Shivanahalli Ramakrishna Ashram
One of the good trails for small treks / nature trails / bird watching around Bangalore is the Shivanahalli Ramakrishna Ashram near the periphery of the Bannerghatta forest area about 25kms away from BTM layout, Bangalore. The resident Swamiji, Swami Vishnumayanandaji here is quite unusual, a tech savvy person, he has greened a lot in the campus and the forest patch adjoining, encourages students there to accompany visitors on nature trails, very hospitable and tea/snacks are offered to everyone who visit.
I had heard a lot about this place through bngbirds group and their blog, and finally got an opportunity to visit the place along with Sumeet, fellow NTPian. Residing in the same part of the city, we left early in the day to get advantage of the early rising sun.
How to reach- Take the left turn towards Anekal at the Bannerghatta circle junction, a couple of kms away at the Ragihalli bus stop, you will find the Ashram board and a Ayyappa temple hoarding, turn right here and after 10kms you would reach the Ashram at Shivanahalli. Our first stop was enroute near the Peepal tree for the Spotted Owlet that is a regular there, my first Owlet sighting till date and the Rosy starlings kept us occupied for some time with their flying antics until some crows decided to take over and chase them away.
Had to wait for some time till the guide arrived and we passed the time sipping the hot tea offered and loitering around chasing the Asian Paradise flycatcher and capturing the wood spiders around. We walked, lugging around slowly on the trails passing through many private properties and forest tracks uphill and downhill, crossing small streams and finally reached a peak top to get a good view of the valley around. By this time the sun was up and hot and the bird activity had reduced considerably and we made our way back slowly observing the chasing the lovely wonderful butterflies all around. Overall, our nature trail lasted more than a couple of hours and it was quite rejuvenating.
Back at the Ashram, thanked the swamiji and Sumeet had some donation to do, finished it and were on our way back home. The swamiji is open for donations and would love to meet the person upfront whatsoever the donation amount may be.
Bird & Butterfly checklist-
Asian Paradise Flycatcher
Plum headed Parakeet
Crimson backed Sunbird
Purple rumped Sunbird
Oriental White Eye
Bay backed Shrike
Green bee Eater
White cheeked Barbet
White breasted KF
Pale billed Flowerpecker
Common Hedge Blue
Plain Grass Blue
Deepa Mohan and Vaibhav have some wonderful write-ups and lots of information about Shivanahalli, Ragihalli and more... Check them out :)