Monday, 22 May 2017

Incredible Bhadra.

Steve had planned to visit India after a gap of 5 years. Knowing that am a nature freak, he expressed his desire to visit one of the Tiger sanctuaries to get a glimpse of the Royal Bengal Tiger, the pride of India. 
Well, first thing that came to my mind was of course Nagarhole National park, popularly known as Kabini. Predator movements were high as a result of drought. Obviously, the resorts in that area had zero availability due to the overwhelming demand to experience the wilderness.
The next option that came to my mind was "River Tern Lodge, Bhadra". I knew that predator sightings in this area was not as common as Kabini, but I kept my hopes high and booked our accommodation there. All I wanted was a joyful ride so that Steve would take back good memories from here.

River Tern Lodge is managed and owned by Jungle Lodges and Resorts, located on the banks of Bhadra reservoir, Lakkavalli (250 kms from Bengaluru). 
Bhadra wildlife sanctuary is yet another beautiful vast landscape that consists of various wildlife species with a diverse culture of green patch. The deltas formed in the backwaters acts as a paradise for a particular bird-- "River Tern". Thousands of River terns congregate here to enhance their race. 

River Tern on a dead tree stump. 
Mating of River terns.
Terns cleaning themselves.
We opted for a boat ride on the first day hoping for the best sightings. An amazing ride started off with so many River terns followed by Small pratincoles. But my observation said the count of River terns had decreased over the years because of habitat distribution.

We cruised through the reservoir watching tons of jelly fish gracefully wading underwater. The naturalists were busy searching for the big cats on the banks of the reservoir. 
Few minutes later, the phantom appeared from the bushes in search of prey. A young male Indian Leopard walked towards us to show it's formidable presence. This amazing creature adapts to its surrounding so very well in order to conquer the prey.

The Phantom walks.
Stalking it's prey.

Display to paparazzi. 
Pose of an Indian Leopard.
On high alert.
Leopards take the advantage of the body texture as it gels well with the dry habitat. Their camouflage abilities are really outstanding. 

This one gave us a proper 10 mins before it disappeared into the bushes and we continued our safari on the rough waters. 

Now it was the turn for the raptors. Ospreys and Grey headed fish eagles were the highlights. We were fortunate to see them in action.

Osprey with a fish.
Osprey Habitat.
Grey Headed Fish Eagle.
A portrait of Grey Headed fish eagle.

We were super thrilled to have seen these beautiful creatures during the boat safari. The naturalists claimed that the Leopard sighting during a boat safari on the banks of Bhadra is a rare moment. I was fully satisfied with the trip thus far and was looking forward to the morning jeep safari.

Crested Serpent Eagle.
We went on a jeep ride into the forests of Bhadra in search of mammals. Early morning sun rays made the grasslands glow like gold. The thick forest attracted us. 

Barking Deer.

Malabar Giant Squirrel.
Back at the Lodge, this tiny bird surprised us.

Indian Pitta. 
The Navarangi bird.
I was really impressed by the forest although the mammal sightings were slim. Peace, serenity, lovely diversity of flora and fauna. I was bestowed with the beauty of the nature. I only wish that the forests of Bhadra continues to impress us for generations.

Place: The River Tern Lodge, Jungle lodges and Resorts, Lakkavalli.
Distance: 260 kms from Bengaluru.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Arm Chair Birding.

Eat, relax and bird--that's exactly what you'd do at this place. Lot of arm chairs around and a typical bird bath set up in the middle of a green patch, surely is tempting..! 
With all the rustic set up, The old magazine house never disappoints a bird watcher. Perhaps the only place where photographers gets ample time to shoot birds from different angles. 

As much as I regret that I could not visit OMH this year, am trying to relish fond memories of last year. Am not gonna write paragraphs about it as I have already done in the past. All you need is documented in my previous blog post.

This post is more of photographs with less text, so sit back and enjoy the winged beauties.
Malabar Pied Hornbill.
Blue Capped Rock Thrush, male.
Blue Capped Rock Thrush, male.
Brown Brested Flycatcher with a moth.
The elegant While Bellied Blue Fly catcher, male.

Yellow Browed Bulbul.
Crested Goshawk.
Flame Throated Bulbul.
Datk Fronted Babbler.

Blue Monarch, male and Female.
Paradise Flycatcher and Blue Monarch attempting a discussion.
Indian Paradise Flycatcher, female.
Indian Paradise Flycatcher, male.
Flaunting it's lovely tail.
Bunch of White eyes.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Kaiga Bird Marathon--2017

Back from exile! I guess, it is one of my favorite places on earth that I choose to visit over again. It's always good to be part of Kaiga Birders group who have evolved a lot in the recent years. Their contribution towards bird count have been impeccable. The birders association realizes how important it is to save the habitat for birds to thrive. I admire their collaboration with other birders network and active participation towards all events conducted by Bird count India.

Over the years, Kaiga Bird Marathon have become so popular among the birding communities that every birder aspires to take part in it at least once. I can say it is mainly because of resident and migrant species of the Western Ghats that attract a lot of birders. 
Because of it's growing popularity and overwhelming response from others, my participation to KBM-2017 was doubtful.! Well, I had lost hopes that I'd be going to Kaiga for the bird count. 
But thanks to the KBM organizers for their kind consideration towards me, at the end I was given a chance to participate and enjoy the event.

I took a bus from Bengaluru to Mallapur and reached the destination by early morning. My dearest friends from Kaiga--Mr. Harish, Mr.Mohan Das attended the migrant bird watchers. ;-) I was not alone and was glad that there were known faces who traveled with me. We discussed to do some birding after freshening up. 

When BLR Birders meet Kaiga Birders, from L to R--Ashwini Kumar Bhat, Harish Kulur, Janhvi Vyas, Karthik Kulkarni.
We did a lot of birding in and around Mallapur that day. Lot of endemic species showed their faces nicely. Many thanks to Harish Kulur for taking us to Kerwadi Lake, we were fortunate to see large amount of waders too. 

We headed back to Nisarga convention hall where evening program was fixed--the kick off session of KBM-2017. It was nice to catch up with a lot of enthusiastic birders from different places. 

Mr. Sriram speaks.
Mr. Prem Kumar speaks.
The organizing committee disclosed the participant details of particular transects. I was part of the transect Hatruga. I had done this transect during my first ever KBM and it was fun. This transect consists of village culture, thick forests with streams and finally vast landscape of Kadra backwaters. An amazing round trip of 9kms, not an easy transect though.

Vernal Hanging Parrot.
Crimson Sunbird with tongue out.
Thick fog embarked the whole forest; it appeared like a white blanket on top of green carpet. It was cold. Our vision was poor due to low light and could barely ID the birds. There were lot of chirping around us which enhanced our birding desire.

Black Rumped Woodpecker.
The overcast weather condition continued for sometime until the Sun finally showed mercy on us and started glowing to his glory. The weather was so pleasant that many birds started showing their fresh faces. Most of them were joyfully sucking the nectar out of flowers.

Asian Fairy Bluebird--Male.
We had traversed half way in our transect and it was time for a quick bite. But the action continued as we saw a huge crested serpent eagle perched on top of a tree acting as a vigilante.

Crested Serpent Eagle.

We continued our search for more birds and were delighted to see too many of them. At the back-waters we were lucky to see a White bellied sea eagle perched on a stump right in middle of the water.

Sun was getting hotter and it was time for us to return to our base. We were a bit unhappy that few big birds were not to be seen, but the last sighting made us forget all of it. A tree snake on a dead tree.! How amazing, couldn't ask for more.

Tree Snake.
Yet another memorable bird marathon into my bucket list. A bunch of enthusiastic birders exchanged a lot of knowledge. I thank each of them for sparing time for birding and enjoying the trek. I admired each one's efforts on documenting and understanding the behavior of the birds.

Team Hartuga.
I know that the motive of KBM is just not about bird count but also maintaining the sanctity of the forests. I congratulate the organizers of KBM for their continuous efforts in making this event bigger and better, every year.

KBM ebird:
Kaiga Guest house ebird:
Kaiga Township ebird:
Kerwadi ebird:

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Birds and Bears of Daroji.

This is from the parts of Karnataka where mining industry rules. Bellary district is known for land and mining mafia which has shaken the whole country in recent years. But at the same time, this part of our state also has abundant wildlife culture.

Hampi, is a world heritage site. It is a treat to watch big temples and forts in between rocky hills.
A small town Kamalapura is equidistant to Hampi and Daroji Sloth bear sanctuary. This small town that resides on the banks of the river Tunga, is an amazing place for woodland birds, particularly Sandgrouse and yellow throated bulbuls.

I will have to mention about a humble person who was there with us throughout the trip. Mr. Pompayya Malemath. His skills of spotting birds is amazing.! Born and brought up here, he has thorough knowledge about the terrain and wildlife. He is an avid birder and has set up a small hide in his farm. Birding with him was a sheer joy.

We started off with sandgrouse and Lapwings. I never knew sandgrouses will be attractive until I saw the painted ones. They are extremely elusive too.

Painted Sandgrouse, male.
Painted Sandgrouse--Female. 
Chestnut Bellied Sandgrouse.
Yellow Wattled Lapwing.
We traversed on the edge of Tunga canal looking for Rock Eagle owls which apparently are resident species. The rocky sides of the canal yielded couple of deadly looking owls who evaded for quite sometime, but eventually posed for us nicely. Canal side birding was an absolute experience.

Indian Eagle Owl.
Typical Habitat of a Indian Eagle Owl.
We then moved on to watch the crazy acts of Bhaaloo, the sloth bear. Daroji Sloth Bear sanctuary is an example to the world depicting a conservation model. The shrub level forest patch with numerous hillocks provides shelter to many sloth bears and Indian leopards. We need to appreciate and salute the work of Karnataka Forest department in this case. Truly inspiring.

An adult Sloth Bear with killer claws.
We stood on top of a hill waiting for the bears to show up. It was a scorching hot day. The bears usually come to a certain place in search of Jaggery paste, smeared by KFD guards. 

A sub adult Sloth Bear.  
Black hair of sloth bears shines like anything on a sunny day. 

Pose to paparazzi after sniffing jaggery. 
This tasty paste attracts other species too. A perfect harmony picture on the hills.

Indian Peafowl.
Painted Spurfowl.
A grey Francolin family.
We stayed there till dusk and returned to our stay. The following morning was meant for Yellow Throated Bulbul, evidently found in Hampi. Actually, it wasn't just about them, much more were waiting for us.

Yellow Throated Bulbul--usually found on the rocky patches area.
Yellow throat can be seen in this pic.
Blue Tailed Bee Eater.
A Male Red Munia with nesting material. He was collecting the raw materials, while his partner was building the nest. 
Amazing show of birds came to an end with a comprehensive check list. Whether it is rock structures of Hampi temples or Tunga canal birding or Daroji's joyful bunch of Sloth bears, this part of our state never disappoints the visitors. Make sometime to experience the rustic feel, it's worth it.

Destination: Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary.
Nearby Places: Hampi, Kamalapur.
Accommodation: Karanataka Forest Dept Guest house, Kamalapur.
Hampi Heritage centre, Jungle Lodges and Resorts, Kamalapur.
Pompayya Malemath's Home stay: 094491 36252
Distance from Bengaluru: 380 kms.