Bird watching at Hessarghatta

The birding has been eccentric these days, frequent travel has kept me busy. This was my short visit to Bangalore time did not permit me for a long trip to my favourite destination.

I called up Santosh to know the plan for Sunday Oct 27th2012.  We planned to visit Hessarghatta for birding. It was decided to meet him at 5.30am near metro.
Ahhh chilled ride out was superb in the morning, he picked me and we started towards hessarghatta grasslands. A friend to santosh also joined us; Prashanth works for automobile industry in Dubai. Cool guy with varied interest.
Already bird watchers took there place at hessarghatta, we moved on observing the winged beauties it was a lucky day we could spot a European Roller a migratory bird.

2 birds was lifer to me, pied cuckoo and European roller. It was an awesome day with loads of joy and learning.  

A day out @ MuniNagar…

It poured like cats and dogs the previous night!! I thought our early morning birding to MuniNagar will not be possible. I crossed fingers praying let it rain till morning 4:00Am and give a break for our happy birding.

With the snooping mind I peeped out of the window at 4.45Am to make sure it’s not raining, yah… we were lucky enough the rain had given a break. I started my place at 5.15Am and reached chetan’s place at 5.45Am. The weather conditions were perfect for birding; I and chetan halted @SLV to pick up vinay.

Hmmmm… why to miss hot idli and vada? We had a quick breakfast and sipped a hot coffee in chilled weather and started toward MuniNagar.

MuniNagar is a small village outskirts of Bangalore. A nippy drive of 35km will take you to MuniNagar; we reached the place exactly at 7.45Am parked our vehicle nearby bus stand and started on foot towards the MuniNagar forest [Which is back forest of Bannerghatta National Park].

Near by lake fascinated with cattle egrets, cormorants and also found Indian pond heron, Pheasant-tailed jacana welcomed us…

The forest path narrowed down the feel of walking in the early morning was startling; the only sound we heard was of chirping of birds. We trekked for almost 1.5 km and took a small break in this journey we got a glimpse of red-whiskered bull bull and few larks…

The time ticked 10.00Am cloudy weather vanished and sun peeped out with harsh rays to earth. In fact it was a great day we got to see Baya weaver I never saw this before.

Finally trekking 4km we reached a waterhole and for our surprise we saw many elephant dungs on the bank. Which clearly showcased it is the elephant habitat. It was 12.30Pm and decided to return back and started towards MuniNagar bus stand where we parked our car.

More photos @ Wildlife Odyssey Photo Stream

Birding List:
1. Pheasant-Tailed Jacana
2. Rose ringed parakeet
3. Indian Pond Heron
4. Indian Silverbill
5. Peacocks
6. Cattle Egrets
7. Baya Weaver
8. Wabblers
9. Bush Lark
10. Magpie Robbin
11. Wagtail
12. Red-Whiskered Bul Bul
13. Lapwings
14. River terns
15. Shikara
16. Kites
17. Green-Bee eater
18. Black Drongo
19. Paradise Fly-Catcher
20 Black headed cuckoo
21. Indian Roller
22. Cormorants
23. Wood swallow

Birding @ Bheemeshwari

The day was calm it was Saturday 10/4/10; I don’t know why mind skipped the Friday fever….

It was boring Saturday woke up at 8.00 in the morning and started reading news paper line-by-line… hmmm not interesting, Ok I had few other things to do and started chalking out things.

The day came to an end, sun started sinking with dull smile and it was time to meet guys @ adda. Around 6.30Pm chetan called me and asked “Maga night camp at Bheemeshwari and early morning birding” are u coming??

Yes, whole day was boring and why should I miss birding, it was first time visiting muthathi / bheemeshwari. Packed my camera and started to chetans place after having dinner.

The time was 10.00 Pm when I reached chetans place, and I also met new friends Sourav and Sandeep. We four of us started to muthathi at 10.30 Pm.

Bheemeshwari / Muthathi is located around 100 kms from Bangalore. We reached muthathi at 12.30Pm with torch light started searching for flat land beside the Cauvery river banks to pitch the tent.

Hmmm… tent was ready and the whole ambiance was set for a hot chatting, pulling each others leg. It was 2.00Am when we realized we should have a quick nap till 5.30Am. Alarm was set at 5.30 and all went for a sleep.

It was 5.30 Am when mobile started alarming and kicked us out from the tent. The plan was to trek till galibore camp which is around 6km from muthathi.

With full enthuse we started to walk on the banks of Cauvery river till galibore camp the trail is really startling.

Chetan took out his binocular and located White-Bellied Drongo on the branch of the tree.

Further trail was mesmerizing with lots of bird activities around. We could spot Blue-faced Malkoha and CSE.

It was time to pack our things and get back to Bangalore; on final exit we spotted a south Indian rock agama.

Birding @ Bheemeshwari was wonderful and planning to visit soon after post monsoon.

List of Birds spotted:

Blue-faced malkoha
White-Bellied drongo
Crested serpant eagle
Rocket tailed Drongo
Bush lark
Painted storks
Black Drongo
River terns
Green bee-eaters
Common myna
Rose ringed parakeets
Red whiskered bul-bul
Indian roller

Follow me to reach bheemeshwari:
•Muthathi is about a 90 minute drive after you leave the city of Bangalore.
•Drive on the Kanakapura road through Kanakapura and Sathanur.
•Turn left at Satanur and drive for another 30 minutes to reach Muthathi.

Morning drive to Nandhi Hills

It was a desire to visit “Nandhi Hills” though it is considerable distance from Bangalore it took long time to stopover. On Saturday we decided to start from bangalore by 5.00Am, the plan was to pick up sandeep at yellahanka by 5.30 Am and continue.

Nandhi hills is also called as Nandhi Durga, it is hill fortress located in chikkaballapur district of karnataka state. It is just 16km till base and 24 km top of the hill from chikkaballapur town and it is 70km from bangalore.

The hills are very rich in birdlife making it a very popular location for birdwatchers and bird photographers. It was exactly 6:00Am when we reached the nandhi hills.
Major crowd was northindians, though the place is declared as plastic free-zone you can find the plastic bottles, covers everywhere. None of them watch the environment or feel its beauty in silence, they shout/scream/laugh loud/whistle… totally i was confused whether i am in hill station or in bangalore itself.
We could catch the sight of drango but failed to photograph, but got an opportunity to capture the Macaca fascicularis (macaque) monkeys courtship.
The birding activity was good near a nursery inside the nandhi hills, we went and stood silently near a water tank after few minutes of silence we captured few birds photograph.
The time was 9:00 Am and it was time to leave, while coming back to parking finally we got paradise flycatcher.

Visit to BlackBuck Reserve – Maidenahalli

The plan to visit Maidenahalli – BlackBuck[Antilope cervicapra] Reserve was striking my mind from few days, though every weekend i was busy in visiting few lakes in and around bangaore in capturing birds the time was not yet set.

Friday, me, karthik and pavan finally planned to visit maidenahalli on saturday, it was decided to go in my car and planned to leave bangalore early morning by 4.30 AM. It was 3.50 AM when karthik called me and said “maga its raining here i am leaving in 10mins will be there at your place with pavan by 4.45 AM”.
I peeped out of my window ,hmmmmmmm it was superb climate chilled breeze, drizlling……. 🙂 describing the climate in such situation has no meaning unless u experience it….
It was 5:00 AM when kathik and pavan reached my place. Finally our wildlife odyssey to maidenahalli started. We were nearer to tumkur, pavan reminded us about the “Kyatasandra Thaatte Idli” cool climate, raining, what else… we should obey what pavan says and honestly parked the car near “thatte idli” hotel, “kyatasandra” is famous for “thatte idli’s” had heavy breakfast and started towards madhugiri town.
About Jayamangali – Maidenahalli Reserve
Jayamangali Blackbuck reserve is at Maidenahalli, a small village in Madhugiri Taluk of Tumkur district Karnataka. This area is a part of Deccan plateau and is a border to Anantpur District of Andhra Pradesh. It is 798 acre of grassland. The largest population of Blackbuck in Karnataka, apart from Ranibennur sanctuary, is found at Jayamangali Blackbuck reserve.
It was 8.45 AM when we enetered maidenahalli grasslands our eyes spotted a herd of blackbuck grazzing, the animal in nature is very shy and it doesnt let you close. We managed to get few photographs.
Few minutes of pose the herd disappeared into bushes, it is so camouflaged and hard to spot!! we slowly moved ahead in anticipation and suddenly a male blackbuck came out of a bush.Not even a second i started clicking… it ran away finally could capture a decent photograph.
We parked our vehicle at forest department and thought of seeking a guide to accompany us, unfortunately not even a single forest department personnel were present. Ourselves managed to go arround forest department and found a watch tower which is decently maintained to sit and observe wildlife.
After an hour or so with great difficulty we managed to see a few more blackbucks which were grazing.
The avian life is incredible at the grassland. we sigthed Indian Bushlark, Collared Doves, flocks of Grey Francolins, owl, king fisher, parakeets and many more.
The climate drastically changed and started raining havily, and it was time to run for a shelter and finally managed to get inside the car. We decided to leave maidenahalli and started towards bangalore and finally another male blackbuck gave us a pose for capture its beauty, though it was far from us and from my lens 😦 i managed capturing its photo.
Bangalore -> Nelamangala -> Tumkur -> Koratagere -> Madhugiri -> Puravara village -> Maidenahalli reserve
Approximately 130km.
Though you have private buses to reach puruvara village, it is adviced to go in our own vehicle.
Best time to visit:
Try being at the place early in the morning or late in the evening. The weather is pleasant any time of the day during winters and monsoons.

Bird Watching – Devarayana Durga State Forest[DDSF]

The wildlife photography is not only shooting mammals, you have different verticals like Birding, Landscape, Urban photography’s and many more to list to keep going your passion you should at least visit nearby state forests and do birding photography.
The plan freeze and started to “DevarayanaDurga State Forest” which has witnessed good birding activities and it is also a famous pilgrimage center for tourists it has two temples called “Yoga Narasimha” and “Boga Narasimha” which one temple is located top of the hill.  
 Early morning on 10th April 2009 the odyssey started, we reached DDSF at 6.00AM and parked the car and started walking towards the remote place. Bird chirping made us pleasant and curious started a keen observation on all tall trees which were in front of us.

Ravi has a good knowledge on birding as he said he used to do lot of birding activities and stopped abruptly (?) I took his help in identifying birds. I remember DDSF has lot of “Yellow Throated Bul Bul”. It took very hard to capture a photo of it.

 TIGER has visited DDSF in 2008 the forest department has pug mark and scat proof , this information made think us how can a big cat come to the state/domestic forest? Then we got an answer that DDSF has a corridor which links to national park. 
We headed to “Namada Chilume” which has a history of “Sri RamaChandra” visited the place went inside the forest and sat at one place just identifying birds it has a rich bird species we were lucky in sighting a wild boar.
By 12.00 the bird chirping calls were almost stopped, decided to return to Bangalore after visiting narasimha swamy temple.
 Getting there:   BangaloreàDobbaspetàDevarayanadurga
 Distance from Bangalore: 70Km
 Highway: NH4

Skandagiri – A Night Trek

It was a Terrific Friday night. The clouds were filled with lightnings and thunder and rain was about to downpour in a while or so. Don’t know why always Friday is the inspiration day for us to plan for wild getaways? 
The endless passion made us to assemble @SLV [Gandhibazzar] after our strenuous work when time ticked 8.30 PM. Conversations between us suddenly strike to a small trek which is outskirt to Bangalore, “KALLAVARAHALLI BETTA” aka “SKANDAGIRI” which is also famous for “MOON LIGHT TREKING” the plan was geared up by 10.PM and we decided to go by 2 cars as we were 9 of us. 
It was decided to gather around 11.30 PM back to SLV after a light supper, compulsorily carrying a torch with each of them. Plan was to start a trek around 2 AM the next morning so torch was badly needed with everyone. 
Finally all set for a night drive to Skandagiri which is 65km from Gandhibazzar. First pit stop was at hebbal to pick Prabhakar, it was first time in our adventure journey to trek in the night and everyone was curious about it, stopped at a small tea shop on the way. By the time we reach the tea shop was 12.05 PM and it was raining heavily which took us to a dilemma state to cancel the trek or not! OK we decided not to trek but at least we shall go to foothill of the destination. 

Pavan had been to the place previously and he was the guide for us to trek, we took a left turn at SaiBaba Arch which is 50km from Bangalore, the road which will take to Skandagiri. You can also reach through chikkabalapur. We missed the way and couldn’t find a single person to ask for right directions. At last Hoysala police were patrolling and stopped us, they were surprised to see us strolling at the wee hours of night and interrogated us with n number of questions [who are we?? What are we doing here?? Have we consumed liquor?? Any antisocial activity is on??] Finally we proved that we are nature lovers and adventurers, and told our night expedition to Skandagiri. Also we told them that we missed the way and looking for help to reach the foothill. Police guided us to Skandagiri foothill. We thanked Hoysala team and started towards foothill.


It was so strange we were wandering in the same route but couldn’t see the sign board which is positioned make us very hard to locate it. 

The time was exactly 1.56 AM. Few minutes drive from the board located we reached Skandagiri foothill. Here is a matt called as “PAPAGNI MATA” where you have to park the vehicle and book a guide if you need else become a self guide and explore it! 
Rain had stopped its play but clouds were filled with lightning and thunder. There were already 2 tempo travelers around 25 people waiting to trek. Mean time Ranga enquired one of those members and found that they are planning to start the trek in the morning around 5 AM. 
So, what’s next?? Are we trekking or wait until any other team start and follow them. 
Fanaticism made us to start right away and planned to trek without any guide as Pavan visited this place before and he could guide us. It was time to take out the torches and pack few food items to carry along with us. To start we had only 6 torches karthik started investigating who did not carry the torches and it was [Prabhakar, Seena and Ranga] were without torches. 
This trekking is famous for MOON LIGHT trekking and people trek on full moon day. But that was not a full moon day and it was a dead dark, with difficulties we started our adventure to peak. I was heading front with a torch the other 5 torches were distributed accordingly. 
Seena started cursing me and Pavan who planned the whole game as he was filled with fear and he did not wanted to take such a risk, according to him it was a brain damage plan. Hmmm literally everyone mind strike the same statement but neither of them expressed. In between Sunil cracked jokes and PJ’s which helped us to be on positive note and reach the peak. 
It was wild climate new-fangled environment to all of us; seeing us the other team also started the trek, we were ahead of them we could only see the torch light blinking from downhill. Factually speaking there are no directions put or any sign boards which says we are on right direction towards peak the small red arrow à marks indicate left right or straight, to see theses indicated arrow marks one has to observe keenly on rock or on bark of the trees. There are cases where one can easily get into wrong route if you do not observe [Especially trekking in Night]. 
I don’t know why the forest department has not taken any right moves in improving the Skandagiri. You will not find any safety here from robbers or from wild animals; obviously one cannot blame wild animals as we are in their territory. But I think govt. has to improve the place and make more access to the place from all nooks of the city. The Govt. should [appoint authenticated guides, put sign boards markings, put sign boards saying about the place and its history, place dustbins to collect the garbage and wastages] let the govt. collect forest entry fees/ charges from the trekkers to maintain the place. But I don’t see these improvements which are still in the dark side. 
Local people here are guide and they take you to peak, they charge around 300/- for a team to accompany. It was 4.30 AM when we reached the peak to our surprise already 30 members’ team was in the peak. The rain had completely stopped and peak was covered with full of mist. It was shivering cold on the peak and managed to sit near a fire camp to beat the cold. Basavaraj and Govardhan gently distributed the food items which we carried like fruit cakes, buns n breads, biscuits etc
 In the peak you have a small ganesha temple. As the peak was filled with smog and previous night rain the climate was very bad due to this the sunrise was not clear and we were not able to capture the good scenic beauty from the peak. After an hour or so the other team also reached the peak. I engaged myself in speaking to a guide accompanied them and learnt that Skandagiri has sloth bears and many trekkers have encountered the beast. This made me more thrilled usually sloth bears are very shy animals its presence is always secretive and crossed my fingers that we could sight one while downhill. 
The time ticked 7 AM satisfying with one or two scenic pics we started downhill and reached the “Papagni Mata” where we had parked the car at 9.30 AM. We stopped at a tea shop at foothill and had a morning sip of a coffee.
The mind went to flashback in collecting the memories, calculating the pros and cons of trekking the peak at night, imagining the encounter of the beast [sloth bear] last but not the least many things in improving the Skandagiri and making more accessible to all nature lovers and adventurers. 
A small suggestion to all nature lovers is do not leave unwanted wastes like plastics, watercan bottles and things which will not decompose and are likely to be threat to the environment. Carry a bag wherein you bring back all you’re waste like [Plastic covers, biscuits/cake covers, and water bottles] dump the next morning to Municipal Corporation.
Basavaraj–>Pavan–>Seena–>Ranga–>Amit–>Govardhan–>Karthik–>Sunil–>Prabhakar(behind lens)
The mind and soul still wanders and seek to trek on FULL MOON DAY! – JAI SKANDAGIRI 
 How to reach there:- 
Route 1: 
BangaloreàDevanahalliàLeft turn near SaiBaba archàPapagni mata[Skandagiri].This is 65kms.
Route 2:
BangaloreàDevanahalliàChikkaballapuràTake a left inside the townàPapagni mata. This is 75kms.