped Rock-Thrush, Orange headed thrush and Puff-throated Babbler.
A Male Indian paradise flycatcher with its long drooping tail feathers
A Male Indian paradise flycatcher with its long drooping tail feathers
As a commonly known fact, best time for bird watching is early morning. But in reality, reached the place late around 8.30 am, after having breakfast at Nandi Upachar. I must tell it was not a good start, as I was hardly able to spot any birds and if I was able to spot, I was not given time to recognize the species or get a clear shot on my camera. Birds were seen in a morning rush and due to bad lighting conditions couldn't get clearer photographs. The first bird which I was able to spot clearly was the Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon, right on top of my bucket-list for the day, but it was camouflaged behind the leaves and couldn't get a pic. Right after this there were the Drongo's, Blackbird and the colorful white-eyes. While I followed the calls of the Oriental Magpie Robin, I could spot the pied thrush. Meanwhile when I was clicking the pied thrush on the ground, there came a long tailed beauty flying high over the tall trees. It was one of the most beautiful bird I've seen, a male Indian Paradise flycatcher with its long tailed feathers. It flew several times high on the trees, before it could settle at a close proximity to me, but only to have terrified by a monkey and it flew away. Definitely the highlight of the day.
Ashy Drongo
Ashy Drongo
A female Indian paradise flycatcher with a short-tail, rufous wings, grayish throat and a black head with crest
A female Indian paradise flycatcher with a short-tail, rufous wings, grayish throat and a black head with crest
A male Indian paradise flycatcher with an elongated central tail feathers, rufous plumage and glossy black head with crest
A male Indian paradise flycatcher with an elongated central tail feathers, rufous plumage and glossy black head with crest
A Male Oriental Magpie Robin
A Male Oriental Magpie Robin
A Female Pied Thrush
A Female Pied Thrush
Blyth's Reed Warbler - considering the supercilium upto eyes, and yellow lower mandible. With small tail and long undertail covert
Blyth's Reed Warbler - considering the supercilium upto eyes, and yellow lower mandible. With small tail and long undertail covert
White-cheeked barbet
White-cheeked barbet
At the end of the tour I could spot the tree pipit, indeed over the tree along with a Puff-throated Babbler wandering on the ground.
Tree Pipit
Tree Pipit
Puff-throated Babbler
Puff-throated Babbler
Though Indian Blue Robin, Blue-capped Rock-Thrush and Orange headed thrush didn't show up, but  the first time sightings of the Indian paradise flycatcher, Pied Thrush, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon and Puff-throated Babbler made my day and it gave a strong reason for visiting the place again...

Couldn't wait any longer, we visited the place second time in the month of March. This time again planned to reach before dawn, but left Bengaluru late and reached the hills again by 8.30 am, after having breakfast at Udupi Swada.

It was a delightful start for the day, welcomed by the melodious singing of Tickell's blue flycatcher, followed by first time sightings of Indian Blue Robin and the Tawny-bellied Babbler's. The calls of Tickell's blue flycatcher continued for a long time, but could spot only two of them. Then their were a cute pair of Oriental White-eyes seen feeding on the nectar from the flowers.
Tickell's Blue flycatcher
Tickell's Blue flycatcher
Indian Blue Robin
Indian Blue Robin
Oriental White-eye feeding on the nectar
Oriental Magpie Robin with its prey Grasshopper
Oriental Magpie Robin with its prey Grasshopper
Although Pied Thrush and Nilgiri Wood Pigeon were not sighted this time, but was able to spot Indian paradise flycatcher and Puff-throated Babbler on my second visit also.

This time along we were lucky to spot the thrushes of Nandi hills, which had eluded in our previous visit. These included the Orange-headed Thrush, Blue Rock-Thrush and in the end of the trip spotted the colorful Blue-capped Rock-Thrush. These thrushes along with the Indian Blue Robin were my first sightings.
The colorful Blue-capped rock Thrush
The colorful Blue-capped rock Thrush
Blue rock Thrush
Blue rock Thrush
Orange headed Thrush
Orange headed Thrush
It was another satisfying birding trip to Nandi hills, as always birding trips have never disappointed me.

But it doesn't end here, there are some more exotic birds in Nandi hills which I'm yet to spot, including the Yellow-throated Bulbul, White-browed Bulbul, Indian Scimitar-Babbler, Verditer Flycatcher, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Ultramarine Flycatcher and Common Rosefinch. An intent to visit again.

Complete list of birds spotted in Nandi hills:
Nilgiri Wood Pigeon
White-cheeked Barbet
Ashy Drongo & Black Drongo
Red-whiskered Bulbul & Red-vented Bulbul
‎Gray wagtail
Tawny-bellied Babbler
Puff-throated Babbler
Olive backed Pipit & Tree Pipit

The robins, flycatchers and thrushes:
Oriental Magpie Robin - male
Indian Blue Robin
Indian Robin
‎Indian Paradise-Flycatcher - male & female
Tickell's blue flycatcher
Orange-headed Thrush
Blue-capped Rock-Thrush
Blue Rock-Thrush
‎Pied Thrush - female
‎Indian Blackbird - male

Small perching birds:
‎Ashy Prinia
Pale-billed Flowerpecker
Oriental White-eye
Purple sunbird
Blyth's Reed Warbler

And the common birds:
Black Kite, ‎Brahminy Kite, Crow, Jungle Myna & Common myna

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