Southern India Feb 01—21, 2013
Posted by David Bishop
This was undoubtedly our most successful and enjoyable Southern India and Andaman Islands tour yet. A remarkable total of 350 species of birds, 29 mammals, at least 8 reptiles, and 30+ butterflies were recorded, attesting to the alertness of our group, the skills and knowledge of our local guides, and the wonderful biodiversity that so epitomizes Southern India and the Andaman Islands. I love leading this tour. And how can you go wrong when you have a group as wonderful as the one we had this year?
It was an interesting tour for a number of reasons; we operated a full month later than in 2010, and this, coupled with the apparently almost non-existent monsoon during 2012, produced rather dry conditions. Tanks were largely dry or reduced to a mere shadow of theirselves in 2010, and dams such as those at Kabini and Periyar were about 10 meters lower than I have ever seen them. Everyone was saying that the paucity of water, which normally occurs during late March, was 4-6 weeks earlier than usual—presumably largely because of the preceding years’ poor monsoon. One discernible consequence was the large number of waterfowl on Ramnegara Dam near Kokre Belur; another was possibly the visibility of some mammals—this was the first time I have ever seen Tiger in Southern India. However, elephants were surprisingly uncommon and not concentrated around water as one might have expected.
I find it interesting that some species whose range maps indicate they are widespread in the south, such as Pied and Citrine wagtails, are in fact rare to uncommon. Conversely, several other species occur in the south, which the range maps suggest do not occur at all.
My thanks to everyone who participated in this very special and exciting tour. I enjoyed myself enormously, largely thanks to the participants, and this is only tempered by the knowledge that this will be a very hard tour to upstage. The wonderful landscapes and seemingly never-ending melange of birds, mammals, butterflies, forests, marshes, people, and antiquities encapsulate what I have come to love so much about this incredible country.