…continued from: Andaman Endemic Birds Day 2
Day 3. Morning session.
Mount Harriet was to be our destination this morning. It is the third highest peak in the Andamans and was declared a National Park in 1979.Though the park itself is situated towards the summit, the entire mountain is covered in dense forrest.
Again we caught the 5am ferry from Chatham to Bamboo Flats. At Bamboo flats the sub-adult white-bellied sea eagles were at it again, feeding near a jetty and contributed to the slideshow above!
Also spotted here were a collared kingfishers and a lone wimbrel.
The drive up to the park is moderately steep with dense jungle on either side.
Parking the car midway up the slope we walked up the road for a bit.
It was here I noticed that the golden orioles were different.
Back home in the Western Ghat region of India, of the three species of orioles, the Indian golden oriole and the black-hooded are commonly seen. Almost to the point of being boring. The black-naped oriole is uncommon.
In fact I have yet to see a black-naped oriole. Till now.
Black-naped orioles are a resident sub-species in the Andamans.
Mount Harriet is also known as a butterfly hotspot. We did see a few butterflies including this beautiful clipper (above).
Walking up the slope we spotted long-tailed parakeet, Andaman drongo and an emerald dove that flew away before we could get a shot off.
At the park gates I got these shots of a couple of vernal hanging parrots (below).
Inside the park, the beautiful jungle and the reputation that preceded it notwithstanding, the birding was disappointing.
A few white headed starlings and an Andaman Bulbul was all that we had to show for that session.
Deciding to cut our losses we drove away. This time towards a few jheels to see the duck that is endemic to the Andamans: the Andaman teal.
Being the month of March large portions of the water body had dried up. A striated heron and the long-toed stint (above) were feeding in the shallows of the receding waters. A Chinese heron in breeding plumage flew off into the bushes allowing only a distant documentation image.
As we approached the water’s edge we spooked a yellow bittern that flew into the shelter of one of the bushes.
The Andaman teal is endemic to the Andamans.
A survey in 1995 estimated about 500 birds. Another in 2005 placed the count at under 700. A more recent survey suggested an increase to over 1000. They birds are still listed as ‘vulnerable’.
It was heartening to see that the jheel held a large number of Andaman teal. In fact quite a few jheels we visited held a decent number of these birds.
Sharing the jheel with the teal were common moorhens, purple moorhens and cotton pygmy-geese.
One of the last jheels we visited was at Sippy Ghat.
The predominant species here were lesser whistling duck and purple moorhens.
That concluded our morning session of the third day and it was back to ‘The Drifters’ (see the 2nd day’s session) for some well deserved sustenance after the morning’s ‘hard work’!
Day 3. Evening Session.
Vikram took us back to Chidiyatapu for the evening session. Our main focus was to see the Andaman crake, the adult Andaman serpent eagle and the Andaman scops owl.
First stop: the Biology Park we visited on Day 1. The juvenile serpent eagle was still there, perched on the same tree. This time it was on a branch with an unobstructed view.
The Crab eating macaques kept us entertained while we waited for the adult serpent eagle to show up. She was playing hard to get so we moved on, deeper into the park.
En route we saw a number of Andaman treepies in the distance. Apart from the now regular sightings of Andaman drongos and Andaman shamas we also sighted this green imperial dove (below) and a male black-naped monarch (above).
Vikram spotted the parent Andaman serpent eagle fly past, and he used a recording on his phone to mimic the call of this bird. Sure enough, worried that another adult in the vicinity may threaten her chick, she flew in to investigate.
Giving us a series of images in the rapidly fading light.
We revisited the area where the Andaman crake was frequently spotted. Without success.
By now it was getting dark and we walked back to the parking lot and went in search of the Andaman nightjar and Hume’s owls. With 50% success. A few Hume’s hawk owls but no night jar!
The last stop for the evening was the patch of forest near Munda Pahad to try and sight the elusive Andaman scops owl.
And this time we were lucky to spot a highly obliging bird!
Looking back, the dissapointment of the lack of action on Mount Harriet and inability to see the Andaman Night jar and the Andaman crake was compensated by great viewings of both juvenile and adult Andaman serpent eagle, a number of water birds including the ‘vunerable’ endemic Andaman teal and last, but by no means the least, the rare and elusive Andaman scops owl!
Go to: Andaman Endemic Bird. Day 4
Loved the entire Andaman series, Sir. Wish I could just pack my bags and go to Andaman.
Thank you! You must make a trip Sangeeta. It is a beautiful place. Unfortunately, like so many places in India I really don’t know how long it will last…