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