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Daroji Bear Sanctuary

Hampi Panorama

Visiting Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary had been on our long standing wish list of places to visit, but it somehow never materialized. Thus when the Sloth Bear Foundation announced the Karnataka birders meet on 15-16 December, we knew we couldn’t miss this opportunity. The intent of the meet was to increase the awareness of the place and to let people experience the wonders it has to offer.

Yellow Eyed Babbler Painted Spurfowl
Yellow Eyed Babbler Painted Spurfowl

The trip did live up to our expectations and probably a lot more. The rocky terrain of Daroji provides an excellent habitat for the Sloth bear amongst other animal and bird species. It also provided fantastic photographing opportunities. We got to meet and interact with a number seasoned bird watchers and naturalists. The group was very diverse both in terms of the age of the participants as well as their bird watching experience.

Jungle Babbler Closeup Grey Francolin
Jungle Babbler Grey Francolin

We had great sightings of the Painted Spurfowl, Grey Francolins, Jungle Bush Quail, Peafowls, Jungle Babblers, Yellow-eyed Babblers, Lesser White-throat Warbler, Chestnut-shouldered Petronia and scores of other birds. Mammals sighted include the Sloth Bear, Mongoose, Wild-boar and the Black-naped hare.


Little Brown Dove Brahminy Starling
Little Brown Dove Brahminy Starling

We had a short visit to Hampi and its surrounding areas, which provided good sightings of the many birds including the Yellow-throated Bulbul, Plum-headed Parakeet and White Wagtail. Due to time constraints, we could hardly spend any time in the Hampi ruins which are fantastic and warrant another visit just for their exploration.


Jungle Babblers Feeding Yellow Eyed Babblers
Jungle Babblers Feeding Yellow Eyed Babblers

Daroji is surely a wonderful place to visit, both to experience the wildlife in the sanctuary as well as to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding Hampi. For more information on the approach to the place and accomodation, please visit the official Daroji website at


[DBS] GreyFrancolinGroup




2007 – A Reflection


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.




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.


Nandi Hills – a visual treat

…the fog wrapped hills did not provide great birding opportunities. It did, however, present some nice visual treats. A couple of these captured by our lens.

 Butterfly | Nandi Hills

Red Pierrot | Nandi Hills


BR Hills


We finally made our long awaited trip to BR (Biligiri Rangana) Hills last weekend. We took Monday off to make a long weekend out of the October 2 holiday. Like on our previous trip, we broke our trip in Mysore, spending a night there. Early morning, we went back to Kukarahalli lake. It again turned out to be a very nice birding session with no rain this time. Along with the birds we had sighted last time, we had our first sightings of the Black Ibis and the Bronze-winged Jacana. Another thing to note was the huge number of Spot Billed Pellicans and an almost complete absence of Painted Storks (we spotted just one).

After breakfast, we left for BR Hills. Took the Mysore-Ooty road towards Nanjangud, after which took a left turn to go to K.Gugi wilderness camp via Kamrajnagar. The road was decent in most places, except for a bad patch of around 3-4 kms due to some road construction work near Nanjangud. Right after the entrance to the park, a drive of around 15 kms took us to the K.Gudi wilderness camp.

BRHills-JLRCampElephant BRHills-Loghut
JLR Camp Elephant Biligiri Loghut

The highlight of the trip this time was the sheer beauty of the place. Picturesque landscapes (probably the best we have seen yet) greeted the eye through the entire duration of our trip. The monsoons have left the forest green and beautifull. JLR property at BR Hills is quite different from its other properties. The area is more pristine; almost in the middle of the jungle. We had booked a log hut (Biligiri) which was located almost at the end of the camp. Just sitting in the balcony of the log hut provided a splendid view of the nearby hills.

BRHills-BrownFishOwl BRHills-GreenBeeEater
Brown Fish Owl Green Bee-Eater

The number and type of birds seen inside the camp itself were amazing. Just after our first lunch (after checking in) in a span of 3-4 minutes we had four lifers just behind the Gol Ghar. We could see birds flying everyway, we could not decide where to look. It was over in a few minutes and the same birds were not spotted at that place again.

BRHills-ScarletMinivet BRHills-ScarletMinivetFemal
Scarlet Minivet (Male) Scarlet Minivet (Female)

On the safaris into the forest over two days, we saw a huge number of deers (spotted, barking and sambhar), a couple of Indian gaurs, two herds of wild elephants, a number of wild boar, couple of Malabar Giant Squirrel, a mongoose and some birds (Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle, Brown Fish Owl, Jungle Owlet and more). We were not lucky to get a glimpse of any of the big cats, wild dogs and sloth bear which stay in the 540 sq km sanctuary. But just driving through forest itself in this beautiful weather was very pleasurable.

BRHills-SpottedDeer BRHills-ElephantFamily
Spotted Deer Elephants

In addition to the safaris, we went on a drive on the main road in our own vehicle towards the entrance of the park. This drive itself yielded a good number of bird sightings. Also a walk around the JLR camp provided the excellent sightings of Wagtails, Minivets and the Nuthatches.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience and we are already waiting for our next trip into the forests.


Bird List: (* first time sightings)

  • Indian Roller
  • Long tailed Shrike
  • Green Bee-Eater
  • Rufous Treepie
  • Red Whiskered Bulbul
  • Red Vented Bulbul
  • *Eurasian Collared Dove
  • Spotted Dove
  • Laughing Dove
  • White Throated Kingfisher
  • Grey Wagtail
  • Grey Tit
  • *Heart Spotted Woodpecker
  • *Pigmy Woodpecker
  • White Bellied Drongo
  • Black Drongo
  • *Velvet Fronted Nuthatch
  • *Scarlet Minivet
  • Golden Fronted Leafbird
  • Pied Wagtail
  • *Hill Myna
  • *Brown Fish Owl
  • Orange Headed Ground Thrush
  • Jungle Babbler
  • Magpie Robin
  • White Breasted Waterhen
  • Large Cuckoo Shrike
  • Rose-ringed Parakeet
  • Greater Caucal
  • Common Iora
  • Crested Serpent Eagle
  • Lesser Golden Flameback
  • *Chanageable Hawk Eagle
  • *Bay Back Shrike
  • Oriental White Eye
  • Fantail Flycatcher
  • Pipit
  • Small minivet
  • Jungle Babbler
  • *Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch
  • *Jungle Owlet
  • *Mountain Imperial Pigeon
  • *Malabar Whistling Thrush
  • *Malabar Parakeet
  • Grey Junglefowl
  • Black-headed Oriole
  • Blue Faced Malkoha
  • *Large Green Barbet






Munia Mania

Munias have become our latest favourites. They are mostly found in open farms and a lot of them can been seen gathering nesting material these days. During our frequent trips to Manchinbele and Valley School over the past few weekends, we have had abundant sightings of the Black Headed Munia, Scaly Breasted Munia, White Throated Munia (Indian Silverbill) and the White Rumped Munia.

This picture of the Black Headed Munia was taken at Valley School, Bangalore.



Flying the good times !!!


Hebbal Lake is an excellent place to see the kingfishers. On Sunday, we saw quite a few White Throated Kingfishers, four Small Blue Kingfishers and a couple of Pied Kingfishers

PiedKingfisher1 SmallBlueKingfisher

PiedKingfisher WhiteThroatedKingfisher