Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Pakshikoota at Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary.

Situated on the banks of river Kaveri, Ranganthittu is a small village that hosts close to 170 species of birds. Naturally created islets are covered with lush green forests. 

Social media is a powerful tool if used in a productive way. Karnataka Eco-toursim shared a wonderful post on their facebook wall, "Karnataka Bird Festival--2015, see this space for more details". I enrolled to this event, the stage was set at Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary, one of the best bird sanctuary in the world. Dr.Salim Ali renowned ornithologist studied the habitat and pressed upon the local government to declare this wonderful place as a bird sanctuary. 

I had visited this place several times. But this one was special because of two reasons, I could interact with eminent naturalists turned conservationists who are instrumental in bringing several changes in wildlife society. Secondly, I could spend extra bit of time in venturing both wood-land and wet-land birds as the workshop was for 2 days. 

Ranganthittu bird sanctuary is well maintained by Forest department. It has all basic amenities required for tourism and bird watching. As days passed I've seen nice improvement inside the park. Good number of dedicated forest dept employees start their day at 630 AM by cleaning the park area. 

Boating is the main attraction of this sanctuary. Watch towers are constructed at necessary places. I checked into a boat and opted for an extended boating session. The boatman had immense experience in boating and birding. He was passionate about sharing the knowledge which he gained in so many years of service.

Painted Stork.
The sanctuary will be crowded by several species of resident and migratory birds between January--May, that's when nestling starts.
I was fortunate to witness bird activities as I had ample time. Many people who are keen in bird watching visit this place to study the behavior of birds.

There will be less amount of bird activity during monsoons due to increase in water level. Water released from Krishna Raja Sagara dam submerges most of the islets. Boating will be suspended.

Spot Billed Pelican.
Our boat slowly crossed small islets which had many nestlings. I saw huge congregation of painted storks, Eurasian spoonbills, egrets, spot billed pelicans, asian openbill storks. It was amazing to see juveniles sun basking without any fear.

Asian Openbill Stork.
Black Capped Night Heron.
I started documenting the birds whichever came across, number of lifers started increasing. One of which was Thick Knee. There were about 10 thick knees on a boulder. Apparently they are common in this season. Eyes seemed bigger than their body.

Eurasian Thick-Knee.
Cattle Egret in breeding plumage.
Eurasian Spoonbill.
After a wonderful boating experience, I took a stroll inside the park to check out wood-land birds. Flycatchers, warblers, wagtails, kingfishers and many more were friendly. 

Small (Cool) Blue Kingfisher. 
Stork Billed Kingfisher.
With a loud call Stork Billed Kingfisher flew from direction to another. It evaded human interaction. With great difficulty I managed to get a glimpse of it within a thick canopy.

Pied Kingfisher.
Indian Grey Hornbill.
Forest Wagtail with a moth.
White Browed Fantail--Flycatcher.
Indian Peafowl.
River Tern.
Grey Bellied Cuckoo--Female.
With a cockroach.
Marsh Crocodile--Juv.
Karnataka Bird Festival was an outstanding gesture by Eco-toursim board to educate people about birds and their habitat. In the verge of habitat destruction such kind of workshops would create awareness in the community. The two day workshop included talks by eminent wildlife photographers and conservationists which focused only on birds. 
 I was able to identify and record 84 species of birds in two days. With many lifers and fond memories I departed Ranganthittu only to come back for more birding.

Venue: Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary.
Location: 5 kms from Srirangapatna, Mysore Road, Karnataka.
Distance from Bangalore: 120kms.
Park & Boating Timings: 830 AM--530 PM. 
Entry Fee: 50rs per adult (Indian).
Extended Boating session: INR 1000 /boat for 45mins.
Food and Water available inside the park. 
Best time to visit: January to May.