Birding Without Borders

Day 258: Encountering Elephants, and Good News

Noah’s last book earns an exciting nomination.

September 15, 2015: Munnar, India — Harsha and I were joined by Junis, a local birder in Munnar, and Manoj, a bird lover and photographer, and the four of us rolled out for a day in the high Western Ghats mountains.

It was a great day all around. Not only did we see the endemic, endangered Broad-tailed Grassbird this morning and stumble across some Painted Bush-Quail, but I encountered my first Asiatic Elephant this afternoon! First, we found a practically steaming pile of dung; then a passerby tipped us off to the elephant’s presence in a patch of nearby bamboo, and we had nice looks at a big, lone male as it munched leaves. The Asiatic elephant is a different species from the ones I’ve seen lately in Africa (a whole different genus, actually) and it looks different: It’s smaller, with smoother skin, fewer ribs, more toenails, and it has two humps on top of its head.

Harsha and I are spending one last night at Eco Tones, a crisp camp in the hills near Munnar (and an idyllic little spot if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in this part of the Western Ghats) before an early start in the morning.

Finally, on a completely unrelated note, I just found out that my book, The Thing with Feathers, was chosen as a finalist for the 2015 PEN literary awards in the Research Nonfiction category—quite an honor! It really has been a good day, and, fingers crossed, tomorrow will be pretty epic, too…

New birds today: 11

Year list: 4314

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