Sunday, January 4, 2015

Karnataka Coastal birding


The coastal belt is very rich in birdlife and you get to see diverse species only if you are willing to explore. In Karnataka, coastal birding is not as so famous as the forest birding owing to many reasons and choices people have, coastal birding is more fun when you have the flocks of winter migrants coming in to the shores to stay for a few months out here. My last coastal birding was in Gujarat, a couple of years ago and that 'itch' was egging me to do more of it...

Finally, Amith came up with a plan for the weekend (way back in Nov 2013) and me along with 5 others traveled towards Udupi to explore the beaches and the backwaters around the region.

We roamed around Hoode-bengre, Kaup, Mulki, Someshwara, Sasihithlu from dawn till dusk for some amazing birding and were surely tired out by the end of day 2 covering so many places and looking out for so many bird species, yet we missed a few of them! bad luck!

One important factor to keep in mind for coastal birding is the 'tide timings', low tides are the best time when the crabs come out in zillions and the birds come for them whereas you reach the same place during high tide and all that you see is water everywhere. Also, unlike forest birds, birds on the shore can be seen throughout the day, be it rain or shine. And, the most important factor is to have loads of patience as the birds can sense your movement from far away and tend to move away if they feel threatened or by your brisk/sudden movements. Slow pace and less movements gets you closer to them without any added efforts.

What we used to do was to spread out in small groups, pick a location where you have seen movements and wait there... be it for 10 minutes, or an hour or a couple, your efforts would be rewarded if you have that patience to do it.

I've nothing much more to detail down, will allow the images to speak... Sit back and have a look :)


(Terek Sandpiper)


(Western Reef Egret)


(Grey Plover)

(Whimbrel)


(A colony of crabs...)


(Common Kingfisher)


(Pacific Golden Plover)


(Lesser Sand Plover)


(Sanderling)


(Ruff)


(Ruddy Turnstone's - up and below)

(Lesser Sand Plover)


(mixed flocks - top and below...)


Important:-
Coastal birding can get very hot, carry adequate amount of water and snacks.
Wear a hat and carry lotions as required.
Udupi is about 400 odd kms from Bangalore and add another 30 odd kms towards Mulki
Hotels are available in Mulki for stay and food.
Don't litter on the beaches as they are already littered bad.
Saandip has presented it much better on his blog here.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary birding


Just about a distance of 100 odd kms from Bengaluru is the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. To be precise, it's a pretty huge area that falls under the sanctuary limits but the roads around that lead to and some places on the way offer excellent birding opportunities.

Cauvery river forms a natural boundary between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and closer to Bengaluru, just on its rural area periphery is the Cauvery river and the other side is part of Tamil Nadu. So, naturally the forests around the river basin are rich in flora and fauna and this green belt in a way connects to the Western Ghats (some dry patches cut them though) region if you closely look at the maps in a way which is wonderful continuous corridor we have for the wildlife considering the 'development first' scenario we are in!

Muttathi, Sangama, Mekedatu are the touristy spots on the banks of the river where hordes of people visit and unfortunately where many lose their lives too... sad, but true. Picknicker's paradise, drunkards heaven, family outings, couple's getaway are some of the adjectives that can be used to describe these places. Jungle lodges (www.junglelodges.com) has two excellent properties at Galibore and Bheemeshwari in the surrounding areas of these touristy places.

Birding on the way to i) Dodda Alahalli to Sangama ii) Sangama to Galibore JLR property iii) Halaguru to Bheemeshwari JLR property is good and would yield some wonderful sightings if the observation is keen and sharp.

Below, I'm sharing a few images from multiple trips done to this place and many a times I just would prefer to see and enjoy rather than using the camera :)

(Ashy Prinia)

(Green Imperial Pigeon)

(Indian Silverbill raiding a Baya Weaver's nest)

(a passage migrant - European Bee-eater)

(Brown Fish Owl)

(Baya Weaver - male in all its glory)

(A specialty of this region - Grizzled Giant Squirrel)

(a closer look at the grizzled fluffy wonder)

(Elephantscape - can you spot them?)

Just for the numbers sake, we sighted/heard over 110 species in about 2-3 trips to the region and 8 mammal species including Elephants, Jackals, Giant Squirrels etc.

Points to remember:-
> Wander around in these regions in a group and not alone (there have been some mugging incidents unfortunately and camera's are a real attraction for muggers.
> Carry adequate water and some food (Kanakapura is your best bet else Sangama has good hotels availability for those going towards Galibore. No good options towards Bheemeshwari.
> Do not get off your vehicle inside the sanctuary limits or park your vehicle causing disruption towards traffic.
> Do not litter and leave no trace.
> Carpooling is a better option.
> Do not get into the waters at Sangama / Mekedatu as there are strong under currents and many lives have been lost there.
> Stay safe and happy birding :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Nandi hills..a re-visit


Nandi Hills, closer to Bengaluru is crowded like hell, I repeat crowded like hell, especially on weekends and holidays but the fact remains that it is one of the better birding hotspots in and around Bengaluru amidst the same maddening crowd... sounds dizzy but true!

Every time, I've been there, I keep on adding one or the other new species to my list seen there and the list is increasing every time, such is the bounty of varied birds that you can find atop Nandi hills.

Also, I should point out, other than birds and a leisure spot, there is plenty to see and watch, be it the flowers or the horizon scape or the landscapes that bowl you over or the rich forest feel that you get nowhere else closer to home, truly a paradise in itself.

The place was filled with trash, dizzying amount of vehicles and people, numerous stalls selling food items and unlawful activities happening but over a period of time things have been controlled and the now the place looks better and organized (no where I'm mentioning it is the best... but it is far better than what it was earlier).

Below are a couple of images from there other than the obvious bird images I would have gotten from there, a change for once.

Also, listing out all the birds that I have seen at Nandi Hills for reference.

Sit back and enjoy :)








Cumulative of all my visits, here is the list...
Indian Scimitair Babbler
Puff-throated Babbler
Tawny-bellied Babbler
White-cheeked Barbet
Tailor Bird
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Oriental Honey Buzzard
Grey-bellied Cuckoo
Ashy Drongo
Black Drongo
Black Eagle
Indian Spotted Eagle
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Asian Paradise Flycatcher
Red-breasted Flycatcher
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
Ultramarine Flycatcher
Verditer Flycatcher
Common Iora
Common Kestrel
Nilgiri Wood Pigeon
Olive-backed Pipit
Indian Pitta
Indian Blue Robin
Crested Seprent Eagle
Shikra
Red Spurfowl
Blue-capped Rock Thrush
Malabar Whistling Thrush
Orange Headed Thrush
Pied Thrush
Grey Wagtail
Greenish Leaf Warbler
Oriental White-Eye


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