Archive for March, 2007


Bandipur and Ranganathittu Trip

Over the Ugadi weekend, we decided to go to Bandipur for a day with a stopover at the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary.

Our recent interest in bird-watching makes sure that we take the slightest opportunity that presents itself to get out of Bangalore. Openbill StorkWe left Bangalore early Sunday morning at 5am with the hope of reaching Ranganathittu early to catch the morning birding activity. By 6am there was already a quite a lot of light on the road and we could see birds on the trees of the highway itself (…although in our eagerness to sight birds, we sometimes mistook common mynas to be something more exotic). We reached the sanctuary around 7am. As soon as we approached the gate (near the canal), we got to sight quite a few birds – the oriental magpie robin, red vented bulbul, wire-tailed swallow, red-rumped swallow, a couple of tiny ones we could not identify and our all-time favorite, the white breasted kingfisher.

We hired a private boat (probably the first folks to be there). Night HeronsOnce on the boat, the sight in front almost came as a shock. We had not seen such a high density of birds ever. There were probably thousands of them; although only of eight to nine varieties. We saw the storks (openbill, eurasian spoonbill and painted), the herons (night, pond, juveniles), the pretty snakebird (darter), the river terns and the fruit bats. Also saw a couple of crocodiles though they seemed pretty lethargic at that time of the day (i guess we would take a lethargic croc rather than an aggressive one any day). We were told that they are more active around dusk, thus presenting some good photographing oppurtunities, but not for us.

The boat ride was great but we were more interested with the birds on the trees. While a short Purple Sunbirdwalk around the lake was not very productive, we moved on to a very well maintained garden near the park-center. The park has a very neatly setup maze of bushes, which with its herbal properties help asthamatic patients who walk through it. Here, we sighted the Tickell’s blue flycatcher (which has eluded us for sometime), a white-throated fantail-flycatcher, a very pretty purple sunbird, the great coucal, a bright yellow common iora, the white cheeked barbet, a drongo and the golden oriole. We also had our regular share of a few small, hyper-active, non-ID’d birds.

Eurasian SpoonbillBy 9:30-10:00 am it was getting pretty hot to roam around outside. So we got into the car and resumed our the drive towards Bandipur. For those going to Bandipur for the first time, take the left turn on the outer ring road just before Mysore, this can save a lot of distance and time. We reached Jungle Lodges by around 12:00 pm. Like always, we were greeted by very hospitable staff and great food. Just outside our room, on the trees, we again got to see a number of birds, some of the tiny ones we could not id. With the sun really beating down, retreating indoors seemed to be more appealing and our birding activity was rather shortlived. After a brief afternoon nap, we headed off to the jungle safari. We were not lucky enough to spot any tigers or leopords during the safari, but got to see some elephants (including a tusker), the usual spotted deer, sambhar, wild pigs and a bunch of interesting birds like the redwattled lapwing (of the “did-he-do-it” fame), the hoopoe, the magnificent crested serpent eagle and beautiful peafowl. We also saw the Malbar gaint squirril which seemed bigger than a house cat. The other groups on the safari managed to sight a bison, which we missed out on. While such sightings (bison, elephants) are rather common during monsoon, they are a rarity during this season when they migrate to Kabini and surroundings.

Sambhar Elephants Langur Chital

The next morning, instead of the trek we opted for the safari again in the hope of sighting either of the wild cats. But were not very lucky this time too. The weather was good and again saw many birds. The safari driver shows us a few like the brahminy starling, the brainfever bird and the indian robin.

Headed back from Bandipur after an excellent breakfast at the jungle lodges. Could not resist a brief halt at Ranganathittu when we were passing by on the way from Mysore. Went for a short drive from the turn of the highway to the entrance of the park. We got lucky to see the stork billed kingfisher in the middle of the afternoon. Stopped for lunch at the famous Kamat Lokaruchi. Even manged the see the highly fidgety Tickells flowerpecker there. Its probably one of the tiniest birds we have ever seen. After a sumptuous lunch, we were on our way home.

All in all, a great weekend. But it still felt like a trailer with just glimpses of the birds, the actual movie will surely unfold in our future trips to the forests.

More pics from this trip are available here: Bandipur Pics & Ranganathittu Pics