Posts Tagged ‘Birding’

Nestled on the banks of river Periyar, Thattekad is home to a variety of resident endemic and winter migratory birds. Amogh, Anush, Deepa and I spent 3 days in Thattekad with god-of-thattekad, Eldhose, as our guide.

5:15pm – Train from Bangalore city.

4:30am – Ernakulam junction

4:45am – Taxi to Thattekad

6:30am – Photographing Red Spurfowl without even brushing teeth :))

This is how crazy the trip was. On reaching Thattekad, Eldhose took us to Spurfowl area before we could check into our room. After spurfowls, we went to Salim Ali bird sanctuary in the hope of sighting a Black Baza. 3-4km walk, but no Baza.

Ceylon Frogmouth, a nocturnal bird, that had not been sighted since Salim Ali, only to be rediscovered in 2000 by Eldhose was a treat to watch.

Spend 3 hours at Thattekad resort, and headed to ‘flycatcher area’ by 3 pm. Trekking through rubber plantations and forest area, we reached the famed waterhole. Spent couple of hours without much action, but then as the light faded those small and beautiful flycatchers made appearances. Could make only terrible images, but I enjoyed the variety of birds sighted.

Blue-Throated Flycatcher (female)

Next day morning, woke up at 3:30am. Yes, you read it right – 3:30am. A short drive, and 15-20minutes walk on moonless pitch-dark reserve forest area. We were looking for rare Owls, Spot-bellied eagle Owl and Oriental Bay Owl particularly, but neither was seen. As the sun rose, lots of other birds started their daily routine – Crimson backed Sunbird, Hill Mynas, Asian Fairy Blue Bird, Small and Scarlett Minivets. Plenty! We even saw a Bay-Banded Cuckoo.

Asian Fairy Blue Bird – ‘I’ve got a berry!’

In the evening, we sighted a flock of Black-throated Munias, but was really difficult to get a photograph. Late evening, Eldhose took to Pitta area. Amogh and I had not seen a Pitta. We were excited. Waited for an hour for the beautiful bird to make appearance. It was pretty dark at 6:20, and fill-in flash helped make some decent image.

Indian Pitta

Jerdon’s Nightjar was the next bird sighted at about 7:30pm, and it was totally dark. I could not get even a record shot. Next day morning, photographed the Brown-Hawk Owl that perches at the same place, perhaps for a few years now, and left for Cochin and then to Bangalore.

Eldhose was a fantastic guide to have for two days. Thanks to Anush.

Bird list:

Day 1

Bluebird, Asian Fairy
Bulbul, Grey-headed
Buzzard, Oriental Honey
Cormorant, Little
Crow, House
Crow, Thick-billed
Cuckoo-shrike, Black-headed
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Ashy
Drongo, Racket-Tailed
Drongo, Spangled
Egret, Small
Frogmouth, Ceylon
Flowerpecker, un id
Flycatcher, Asian Paradise
Flycatcher, Asian Brown
Heron, Pond
Hornbill, Malabar Grey
Kingfisher, Small Blue
Kingfisher, White-breasted
Leafbird, Golden-fronted
Mynah, Hill
Oriole, Black-Naped
Oriole, Eurasian Golden
Sparrow, House
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Spurfowl, Red
Swallow, Ashy Wood
Treepie, Rufous
Treepie, White-bellied
Warbler, Greenish Leaf

Day 1 evening
Babbler, Dark-fronted
Babbler Puff-throated
Drongo, Ashy
Drongo, Bronzed
Drongo, Racket-Tailed
Drongo, Spangled
Flycatcher, Blue-throated
Flycatcher, Brown-breasted
Flycatcher,Tickell’s Blue
Flycatcher, Rusty-tailed
Flycatcher, White-bellied Blue
Goshawk, Crested
Minivet, Scarlet
Minivet, Small
Shrike, Nilgiri Wood
Thrush, Orange-headed Ground
Treepie, Rufous
Waterhen, White-breasted
Woodpecker, Black-rumped Flameback
Woodpecker, White-bellied

Day 2
Barbet, Crimson Fronted
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bulbul,Ruby-throated or Black-crested
Bulbul, Yellow-throated
Cuckoo, Bay-banded
Dollar Bird
Pigeon, Green Pompadour
Pigeon, Green Imperial
Owlet, Jungle
Nuthatch, Velvet-fronted
Robin, Oriental Magpie
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Tern, River
Tern, Whiskered
Wagtail, Pied

Day 2 evening
Bee-eater, Blue tailed
Bee-eater, Small green
Munia, Black-throated
Munia, White-rumped
Nightjar, Jerdon’s

Day 3
Owl, Brown Hawk

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I joined Shreeram, Vineet, and Gopal from NTP for a quick trip to GKVK campus for bird watching today morning. Prem also accompanied us. It turned out to be a great outing with some excellent sightings.


I reached the GKVK/UAS campus by 6:30am, parked my car near Ganesha temple and started looking for birds. All i could hear was the squirrels. I looked around for about half an hour without any good luck, and i was disappointed. Called Vineet and joined them near the Eucalyptus tree patch, and there we saw a Shikra family. Soon, Gopal joined us.

We walked to the uncultivated/forest land hoping for better sightings. We sighted lots of Barbets along the way. A Copper-Smith Barbett was feeding its chick and i could manage to get this shot:


There was a patch next to the road, and a faint trail. I walked into that and sat down to check the undergrowth wishing for a Pitta to hop by. I was scanning the undergrowth, with squirrels about 2-3ft from me and few Ashy Prinias hopping around, and suddenly a heard a galloping burst and saw some dark thing run past in front of me. Then i hear Shreeram shouting ‘Wild Boar!‘ Some 10mtr to the right, i would have been run over by a Wild boar.

Saw a nest of Oriental Magpie Robin. Heard close calls of Partridges, which at one point got really loud, and then got faint. They must have walked towards us, and then ran away. On to a more open area further, we sighted two pairs of Yellow-Wattled Lapwings, first time for me. There were chicks i suppose since the birds were calling and flying frequently to threaten us away. We didn’t get sight of the chicks.

As we walked back to the parking lot, we sighted a Common Grey Mongoose go past us across the road. As we walked further down, we heard something in the bush and we turned back to see another Mongoose run across. It was a great to watch them, but couldn’t get a shot.

After breakfast, sponsored by Gopal, Vineet, Shreeram, Prem and I went to Jakkur Lake. The lake was a treat to bird watchers. We weren’t expecting to see so many different species. Spot-Billed Pelicans, three types of Cormorants (including the white headed sub-species of Great Cormorant), Coots, Grebs, Purple Moorhens, and Common Moorhens. We were hearing calls of White-throated Kingfiher for some time and finally spotted it. A Pied Kingfisher came hovering into frame as i was focussing on a Brahminy Kite. I got a hovering shot of Pied Kingfisher here after many failed attempts elsewhere.

List of Birds:

  1. Barbet, Coppersmith
  2. Barbet, White cheeked
  3. Bulbul, Red Whiskered
  4. Bulbul, White browed
  5. Coot, Common
  6. Cormorant, Greater
  7. Cormorant, Indian
  8. Cormorant, Little
  9. Coucal, Greater
  10. Crow, House
  11. Crow, Jungle
  12. Dove, Laughing
  13. Dove, Spotted
  14. Drongo, Black
  15. Egret, Little
  16. Egret, Median
  17. Flowerpecker, Pale billed
  18. Flowerpecker, Tickell’s
  19. Grebe, Little
  20. Heron, Grey
  21. Heron, Pond
  22. Heron, Purple
  23. Hoppoe
  24. Iora, Common (heard)
  25. Kingfisher, Pied
  26. Kingfisher, White breasted
  27. Kite, Black
  28. Kite, Brahminy
  29. Koel, Asian
  30. Lapwing, Yellow wattled
  31. Moorhen, Common
  32. Moorhen, Purple
  33. Myna, Brahminy
  34. Myna, Common
  35. Myna, Jungle
  36. Parakeet, Plumheaded
  37. Parakeet, Rose-ringed
  38. Partridge, Grey (heard) (?)
  39. Pelican, Spotbilled
  40. Pigeon, Blue rock
  41. Prinia. Ashy
  42. Robin, Magpie
  43. Shikra
  44. Sunbird, Purple rumped
  45. Tailorbird, Common (heard)
  46. Tit, Grey
  47. White-eye, Oriental

Route to GKVK/UAS campus (courtesy Gopal):

a.. On Bellary road, NH-7, go past Mekhir circle to Hebbal flyover
b.. Go on the flyover without taking any deviations.
c.. 3kms from the flyover you will find L&T Komatsu office on your left, take the service road.
d.. GKVK/UAS campus is next to L&T Komatsu, and has a Mahatma Gandhi statue at the entrance.

Get inside the campus, going past two big playgrounds and a basket ball court to your left. Ample parking space is available. Walk some distance on the right side, going past student hostels, to reach uncultivated land for good bird sightings.

Route to Jakkur Lake:

– Take a right turn on Bellary Road, NH-7, just before Jakkur flying school.

– Go along the fencing of the flying school. Down the road, take the road which takes a natural right. Furthur down, take a left turn. Take right on a small Circle. 1km from there you will see the lake on your left.

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I have really been sweating this summer, more so at work. Still, I did manage to attend NTP on the last weekend of March. Three weeks later, made a trip to a village near Hassan for a wedding. Wedding trip turned out to be a great one, for birding and visiting historical monuments.

Anyone driving to Nelamangala from Bangalore would know the pain to drive on the under construction, rather under expansion road. It took about one and half hours get going past Nelamangala.

Route: Bangalore –> Nelamangala –> Kunigal -> Adichunchanagiri–>  Channarayapatna –> Hassan

Distance: 185km

A deviation on the Hassan – Sakaleshpur highway got us into the village roads. As we drove down a pond near to the village, i sighted a couple of Pied Kingfishers, and a Paradise Flycatcher. Told myself to come back to the place later some time.


Spend about half an hour the next day biding on an alley, along one side of which is a lake and a arecanut plantation on the other side. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of birds i could readily see around that place. There were plenty of Purple Moorhens, and Common Coots. Pied Kingfishers flew from one end of the lake to another as they saw us walking. The day was cloudy, and the birds were at a distance. Couldn’t manage to get a decent shot of any bird.


Lakshmi temple at Dodda Gaddavalli is not a very well known one, but i learned that it is the first Hoysala temple. Having visited Belur and Somnathpur earlier, i wanted to have a look at this Hoysala temple too. Hoysala temples are known for their intricate stone carvings. Hoysala craftsmen made this temple as a practice prior to the ones constructed at Belur and Halebidu.

The temple is also the only Bethala temple in the world. Bethala is a deamon, guarding the MahaKali, a Hindu goddess, who shares the temple with Lakshmi.

Bethala, the deamon standing guard to Maha Kali

Bethala, the deamon standing guard to Maha Kali

Indra on white elephant with wife suchi devi

The ceiling of the temple has carvings of 8 Hindu deities, one each in 8 directions of North, South, East, West, North East, South East, South West and North West.

The image on left shows Indra, in one of the directions, on his vahana (vehicle), a white Elephant, along with his wife Suchidevi.

vastu-purushaThe image on the right shows Vastu purusha, the god of Vaastu Shastra. Vastu Purusha does not have a vahana. He uses his own body, which is very evident from the beautifully carved structure.

The rocky temple proved to be an excellent habitat for Rock Agamas. I could readily see brightly colored males, basking in the sun. I managed to get close to one of them for a good shot. Click on the image for a larger and sharper view.


I saw a Common Hoopoe on the fence of the temple. I had missed it a couple of times, and was waiting patiently for it to come back. It came back with a meal!


This was a great trip on many fronts. Here’s the list of birds sighted:

  • White-Breasted Water hen
  • Purple Moorhen
  • Small Blue Kingfisher
  • Pied Kingfisher
  • Brahminy Starling
  • Common Myna
  • Jungle Myna
  • House Sparrow
  • Asian Paradise Flycatcher
  • Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher
  • Little Cormorant
  • Great Cormorant
  • Common Coot
  • Vernal Hanging Parrot
  • Rose Ringed Parakeet
  • Blue Rock Pigeon
  • Red Whiskered Bulbul
  • Brahminy Kite
  • Black Kite
  • House Crow
  • Jungle Crow
  • Common Hoopoe
  • Great Grey Shrike
  • Indian Pond Heron
  • Grey Heron
  • Little Egret
  • Cattle Egret
  • Pied Bushchat
  • Greater Coucal

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The post event meet of Bangalore Bird Race 2009 personally, for me, was the best place, where i spotted some really rare species. I was overwhelmed to see and meet some great naturalists, and bird watchers like S Karthikeyan and Deepa Mohan, whom i had known only through net, and some of the best wildlife photographers from Bangalore like Sudhir Shivram and Kalyan Varma, also known only through net. I had been ogling at the photographs Sudhir Shivram and Kalyan Varma produce for long time before i started clicking photographs, and i continue to do so even now. These are the people who have inspired me to sustain and improve hobbies like bird watching and photography. It’s hard to describe the joy i had. It was good to associate face to people i have known through the Internet and admired their work for long. This post is dedicated to these wonderful people.

The day of bird race started pretty early. I managed to catch only 2-3 hours of sleep after a hectic Saturday (more about it later), but I still left my home by 4:55am, picked Pandith, Rahul, a young lad who joined our team since his earlier teammates were not willing to bird whole day, and Deepak.

Deepak, Pandith and I had planned, on Saturday evening, to cover South Bangalore starting from Bangalore University campus to Bannerghatta National Park covering Byramangala Lake and Valley School and few other water bodies on Kanakapura road.

We reached Bangalore university before the day break, and were waiting for a good 20-25min for the sun to come out, after walking around to see if we could catch any Owls, but no such luck. University Campus provided good sightings of common birds like Drongos, Flowerpeckers, Babblers, Doves, Parakeets, and Sunbirds. I also spotted 2-3 Peafowls which disappeared just as i alerted my teammates. By the time we moved on from there, it was 7:15am. We had spend half an hour more than we had planned.

Inquisitive dog and pup, Byramangala lake

Inquisitive dog and pup, Byramangala lake

On the way to Byramangala lake, we stopped at a field where we sighted lots of munias, spotted doves, drongos and Indian Silverbills.ext stop, Byramangala lake. Reached this place, after missing a turn and coming back, by about 8:15pm. Many sandpipers were sighted, and also few Red Wattled Lapwings. We also saw a Spot billed Pelican, Black headed Ibis, Grey Wagtail, Ashy Prinia and a Blue rock trush here.

Left Byramangala lake only by 9am. Our plan to reach Valley school by 8:30am was already slipping by a good 1hour, but on the way we sighted many raptors including a Shikra, and Oriental Honey Buzzard.


Couldn't help clicking this butterfly - Twany Coster

Valley school is an incredible place. A heaven for bird watcher in Bangalore. The number of species count was about 35 when we reached Valley school by 10:20am. We still had missed common birds like Laughing dove, Indian Roller and White Throated Kingfisher. Just at the entrance we spotted a bunch of Oriental White Eye. Parked the car and started walking inside the Valley school campus. We spotted many birds within an hour. Common bird like Coppersimth Barbetts, White cheeked barbett, Greater Coucal, Green Bee Eater, Oriental Magpie Robin, Bushchat, and Indian Robin were spotted readily. Also, we spotted Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Common Iora, Kestral, Puff-throated Babbler, White-throated Fantail and White-Browed Fantail.

Asian paradise flycatcher at Valley school

Asian paradise flycatcher at Valley school

We still had not spotted any Kingfishers, and were at a pond/creek. The incredibly beautiful Asian Paradise Flycatcher made itself visible, and i could also manage to get a decent shot of this beauty. We then rested for sometime there, and a Kingfisher came for an early lunch. Was this a Blue-eared Kingfisher or Small Blue Kingfisher (AKA Common Kingfisher)? Rahul was excited and was saying (hoping as well) it was blue eared. I took a good shot, confirming it to be just the Common Kingfisher, and not its the uncommon counterpart. Deepak, meanwhile, had spotted some bird which he said had features similar to the rare White-Rumped Shama, but couldn’t confirm for sure. We spotted couple of more birds which we couldn’t confirm the identity, a Treepie and a Raptor.


Our other teammate, Sri Ram, had not joined till now and we had asked him to come to Valley School directly, but he ended up 15km further to some other place. By 12:30pm we left valley school and were waiting for Sri Ram to join us. We wasted 45 minutes in this. Left towards BNP by 1:30pm. We had signed about 65 species by then, and were hoping to add good number at BNP.

The road to Bannerghatta from Kanakapura road is pathetic. Pathetic is an understatement. In fact for a majority of the distance, there is no road, but a way where road is to be laid. I drove my Swift on ditches, and potholes infested jelly stones laid ‘road’ with 5 people and some luggage. Car took a really bad toll.

Bannerghatta national park area didn’t provide any sightings. We drove towards Ragihalli on Akekal road. The national park area is known to provide wonderful sightings like that of Valley school, but around 2pm there were hardly any activity. Parked the car in a place where we heard some chirps, and ventured out on a pathway which led to a pond. There were bird chrips but nothing to be seen except for few Bulbuls. There we saw Elephant dung at quite a few places and knew that this was not a safe place to stick for long.

The time was still 2:45pm. We didn’t know where to go for more sightings. Ragihalli road was a disappointment. We stood at 69 species. Nearest lake, Madiwala lake would an hour’s drive. Should we go to the lake or Bannerghatta zoo herbivorous enclosure was the dilemma.

Oriental white eye - Valley School

Oriental white eye - Valley School

We went to Madiwala lake, and we weren’t disappointed. Readily we spotted a Large Pied Wagtail. We spotted a aquatic birds, Garganey, Lesser Whistling Duck, and Northern Shovler. We also spotted a Grey Heron, and a Marsh Harrier.

At 4pm we started driving to the city, to report at Royal Orchid at Manipal Center. We visited Cubbon Park for half an hour to see if we could spot any bird that was not on our list already, but no such luck on a crowed Sunday evening. Reached Royal Orchid at 5:30pm to report our sightings of the day, and it stood at mere 78 species.

The team sighting 145 species took the 1st place, followed by 137 species for 2nd place, and 133 species for 3rd place. The catch of the day was Blue-bearded Bee Eater.

The Bird Race was for sighting as many birds as we can, and hence the opportunity for photography was not much. Here is couple of more images that have come out decently, both shot at Valley school campus:

Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher


King of Good Times


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I had heard a lot, and I have been waiting long time for this (less than a year of course, otherwise i’d have written about BBR 2008). The time has finally come. HSBC Bangalore Bird Race 2009 is on 18th January 2009, and i am excited to be participate in my first bird race, the 3rd edition of HSBC bird race in Bangalore.

I know many of you are wondering what’s a bird race. Bird race is not an event where birds are bred, and raced (not sure if such race exists, though it happens with grey hounds). Bird Race is a fun even where teams of 4 go bird watching from dawn to dusk on the given day, making a record of all the birds spotted. The team with most sightings wins.

I had to go with individual registration, which closed on January 11th, since i couldn’t manage to form a team with people i already know. Nevertheless, this gives a good opportunity to meet new people. A veteran of 2 bird races, Deepak, is the captain of team Pittas, of which JP Pandith, Kashyap and yours truly are part of.

Haven’t planned out the spots to be covered yet. Deepak prefers North Bangalore, Nandi hill side, but i prefer Valley school and BNP. Will reach a consensus and hopefully decide by today evening, taking inputs from other two teammates.

Given my limited knowledge, i would be glad to correctly identify birds i am already familiar with, hope to learn more about birds and of course take few good images. Expecting a fun-day on Sunday.

Current Mood: Excited

Current Music: Las Ketchup

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Kabini JLR was on to-do list for long time, and I took a trip to this Jungle Lodges and Resorts on the backwaters of Kabini last weekend. Being rated as the top five wildlife resorts in the world by Tatler’s, getting a booking at this JLR is not an easy task. We had booked two rooms about a month back. Vandan picked me, Danny, Akshat and Sam from various parts of Bangalore and we headed to Kabini by 7:30am. The popular Kamath Lok Ruchi on Mysore road was thronged by hundreds of people, we too stopped there for a sumptuous buffet breakfast. Numerous restaurants and coffee shops on Mysore road make the journey prolonged, which otherwise wouldn’t take more than 2.5 hours. :))

Route: Bangalore -> Mandya -> Mysore -> HD Kote -> Kabini JLR : 220kms

Butterfly right outside our room at Kabini JLR

Butterfly right outside our room at Kabini JLR

We reached JLR by 12:30pm. At the reception we were briefed about our activities for the next 23 hours. A board displaying the recent sightings had Tigers, Leopards, Sloth Bear, Python, and Wild dogs. This apart from the common ly sighted spotted deers (chitals), sambhars, elephants, and numerous birds. Sightings in the morning were more than that in the evenings. Checked into our rooms soon, freshened up and had lunch by 1:30pm. Lazed around for sometime after lunch, picked up our gears from the room, had tea and left for safari by 4:00pm.

Prem was our driver and naturalist. First up we spotted a tusker on the Mysore – Mananthavadi highway. This stretch is intentionally under prepared to avoid roadkills. We drove into the jungles with the hope of spotting a big cat. Nearly an hour in the jungle and no luck. Few spotted deers, racket tailed drongo, white throated kighfisher, a glimpse of sambhar and that’s about it. A radio message informed Prem that there was a tusker fight at some part, and he started driving to that spot. On the way we sighted a Crested Hawk Eagle (EKA Changeable Hawk Eagle) perched nicely on a dead tree, fired a few frames. Soon, we spotted couple of Malabar Gaint Squirrels but were hard to capture. The light was already fading, lower shutter speed and high ISO didn’t get the best of the images. When we reached the spot we saw 3 young tuskers, two of them were tussling with each other. The third one walked into the bushes. The other jeeps had left the spot, and Prem maneuvered the jeep around so that we could get a best capture of the tussle, but the elephants always positioned in such a way that we couldn’t get a perfect shot. Nevertheless, Prem did as much as he can and we got a few decent snaps. The first image in this post, at the top, was this fight. It was almost 6pm, and we were to leave that area. Spotted few Sambhars but were almost impossible to photograph even at 1600 ISO.

Crested Hawk Eagle

Crested Hawk Eagle

Back at the resort, watched a documentary on the wildlife at Kabini. We were convinced that summer was the best time to witness the best of wildlife and largest congregation of Asian elephants in the world. Prem also suggested us to visit at least for two days during summer to capture best of the wildlife at Nagarhole national park and Kabini backwaters. A sumptuous dinner, and bonfire for some time. Slept by 11:30 pm.

Next morning, got up by 4:45am. The wakeup call was at 6am and the safari at 6:30am. We wanted to capture few long exposure landscape shots on the backwaters, so got up early, got ready and left for shooting by 5:45am. Then Safari, again with Prem, by 6:40am. Prem was about to take us along one direction of Mysore – Mananthavadi highway, we saw two jeeps heading in the opposite direction. He turned on the radio, and we were informed about a leopard sighting. He rushed us to the spot. There was a leopard on the branch of the tree about 250mts from the road. One could barely see more than a yellow texture with black spots with naked eyes, but these naturalists are amazing to spot these while in the jeep. We clicked a few ‘documentary shots’, confirming it to be a leopard. As the tourists gathered, their noise made the leopard uncomfortable and he jumped off the tree into the thick bushes. It left what looked like a kill, and we too left the spot soon. That was my first spotting of a leopard in the wild, and was like a spec at that distance.

I was disappointed, and bored as we drove inside the Nagarhole forest. Few moments later, we spotted a pack of Wild dogs (Indian Dholes), strolling along the jeep track. There were 8 of them, and were playing with each other. Got some nice shots as the lay around leisurely. Warning calls from jungle fowls were readily heard. When we got enough of them we drove to other parts spotting few chitals and sambhars. Drove around the park for an hour clicking shots of few birds. Sighted and photographed a Small Green billed Malkoha. Then, returned along the same path of wild dogs sighting. I had shot full 8GB of my card by this time, and replaced it with a 2GB card. Were hoping that the Indian Dholes, which hunt in packs, would have made a kill, but no such luck. It was time to leave, back to the resort.

I was about to suggest Prem that we visit the place we spotted the leopard again, he echoed my thoughts ‘Sir we’ll go to the place we spotted the leopard again and then leave.’ Reached that place and looked around. There was nothing i could see, but Prem spotted the leopard on a tree branch. He helped us spot it and capture. Leopard was at a distance, shot few frames hand held, then mounted our cameras on tripods and clicked few shots. The shots were dismal. We realized we need at least 600mm to get a decent shot of the leopard. Prem radioed to others of spotting this leopard. Others arrived soon, including those who had missed the leopard earlier. It was barely visible with naked eye, as earlier. We shot few snaps and showed them to other tourists. My 2GB card got over, and i picked another 2GB card to replace. As i changed, and was about to position myself to shoot, the leopard sprang and got down quickly. I missed the shots, but Sam got a few ‘better’ shots. Alas! May be next time.

Returned to the resort for brunch, took a boat ride on the backwaters for 15-20min. Then back to the room, packed our stuff and checkout by 11:45am. From there we left for Mysore, we wanted to shoot the palace in the evening sun. Lunch at Royal Orchid at KRS by 3pm, relaxed for sometime. Started walking to the car the sky opened up, pouring heavily. Trees didn’t cover us much. This delayed us, and since it was still drizzling we abandoned the plan of shooting the cathedral and headed straight to Palace.

Mysore Palace is closed at 5:30pm. They stop issuing tickets, and you can not go inside the palace. No one is even allowed in the premises from 5:30 to 6:45pm. We were the first to stand in the queue to get into the premises, to witness the lighting, at 5:40pm. Akshath was disappointed as he had plans to click the palace in the fading blue light. By the time we were let in it was dark, and soon they turned on the incandescent lights to decorate the palace. It was like a glittering gold palace, beautifully done. There were thousands of people, belonging to different race and religion. We settled and clicked few frames. We were constantly approached by people to inquire if we’d click their photos for money. Exhausted, by 8pm, we left the place. Choco-bar snacks there, and dinner at McDs on highway, reached my house at 12:30am. Monday morning at work. :P

Here are few more images:

Malabar Gaint Squirrel

Malabar Gaint Squirrel

Wild dogs pack - walking in search of food

Wild dogs pack - walking in search of food

More pics of wildlife and Mysore palace to come. Watch out my flickr space.

Happy Diwali to all my readers! :-)

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I was awake by 4am, even before the alarm went off. I’ve got this strange sleeping habit (sleeping disorder?). I sleep at 2 am some days, wake up at 6:30am. I hit the bed by 12:30am, but wide awake till about 5am, and up again by 7:30am. Rarely, of late, i get to sleep till 11am. I’ve digressed enough, back to topic. Got out of the bed when i got a call from Shashank at 4:15am, and left the house by 4:45 am. Phew, that’s early, and it was dark!

By 5:15am four of us from BWS, Shashank, Deepak, Aranya and myself, were on our way from Bangalore to Galibore fishing camp.

The route:

Bangalore -> Kanakapura -> Doddaladalli -> Sangam -> Galibore.

The road till Kanakapura is good, but deteriorates from there. The route to Galibore fishing camp from Sangam is a muddy jeep track (Cars can be driven), and is an excellent place for Bird watching. Cauvery river flows along this road, and one can hear the birds chirping all along this 9-km stretch. We stopped at the beginning of this route by 7:15am, took out our gear and started shooting. It was hard as the light was little dull and most birds were under the canopy of trees. There were lots of babblers, few drongos, woodpeckers, and bee-eaters. I was able to spot a Jerdon’s Chloropsis. We started moving towards Galibore with frequent stops on the 9-km stretch from Sangam to Galibore. We spotted and photographed lots of birds.

Buffalos on morning walk

Buffalos on morning walk

We reached a check post, and we were stopped there. We were not allowed to go to the JLR‘s Galibore fishing camp, as one needs to have prior reservation. Initial plan of trek from Galibore fishing camp to Muthathi was shelved, and we planned to reach Muthathi and Bheemeshwari by road. There is scarce of restaurants around that place. Most of them are weekend get away resorts which don’t serve food unless you have prior appointment for a whole day activity. We had a brunch by 11:30am at Tender Coconut Restaurant at Sangam, relaxed for a while and left for Cunchi falls. Shashank had visited this place about a couple of years back in March and May. He told that the falls had dried out then. We hoped for water this time, and we weren’t disappointed. A little trek got us to the full view of the falls. The sun was scorching and unforgiving. Exhausted, we stopped for coconut water after shooting in the falls. We were waiting for Aranya, who we thought was lost. There was a rock agama on a tree nearby. Deepak and I started clicking, and got few beautiful shots. (The one you see on top of this post).

We were all tired by then, and Shashank suggested we leave for Bangalore. I was adamant that we go to Muthathi and may be Bheemeshwari. It was still 2:45pm!

The route:

Sangam/Cunchi falls -> Doddaladahalli -> Sathnur -> Muthathi -(6km)-> Bheemeshwari.

Cunchi falls - one of the trickles

Cunchi falls - one of the trickles

Shashank was driving the car, and we three were dozing in the car. I was woken up couple of times to check for the route, and i drowsily confirmed. I desperately wanted to catch some sleep. Shashank suddenly braked and the jolt kinda awakened me. I was hesitant to open my eyes. He shouted “Tusker!”. I sprang up, took the cam out and looked out. About 500mts away to the left there was a huge male Tusker at musht. I was really surprised on spotting a tusker around this place. It is not a very thick forest, although it has beautiful landscape. Clicked a few snaps and we started moving towards Muthathi. (will upload an image of the tusker soon).

I wasn’t expecting to spot anything other than few good birds like Indian Roller, which were in plenty, and Kingfihser which we couldn’t spot or photograph :-(. Soon, surprise surprise! There was a Jackal about 100-150mts on the road ahead of us. We just got a glimpse and he disappeared into the bushes. Slowly drove the car to the spot where we spotted the jackal, and from the car we looked around but in vain. I got myself half out, of the window, with my camera in hand hoping to spot it again. No luck i thought. Just then, i intuitively turned back and the jackal was looking at us from behind. I clicked a few shots in bursts as the again ran inside the forest. I got out of the car and started walking towards that place, but all the other guys persuaded me not to venture out. :( This was my first spotting of a Jackal in the wild.

We passed Muthathi, and drove till Bheemeshwari clicking few more birds in the evening light. Got back to Muthathi from there, and stopped there for a while on the banks of Cauvery. Culminating the trip there, we packed our gears and headed back to madness of Bangalore from secluded, pristine, and serene banks of Cauvery.

Birds spotted:

– Lesser Golden-Backed Woodpecker
– Jerdon’s Chloropsis
– Great Grey Shrike
– Indian Roller
– Green Bee eaters (plenty)
– Large Pied Wagtail (plenty)
– Common Myna
– White Breasted Kingfisher
– White Bellied Drongo
– Black Drongo
– Jungle Babbler
– Common Babbler
– Red-vented Bulbul
– Red-whiskered Bulbul
– Black-crested Bulbul (?)
– Black Kite
– Brahminy Kite
– Greater Coucal
– Rose-Ringed Parakeet
– Spotted Dove
– Laughing Dove
– Cattle Egret
– Little Cormorant
– Indian Pond Heron
– Grey-Breasted Prinia
– Purple-Rumped Sunbird
– Pied Bushchat
– Oriental Magpie Robin
– Indian Robin (male)
– Swifts
– Jungle Myna(?)
– House sparrows
– Ravens and Crows

I was not able to identify few small birds coz of my limited knowledge.

Here are few images of the birds from the trip.

My shot of the day – Grey Breasted Prinia:

Cattle Egret:

Indian Roller:

Last pic of the trip

Last pic of the trip

P.S.: Off again for another outing. :)

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Last Sunday along with Shashank and Arun of BWS, I went for my first bird photography trip on Kanakapura road, around Valley school campus. There were lots of birds. Robins, Munias, Bulbuls and many more, that i can’t identify as yet, were around. Early on we couldn’t get good shots even with Shashank’s 100-400mm + 1.4x extender at they were very busy and were getting disturbed easily in more or less open field.

Flowers dont fly

Flowers don't fly - This is what you'd capture when birds are hard to find

Down the road towards the school, driving in the car we spotted few laughing doves, spotted doves, bulbuls, pied bushchats and sun-birds. Photographing them from inside the car is much easier as they don’t get disturbed.

Clicking butterflies when birds are hard to find:

Plain Tiger Butterfly

Plain Tiger Butterfly

Wallpaper version of the above pic is here.

On the launch pad, ready to take-off

But then these Pied Bushchats are so co-operative:

Pied Bushchat

Pied Bushchat - male

Soon, we spotted a green bee eater perched on a pole, started clicking few shots. Then, i spotted a white throated kingfisher on the far side. Clicked a few shots of two of my favorite birds on my first bird photography trip.
In the field there we could get decent pics of green bee eaters. Hiding in a bush, when Shashank kinda was scaring then with his tripod mounted 100-400mm lens, i shot my best pics of the trip of the beautiful green bee eater.

Looking out for bees:

Green Bee Eater

White-throated kingfisher:

White-throated Kingfisher

That’s all folks! ;-)

P.S.: All images captured on Canon EOS 450D + 55-250mm IS, and RJ It’s not over yet. :D

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This had to happen some time, and it did on today. Woke up at 5:30am and was ready go soon. Left my house by around 6:15 am, after the guy who had to pick me up got a little delayed. The traffic on the Tumkur road NH-4 highway isn’t all that good even that early in the morning. The road widening has begun in that part, converting that to a 6 lane highway. Took a turn towards Hesaraghatta main road, after Dasarahalli. The road after Hesaraghatta main road is very patchy, some stretch being really laid out well, and some very bad. The bad road along with asking directions to lake took us some time, after we missed the route for some distance. Finally reached the lake by 7:15am, and we thought we were really late.

Surprise, surprise. We weren’t too late, the mist had entirely covered the lake. We could hardly see if there was a lake. We could hardly see any person standing 10m far, forget spotting small birds! We took a stroll along the lake, and soon the mist started clearing up. Around the bushes on the edge of the lake, we spotted few birds. There were Robins, Bulbuls, Greater Coucals, purple sunbirds, and many more. Just building my birding vocabulary, so excuse me for not identifying many more i could spot. Could catch a good view of yellow-rumped sunbird.

There were plenty of Swifts, and Common Mynas. Also along the lake bed were many Little Egrets and Indian pond herons. We walked down the lake bed, and spotted many small field birds, and identifying them with my limited knowledge is a pain. My delight was in watching Black Drongo and Magpie Robin. There were many Brahminy kites. Unfortunate that i couldn’t take snaps. But here are few birds that i spotted.

Magpie RobinMagpie Robin

Greater Coucal

Greater Coucal

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