Ganeshgudi – The Old Magazine House aka OMH

img-20161226-wa0020Ganesh Gudi has always been special and will always be on top of my bucket list when it comes to birding. Myself and Ganesh planned a visit to the OMH at Ganeshgudi on 22nd and 23rd March 2016. So, all geared up, we reached the railway station on the previous evening only to find that our train had departed 12 hours before our arrival!!! Thanks to Ganesh’s awesome sense of humor, he laughed about it and helped in booking an alternate mode of transportation to Dandeli.

Against all odds, we reached Dandeli, a small industrial town mainly focused on timber yards and saw mills. Last evenings adventure had kept our mind racing and we had completely forgotten all about food. First things first, we had a quick breakfast at one of the nearby hotels and reached the bus station to catch a bus that would take us to Ganesh gudi. As we stood waiting, an Indian Hornbill flew by, this bird has been identified as the flagship bird of Dandeli.

2016-03-29-photo-00000102 The weather was relatively cool. As we got closer to JLR we could hear different kinds of bird activities. This property is situated amongst tall trees and dense forest and a small bird bath within attracts a lot of avian beauties.

Due to renovation of log huts we were given a dormitory for our next 2 days stay, photographers and bird enthusiasts were busy in clicking and observing the bird behavior within no time we checked in and were part of birding.

The place is a paradise for bird watchers. It is also named as armchair birding, for the very reason that one can easily sit on an armchair in the veranda and still can do bird watching while enjoying your hot cup of coffee. Birds throng from all over and to be precise in less than an hour more than 10 different species of birds can be easily spotted.

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The account was opened with first bird white-rumped shama up close but could only enjoy the sighting for a few seconds.

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We humans fight for no reason, these birds set an example to live in harmony a small water source is shared by 4-5 different species to quench their thirst. It was lunch time and we had to take a short break, activities of birds were ongoing. The food at JLR is always appetizing. We had sumptuous meal and were back in action in no time.

Few pics while we were at it 🙂

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As the periodicity of the birds decreased, we decided to take a short walk further ahead from the JLR.A little insight about Ganesh Gudi…it is a small village in Supa taluk with few habitants which also has Supa hydroelectricity dam.

An hour’s walk yielded in spotting Oriental Honey Buzzard, Shikra, Common Kestrel, Indian Grey Hornbill, Indian Malabar Hornbill, minivets and few more.

It was time for us to get back for the evening session at OMH, with hot coffee we witnessed the same set of birds visiting the place, Malabar barbet was a lifer to me though I could not capture a photo… J it is fresh in my memory.

Brown checked fulvetta popped in then came Tickell’s blue flycatcher, Dark fronted Babbler and so on… in fading light we heard a distant call of Malabar Trogan an elusive bird our zeal was high to spot one but our luck did not support us…

We enjoyed the twilight sitting in the chair, sipping hot coffee and watching birds come and go, due to low light the cameras took a back seat …:-)

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Post dinner myself and Ganesh sat outside in the veranda talking and  listening to the chirping of birds while most of our fellow companions at the JLR decided to call it for the day.The lights went out after a while and we decided to take a short stroll in the night. As we started walking, I remembered this exciting story once told by one of the JLR staff about a tiger that frequented this area. Many of the staff members at the JLR claim to have seen it, but we decided not to pursue it any further. It was a full moon night, the cascading of dim light on the forest trail was a thrilling experience and a visual treat for eyes.

Next day early morning we woke up to the unique call of Indian Scimitar babbler. All geared up, we went in search of this elusive bird. It was particularly difficult to spot this one and took us a while to catch a glimpse of the bird. We had only just taken a few snaps while the bird took flight and vanished in no time. We continued looking but could only hear a distant call sometime later.

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A black-lored tit drew our attention, it was lifer for me followed by Dark Fronted babler’s bathing in the tub. It was great to look at these birds playing. Then Little spider hunter made its way into the group, a small bird with long beak. The parade of birds did not stop there, but how could we miss an awesome breakfast at OMH. So, we rushed to the cafeteria on the terrace however we missed few birds nevertheless it was an awesome breakfast.As we were finishing our hurried breakfast, Vinay A JLR staff, informed us that there was a Racket Tailed-Drongo nearby and it could come to water source anytime. Without delay we hurried to the veranda.

After much waiting the Spectacular black bird with long tails finally arrived, it was a real feast to the eyes. It gave us very little time to see through the lens. A Blue Capped Rock Thrush made a visit following Orange Headed Thrush, Oriental white eye and few more.

 

Our last half day was coming to an end, after convincing ourselves to visit this place next time we packed our bags and bid adieu to JLR, and proceeded towards Dandeli town.

It was lunch time when we arrived at Dandeli, the streets were totally devoid of activity and seemed like the whole town was shutdown. We could spot puddles of colored water and the ground was covered with different colors, we then realized that it was Holi, Festival of colors. Luckily, we got to know about Basappa khanavali (hotel like place) coz mouthwatering jowar bhakari was served for lunch with kai hollige (obattu), it was simply superb.

By 4.30 we planned to visit the timber yard, it is the forest department land used to dump wood logs and a saw mills inside with house quarters for employees, it is more than 100 acres of land spread across, lot fig trees around which attracts avians, if you are lucky you can spot all 4 types of hornbills here. Malabar pied hornbills were all over the places with sunbirds, plenty of bulbuls and yellow footed green pigeons.

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The two eventful days spent at Dandeli was fantastic, our bus towards Bengaluru was at 6 pm. We made best use of the last 20 mins,eating kara bhajji & sipping hot coffee…

Avian beauties of Ganeshgudi…

Ganeshgudi was in my wish list since many years; one fine afternoon Santosh called and informed me of his plan to visit Ganeshgudi in the month of November 2012. Accompanying him is always a learning experience to me and this made me think further and came up with the concrete plan.

Our family friend and Karwar DYSP Mr. Ullas Varnekar had arranged our stay at Ganeshgudi, the plan was to visit Ullas uncle’s place and then drive to Ganeshgudi. Santosh and his friend’s plan were to join us directly at JLR – Ganeshgudi.

On Oct 31st the climate drastically changed, and according to the forecast a cyclone was to directly affect south India. We had a gut feeling that this will not disturb our journey. But in few hours we had to drop our initial plan of driving and started to look for an alternate mode of transport. We finalized to go by bus and booked the ticket in Sugama tourist to Karwar. Commuting from Karwar to Ganeshgudi was the next challenge. My cousin Sharath arranged a car & accommodation at Karwar for us. Big thanks to him for making our trip so comfortable.

The team to Ganeshgudi was Amit, Sindhu, Ganesh and Nilam[Cyclone]… Jthe rains accompanied us through out the journey with out giving us a break for birding. We lost all our hopes of good birding and relaxed ourselves convincing that there is always next time J

Bus to Karwar was delayed due to rains and haphazard traffic made the journey even more cumbersome. The route was Bangalore->Sagara -> Honnavara ->Ankola -> Karwar. It was 10 hours tedious journey, we reached Karwar by 8.30 am and checked in to the hotel Panchathara and met Anand uncle who handed over the car keys to us and wished us a pleasant journey.

Nov 1st2012:

The local politicians were busy in celebrating Kannada Rajyotsava at Karwar.The town was decorated with banners and buntings, it is the only day our people remember about kannada…After rejuvenating ourselves we planned to visit Ullas uncle’s residence and then to Sadashivagad fort. The family greeted us with a warm smile and we spent some time with them, then said good bye and left to fort after taking instructions from uncle.

Sadashivgad Fort:

Sadashivgad is located in the village called Chittakula on the northern bank of river Kali. After splitting the District in 1862, it was the new head quarter and started as the Sadashivgad Municipality. Only after a couple of years it was named as Karwar (after Kadwad). Chittakula comprises of two words; “Chitta” means mind, “Akula” means attractive. 

The fort has been converted to a resort and the view of Arabian Sea from the top is exhilarating, after spending sometime we returned back to hotel.  
  Nov 2nd 2012:

Alarm woke us up at 4.00 Am. It was still drizzling nevertheless we had no further option other than to continue our journey towards Ganeshgudi…
After a hard time finding the right route we drove towards Anshi Ghat, the route we took was Karwara ->adashivgada ->AnshiGhat->Joida->Ganeshgudi [ StateHighway 34] overall journey was 105Km from Karwar, the route to Ganeshgudi is adorned on either sides with lush green forest with lot of opportunities for birding, but due to continuous  rains we were not able to click the photos nor spot the birds…
It was 9.00Am when we reached Ganeshgudi, our accommodation was booked at Bison Resort, as per Ullas Uncle’s instructions manager was waiting for us to hand over the keys. We took 2 hours break, hot coffee cheered us up in the chilled weather.Manager took us through the resort and he helped us to spot the first “Malabar Pied HornBill” a flagship bird of Dhandeli & Ganeshgudi…
I should say couple of these hornbills was with us for next 2 days. Me and Ganesh took a brief walk on the road silently observing for bird activity, however the climate was going from bad to worse and started pouring.
After sumptuous lunch we planned to meet Santosh who was supposes to arrive at Ganeshgudi on the same day, he was still near dhandeli timber depot so until he came we spent some time near Kali River Bridge.
The view of Kali River from the bridge is marvelous; we enjoyed the second glimpse of pied hornbills crossing the river from one end to another. Few pics clicked near bridge are here…

By the time we reached JLR santosh and his friend Karthik had arrived, the JLR was packed with bird enthusiasts with huge equipments… we had a great time being there and came to know about many new birds which were lifers to me.

It was still cloudy, the birds started coming in and out after rains we all were set with the equipments ready to capture the winged beauties flying from here and there. Within 2 hours we got to see four types of flycatchers, White belied blue flycatcher / Tickel’s blue flycatcher / Verditer blue flycatcher / Asian Paradise flycatcher… as the light was very low I had no other choice other than to amplify the ISO…
The light faded completely…..camera and lenses were packed inside bag…. the birds were still visiting the place and we enjoyed the experience….. It was time to return back to resort and have a sleep.
Nov 3rd2012:

Morning calls of pied hornbills woke me up early, one of the trees in our resort was the roosting place for these Hornbills and we were not denied of our share of  view every morning. The day started with good sightings of hornbills, red rumped shama, common Iora, purple sunbirds, Nilgiri flowerpecker, wood spiders and many more… 

The rains had stopped playing hide and seek game, but it was still overcast. Hoping for good sightings we headed towards JLR. The bird enthusiasts were enjoying the visual treat of birds. Many birds which we spotted were again lifers to me. I was so happy to learn and know more about birds and its behaviors.   Black napped monarch, ruby throated bulbul, blue capped rock thrush, red rumped shama, banded gray cuckoo were highlights of the morning birding. The purple rumped sun bird [male and female] struck the best pose. After spending 4 wonderful hours we returned back to resort for a break. To our bad luck the clouds spread over and it started raining heavily within an hour’s time.The light faded eventually it was time to say good bye to all my new friends, It was a great learning experience from them especially Santosh who helped me in identifying birds which were new to us.

Ganeshgudi is one of the best spots for birding, On the very first day I had decided to visit this place many times over and again for its immense birding activity. Next day morning we checked out of the resort and started our journey towards Karwar by descending Anshi ghat. Our intention was to drive slowly observing the forest for any wildlife sightings.

On our way we were fortunate to spot black headed munia, common buzzard, shikra, brown shrike, black cobra and a rat snake.    

Birds list:

  1. Gray Jungle Fowl
  2. Little Grebbe
  3. Wooly Necked Stork
  4. Indian Pond Heron
  5. Cattle Egret
  6. Great Egret
  7. Little Egret
  8. Little Cormorants
  9. Darter
  10. Common Kestrel
  11. Black Kite
  12. Brahminy Kite
  13. CSE
  14. Shikra
  15. Yellow Wattled Lapwing
  16. River tern
  17. Oriental Turtle Dove
  18. Spotted Necked Dove
  19. Pompadour Green Pigeon
  20. Malabar Parakeet
  21. Green Imeprial Pigeon
  22. Banded Gray Cuckoo
  23. Greatar Cucakl
  24. Brown Hawk Owl
  25. Stork Billed KF
  26. White throated KF
  27. Common KF
  28. Green Bee eater
  29. Malabar Gray Hornbill
  30. Malabar Pied Hornbill
  31. White Cheeked Barbet
  32. Heart Spotted Woodpecker
  33. Greater Flameback Woodpecker
  34. Common Iora
  35. Scarlet Minivet
  36. Eurasian Golden Oriel
  37. Black Drongo
  38. Greater Racket Tailed Drongo
  39. Black Napped Monarch
  40. Asian Paradise Flycatcher
  41. Rufous Treepie
  42. Jungle Crow
  43. Black Crested BulBul
  44. Red whiskered BulBul
  45. Red vented BulBul
  46. Yellow Browed BulBul
  47. Puff throated Babbler
  48. Indian Skimitar Babbler
  49. Dark Fronted Babbler
  50. Jungle Babbler
  51. Brown Cheeked Fulvetta
  52. Oriental White Eye
  53. Hill Myna
  54. Common Myna
  55. Oranged Headed Thrush
  56. Oriental Magpie robin
  57. White Rumped Shama
  58. Pied Buhchat
  59. Blue Capped Rock Thrush
  60. Asian Verditter Flycatcher
  61. Tickel’s Blue Flycatcher
  62. Blue winged leaf bird
  63. Purple rumped sunbird
  64. House Sparrow
  65. India Blue Robin
  66. Gray Wagtail
  67. Black throated munia
  68. Black headed munia
  69. Brown Shrike
  70. Common Buzzard

Reptiles:

  1. Black Cobra
  2. Malabar Pit Viper
  3. Rat Snake

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.  

Call of the wild – BR HILLS

Occupation has kept me busy these days; travelling back to back is hindering my visits to jungles for nature and wildlife photography. The camera is in hibernate mode; car is parked without seeing any humps and country roads…

It was high time to take a break, though my visit to INDIA was very short for 2 days my body & soul was waiting for a wild get away.

Briskly planned to my favorite place BR Hills, it was so quick even I couldn’t believe it. Friday on 23rd June 2012 reached office to take few printouts and dialed my friend who is at BR Hills to inquire about climate conditions and sightings.

In next 2 hours I was near my wife’s office picking her and getting scoldings from everyone for the plan.

The foursome myself, Sindhu [my wife], Amruthand Seena geared up for wildlife odyssey the same night. We started at 11.Pm in windy weather wow what a drive it was. Experiencing late night drives into country side is simply superb.

Gossiping… chatting …munching and a quick nap [not me] 😉 took us to BR Hills forest check post at 3.00Am, chilled breeze, chirping of birds was a perfect composition by mother nature… the pleasure of enjoying the nature came to an end when the vehicle arrived with loads of tourists. Spoiling the serene calmness was first priority for them.

The gate was opened at 6.00Am we allowed the tourist vehicle to take over, slowly we moved on observing the nooks of the forest.

First catch was Rudy Mongoose which crossed the road swiftly. My strong belief of sighting wildlife from Yellandur – BRHills road is always a misfortune to me. Slow commute took 40 mins to reach BR Hills. The deviation from BR Hills took us toKGudi.

Watching all corners of the forest we entered KGudi road. The road was dazzling in lush green all around we enjoyed the drive all the way; Black drongo drew our attention for all that it is a common bird in urban areas the black beauty was captured though the lens and eyes.

Our morning routine was completed at PWD guest house, later we started to Billigiri Ranganatha Swamy temple. Santosh and his friends reached BR Hills and we met them at temple complex and started our wildlife odyssey together.
KGudi was standstill, we drove down till chamarajanagar road at the other side of KGudi, langurs and monkeys were in plenty on the trees. The langurs are watchmen of the forest usually they take seat on top of the trees looking all around; they are the first to sign or alarm when they sense the predators passing by.

The forest stood silent without any actions, Seena spotted a king fisher which perched on a tree trunk in full excitement.
 

We took a turn and started back to BR Hills, for first time I could manage a record shot of greater coucal which was roosting on a branch. The red eye of the bird will make anybody grab the attention towards it.

A hungry stomach cannot hear – Jean de La Fontaine, we could not resist any more and drove to Giridarshini hotel. I don’t say you get delicious food here, but you can survive with it.

Vasanna proprietor of Giridarshini welcomed us with a big smile, Sudhee asked me have u got old monk?? Wishing all of them and taking a break to all talks, grabbed the breakfast our hungry stomach was filled and re-energized us for next drive.

We could hear a distant call of hill myna’s repeatedly. The hot coffee in chilled breeze rejuvenated us for the next drive.

The emerald dove was always ahead of our car on the road, but never gave me an opportunity to click the beauty of it. I spotted a huge winged bird flying in front of us, CSE aka Crested Serpent Eagle gave us a fare chance to photograph it.

We carried few old clothes for tribals but we were not able to distribute as most of them were on their duty. The distribution of clothes is now postponed to our next trip.

The gaurs were peacefully grazing beside the road; we took a cautious move though the silence was killed by engine roar, gaurs dashed inside the bushes bull gaur in the gang of 4 gave a cold stare. Ahhhhh it was awesome.  We moved on with earnestness, silence was broke by Sindhu; she spotted an oriental Mag-pie robin which was roosting on a dead bark of the tree.

It was time to have lunch and slumber for some time. The lunch served was typical south Indian dish and we did not hesitate to fill our empty stomach. We had to return back on the same night to Bangalore and planned our last drive to K Gudi at 5.00Pm.
The clouds engulfed BR Hills it looked like rain may pour down at any time. It was an awesome climate; people around told us that it is already raining at Punjur / Chamarajanagar side.
Anybody who is crazy about having coffee will surely have a sip in this splendid weather, we all had a hot cup of coffee waved our hands to Vasanna and his colleagues in the hotel and pushed off to our last drive to K Gudi.
Amruth stopped us in a wink; he had spotted a hoopoe perched on a tree trunk you should get to see a hoopoe when it opens its crown on its head.
We were lucky enough to capture the crowned beauty and moved towards chamarajanagar side, by the time we reached K Gudi the roads were wet and it was drizzling, nevertheless it dint rain.
Monkeys give the best opportunity to photograph, we dint find any action on chamarajanagar road and returned back to BR Hills, time was already 5.45Pm perfect time for predator movement. Jungle comes alive once it is dusk.
I spotted a woodpecker nearer to K Gudi check post and later it was confirmed that the species is Yellow-Crowned Wood pecker. It was lifer to me.
 
Forest guards reminded us not to stop on the road as it was already 6.10 Pm and suggested us to reach BR Hills safe and quick. We drove to BR Hills anticipating any wildlife movements but we were unfortunate to sight.
Santosh and his friends stayed back at BR Hills, we wished them luck and proceeded towards Bangalore.  We reached Bangalore safely on the same night with heart full of sweet memories…

 

Wildlife sightings:

 Birds:
1. Indian Peacock
2. Indian Peahen
3. Green Bee Eater
4. Francolin
5. Spotted Dove
6. Emerald Dove
7. Imperial Green Pigeon
8. Greater Cocual
9. Crested Serpant Eagle
10. Red-wattled Lapwing
11. Common Myna
12. Jungle Myna
13. Hill myna
14. Common Hoopoe
15. White throated Kingfisher
16. Pied Kingfisher
17. Shikara
18. Common Flameback Woodpecker
19. Yellow-Crowned Woodpecker
20. Red whiskered Bulbul
21. Red vented Bulbul
22. Long Tailed Shrike
23. Jungle Owlet
24. Black Drongo
25. White bellied Drongo
26. Racket Tailed Drongo
27. Little Cormorant
28. White Wagtail
29. Ashy Prinia
30. Brahmini Kyte
31. Orange Headed Thrush
32. Jungle Babbler
33. Tickel’s Blue Flycatcher
34. Pied Bushchat
35. Oriental Magpie Robin
36. White Cheeked Green Barbet
37. Rufous Treepie
Mammals:
1. Jungle Cat
2. Spotted Deer
3. Barking Deer
4. Rudy Mangoose
5. Malabar Giant Squirel
6. Jungle Squirel
7. Indian Elephant
8. Indian Guar
9. Common Langur

10. Common Monkey

Birding @ Bannerghatta forest trail…

I was completely coupled with work schedule; it was more than a month where I had been out for birding. I and santosh planned for it on Saturday and the place we decided was Bannerghatta forest trail.
Early morning I hit the road at 5.00AM, and santosh cruised on his new Thunder Bird and we assembled near Bannerghatta road junction. Had a cup of tea and were back on the journey.
About Bannerghatta National Park: Courtesy Wikipedia
Bannerghatta National Park is situated 22 km south of Bangalore. The journey to the park takes nearly one and a half hours from Bangalore. This hilly place is the home for one of the richest natural, zoological reserves. The 25,000 acre (104.27 km²) zoological park makes this a major tourist attraction of Bangalore.

Travel information

Visiting hours: 9AM to 5PM
Holiday: Closed on Tuesday

  
Bannerghatta has got a complete new look after renovation. People are excited to visit the park; we parked our vehicle and moved on observing the early morning bird activities. The roar of lion and lioness were trembling, the trail was filled with bird chirps all around.
 
  Santosh insisted to visit the banyan tree first which is home for many birds our purpose was to have a glimpse of Jungle owlet which is very small in its creature. Slowly we approached the tree and started scanning each and every branch of the tree carefully. After searching for more than ½ an hour we were lucky in spotting one.

We moved further in the trail observing the bird’s activity near by nursery, jungle babblers were in plenty and sun birds were around flying from tree to tree.
 Tickle’s blue fly catcher drew our attention near by tree and I could manage the record shot of it. The trail lead us to a pond and we heard a pied king fisher call near by, it perched on a small trunk of a tree. It was too far to capture the photo. We walked alongside of the pond observing for water birds if any.

 The Indian Pond Heron was busy in catching its meal and small blue KF was repeatedly visiting a dead tree and Egret was stalking its prey….. We were lucky to observe the morning activities of these water birds.
It was time to wrap up the birding, when we were on path towards our parking lot we found Asian Paradise Fly catcher juvenile and oriental white eye.
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A small birding like this will energize to keep on moving for next hectic week…
Birds spotted at Bannerghatta
1. Lapwing
2. Oriental Honey Buzzard
3. Indian Robin
4. Oriental Magpie Robin
5. Jardon’s bush lark
6. Jungle Owlet
7. Common King Fisher
8. Pied King Fisher
9. Jungle Babler
10. Long tailed shrike
11. Common Hawk Cuckoo
12. Greenish Warbler
13. Barn Swallow
14. Red whiskered bulbul
15. Red vented bul bul
16.Blue faced malkoha
17. Blue beard bee eater
18. Common Myna
19. Jungle Myna
20. Tickel’s blue fly catcher
21. Asian paradise fly catcher
22. Brahminy Myna
23. Eurasian golden oriel
24. Black headed cuckoo shrike

Hesaraghatta – The Grasslands of Bangalore…

This was my second visit to Hessarghatta a lake now transformed into grasslands outskirts to Bangalore; as usual I and Santoshfinalized the plan for early morning birding, an additional bird watcher with us was Mr. Dayananda a fun loving person.

We reached Hessarghatta by 6.45Am, a pleasing weather with sighting of Montagu’s Harrier welcomed us, we approached the place were the bird was hovering few minutes of wait the bird landed on an anthill.

We moved on the track after clicking the photos of charming female, Dayanand spotted a “Siberian Stone Chat” on the perch of a tree a beautiful small bird.
Again we started observing the bird of prey hovering at a distance, after long wait it landed on the ground we silently approached and learnt it was “Eurasian Marsh Harrier” aka “Western Marsh Harrier”.
“Pipits”, “Black Drongo’s”, “Ashy Crown Sparrow Lark’s” were plenty in number and it patiently posed me to capture its beauty.
We took a break under a tree and had snacks which we bought from home. The Harrier’s were off and we could not spot any more, after snacks we took a round on the track and photographed “Bushchat” male and female.
There was some action going on and then realized it was mining of soil, trailers and trucks were busy in carrying the mud which was continuously being removed from the ground. Due to this we may loose the winter migrants from different part of the countries and many resident birds of Hessarghatta.
The voice has to be raised and we should save Hessarghatta from mining. I had an opportunity to photograph a common “Black Kite” and “Barn Swallow” which are seen in and out of Bangalore.
It was time to wrap up the birding activity and all of a sudden we spotted kestrel hovering around, a patient wait of 30 mins gave us an opportunity to photograph “Common Kestrel”.
Birds spotted @ Hessarghatta
  1. Montugu’s Harrier female
  2. Pay back shrike
  3. Eurasian Marsh Harrier
  4. Pipits
  5. Bushchat male
  6. Bushchat female
  7. Black Drongo
  8. Indian Roller
  9. Ashy crown sparrow lark
  10. Barn swallow
  11. Crested sparrow lark
  12. Siberian stone chat
  13. Common kestrel
  14. Black Kite

Birding @ Valley School – Bangalore….

Friday fever was on; the next day was “Makara Sankranthi” though we can’t set off from Bangalore. We planned an early morning bird watching outskirts of Bangalore.

 Santosh suggested for “Huli Mangala” trail, but I had valley school in my mind. After discussion we finally planned for valley school.
Valley School is around 30-40 Acres of land, it is a residential school which has facilities for students to stay and learn. Most of the land is left as it is and not being constructed it looks like a scrub jungle, and you can say it is a home to many species of birds and rarely few mammals like Leopards, Elephants etc.,
Both of us gathered near valley school at 6.30Am. There is no entry into the campus unless you have prior permission, but you can walk outside the school and then take an unofficial entry into the valley school.
While walking around the campus, we spotted a common buzzard sitting on a perch of a tree, it was far to capture and could only click a record shot of it. Further trail we spotted a Kingfisher on a trunk of a tree.
We now entered inside the campus and followed the trail, and were fortunate to spot “Copper smith Barbet” on a tree. It was busy in search of berries on the tree. The trail forked and we took the other part of the track and then realized we were lost and it took 1 hour to catch the exact trail.
In this lost track we were fortunate to spot “Veriditer Flycatcher”, “Fan Tailed Flycatcher” and “Sun Birds”.
Finally crouching and crawling thorny bushes we reached the correct track. We proceeded on the trail and got opportunity to capture “Oriental White Eyes”, “White cheeked barbet” and “Eurasian Golden Oriel”.
                 
It was time to wrap up the birding activity, while we walked down to the parking lot we found “Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher” on the tree trunk, we reached the car parking the final treat was “Common Iora” which took place on the perch of the tree and “Wire Tailed Swallow” on the wire just outside the campus.
 Birds spotted @ Valley School
  1. Common Myna
  2. Red Whiskered Bulbul
  3. White throated KF
  4. Common Buzzard
  5. Oriental White Eye
  6. White Cheeked Barbet
  7. Copper Smith Barbet
  8.  Fan Tailed Flycatcher
  9. Veriditer Flycatcher
  10.  Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher
  11. Euresian Golden Oriel
  12. Common Iora
  13. Wire tailed swallow
  14. Purple Sunbird
  15. Tailor Bird
  16. Great Tit

Thattekad – A paradise for Bird watchers…

The year 2012 started with a fantastic get away to Thattekad with Santosh. Visiting thattekad was on a wish list and it came true in 2012.
Santosh confirmed our bookings in KSRTC club class airavat to Muvutuppuza on Jan 6th 2012. I wrapped all my office work a bit early and started to my place, collected my back pack and reached Shanthinagar bus station.

The journey towards thattekad took off at 7.30Pm; santosh joined me at Christ college junction, we whiled away the hours chatting… sharing our wildlife experiences…planning next trip….finally with nothing else to do we went for a nap.

The plan was to alight at Perambavoor and catch a bus to Kothamangalam and from kothamangalam a bus to thattekad… J when bus reached perambavoor time ticked 5.45am. Strange land to us, Joseph, a friendly passerby helped us to take a bus to kothamangalam.

Same old buses since decades… chilled 30 mins drive landed us in Kothamangalam; from there we took a bus to thattekad.

            A shiva temple in front of thattekad bird sanctuary.                         
 A hearty welcome from Sudha Chandran and family gave us the feel as if we are in our own place. Sudha chandran is a great guide and a master bird spotter, though she is aged more than 60 years, her enthusiasm is still at the age of 18 years…. 
 
I will take few lines to tell you about Thattekad topography: Courtesy Wikipedia.
 
The Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, covering an area of hardly 25 km², and located about 60 km north-east of Kochi, is one of the important bird sanctuaries of India. Salim Ali, one of the best known ornithologists has described this sanctuary as “the richest bird habitat on peninsular India”. The literal meaning of Thattekad is flat forest; the region is an evergreen low-land forest and is located between the branches of Periyar River, the longest river in Kerala.
 
 We had a hot cup of tea and checked-in to our room, finished our daily routines and we had to wait for the guide to accompany us in the trail. After an hour or so, Sudha informed us the guide is ready and she introduced us to him. Sannu was our guide for the morning session.
 
 As we started our trail, sannu spotted 2 Brown Hawk owls roosting on the tree. It was sleeping with out noticing the world watching them. It was too high to capture the pic…
 
 Most of the birds which we spotted were a “Lifer” to me, in the sense a new species to add on to my bird repository…
We crossed the bridge which had an excellent view of backwaters beside us; “Darter” aka “Snake bird” was basking on the dead tree, moved on further after clicking few photos of it. We also got to see the “Oriental Mag-pie Robin” which took off with its prey in its mouth.
 As we walked into the tree plantation we spotted ‘Rufous Tree-pie’ sitting on the trunk of the tree. We moved on slowly after photographing it. A “Racket tailed Drongo” drew our attention to capture its beauty.All of a sudden sannu spotted some bird which just flew in front of us and perched on a tree; though it was far enough to identify the species, I captured the photograph. It was later acknowledged as “Chestnut winged cuckoo”. Further on we spotted “Asian Brown Flycatcher”. I must say all these were lifers to me… The trail continued in spotting “Drongo Cuckoo”, “Rufous wood pecker” “Lesser napped wood pecker”, “Greater flame back wood pecker”, “Golden leaf bird”, “Black hooded oriel”….
        
Sudha madam had accompanied few other guests and they were ahead of us, she called on sannu’s mobile and informed us that they had spotted “Malabar Trogon”. I was really excited to see the colorful bird. We rushed to the place and the trogon had taken its seat on the top most trunk of the tree.
A fruitful day, we stayed watching the trogon for 15 mins and walked away with the smile on our faces. Sannu identified the call of “White belied tree-pie” from quiet a distance, we tracked the bird and after half an hour of hide and seek we finally got an opportunity to capture the beauty.
We called the session to an end. Returned back to home stay and relaxed for sometime, mean while geeresh was back from morning birding session. We had sumptuous home made kerala food. During the course of our lunch we met Falguna Shah and Manisha Shah, two wildlife enthusiasts from Ahmedabad and Mumbai.Evening plan was to go in search of “Ceylon Frogmouth” to the place called Bhoothathankettu” and “Idamalayar” dam a tourist spot situated in the village of Pindimana.
The place was a dense canopy of high standing trees, geeresh made us to stand at one place and he went in search of “Ceylon Frogmouth” where it usually roosts in the evenings. But unfortunately we dint get to spot the bird in spite of hard search.
 
Geeresh took us to a place which had a small water source, and told us to sit silently and observe birds which would come to quench its thirst.
Yes the patience was rewarded with the spotting of “Orange headed Thrush”, “White belied Blue Flycatcher” and another bird which was later identified by Adesh Shivakar as “Indian Blue Robin” female.
Time was 6.00Pm we almost lost the hope of spotting “Ceylon Frogmouth”, Geeresh went in search of the bird for last time before we wrap up. He came swiftly and informed us not to make any sound and silently follow him.
The torch beam penetrated the dense canopy and he focused on a branch of a tree and told me to photograph it, It took me 10 seconds to just spot where exactly the bird was. Ahhh there it was a master camouflage “Ceylon Frogmouth”.
Happily we returned back to the home stay had nice dinner and went to bed.
 
 Jan 8th 2012

Early morning the chirping of birds woke us up from the bed. We were ready to visit a new place and this time it was in the search of “Black Baza”.

We reached the beautiful landscape at 6.45Am; a group of gray hornbills were flying all around. Silently we approached a place and hid behind trees waiting for the birds to come close.
 
 Witnessed and captured the nearly threatened “Gray headed bulbul”.
All of a sudden we heard the alarm call of barking deer, we moved closer in the direction of the alarm call and sat there for a while awaiting some action.
After a long wait of 45 mins not witnessing any action we planned to return back to our home stay. Just as we started the trail back the “Oriental Honey Buzzard” flew down and perched on a tree in front of us. Capturing the last winged beauty we returned.
We had to catch a bus from Muvatupuzza at 7.30Pm. Falguna and Manisha offered to drop us at kothamangalam. From kothamangalam we took a bus to muvatupuzza where we took a return bus to namma Bengaluru.


     Jungle Bird Home Stay

    Thattekad Bird Sanctuary.
    Geeresh Chandran: 09847034520
   Sudha: 09947506188
 
Birds spotted at Thattekad Bird Sanctuary:
Bird Name
1. Indian Pond Heron
2. Cattle Egret
3.Little Cormorant
4. Darter
5. Oriental Honey Buzzard
6. Whiskered Tern
7. Pompadour Green Pigeon
8. Plum-headed Parakeet
9. Chestnut-winged Cuckoo
10. Common Koel
11. Brown Hawk Owl
12. Sri Lankan Frogmouth
13. Jerdon’s Nightjar
14. Crested Treeswift
15. Malabar Trogon
16. Stork-billed Kingfisher
17. White-throated Kingfisher
18. Common Kingfisher
19. Green Bee-eater
20. Malabar Grey Hornbill
21. White-cheeked Barbet
22. Crimson-fronted Barbet
23. Rufous Woodpecker
24. Lesser Yellow-naped Woodpecker
25. Common Flame-backed Woodpecker
26. Greater Flame-backed Woodpecker
27. Heart-spotted Woodpecker
28. Ashy Woodswallow
29. Small Minivet
30. Scarlet Minivet
31. Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike
32. Eurasian Golden Oriole
33. Black-naped Oriole
34. Black-hooded Oriole
35. Black Drongo
36. Ashy Drongo
37. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
38. Asian Paradise-flycatcher
39. Rufous Treepie
40. White-bellied Treepie
41. House Crow
42.Grey-headed Bulbul
43. Red-whiskered Bulbul
44. Red-vented Bulbul
45. Asian Fairy-bluebird
46. Jungle Babbler
47. Hill Myna
48. Common Myna
49. Chestnut-tailed Starling
50.Orange-headed Thrush
51. Oriental Magpie-Robin
52. Asian Brown Flycatcher
53. Rusty-tailed Flycatcher
54. Golden-fronted Leafbird
55. Purple Sunbird
56. Grey Wagtail
57. White Wagtail
58. Ruby throated BulBul
59. Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
60. Red Wattled Lapwing
61. Spotted-necked Dove
62. Malabar Parakeet
63. Asian Drongo-Cuckoo
64. Common Iora
65. Black headed Cuckoo shrike
66. Large-billed jungle crow
67. Great Tit
68. Yellow browed bulbul
69. Jungle Myna
70. White-bellied blue flycatcher
71. Purple rumped sunbird
72. Loten’s sunbird
73. Blue throated flycatcher
74. Plain flowerpecker

Mystical Morning – Birding at Hesaraghatta…

Friday fever was on; due to work schedule I was busy for almost 2 months and could not go out for birding nor wildlife odysseys… On Saturday [17.12.11] Santosh planned for an early morning birding at Hessarghatta. Without thinking further I nodded my head with acceptance as it was my pleasure accompanying him.

I woke up early morning at 4.00Am and peeped out of the window, it was freezing cold outside. Passion will not let you down from cold, heat or rains. We had decided to meet at yeshwanthpur.

Our morning birding to Hessarghatta took off in Santosh’s alto; we reached by 6.30Am the place was filled with mist already 4-5 vehicles were lined up for birding. Hessarghatta was a surprise to me; it gave the feel of TATR grasslands.

Till mist cleared the camera had no work to do. It was time to meet up new friends with similar kind of interest. Indeed meeting Dayanand, Rakesh Gupta, Sachin, K V Bhat and learning from them about birds of Hessarghatta and others was truly a valuable knowledge transfer for those who are a new to birding.

The engulfed mist cleared at 9.00Am, the Hessarghatta grasslands of Bangaloreturned out to be spectacular.We approached the track and observed for bird life. Hessarghatta is famous for Raptors of many kinds and I was filled with joy to photograph one. Santosh spotted a Euresian Marsh Harrier near by we approached silently and parked our car. The patience is the virtue for photography in 15 mins a Marsh Harrier sat on an ant hill beside the track. After capturing few pics we moved on further. These Marsh Harriers are migratory birds which migrate from western Eurasia and adjacent Africa.

Though Drongos, Ashy drongos, white belied drongs were common here, to justify the bird I had to click few pics and move further.
Further observation of birds in binoculars we spotted “Siberian Stone Chat” all these birds was new to me and I was very excited in clicking the pics. Indian Roller a state bird of Karnataka which is aka Blue-Jay was also spotted with its display of vibrant colors.
 
 Parked our car under the tree and had some snacks relaxed for some time, this time it was kestrels which drew the attention; we tracked the bird and finally clicked when it sat on the ant hill.
Time ticked 12.30 when sun banged on our head with scorching heat. We decided to wrap up the birding activity.The day was fruitful as my knowledge bank on birds was updated.
For more pics : Wildlife Odyssey
Driving direction:
 Yeshwanthpurà Right on 8th mileà Reach Hessarghatta à Right towards the board pointing to Adarsha Film Instituteà 10mins drive from there you reach Hessarghatta.

 

Bird List:

 1.      Ashy Drongo
2.      White-belied Drongo
3.      Indian Roller
4.      Pipit
5.      Siberian stone chat
6.      Buschat
7.      Indian Robin
8.      Euresian Marsh Harrier
9.      Kestral
10.  Black Kite
11.  Bush Lark
12.  Bay backed shrike

Soaring wings of Ramanagara – Long Billed Vulture…

Rain lashed the city through out the night; our birding activity planned early morning was sinking. The long lasting dream of photographing long-billed vultures had not yet materialized. Keeping our fingers crossed we hoped the rains would take shelter elsewhere.

And surely enough, next morning there was no sight of rain promising the very climate we had hoped for. Wildlife odyssey started towards Ramanagara at 5.30 am.

An hour’s drive from home took us to Ramanagara. After scanning the area for the perfect habitat of LBV’s we started heading towards the identified cliff. A resident of the place helped us in spotting the LBV’s. We approached the cliff to get a better view of the critically endangered bird.

Courtesy: Wikipedia The Indian vulture scientifically entitled as Gyps Insicus is an old world vulture and is closely related to the Griffon. It breeds mainly on crags of central and peninsula India. LBV’s are scavengers feeding mostly on carcasses of dead animals. They often move in flocks.
The long-billed vulture is a typical vulture with a bald head, very broad wings and short tail feathers. It usually weighs between 5.5 – 6.3kg and measuring 80 – 100 cm long and 205-229cm across the wings.

Just below the cliff we settled down on a huge boulder making sure the birds would not be disturbed by our presence. We could spot 6-7 vultures resting on the rock waiting for the sun to pop out of the clouds to start its activity.

As the sun appeared beyond the clouds, the vultures stirred marking the start of the day…. Few vultures took flight around the cliff and returned after few minutes scanning the area for their prey. The vultures paired into two’s and occupied different locations on the cliff. We were lucky in witnessing the courtship of the LBV’s

The day turned out to be sunny and the vultures scurried away from the cliff. We had already spent 2 hours observing the habitat and the activity of the LBV’s. In anticipation that the birds would return to its habitat we spent another 45 mins. The time was 9.30 am when we finally decided to wrap up from the place.

Our next destination on our list was to visit Sri Rama temple situated 1 km from the foothill.

The temple is situated in the serene calmness of Mother Nature. One should take the flight of ~400 steps to reach the temple premises.

After visiting the temple, we started our way back home. En route we stopped at the famous shiva’s thatte idli at Bidadi, had a stomach filling breakfast and returned home with contended feeling. What a way to start a weekend!!!!!!!!!!

Long Live – LONG BILLED VULTURES!!!