Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Birding @ Kokkarebellur, Ranganthittu and Kukkarahalli kere

After the fortnight of festivals and absoutely no plans for Nov 1 (Karnataka Rajyotsava day), we finally decided to go birding again. Initial plan was for 2 days, but later had to limit it to a day because of some emergencies. Guru was unwell and as it was a last minute plan, myself and Raja decided to go ahead with the plan planned at 11 pm the previous night. We intended to cover Valley School - Kokkare bellur - Ranganthittu - Kukkarahalli kere and Karanji lake and return back to bangalore by evening. 

Nov 1 2008: Chilly Saturday morning, left our homes by 5.30 am, reached Valley school area quite early. Valley School area: This has become our favorite jaunt mainly because its just in the neighborhood and nobody to disturb. This time we proceeded straight into the campus to the lake for some good birding. Rue our lethargy, the entire series of photos taken here have vanished without a trace and I hardly remember all the species which I saw.. Some which I can recollect are:
  • Little Cormorant (the most common water bird we have seen)
  • Small blue King
  • Pond Heron
  • Indian Silverbills
  • Pied Wagtail couple
  • Red Whiskered Bulbul
  • Jungle Prinia
  • Tiger butterfly & many others
  • A giant spidey with its huge web...
and many more... We spent a good 2 hours here birding, the best part is you never realize how the time moves so quickly when birding. After satisfying our urge for birding here, we had to move quickly to cover the remaining places for the day; we took the route via Kanakapura to our next place - Kokkare bellur. Well the idea was not so bad as feared because 60% of the roads were good but we had to drive around 20 kms more to reach Kokkare bellur. Enroute to Kokkare bellur we saw a small pond where again we had quite a few sightings which included:

Black kite relaxing under the shade
  • Black Ibis pair
  • Grey Herons
  • Spot Billed Ducks

@ Kokkare bellur:

Pelican flight @ Kokkarebellur
  • Spot billed Pelicans
  • Black Kite
  • Black Ibis
and few more, again these series of photos have vanished. On the way to Kokkare bellur, we spotted a black kite peacefully resting under the shades of a tree. We stopped below him and he gave us some nice shots and inquisite looks. We managed to reach Kokkare bellur by 11 am. Here you can just park your vehicle anywhere and go birding, you will find lots of birdies atop many trees and if lucky on the roads too. We could spot mainly the Pelicans and a few Black Ibis only (the remaining visitors were yet to arrive) here. A tree full of Pelicans with their crooning and fluttering give you good oppurtunity to watch them and capture them in your lenses, but kindly avoid standing under those trees else you would be garnished with white paint all over your body. The black Ibis show was distant as they were perched against the sun which made it all the more difficult to view them directly or capture a clear image. The locals here are very helpful and protective of the winged visitors and any wrong move from your end will result in broken bones! But the sight of children asking for money from the visitors is not a good sight to see! After more than an hour here with the sun steadily rising and burning our heads, we decided to move on to Ranganathittu near Srirangapattinam.

Marsh crocodile @ Ranganthittu.

Ranganthittu bird sanctuary: Its a small sanctuary in the Mandya district but the most famous in and around south karnataka. The restaurant here satisfied our appetities which the first thing we did when we landed here. Afternoon times and the sun blazing, birding was not so productive so we bought tickets for the boat ride on the Kaveri lake. Huge crowd had gathered as it was a saturday and we had wait in a long queue for the tickets. The only advantage going boating is you are taken closer to the birds resting on the trees in the middle and the birds are quite comfortable with the boats being paddled around. Not to miss are the huge crocodiles you see from close quarters, this time we were lucky enough to spot some 7-8 crocodiles around. The few winged visitors which I could recognize seeing here are:
  • White Ibis
  • Spoonbills
  • Night Heron
  • the King
  • Pond Heron
  • Colony of Bats
  • Marsh Crocodiles

Well the sightings were not so good, wish to be back here at leisure during some weekday when few people are around. From here we had plans of covering Kukkarahalli kere and Karanji lakes in Mysuru but owing to time shortage we decided to cancel Karanji lake visit this time.

As we reached the periphery of Mysuru, at the first traffic signal we asked for directions from the constable there; he gave us the most easiest route to take, from the signal take right turn, left at the next signal, and right at only the next traffic signal. We landed right on the fringes of the lake with those directions without a glitch.

Kukkarahalli kere, Mysuru: For starters, its located in the heart of the Mysuru city adjoining the Manasagangotri campus. A neat walkway has been created which is used effectively by the walkers / joggers and also bird watchers! The entire walkway around of the park is approximately 4kms. What started for us as a small walk around ended up making us cover the entire 4kms watching different varied winged visitors spread across the lake. My favorite King (kingfisher bird) was very shy and reluctant and only gave poses from long distances; still waiting for a decent shot of this beautiful king. The sunset here was amazing with the winged visitors perched on the trees in the foreground and the golden sun providing the orange blanket all across the horizon. Few of the winged visitors which we could identify were:
  • Spot Billed Pelicans
  • Pond Heron
  • Little Egret
  • Purple Moorhen
  • Spot Billed Ducks
  • Common Coots
  • Cattle Egret
  • Pied Wagtail
  • Grey Heron
  • Asian Koel
  • Parakeets
  • White Ibis

and few others which I am yet to recollect. As it was dusk our plans of climbing the Chamundi hills on foot went for a toss and instead we drove up the hill to visit the temple. The temple remains closed between 6.30pm to 8pm and is open till 9.30pm. The Mysuru city view from the hill top is beautiful especially if the palace lights are on, it presents a spectacular sight. From here we drove straight back to our homes, infact we covered the bangalore mysore strectch in flat 120 minutes on the saturday evening.

Route: To Valley School: On the Kanakapura road, just 100mts after the NICE road junction a yellow board next to a tree on the right hand side leads to the valley school campus. Good roads upto Kanakapura.

To Kokkare Bellur: On the Mysore highway, just before Maddur town, a huge old board to the left indicates the route to Kokkare bellur which is 16kms from there. Roads are pathetic.

To Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary: On the Mysore highway, after Srirangapattinam, a deviation to the right leads to ranganthittu bird sanctuary which is around 6ms inside. The same route further leads to Hunsur, Madikeri, Virajpet, Nagarhole, Irpu falls, HD kote. Excellent roads.

To Kukkarahalli Kere: As you approach Mysuru city, in the first traffic signal on the outer ring road take a right turn and straight ahead and then left turn at the next signal, and again right turn at only the next traffic signal leads to the lake. Please ask for directions with the locals as you are bound to reach nowhere following my directions. Excellent roads.

Tips: Carry water. Food source Bangalore (for valley school); Maddur town and highway restaurants (for Kokkare bellur); hotel at Ranganthittu and Mysuru city hotels (for Kukkarahalli kere).
Overall a nice birding experience but felt more time was required at Ranganthittu and Kukkarahalli lakes.

Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!
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