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.  

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

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!!!

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
Lapwings
Painted storks
Black Drongo
River terns
Green bee-eaters
Common myna
Hupu
Cormorants
Rose ringed parakeets
Herons
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.
 
 
 
 

Wake-up call… "Kot-roo .. Kot-roo"

Since three days i was hearing Green-Barbet call, but unfortunately i had no time to investigate where is it residing and its activities? these questions were striking my mind. On saturday as usual after breakfast i was surfing the net and the call of green barbet begun. I though this is the time to see… and went up to the terrace with my camera and binocular.. after silent move though with heavy traffic managed to spot the green-barbet which is residing in my building and started cliking the photos. Here i have compiled few interesting facts of green-barbet

(Courtesy: Wikipedia and BNHS).

 
White-Cheeked Barbet[Megalaima viridis] aka Small Green Barbet
This species is endemic to the forest areas of southern India and has distinctive supercilium and a broad white cheek stripe below the eye.
Like other barbets, they are green, sitting upright and still in a tree, making them difficult to spot. During the breeding season their calls are loud and unmistakeable. The call, a monotonous ‘Kot-roo … Kotroo…’
The head is brownish, giving a capped appearance and the head is streaked. The bill is pale pinkish. The length is 165-185mm, head of 51-53mm and tail of 60-67mm.
The main range is along the Western Ghats and along the associated hills of southern India into parts of the southern Eastern Ghats.
 
These birds are dominant primary cavity nesters in many parts of their range, making a round hole in the vertical trunk of soft wooded trees. They breed from December to July. They play an important role in forests as seed dispersal agents.
 In southern India (Periyar Tiger Reserve) these barbets begin breeding in December to May. This species is believed to form a pair bond that lasts for longer than the breeding season. Calling is intense during the courtship period. Courtship feeding of the female by the male is usual prior to copulation.
Eggs are laid about 3-5 days after nest excavation. About 3 eggs are laid. The incubation period is 14 to 15 days. During the day both sexes incubate but at night only the female sits on the eggs.