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Bird watching in Coorg is an immersive experience! This novice bird watcher felt blessed after birding at the Tata Coffee Plantation Trails in Coorg.
I am a person who runs to the hills whenever life starts feeling too stressful for me. Coorg is one such destination that seems to have formed some sort of a bond with me which keeps beckoning me over and over again. The hills in Coorg are clothed in coffee and peppered with other spices. We were invited by Plantation Trails, Tata Coffee to experience nature in its purest form at their heritage plantation bungalows.
We are not avid bird watchers but when you are surrounded by nature it becomes imperative that you make an effort to learn about it. It is said that bird watching is the theatre of nature. One of the experiences you can have at Plantation Trails is their well organised bird watching tour. This tour is typically done soon after sunrise to increase the chances of spotting a greater number of birds. Coorg has a very rich bio diversity, owing to the forests as well large plantations interspersed with many trees. These have become bio-buffers and also highlights the deep relation Coorg has with nature. Out of the 2060 species of birds found in India, 25% are found in Coorg.
The next morning we got up with the sun for a bird watching tour. The best time to go birding is in the early morning or evening. If you are novices like us, it is best to be accompanied by a Naturalist. A good pair of binoculars and a camera with a zoom lens are a few of the things to carry for birding. It is advised to wear dull coloured clothes while going birding. Also, as eco conscious tourists, it is our responsibility to not disturb an existing ecosystem. While birding, being responsible means that if we see a nest we should not touch it or go near it as birds often destroy their eggs/young ones if an intruder has touched them.
The morning was especially misty and the hills were shrouded with mist. But as it did not seem to be lifting off anytime soon, we decided to experience the mist as part of our birding experience. The birds were perched high on the tall trees and we could hear various bird calls. Our Naturalist who had trained with a renowned ornithologist in India was able to distinguish the birds by their calls and sometimes we could see the silhouette of a rare bird, or a bird flitting by.
An array of coffee blooms
We walked through narrow paths between coffee shrubs which had put on blooms. The coffee blooms or flowers are fragrant and smell nothing like coffee. Their fragrance is thick and similar to jasmine. The dark green shrubs with rows of white flowers were pretty and made me feel blessed. The paths were carpeted by purple flowers that had fallen in the morning. Our Naturalist knew a thing or two about spiders as well and could identify different spiders based on the shape of the web. He pointed out a bell shaped spider web and a tunnel web where a blind spider lies in wait for his unsuspecting prey or as we call it, breakfast. What was remarkable was that he could spot these webs and birds with such ease even through the mist.
Racket Tailed Drongo
Slowly the mist started lifting and we could see birds like the Malabar Hornbill, Greater Racket Tailed Drongo, parakeets, woodpeckers and minivets. Around the plantation we also saw our old friends the parrots and sparrows that seem to have moved away from the city and made these hills their home. Maybe the sparrows have made the right decision to go back to nature and we should give these signs some thought. Our misty walk was coming to an end on paths that were lined by wild flowers and coffee blooms. We walked back with school children on their way to school and with coffee pickers on their way to work.
We reached back at the bungalow to find a good breakfast spread and hot, freshly made coffee waiting for us. After breakfast, our youngest guest (my son), still wanted to play, so we let him run around the grounds near the bungalow which were dotted with fruit trees and hence a wide variety of colourful birds. The birds seemed to be posing for us and we got busy with our camera while the little one had a great time exploring and finding nature at Plantation Trails.
Swinging and singing silly songs
This post was made possible with the support of Tata Coffee Plantation Trails. Plantation Trails’ is Tata Coffee’s Hospitality Brand, offering unique Heritage and Luxury Bungalows in the Coorg. Situated in the middle of picturesque tea and coffee plantations, these bungalows offer a true ‘Plantation Experience’ for guests. Owned and managed by Tata Coffee which has a history of over 85 years in the region, these spacious but cozy bungalows, offer personalized cook and butler service and are a perfect blend of an heritage building and comforts to make your stay enjoyable, thereby making them a perfect getaway from the harsh city life.
As part of the experience guests enjoy guided bird watching tours, nature walks, and a guided jeep drive through plantations. Guests also receive firsthand information on how coffee is processed from bean to cup. Other activities include a private 9-hole golf course, badminton, table-tennis, trekking, boating, and white water rafting during season only.
You can follow Plantation Trails at Facebook or Twitter too, to stay updated for the best offers for nature-loving travellers.
Top image of Scarlet Minivet and all other images used, belong to the author.
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