India,  Kerala,  South India,  Travel,  Travelogue & Art Journal

The Birdwatcher’s House In Thattekad Forest

Day 20 (T) ~ #BlogchatterA2Z

All artwork is done by Seema Misra, Copyright Lonely Canopy.

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When we caught the bird watching bug, back in 2015, after a few excursions to nearby lakes and bird spots in Bangalore, we wanted to do something bigger. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Thattekad felt like a nice idea. So we planned a year-end Kerala trip around it. The Bird Song Homestay had such a nice ring to it. I kept dreaming how it would be. When we drove into Thattekad from a busier Fort Kochi, the transition was gradual. Though Kerala is pretty in its entirety, there was something special in the pristine views and silences that I felt at Thattekad.

“Live close to nature and you’ll never feel lonely. Don’t drive those sparrows out of your veranda; they won’t hack into your computer.” ― Ruskin Bond

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A house brought alive with the musical performances of birds, crickets, and cicadas.

We entered the main gate and I distinctly remember falling in love with the view inside – huge bamboo groves, a small bridge over a river, and a Kingfisher perched atop a lone shoot jutting out of the river. It was almost like a dream. We then drove into the homestay. It felt a little noisier and crowded than we had pictured. And we were told this is not Bird Song!

Bird Song Homestay

It was a sigh of relief as we backed our car and headed to the end of the road. There was an exotic board of the Ceylon Frogmouth Owl, and how it was extinct till it was revived in this very Sanctuary. We turned the corner and saw the bright orange building of Bird Song Homestay, standing out like a candy in the green surroundings. My husband jumped out with his camera as soon as we parked the car beside a mini butterfly farm that they had going on in the garden.

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The two-floored house is quite basic. Vinod’s family lives on the ground floor, which is a bit sunken, like a semi-basement. A staircase leads down to the backyard, which was pretty with a small farm and a little pathway to the river. A pair of Brahminy Kites had adopted the homestay and would fly around surveying the property. One of them was a rescue bird with an injured wing. There was also another couple, a certain Mr. Orange Hornbill & Mrs. Grey Hornbill perched ostentatiously atop another tree nearby.

The first floor is two rooms leading to an open balcony with a dining table and some easy chairs to relax in. Food is served in open balcony for the guests in both rooms.
By the time we settled in our room, there was some piping hot black tea on the table and yummy pakoras. We relaxed and attuned ourselves to the chirpy neighborhood right in the middle of a virgin forest territory. Though this was a buffer zone, it didn’t have any noises around, and all you have to do is look for birds and start your countdown!

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Thattekad forest is on the banks of the Periyar river. You can kayak or hire a boat and explore the scenic river vistas. If you are lucky, some sloth bears will come for a drink and say hi to you.

Our Thattekad Vacation Experience

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The Narayanan family (Vinod & Sini) are the warmest of hosts, and very committed to the food and tea routines. Soon another couple joined us, they were staying in the room next door. And we became friends quite fast, may be due to the nature of this place, or the fact that they shared many common interests with us. We had the most memorable time staying in this quiet abode for the next 2 days. We had many bird watching adventures with Vinod, relished many a sumptuous and healthy home-cooked meals by Sini (including a squid preparation that takes almost 3-4 hours to prepare) and spent silent evenings listening to the sounds of the forest.

Birdsong home stay remains a special memory to this day. And yes, we did see the Frogmouth too!

 

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Overenthusiastic Bird Watcher

“My chief interest in bird study has always been its ecology, its life history under natural conditions and not in a laboratory under a microscope. By travelling to these remote, uninhabited places, I could study the birds as they lived and behaved in their habitats.” – Dr. Salim Ali.

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