September 13, 2015: Munnar, India — Yes, India! After about seven hours of sleep in the past three days, I landed in Cochin just after lunch. I’ll be in India (a country with more than 1,000 bird species, 80 percent of which I haven’t seen yet) for the next couple of weeks, and in Asia (the second-most-biodiverse continent, after South America) for the next three months.
Harsha Jayaramaiah, an excellent local birder, picked me up and we headed for the hills this afternoon. India has a vibrant birding scene which we will be hooking into over the coming week in the Western Ghats—a wet mountain range famed for its biodiversity. Things picked up as soon as I touched down: I had half a dozen new birds before leaving the Cochin airport, and, even though most of the afternoon was spent in transit to get to Munnar, new birds flitted past at each turn. It’s nice to see some easy ones for a change!
As I begin the Asian leg of this project, a significant milestone approaches. The current big year world record stands at 4,341 birds, recorded by Ruth Miller and Alan Davies, a British couple, in 2008. As of today, I’m at 4,267—just 75 short of surpassing that mark. When I set my goal of 5,000 birds at the beginning of this year, I knew it would mean a new world record but didn’t dwell too much on the competition, and certainly didn’t think I’d be here so early. Not to jinx it, but, all afternoon, “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” was stuck in my head…
New birds today: 23
Year list: 4267