Thursday, 18 February 2016

Kaiga Bird Marathon 2016.

Am back from hibernation mode..after all lot of trip reports are due for sharing. I was wondering which topic should I pick to revisit the blogging world. There were some outstanding landscapes that I visited during late 2015, but out of all I could not resist blogging on Kaiga.

I was part of KBM--2015 too. It was an incredible experience. I was counting days to visit this place again since I believe this place offers just more for birders. 

"Kaiga bird marathon is back" read the subject of the email that hit my inbox. Without giving a second thought I registered myself to this event and started to hatch a long travel plan. 

As part of their Environmental stewardship program, NPCIL conducts bird marathon once in a year. The KBM organizing committee is instrumental in making necessary arrangements for all the guest birders who come from different parts of the country.

KBM--2016. Introduction by Mr. Sriram.
The event kicks off with an introductory session where we get to know about fellow birders. Do's and dont's during the trail, team members and the transect details will be shared. 
I was part of Team Kodasalli along with 8 other members who were mostly new to me. Apparently, this transect is in the heart of Kali Tiger Reserve and access to this area is restricted. So, I consider myself lucky to be part of this transect. 

Talk by Mr. Prem Kumar, convener of KBM--2016. 
The following morning, KBM-2016 was officially flagged off by Mr. H.N Bhat (site director, NPCIL) at 6 AM. He wished good luck to each and every participant. We, the team Osprey boarded the bus and started the journey towards our transect.
The day started with 11 Pied hornbills blissfully soaring in the blue sky. It was a perfect start..! We then heard calls of Indian Scimitar babblers, whistling thrush. The bamboo rustles and free flowing water added to the rhythm of bird calls, just like a classical jugalbandi. A productive birding had begun already. 
Soon, we entered into a plain field area hoping for bright action, our expectations didnt go wrong. A fast approaching bird attacked a cattle egret in no time. What a life-time sighting..! I'd never forget that moment. The raptor was later identified as Laggar Falcon, which perched on a top of a bald tree.

Laggar Falcon.
Shikra.
Asian Fairy Blue bird, Female.
Asian Fairy Bluebird--Male.
Crested Hawk Eagle.
Legge's Hawk Eagle. (record shot)
It was a raptor feast. By then, we had seen other raptors such as Crested serpent eagle, Brahminy Kites. But, deep inside I wanted to see an Osprey since it was our team bird, and of course the gigantic White bellied sea eagle too. I insisted Mr. Oshimath (team co-ordinator) to stop near the reservoir for sometime, he kindly obliged. To our luck, we saw both. A distant sighting of an Osprey perched on a bald tree amidst reservoir was an amazing. 
But we stopped murmuring after seeing a pair of White bellied sea eagles guarding their home, fantastic sighting.!

White Bellied Sea eagles--habitat shot.
White Bellied Sea eagle.
We were happy because the group blended really well with each other and had fun. We were too happy because our team bird was found. I was extremely satisfied with the transect, sightings and interacting with other team members.

Team Osprey. (pic courtesy: Praveen E)
 The final tally was done after reaching the guest house. Team Osprey had identified 95 species with couple of record sightings. 
We then assembled at dining hall to witness the final phase of the event---feedback and felicitation. 
I observed that number of participants this year were comparatively high. I got to know that organizing committee had challenges in selecting the participants. 

Dignitaries on stage preceded by Mr. H.N.Bhat (site director, NPCIL) and Mr. Raju Kasambe (BNHS).
KBM-2016 was a grand success for all avian lovers. This event not only helped us in increasing the number of lifers but also helped in building cordial friendship with others. I felt very happy interacting with my Kaiga friends-- Mr. Harish, Mr. Mohan Das, Mr. Prashanth, Mr. Suresh Patil, Mr. Bargir, Mr. Srinivas P, Mr. Kaushal, Junior and Senior Oshimath, Mr. Dinesh and many more. I signed off from the event giving my honest feedback to continue this fabulous effort of conservation. Goodbye KBM, until next year.

Receiving the compliment from Site Director, NPCIL.
Event: Kaiga Bird Marathon---2016
Location: Kaiga, Uttara Kannada district.
Date: Jan 10, 2016.