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Archive for July, 2009

Elephant-calf-running

A mother and calf running for safety as a reckless driver sped past them on the highway. We were coming back from evening safari, four elephants were on the highway, two mothers and two calves. One of the elephants was drinking water from a pothole on the highway, and we were watching the beautiful sight. There were few other vehicles waiting for the elephants to cross. Just then, a speedingĀ  jeep honking recklessly maneuvered past the elephants and other vehicles. Elephants ran for cover and i was standing on the jeep to take a shot. Our jeep driver moved the vehicle fearing the other jeep would hit us. This is the image i clicked as the elephants ran and our jeep moved.

This is how my experience has been in the last few months – unexpected and eventful.

One of the things in my mind as i drove to Bandipur was to photograph the hunk of Bandipur, Onti Kombu. The famous elephant was known for its notoriety to torment commuters on Mysore-Ooty highway. He preferred to charge rather than just mock. Soon after I reached, I inquired about his sightings. To my disappointment i learnt that he had been shot down by poachers a month ago. It was really disheartening.

In the evening safari, we saw a huge tusker, Mental Manja, romancing his mate. He is the new hunk in the Bandipur tourist range. He was seen frequently after that.

Tusker-elephant-Bandipur

In the image above, he is reaching out to bamboo leaves. The image was shot when we were waiting for a big cat near a water hole.

The time i spent at Bandipur has been one of the best times of my life. Here’s how it all started:

On a Friday afternoon, nearly a month ago, I casually visited Karthik at his office. I had carried my camera to give it to service at Canon service center. I did not expect i would walk out with an offer to volunteer as Naturalist at Bandipur JLR. Within a day, i packed my bags and drove to Bandipur to live a dream for the next two weeks.

In the first of a series of posts about my experience at Bandipur, i share the unexpected surprises, pleasant and unpleasant. Biggest of them being the opportunity i seized as i walked out of Karthik’s office.

Mental Manja, undeterred by monsoon, enjoying the lush green grass

mental-manja

P.S.: I lost a few images i had shot on first two days. I accidentally deleted them. Trying to recover using undelete software. Will post if i can recover them.

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It had been over 2 years since i cleaned up my computer at home. I was sharing space and processing with a zillion viruses that had inflicted the computer. I always found a way to out-smart the virus that tried to prevent me running few applications. I’d either kill the process running the virus (don’t ask me how i would know which process to kill, this is the advantage of playing at home turf ;) or just let it have its share (lazy me).

Of late, i wanted to clean up data that i had gathered and make space for my photography stuff. Last week i formatted hard disk and installed Windows XP. To my horror, i realized i don’t have motherboad and other device driver installation CDs at my disposal. Frantic search on Saturday night ended in finding these CDs.

But, .exe won’t execute! ‘Not a valid Win32 application’ is the error message. Repaied the OS installation, and even reinstalled the OS from another disc. I am not able to install any device driver or application. Virtually my computer is dead, except its not.

How do i solve this issue?

Could this be due to IDE controlled badly configured? Is it possible that computer is not able to read properly from DVD/CD drive i am trying to install drivers from since the device driver of the DVD drive is not appropriate? But if this is the case, how can i install the OS from the same drive?!

I appreciate your inputs on solving this problem.

update: Resurrected my computer. As suspected, IDE configuration was the problem. It just stumps me why, but that’s what it is.

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Black-Buck-Maidenahalli

The thought of visiting the Black buck (Antilope cervicapra) reserve in Maidenahalli was lingering in my mind for nearly a year. Shreeram floated the idea and a Sunday (21 June ’09) was well spent.

Route: Bangalore -> Nelamangala -> Tumkur -> Koratagere -> Madhugiri -> Puravara village -> Maidenahalli reserve

Distance: 145km

The drive on Hindupura road, after taking deviation from NH-4 provides excellent opportunity for bird watching. At our first stop, we saw a pair of Egyptian vultures roosting on a rock. On to our left was a pond with lots of common birds such as Prinias and Bulbuls. Failed to get closed to the vultures, which sensed us early and flew away.

White-Browed-Bulbul

There are no shops or restaurants at Maidenahalli. Madhugiri, a small town before you reach the reserve, is the place where one needs to stop for food/water. We had breakfast at Madhugiri. In India, you don’t need a GPS. Just ask the villagers for direction and you’ll get to your destination.

A forest guard accompanied us. We saw herds of up to 15 black bucks, and they wouldn’t let us get close!

The avian life is incredible at the grassland. The parachuting display of Indian Bushlark, Collared Doves, flocks of Grey Francolins running for cover, cries of Large-Grey Babblers, Southern Grey Shrike, White headed Babbler feeding a caterpillar to its chick, Yellow-wattled Lapwing and her chicks feeding were all a treat to watch. Search for Sandgrouse ended in vain.

After lunch and brief siesta, we headed towards a water body. A herd of about 25 black bucks, which were heading toward the pond, saw us and receded. There goes our chance for getting a decent photograph! I almost stepped on a Black-Naped Hare, which disappeared in a moment before i could even point my camera. We moved towards the pond to see a heard of sheep quenching their thirst. No wonder Black bucks are dwindling.

Indian-Bushlark

Forest guard told us there was a burrow of a Fox nearby and we might get lucky if we stay till dusk, but we thought maybe another day. As we drove out of the reserve, we could see many black bucks, closer to the road. Couple of males were stood their ground and we could get few good images.

We sighted close to 50 species of birds, andĀ  here is the list.

Directions to reach the place, and other information on the reserve is best on web page maintained by Ameen Ahmed of WANC: http://maidenahalli.googlepages.com/

Also check Ameen’s post on Maidenahalli on his blog.

Maidenahalli reserve has many villages adjacent to it and there are lot of farms on the peripheral boundary of the reserve. Cattle grazing is rampant inside the reserve, and it was disheartening to see herds of cattle grazing inside the reserve. One can clearly witness the how habitat destruction happens at this place. Open grasslands were once widespread across Deccan Plateau, and it supported many animals which are extinct today. Indian Cheetah is the epitome. Encroachment and farming has reduced these grasslands to few tens of square kilometers from few hundreds. I wish Foxes and Black bucks live few more decades, if not few centuries.

Eurassian Collared Dove peeping out of a cultivated farm

Eurassian-Collared-Dove

The Black Buck, himself

black-buck-jayamangali

P.S.: I am yet to have a good look at images from Bandipur, will have to clean up my system. Also, have to recover few images i deleted by mistake from the SD card. Will post the tales from Bandipur soon.

Also, considering a fund raiser for buying an expensive lens, any donors? :P

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I’m back in Bangalore, after spending two incredible weeks at Jungle Lodges and Resorts, Bandipur, where i worked as volunteer Naturalist. If you were following me on twitter, you would have seen my live updates from safaris.

I’ll write more about my experience in the weeks to come. Too many things to catch up now. More later, bye!

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