A gate way to the Serenity and Wilderness – BRT

 I don’t need any planning when I wish to visit my favorite place – BRT; the zeal inside me will drive to the wild land of surprises.
On Wednesday 17th Oct 2012 at 10.00Pm I and my wife Sindhu started our WildlifeOdyssey to BRT. Loads of snacks to eat, rains here and there, shimmering lights of night traffic made our way towards BRT.
BRT is around 210 km from Bangalore; it took me around 4 hours to reach the Yellandur check post. In the wee hours of midnight we had nothing to do other than sleep till early sunrise.

The same day Supreme Court had lifted ban on tiger tourism and dussera had commenced, I had anticipated the tourists rushing towards Billigiri Ranganatha Swamy Temple and to tiger reserve how ever our vehicle was the first to enter the BRT sanctuary at 6.00am, unhurriedly we moved on observing the serene forest.

After a long time I was fortunate to photograph the barking deer which tolerantly gave me a pose for not less the half a minute, it is very shy in nature and will not stay long if they meet homo sapiens.

We saw the herd of Indian guars with calf on the way towards KGudi it exhibited the anger and secured its calf when we slowed down our car to photograph it. We dint disturb the herd and moved silently without clicking any pictures.
The tamed elephants at KGudi [Gajendra, Kavitha, and Kytha] were not present then we came to know that these elephants were actively taking part in dussera festival at Mysore.

KGudi campus it self is a home for many birds we spotted few of them and descended towards chamarajanagar we traversed till Bhudipadaga road and returned to BRT.

 
 Sindhu spotted a common mongoose which crossed the road ahead of us, I was busy observing high branches for BFO [Brown Fish Owl] how ever I dint get one.

The mongoose had a good time basking on a small boulder, I had a good time clicking its photos in different pose, and we spent some 15 mins with the mongoose and were back to BRT for a breakfast at Giri Dharshini hotel.

 

Vasanna, Sudhi and Prashanth greeted us at the hotel; we had a casual chat and breakfast together. The newly built cottages at Giri Darshini are pretty cool. Prashanth handed over the keys for refreshing. The tiring over night drive demanded a nap for sometime and finally woke up by 3.30 pm and visited temple above the hillock. The short visit to BRT was coming to an end; we started our final drive to KGudi after sipping a hot coffee and wishing our friends for the day, the jungle was calm without any sightings for sometime till we sight a bull guar near Basavankadu range on a jeep track.  We moved further photographing it, the guar was very curious in watching us without moving a step.

 My wife after buying me the new book written by Inskip and Grimmett she has developed interest in observing the birds and its movements in the jungle hand in had mapping these birds in the book. She was lucky in spotting a serpent eagle perched on the tree trunk which was calling its mate nearby.

We proceeded few meters and spotted another serpent eagle on the tree, and then we concluded that these may be the mating pairs. Long live serpent eagles and all species in the wild. 

Bidding Adieu to BRT we drove back to Bangalore with contented smile on our faces.
Birds spotted:
1. Lapwing
2. Rufous treepie
3. Greater  flame back woodpecker
4. Crested serpent Eagle
5. Jungle Owlet
6. Paradise fly catcher
7. Golden leaf bird
8. Scarlet minivet
9. Shikara
10. Little cormorants
11. White throated king fisher
12. Grey wagtail
13. Eurasian golden oriel
14. Cattle egrets
15. Spotted dove
16. Brahminy kite
17. Black kite
18. Indian peacock
19. Oriental magpie robin
20. Green bee eater
 Mammals spotted:
1. Indian Guar
2. Mongoose
3. Barking Deer
Insects spotted:
1. Scorpion

Rendezvous with prime predator of K Gudi…..

After long vacation at Singapore, I was back to Bangalore. Had 4 more days leave in my pocket. Quickly planned to Kgudi this is my favorite wildlife destination. Called up my friend and booked the room and enquired about the climate and wildlife sightings.

Same day we had to shop for eatables, rushed to VB Bakery and took KBC, Fruit Cake, mixtures for the outing.

29th June 2011 @ 4.30 AM our WildlifeOdyssey started towards BR Hills, Sindhu prepared a crude breakfast for the journey, finally we hit the Mysore road a long 3 and half hours journey took us to BR Hills forest check post at 7.45AM. Climate was awesome the day turned out to be cloudy and chilled weather welcomed us. Mind was ringing a bell “K Gudi never disappoints me”. The stretch from BR Hills check post to hotel was very calm yet filled with wilderness we were lucky to sight peacocks, hoopoe and kingfishers.

We checked in to hotel by 9.30 AM after having break fast at Giri Darshini.
Vasanna[Giri Darshini owner] took me to his newly constructed cottages and walked us through the property asked my opinion on the amenities in the cottage. It is a descent cottage / rooms available at BR Hills which is affordable to CM [common man].

By 12.00PM, Prashanth came to our room and we indulged in casual discussion regarding sightings, wildlife experiences. I also expressed my interest in distributing the used and neat attires to tribal people which we brought from Bangalore. The clothes distribution was scheduled the next day at 2.00PM after talking to the tribal head. You know joy of giving has to be experienced….

Hmmmm….time ticked 1.30PM when we thought of going for a drive till Kgudi and come back. The most anticipated game road welcomes us with a splendid sighting of Crested Serpent Eagle aka CSE perched on the tree.

It was half the way to K Gudi when a jeep overtook us and informed us about a Tiger sighting near a bridge. We were excited to hear this and went back to toss our luck but it had passed. Then we came to know the person who gave us the information was a new JLR manager Mr. Sunil a mysorian…

Very nice chap with lot of enthuse towards wildlife. He has done PhD on monkeys and exchanged much information with us. Offered a cup of coffee and we had a long casual chat with him. The time was around 4.30PM in the evening when we decided to leave to BR Hills.

Our luck was limited with a sambar deer which posed us for photo session. Reached back hotel by 6.00PM; in the chilled weather a cup of hot coffee was very much in need.

We called our day with a neat dinner at Giri Dharshini hotel. It was decided to wake up early morning and go for a drive to Kgudi.

Alarm kicked us out of the bed at 5.00 AM swiftly finished our morning routines and stared towards K Gudi. It was a scenic treat to the eyes, with lush green around us and bird chirps was a musical feast to ears.

After many years in BR Hills range I was lucky to sight MGS – Malabar Giant Squirrel on the perch of the tree.

It was 7.30AM when we reached Kgudi, had a nice coffee time with Sunil JLR manager for more than 2 hours regarding wildlife conservation activities. Started back to hotel at 9.45AM a slow drive from Kgudi to BRHills took more than an hour to reach the hotel. Settled down at hotel had unperturbed sleep for sometime. It was the last day to test out our luck. Planned a drive to Budhipadaga in the evening.

On our way to Budhipadaga we sighted a huge guar beside the road grazing peacefully it was huge solitary male which showcased all its muscular power. The Hunk on its back made all of us to stare with incredulous looks. It walked with us for more than 10 mins along the side path.

We were running out of fuel and made our way to Chamarajanagar to fuel. The guard at the check post reminded us about the closing the gate at 6.00PM sharp. We had left with short time to make it.

Quickly we reached Chamarajanagar at 5.15PM fueled the car and started back to BRHills. Before 6.00PM we were inside the check post and this was the time I was waiting for as it was almost dusk and time for predators to be active.

In anticipation of any such predator sighting we reached Kgudi without stopping much at Chamarajanagar range. We had to stop at least 3 times when we sighted Langurs, Peacocks and Lapwing which rushed inside bushes as we approached them.

The time was exactly 6.15PM when we reached K Gudi, guard reminded us not to stop on the way and reach BRHills as it is not allowed to travel after 6.00PM.

I was thrilled to start my real WildlifeOdyssey at twilight a perfect time for wildlife sightings and again it’s a sheer luck.

It dint take much time to prove this when we sighted Brown Fish owl with its snack in the beak on the branch of a tree. It dint give me much time to click, I could only manage a record shot of it.

An alarm call started after Basavana Kadu range, we stopped our vehicle for a min and silently tracked from where the call is coming. It was for sure a predator is on move.

The call was continuous for more than 5 mins, I insisted Prashanth to stop the vehicle at least for 5 mins and then move on. The pot of luck poured down on us, when I stopped my car and turned to my right, I couldn’t believe my eyes; what am I seeing??

Male leopard on a tree in peaceful mood. Phew it was feast to our eyes. I clicked clicked clicked that’s what I could do; we spent more than an hour with him. But time was limited already it was 7.15PM and had to reach BR Hills. Body & Soul was contented with an awesome sighting of the leopard.

Again I say “K GUDI NEVER DISSAPOINTS ME”…..

On the prowl….

Hmmmm Life has been changed a lot, new life……
It was Sindhu’s birthday on Feb 26th, me and sindhu decided to celebrate her birthday by distributing books and stationeries at Kgudi tribal school. The plan was concrete both of us in full enthuse purchased books and planned stationaries. The gift packs were ready on Feb 25th; she was waiting for the “D-day” to come. Previous night was full of surprises… Lots of gifts … lots of messages popped up saying “Happy B’Day”… lots of call to attend and gratitude.
The plan was to leave Bangalore by 5.00Am and come back the same night, I was at Sindhu’s home at 5.30 Am everyone heartily welcomed me…. After having a hot sip of coffee, dumped all the packed gifts into car.
I called up Karthik to know whether he is ready, reached karthik’s place by 6.15 am and picked up karthik and veena. Finally our wildlife odyssey to BRHills started…
First pit-stop was at Bidadi 45km from Bangalore, we reached famous “ShashiPrabha” hotel for “Thatte Idli”, had nice thatte idli with vada and were back on the track. We had to pick up prashanth at Kollegala he is the person who arranged most of the arrangements by coordinating with school head master.
The time was 10.30 when we reached BR-Hills check post, I handed over driving to sindhu and took my camera and sat besides her watching each nook of the forest. This was her first time experience driving in the forest hence she was bit tensed… we spotted 2 peacocks at its territory but could not photograph it.
On the move from BR-Hills to Kgudi, this is the road where I have sighted most of the wildlife, as it was Saturday already BR-Hills were crowded I had no hopes of sighting either. We saw few tortoises piled up on the small rock at the waterhole on the way to Kgudi.
The drive took 45 mins to reach Kgudi, the place was new to sindhu and she liked the location and felt very happy, parked our car and approached the school in charge. Introduced ourselves and expressed our service intended. The staff liked the noble thought and appreciated the team.
Kids were very curious to see us with gift packs indeed they were very happy, Staff introduced us to kids and told them why we are here?
40 heart-full voices wished “Happy Birthday Miss” to sindhu…. She had very blissful moment in fact.
Individual kid was gifted with the books and stationaries by sindhu herself, they were so curious to see what the gift is… many torn the pack peeped inside it and happily took out the books…
Time ticked 1.00Pm and with heavy hearts we all started back to BR-Hills, the memories and joy of giving was on our faces and mind. Another time we were on the game road hoping for luck… half the way we crossed all of a sudden karthik sighted “Wild Dog” aka “Dhole” one of the predator at Kgudi.
One Dhole was sitting beside the road it was in the offing to cross the road, but seeing our car it went into bushes there was another Dhole watching from the bush. Everyone of us were very excited to see the predator of Kgudi and in reality sindhu had a great day in watching the predators in wild for the first time in her life time, I can say Kgudi trip was her introduction trip to wildlife odyssey…
Then we decided to leave some space to dholes to come on road, so we went ahead and took U turn and came near the place were we sighted.
We stopped the car and sat silently observing two wild dogs; it was an incredible moment for more than 40 mins. Finally two wild dogs came on road and started walking on the road, after few meters it took its path and disappeared into bushes.
K Gudi has never disappointed me…..
It again reminded me… it is wilder….
Wildlife Sightings:
1. 3Peacocks
2. 1 Kingfisher
3. 7-8 tortoises
4. 2 Barking deers
5. 3 Wild Dogs