Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ganeshgudi - JLR Old Magazine House camp

Read the Part I here... Ganeshgudi – A wonderful getaway place

A place we would have rued missing. As per our Anveshane II plans, Ganeshgudi was not even in our thinking, but last minute glitches made me call JLR and enquiring for bookings at Ganeshgudi JLR. As we were / are budget conscious and Ganeshgudi is the only place where dormitory bookings are available we booked four beds for 2 nights at 900/- per person through the online booking portal

We were 4 of us travelling in our Alto car and the previous day we checked into State lodge @ Dandeli town with the intention of safari / bird watching there. Rains throughout the day marred our plans; still we did some birding @ the department Timber Yard (Forest office) and also the safari in the Dandeli Anshi Tiger reserve irrespective of the rains. Hornbills were a pleasure to watch in the timber yard but no sightings in the reserve, only rains and rains.

3rd Oct 2009 - We checked in to Jungle lodges at Ganeshgudi after driving the 35 odd kms from Dandeli, the road stretch was ok if not great! The place, environment, surroundings cast a spell on us as soon as we landed there and the warm welcome extended spiced up our moods to no end. Being a weekend the bookings were full and ours were the last 4 beds booked there. Rains were plying intermittently with no respite and instantly we decided on relaxing and enjoying if the same weather continued, meanwhile we were getting news of floods marooning Karnataka which was a worrying factor.

After a heavy tasty lunch, birding was the only activity we did around the place carrying an umbrella wherever we went. We walked around the place and on to the main road till we were tired and got some good shots of the sunbird couple over there. Evening time it was a good meeting over tea with few of the other nature lovers who were camping there and exchanges of ideas on photography tips and bird ID’s. The Black Panther sighting was the hot topic for discussion. In this camp, Tarantula giant spiders (I hope the naming is right) and a Scorpion family are residents near to the walk way and they are primarily nocturnal. So carrying a huge torch, using the flash and capturing them on the cameras was the routine in the evenings. The aura is such that after 6 pm, it gets so dark and with absolutely no vehicular movement to disturb your ears, and as we are been used to honking and traffic all day, you feel like you are in heaven! The day ends by 6pm when darkness engulfs and there is nothing to do except gulping down KF or savage on the dinner served.

--> Tarantula spider above; Scorpion below <--

4th Oct 2009 - eventful day – The rains had slightly let up in the morning after lavishing the entire night and we could see the bright sun poking in between the trees assuring us of some bright day and time for activities. We drove till the bridge across the Supa River for some bird watching (mainly for the hornbills) and yes we got to see the Malabar Pied flying just above our heads crossing the stream. The big Black Eagle too made its presence felt with a distant sighting only. Near the bridge, there is a small path leading to the rafting point through an estate, we just walked through the path for some distance and birding was very eventful there with many to see and lots to hear.

--> Fairy Blue Bird above; Malabar Pied Hornbill below <--

We rushed back for the breakfast (how can we ever miss it) and all the other guests were leaving, and so @ lunch time, we only 4 of us were there as guests (Also new bookings for the day was cancelled because of the incessant rains and floods that was creating havoc everywhere). With nothing to do, we chose to walk or rather trek around the JLR camp on a path nonexistent with the able guidance of the JLR staff Joma. He was such a wonderful person having a keen interest in bird watching, guiding and helping us all along the way. Salutes to the senior citizen!

--> Yellow browed Bulbul above <--

At his age he was so agile and full of zeal and enthusiasm and he could quickly spot the birds hearing the calls among the greens with precision and we would just be searching where where! May his tribe increase and wish to have more of his guidance and expertise on our next visit to Ganeshgudi. Again heavy meal and some rest, later in the evening we went near the Supa dam area and walked around the banks for some good Hornbill sightings. But rains, rains and rains marred our plans, still we walked around the banks and finally came back retiring for the day. Around the campus are, the Malabar Whistling Thrush was stalking me through the evening but unfortunately never ever got to see it!

5th Oct 2009 - The last half a day at this wonderful place and we were already convinced we had to be here back soon. Our initial idea of Rafting at Ganeshgudi was out of the window because of rains and water not being released from the Supa dam. Birding in the rain was not that fun as they tend not to come out and managing your cameras and umbrella together is a tough task, and the happiest ones are the leeches who relish rains and they are practically everywhere. After a good hot cup of tea we chose to be driven to the backwaters and the viewpoint nearby. One of the viewpoints is on the roadside that offers an endless view of the water everywhere, and we got to know that 4 rivers join into the backwaters. Supa dam is the second largest in the state and has got a huge catchment area of 1057 sq. kms and it serves as a storage area for 4 other dams constructed at lower heights. So water is released only when the 4 dams need them and rafting is possible only then! Being adventurous we chose to walk amidst the dense growth to a watch tower in the middle of nowhere overlooking the backwaters. The sight was simply amazing, greenery all along one side and water on the other as far as you can see. Leeches, Wood spiders and many others were present all along the way and it was a good walk amongst the dense Western Ghats range.

Came back and were treated to a royal mouth watering breakfast and later we bid goodbye to the team who were so courteous, generous and hospitable. But one thought that ringed through my mind all along was – Why are there no dormitories in other JLR properties? Thanks to Joma, Pundalik, Praveen, Mohan (regret I can’t recollect all the names!) for making our stay a memorable one.

The list of our sightings went something like this…1.Malabar Pied Hornbill 2.Malabar Trogan 3.Malabar Whistling thrush (only calls) 4.Indian Grey Hornbill 5.Purple Rumped Sunbird 6.Loten’s Sunbird 7.White Cheeked Barbet 8.Orange Minivets 9.Racket tailed Drongo 10.Rose ringed Parakeet 11.Weaver bird 12.Golden Flameback Woodpecker 13.Green Pigeon 14.Indian Robin 15.Brahminy Kite 16.Black Eagle 17.Yellow Wagtail 18.Golden fronted Leafbird 19.Oriental white eye 20.Heart spotted Woodpecker 21.White breasted Kingfisher 22.Swift 23.Red Whiskered Bulbul 24.Tarantula spider 25.Scorpion 26.Yellow browed Bulbul 27.Fairy Bluebird 28.Giant Wood Spiders and more...

Part III continued here...

Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!

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