Archive for the 'Birds' Category

10
Aug
08

Daroji Revisited

Bears

Our previous visit to Daroji was awesome, but had us wanting more. This place thus remained on our must-visit list. This time around we chose to do things a bit differently. We drove down instead of taking the train. (Note: Having one’s own vehicle is really useful). Our friend Alwan (fellow INWian) joined us. Santosh Martin (fellow JLR NTPian) helped with accommodation and logistics. Samad Kottur’s guidance too was invaluable. Thanks Santosh/Samad.

Contrary to our apprehensions, the drive was rather smooth. The total distance from Bangalore to Hospet is around 330 kms – 200 kms of excellent roads (NH4) to Chitradurga and 130 kms from here on to Hospet. Barring a 10-15Km stretch, the roads were fairly good. End to end, it took us 7.5 hours (including breakfast/birding breaks). We stayed at the Kamalpura forest rest house, ~15 kms from the bear sanctuary. The food provided by the rest house staff was really good and economical. The stay was comfortable indeed.

Highlights of the trip were:

  • Excellent sightings of the bears inside the sanctuary from close quarters. We even got a glimpse of a cub piggybacking on the mother. Piggybacking behavior can be seen in Feb-Mar but apparently, there were a couple of late cub arrivals this season. Good for us :) Did not get too many shots though since it was very very brief. Inside the sanctuary, we also got to see and make images of the Ruddy Mongoose, Peafowls, Painted Spurfowls, Grey Frankolins, Jungle Quails and other birds.

  • Visit to Hampi(Mathanga Parvatha in particular) in search of the Yellow Throated Bulbuls. We saw quite a few of them but they were very skittish and not easy to photograph. Also got to see many other birds such as Grey Hornbill, Shikra, Common Hawk Cuckoo and others. Hampi looks so nice that probably should make another trip just to visit the ruins of Hampi.

  • A drive along the High Canal road on the first evening led to the much-awaited sighting of the Eurasian Eagle Owl (same as Great Horned Owl and Bubo Bubo). The road is not tarred and the ride was bumpy, but the was really beautiful with the canal on one side of the road. We also sighted a Barn Owl along this road.

  • The lake along the main road in Kamalpur yielded excellent sightings of Pied Kingfishers and Pheasant Tailed Jacanas on all the days of our trip.

All in all, a very enjoyable and relaxing trip. The weather was very nice and the lighting was good enough to make many memorable images.

 
Birds Gallery

Laughing Dove Brahminy Starling Grey Francolin
daroji daroji daroji
daroji daroji daroji

 
 
Mammals Gallery

daroji daroji daroji
daroji daroji daroji

 
 

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21
Jul
08

Maidenahalli


 

On June 28th, we joined Alwan, Sreeraj, Mandar and Shrikant for a trip to the Jayamangali Blackbuck Sanctuary in Maidenahalli. The sanctuary is around 140 kms from Bangalore. We left very early at 4am. Supposedly, it is easy to get lost on the way but the others had been there before so it we reached the place easily at around 7am.

Most blackbucks we saw were in the grasslands before entering the reserve gates. They are very skittish and run away at the first sight of humans. We realized later that they best way to photograph them was probably from within the car itself.

Later we came across the carcass of a male backbuck. The body seemed fresh (suggesting a recent death) and did not have any wounds/marks. We could not ascertain the cause of its death. As we waited, a pack of dogs (7-10) started circling this body and one started feeding on the body. We were wondering whether the dogs had killed the blackbuck. Later, experienced INW members suggested that the death could be because of the snake bite. Apparently, dogs are known to chase blackbucks but they can’t physically overpower an adult blackback. They do manage to kill/maul fawns though.

While stalking a group of blackbucks to get a decent image, Sachin saw a fox run across the grassland. He managed to get a few record shots as it paused momentarily before disappearing into the bushes. As he went into the bushes in search of the fox, he came across two black-naped hares. The fox was not seen again though.

We were hoping to see some raptors but were not very lucky. Just managed brief sightings of the Egyptian Vultures (circling over the carcass) and a solitary White-eyed Buzzard. We left the sanctuary in the afternoon and reached Bangalore in the evening. It was tiring but a very satisfactory trip.

13
Jun
08

T.G.Halli

Spot Billed Duck


 
 

This has been a long pending post. We had visited Thippagondanahalli (T.G. Halli) dam a few times in the months of Jan & Feb. This was the time when the Kestrel migrates to this place. It was probably the most photographed bird in Bangalore at that time :) Giving it company where the Marsh and Montagu’s Harriers, the very cute Little Ringed Plovers, Yellow & Grey Wagtails, River Terns, Egrets, Herons, Larks, Pipits and many more. Along with spending quality time sighting the birds, we also happened to sight/meet many photographers (probably more than the number of birds) with top quality equipment.


For directions, please visit Rohini’s blog. It was very helpful to us.

Yellow Eyed Babbler Kestrel

Little Ringed Plover Little Ringed Plover

Jerdon's Bushlark Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark
16
Mar
08

Dandeli – Birding into the new year

Landscape - Kali 

Having seen wonderful pics from the INW07 meet at Dandeli in Feb 07 (before we started birding), we decided a weeklong birding trip to Dandeli/Kulgi/Ganeshgudi from 25-30 December. We travelled to Dandeli via Kumta and thus did not have our own vehicle.

Ganeshgudi – Hornbill extravaganza

For the first couple of days we stayed at the Hornbill River Resort (6 kms from Ganeshgudi, adjacent to the Bison River Resort). The location is unbelievably beautiful and offers amazing view of the Kali river. The morning views are stunning when the mist from the river creates a magical effect. True to its name, this place offer excellent sightings of the Malabar Pied Hornbill and Malabar Grey Hornbill. Both are seen in abundance within the campus feeding on fruits. Another must-watch here is the Hornbill Crossing – a routine of these majestic birds crossing across the Kali river every evening. Across the river one often can see the Lesser fish eagle and the Black-capped Kingfisher (amongst other birds). These are best seen on a boat/raft ride. Besides birdwatching we also experienced the adrenaline rush of river rafting here, traversing through some 10 rapids (3+ grade) on the Kali River.

 

Kulgi – Camping in nature’s lap

Kulgi nature camp was our second destination where we camped for 3 nights. This is probably the best place to camp around. The camp is situated in the forest and is a great location for birdwatching. You can see birds practically everywhere (behind the tents, enroute the watch tower, Inspection Bungalow). The best experience we had were with the mixed hunting parties when for 10-15 mins birds of different species are seen in large numbers. Typically this includes Drongos, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Starlings, Babblers amongst others. In addition to these we had good sightings of Woodpeckers (Greater-flameback and Yellow Crowned Pygmy) and our favourite – Asian Paradise Flycatcher right behind our tent. The forest department offers jungle safari here, but ours (like most evening safaris here) did not prove very productive. Our lone sighting was a Gaur (which most others did not). Though one can supposedly sight the black panther and the tiger in this sanctuary, we did not come across a single deer/chital.

Besides the surroundings we visited the backwaters of the Bommanahalli dam and the Dandeli Timber mart. The former did not yield any special sightings and was a bit of a letdown having walked 7 kms in early hours of morning. The later was a great place to sight the hornbills but our experience was slightly truncated by heavy fog early morning. Nevertheless this place offered great sightings of the Roller, Barbets and a number of small (still unidentified) birds.

Some things to note

  • For birdwatching, it really helps to have your own vehicle here. Not having one imposed a major constraint for us.
  • Private transport (typically Jeeps) is exhorbitantly expensive. Public transport is cheap but intermittent.
  • Distances are long. More often than not distances are much greater than those indicated by locals.
  • Hornbill camp offers tree house, log huts, rock huts and rooms at the same cost (please verify). Try to book the tree house, it is excellently located. The standard rooms are a pithy in comparison.
  • Bookings for the Kulgi Nature Camp need to be made through the forest department in Dandeli (Phone-, Fax-). Advance payment towards accomodation must be made via a draft drawn in favor of “The Deputy Conservator of Forests, Dandeli”. State Bank of Mysore has a branch in Dandeli.
  • Kulgi Nature camp is very economical. It offers standard/deluxe tents in addition to dormitories. The deluxe tents come with attached toilets. All tents have electrical points for charing camera batteries/laptops.
  • Though cheap, Kulgi Nature Camp offers very clean accomodation. Remember to carry your own towels and toileteries. Reasonably good food is available in the campus at a additional cost.
  • There is no mobile network/phone connectivity at Kulgi.
  • The temperatures at Dandeli, Ganeshgudi and Kulgi can vary. For us, Ganeshgudi was very cold in comparison to Kulgi.

 

 Plum Headed Parakeet   Shikra   Black Eagle   Green Imperial Pigeon 

 Gold Fronted Leafbird   Bay Backed Shrike   Malabar Giant Squirrel   Indian Nightjar 

 Malabar Grey Hornbill   Malabar Pied Hornbill   Lesser Fish Eagle   White-bellied Sea Eagle 

 MalabarPiedHornbill3   PlumHeadedParakeet   PrayingMantis   Reflections 

 Greater Flameback Woodpecker    Common Wood Shrike   Malabar Giant Squirrel   Draco 

 

Sightings in Kumta, Ganeshgudi, Kulgi, Dandeli: (* first time sightings)

  • Golden Oriole
  • Pompador Green Pigeon*
  • Black Winged Stilt
  • Black Winged Stilt
  • Spotted Redshank*
  • Common Sandpiper
  • Asian Koel
  • Coppersmith Barbet
  • White Cheeked Barbet
  • Cattle Egret
  • Pond Heron
  • Tailor Bird
  • Black Kite
  • Brahminy Kite
  • Blue Rock Thrush
  • Chestnut Tailed Starling
  • Common Myna
  • Common Crow
  • Spotted Munia
  • Spotted Dove
  • Laughing Dove
  • Indian Roller
  • Green Bee Eater
  • Peacock
  • Small Blue Kishfisher
  • Stork Billed Kingfisher
  • White Breasted Kingfisher
  • Black Capped Kingfisher*
  • Chestnut Headed Bee-eater
  • Lesser Fish Eagle
  • Crested Serpent Eagle
  • Green Imperial Pigeon*
  • Gold Fronted Leafbird
  • Red Whiskered Bulbul
  • Yellow Browed Bulbul
  • Asian Brown Flycatcher
  • Asian Paradise Flycatcher
  • Warblers
  • Purple Sunbird
  • Purple Rumped Sunbird
  • Lorikeet*
  • Plum Headed Parakeet
  • Scarlet Minivet
  • Malabar Pied Hornbil*
  • Malabar Grey Hornbill*
  • Common Iora
  • Black Lored Tit*
  • Velvet Fronted Nuthatch
  • Greater Flameback WP
  • Lesser Flameback WP
  • Darter
  • Cormorant
  • Black Drongo
  • Hill Myna
  • Oriental Magpie Robin
  • Pied Wagtail
  • Tickels Blue Flycatcher
  • Tickels Flowerpecker
  • Greater Coucal
  • Rufous Treepie
  • Grey Wagtail
  • Bay-backed Shrike
  • Red-vented Bulbul
  • Puff Throated Babbler
  • Tawny Bellied Babbler
  • Jungle Babbler
  • White rumped WP*
  • Yellow Crowned Pygmy WP*
  • Brown-Capped Pygmy WP*
  • White Bellied Drongo
  • Ashy Drongo
  • Racket Tailed Drongo
  • White Breasted Waterhen
  • Red Wattled Lapwing
  • White Rumped Munia
  • White bellied WP*
  • Oriental White-eye
  • Swallow (Misc)
  • Swift (Misc)
  • Brown headed Barbet
  • Rose Ringed Parakeet
  • House Sparrow
  • Great Tit
  • Malabar Whistling Thrush
  • White Rumped Shama*
  • Common Woodshrike*
  • Dark Fronted Babbler*
  • Yellow Footed Green Pigeon*
  • Shikra
  • Indian Nightjar*
  • Lesser Yellownape WP*
  • Black-hooded oriole*
  • Black Eagle
  • Common Rose Finch*
  • Blue-capped Rock Thrush
  • Jungle Crow
  • Wooly Necked Stork
  • Small Minivet
  • Brown Shrike
  • Black Shouldered Kite
  • Blue Rock Pigeon
  • Jungle Myna
  • White bellied Sea Eagle*
  • Flying Squirrel*
  • Malabar Gaint Squirrel
  • Draco*
  • Praying Mantis*
  • Gaur

 

Landscape - Dam 

 


 

05
Mar
08

Birding at Kumta

Spotted Redshank

Spotted Redshank

 

In December, on our way to Dandeli, we stopped at Kumta for a couple of days for a family function. Kumta is a town in North Karnataka, around 60kms from Karwar. We managed to spend a little time birding there. The main highlight was the salt pans in Kumta which provided very good views of big flocks of Spotted Redshanks, Black Winged Stilts, some Sandpipers and the other common water birds.

 

Pompadour Green Pigeon Golden Oriole
Pompadour Green Pigeon Golden Oriole

Common Sandpiper Tailor Bird
Common Sandpiper Tailor Bird

 

04
Jan
08

2007 – A Reflection

Reflections1

The year 2007 has been a defining year for us in terms of nature appreciation, bird watching and photography. It is the year in which we got introduced to the joys offered by nature. We have traveled much more in this one year than we had done in the previous few years combined. We have also become much more aware of the threats which the bio-diversity in India has been facing.

Our initiation happened on our weekly Sunday morning walk in Lalbagh. For a long time, we had just been taking a walk, appreciating the beauty of the place and returning home. An accidental sighting of the White Breasted Kingfisher near the Lalbagh lake got us all excited. Being city dwellers most of our lives, we had mostly seen just the most common birds found in the cities (the likes of crows, kites, mynas and pigeons). This striking blue of the WBKF held us in awe for a long time.

On subsequent walks in Lalbagh, we noticed a group of people looking up into the trees and realized that they were looking at birds. Upon conversation with them, we found out that this was the bngbirds group which met once a month for Bird-watching. We attended a couple of such sessions and since then there has been no turning back.

Initially our interest was primarily in birds but the JLR – Naturalist Training Program introduced us to a number of other wonders such as the buffer flies and insects. We still love bird watching the most but have started enjoying the other aspects of nature too.

Every single free day over a weekend, we try to venture out in and around Bangalore to observe these beauties. Every long weekend, we try to go into the forests of South India which the hope of sighting the big cats or the mightly eagles. In 2007 alone, we have been to Ranganthithu a couple of times, Bandipur, Kabini, BR Hills, Dandeli, Ganeshgudi, Daroji, Ramnagaram and made numerous trips to Nandi Hills, Valley School, Manchinbele Dam and Lalbagh (of course)

The most important aspect in this initial phase of our journey has been the people we have met on our numerous trips. We got opportunities to interact with some of the most knowledged and dedicated nature-lovers as well as novices who are starting their journey like us. We also met a number of great photographers and learnt a lot from their images on the India Nature Watch forum. Lastly, maintaining this blog has given us enormous pleasure. We try to provide information so that it can be useful to anybody who wants to visit the same place.

We still have a couple of reports of 2007 coming up soon – Daroji Bear Sanctuary and Dandeli/Ganeshgudi. We hope that 2008 is as fruitful and enjoyable as the past year and we wish all the same.

02
Dec
07

Roadkill….

AfricanGuineafowl

The start of our birding session at Machinbele this morning was marked by a rather sad incident. While driving towards the Big Banyan tree we saw an exotic looking bird going round in circles in the middle of the road. A closer look revealed another bird (of the same species) killed in an accident (run over by a bus). The bird (which was alive) seemed to be grief-stricken. It just kept circling the dead bird, unfazed with the people/vehicles around. Even the locals seemed stunned by its behavior. We were wondering how could we help. Maybe take it to the rescue center.

A local tried misleading us suggesting its a Jungle Fowl. When we identified it as the African Guinea bird, thanks to a recent INW post, he revealed that these were domesticated birds. This was lone survivor of the four he had purchased (with two other falling prey to dogs earlier). Nevertheless, the bird was shortly seen flapping its wings and following the person into a neighboring farm. We felt really sad for it. These are social birds (supposedly moving in large groups) and this one would be all alone until it would too would get killed in another freak accident :(

RosyStarling OrientalWhiteEye
Rosy Starling Oriental White Eye

Disheartened, we continued birding. We had three lifers: the black winged stilt, the red headed merlin (in-flight) and the red munia. Unfortunately no pictures. Also, saw flocks of rosy starlings for the first time this season. Upon the advent of summer this year, from our terrace, we had see a number of flocks of these fly departing every day and had been waiting for their return.

AfricanGuineafowl-Roadkill