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Remembering an avid lover of birds

Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Tuesday was a day to remember for a group of bird-lovers, young and old, who participated in a camp organised by the city-based Warblers & Waders at Arippa Ammayambalam Pacha, a low-land evergreen forest contiguous to the Kulathupuzha and Shankili reserve forests of the Agasthyavanam biosphere region.Located between Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts, Arippa was chosen for the camp as it is a bird and butterfly region with a lot of green splendour and biodiversity. The young bird enthusiast K.A. Kishore and environmentalist K.B. Sanjayan were there to share their field experience with the 26 participants. The Kerala Forest Department provided field support for the camp, led by C. Susanth, pupil of the ornithologist K.K. Neelakantan, better known by his pen name, Induchoodan. Warblers & Waders was formed in 1990 under Induchoodan's guidance and has been observing June 14 every year as `Induchoodan Commemoration Day' after his death in 1992.

"Induchoodan had a deep affection for this small evergreen patch and was a regular visitor here in the early 70's. The professor's sightings from Arippa have been included in his magnum opus, `Keralathile Pakshikal," Mr. Susanth said.

The participants were divided into four groups — `bulbuls,' `minivets, `shamas' and `drongos'. The Malabar Grey Hornbill, endemic to the Western Ghats, was observed in plenty at Arippa this time. The noisy and chuckling flocks of hornbills attracted the birders no end. The grey-headed bulbul, small sunbird and white-belied blue flycatcher, all endemic to the region, were also spotted.

The highlight of the camp, however, was the sighting of the Malabar trogon (called `theekkaka' in Malayalam), which is reputed to be one of the most beautiful forest birds in the country. For the birders, its brilliant red colour was a feast for the eyes.

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