13 new bird species, 7 new butterflies added to Munnar fauna list

13 new bird species, 7 new butterflies added to Munnar fauna list
White-bellied Sholakili. Photo: Ramesh Iyer

Munnar: Thirteen new bird species and seven new butterflies have been added to Munnar Wildlife Division's celebrated fauna list.

The findings are from a scientific survey of the Munnar Wildlife Division landscape conducted last week.

These include species not recorded previously in the Management Plans of the region's National Parks and Sanctuaries. 

The four-day exercise was conducted by the Munnar Wildlife Division in association with the Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS).

Nilgiri Pipit Murali
Nilgiri Pipit. Photo: Murali Mohan

The survey covered protected areas of the Munnar Landscape, namely Eravikulam National Park, Mathikettan Shola National Park, Anamudi Shola National Park, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kurinjimala Sanctuary and Pampadum Shola National Park.

With this, Munnar landscape has recorded 245 bird species in surveys conducted so far, of which 173 have been spotted this time. 

The highest number of bird species was recorded at Chinnar 144 species, followed by Eravikulam (104), Kurinjimala (60), Anamudi shola (44), Mathikettan (66) and Pampadum Shola (63).

Black and Orange Flycatcher
Black and Orange Flycatcher. Photo: Anoop R

The interesting bird additions include the Indian long-billed Vulture (Gyps indicus) from Eravikulam, Ruddy Breasted Crake, Malayan Night Heron from Pampadum Shola and the Taiga Flycatcher from Chinnar. 

Legge's Hawk Eagle
Legge's Hawk Eagle. Photo: Anoop R

Other records added to the Munnar checklist were Indian Cormorant, Rufous Bellied Hawk Eagle, Spotted Owlet, Oriental Scops Owl, Brown Wood Owl, Alexandrine Parakeet, Jerdon's Bushlark, Skyke's Warbler and Clamorous Reed Warbler. 

State bird Great Indian Hornbill, and the Mountain Hawk Eagle (Legge's Hawk Eagle) was spotted in Chinnar. 

Palani Laughingthrush
Palani Laughingthrush. Photo: Ramesh Iyer

Endemic species recorded included Nilgiri Wood Pigeon – spotted at all sanctuaries-- Nilgiri Pipit, which was very common in all the high-elevation grasslands, the Broad-tailed Grass Warbler (Broad- Tailed Grassbird), Nilgiri Flycatcher, Black-and-Orange Flycatcher, White-Bellied Sholakili, Scaly Thrush (Nilgiri Thrush) and Nilgiri Blackbird.

In the whole landscape, 173 butterfly species were observed in this survey.

Chinnar topped the list with 128 species, Eravikulam had 68, Anamudi Shola had 66 and Mathikettan Shola had 62 species. 

Nilgiri Four Rong
Nilgiri Four Rong. Photo: Baiju K

The lowest number of species were at Pampadum shola (45) and Kurinjimala with 37 species. Among butterflies, seven species spotted as additions in Munnar Landscape were -- Sahyadri Clear Sailer, Indian Common Shot Silverline, Oriental Common Awl, Oriental Spotted Angle, Oriental Chestnut Angle, Black Angle and Rounded Palm-Redeye. 

The state butterfly Malabar Banded Peacock was recorded at Anamudi Shola. 

Other interesting observations were Sahyadri Birdwing, African Marbled Skipper and the African Grass Jewel. Endemic butterflies recorded included Malabar Raven, Nilgiri Clouded Yellow, Palni Bushbrown, Red-disc Bushbrown, Nilgiri Four-ring, Nilgiri Jewel Four-ring, Palni Four-ring, Palni Fritillary, Nilgiri Tiger and White-disc Hedge Blue.

Palani Fritillary
Palani Fritillary. Photo: Kalesh

Besides butterflies, 30 species of Odonates were also recorded. These include new additions Anax guttatus, Lathrecista asiatica, Neurobasis chinensis, Orthetrum chrysis and Vestalis gracilis.

All these were common lowland species, which might have migrated to higher slopes as the climate became warmer, according to the survey.

About 100 volunteers participated in the survey.