January 15th, 2009

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The Birds of Valparai

It was really staggering to see the number of birds at any given location in the Valparai area and its surroundings....

The first morning, on the way to Valparai from Coimbatore, we stopped at Monkey Falls, and apart from the raptors that we saw, there were....

A rufous ASIAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER that started the proceedings off:

rufous paradise flycatcher monkey falls area valparai 100109

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Here's the kind of scenery that greeted us all along our trip:


valparai crown type peak

OK, Cinderella time is long past....more about Valparai before I leave for Daroji!
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Butterflies of Valparai

Most of the butterflies we saw are completely unknown to me, so I am just going to post the pics here and ask one of my better-informed friends for the id's and update...


Let's start with this beauty...

Update: Thanks to Rohini for some id's.... this is the CLIPPER:


looks like oleander moth bfly 110109

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At the very end of the trip, I found this huge WASPS' NEST:


wasps' nest rd to coimbatore 110109
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Mammals of Valparai...

Valparai is a great place for the endemic mammals, that is, the ones that are found only in this area. "Malabar" is the ancient name for Kerala, and this name is attached to many of the birds and animals found here. (Eg. Malabar Trogon, Malabar Whistling Thrush, and so on.)


And just outside Valparai town (you have to come through it if you are driving down from Coimbatore) is the Puthuthottam Tea Estate area, which has fragments of the original forest here and there...and this area is a virtual Noah's ark for sightings!

Well, as soon as we entered the Puthuthottam (Puthu Thottam ="new garden" in Tamizh and probably also MaLayALam) area, the sight of this MALABAR GIANT SQUIRREL stopped us in our tracks. Hurriedly, we stopped the Qualis in which we were travelling, and tumbled out with our cameras in haste....

100109 malabar giant squirrel valparai


But the squirrel tarried long enough in the boughs of the tamarind tree for us to get a few closeups, too...


malabar giant squirrel closeup 100109 puthuthottam area valparai

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And that most precious mammal of all, Homo sapiens kmensis, with his camera and lenses:

KM and camera 100109


Will be doing a post on the various places, and flora, in Valparai, too; it will be useful if, one day, you want to visit this wonderful place, too.
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Valparai Visit

Though we took an overnight train, the visit really started with the sunrise after we got out of the train and were speeding towards Valparai from Coimbatore after a quick breakfast at Annapoorna....


dawn with shrine and pilgrims 100109

The chill dawn, the pilgrims on their way (most pilgrims would finish their pilgrimage by January 14th, when the sun begins its "uttarAyanam" or northward path, and the festival of Sankranti or Pongal, the harvest festival, happens), and the little lighted shrine in the gloaming, made me feel peaceful...




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The lovely trip ended with this beautiful sunset:

sunset valparai 100109

Then came the largest full moon (also the first full moon) of 2009:




large full moon of 2009


Valparai is beautiful (even if Hotel Treat is not)...do visit when you can!

I am off to Daroji Bear Sanctuary in an hour or two...everyone, don't be good, until I get back!