One of the most popular birding destinations in the Indian subcontinent is located just a 1.5-hour journey away from Cochin, in Kerala. Thattekad is a serene, scenic town on the banks of the Periyar River, surrounded by dense forest in all directions. It is home to more than 500 species of birds, and fittingly, is also the location of the famous Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.

Birders can spot birds like Crimson-fronted Barbets, Yellow-browed Bulbuls, whistling thrushes, doves, Indian Blue Robins, Grey Junglefowl, Racket-tailed Drongos, Rusty-tailed Flycatchers  and Night Herons in this exquisite setting. Many raptors and owls are also commonly sighted here. 

A word of advice to photographers: You will spend hours in the hide, which will usually have a birdbath to attract different species of birds. It’s hot, and the wait can get testing, but patience is the key to shooting birds. While waiting, I generally preset my focus on select perches where I think I will get good shots. I also avoid shooting the birds in the bath as the pots look very artificial. Another tip is to decide on the species you want to capture ahead of time – otherwise, you could shoot whatever comes your way, but miss out on making good images of rare species. This also helps save the shutter count of the camera, and to conserve storage space. 

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