Friday, January 6, 2012

Ganeshgudi JLR camp - Team outing

Part I of my long / mega trip of 2 weeks done during Nov-Dec 2011.


The highlight of the trip was that all 4 of us were present after a long time and all the more merrier as Raja accompanying us very soon after his wedding, thanks to his wife :)
Me and Raja went a day early and Guru and Nag joined us the next day. We took the KSRTC Volvo to Dharwad and NWKRTC local buses from there to Dandeli as I was keen on visiting the Timber depot for some bird watching. Thanks to the build up of traffic and a mini accident on the highway, we reached more than an hour late and after the mandatory breakfast at 'Hotel Santosh' and dropping off our luggage in the 'States lodge', we proceeded straight towards the Timber depot area.
The Pied Hornbills were all over the place, especially the fig tree at the entrance with loads of fig and probably we saw around 15-20 of these birds congregated near the tree and giving them company were the Bulbuls, Koel, Sunbirds, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Egrets and the Malabar Giant Squirrel - it probably was sort of a congregation of variety of birds on a single tree. As we ventured inside and around the park, the activity was few and far as the trees bore no fruits but a lone Common Kestrel kept us busy for some time hunting grasshoppers from the ground.
After a good session here, picked up our bags and went straight to OMH camp where Parshuram and team were waiting for us to arrive. After exchanging pleasantries and freshening, immediately started our birding activity. Winter time is always good as the birds are quite active throughout the day and they keep visiting the bird baths kept all through the day. Quick and heavy lunch later, I was all over the place trying to catch a glimpse of the elusive but beautiful and elegant male species of the Asian Paradise flycatcher that looks like a ghost flying around with its bright white body and long dual tail that always amazes me no end.
All along the light was good and sufficient but post 4pm, the light started dropping and it is a challenge photographing in low light conditions. The lights turns bad as the camp is surrounded by thick forests and high canopies thus preventing light to sneak through. If you closely observe, most of the snaps have got the noise effect visible on them (i.e., grainy pixels) and I also attribute this to the high ISO value I was using.


The next day as usual I was up early than the rest and was busy sitting out in the open and listening to the wonderful song of the Malabar Whistling Thrush as the Orange thrush was hopping all around me. Forget photographing, sometimes observing them itself gives you so much joy! Me and Raja opted for the boat ride post breakfast hoping to catch the elusive Great Indian Hornbill or the Black capped Kingfisher but to no avail! Back at the camp, Nag and Guru arrived travelling by the train and it was indeed good to see them there.
Presence of the Malabar Trogan made me run amok on a wild goose chase and finally got a sight of the elusive beauty and trailed it for more than an hour tracking amidst the thick canopy hoping it would pop out into the open, alas it didn't and preferred to stay in the thick foliage. In the meanwhile met Dayananda, Satisha and couple of other fellow birders and photographers from Bangalore and it was good meeting up them there. Birding was very fruitful with the Malabar Trogon making repeated appearances and the Emerald Dove, Thrushes and the Flycatchers posing for us. Post evening campfire, a sit out with snacks and then a heavy dinner ensured we all get sound sleep in the cozy bunkers of the camp. Slowly but surely the clear weather was changing and it was turning cloudy making light disappear all the more faster!
Next day after the routing early wake up and birding session and the breakfast later, we hired a trax to visit the "Syntheri Rocks" that I intend to cover in a separate post soon. Probably we were venturing out of the camp to any other tourist spot for the first time in our many visits. On our way back on the roadside, an lone Indian Jackal greeted us and vanished into the thickets hearing the sound of the trax we were travelling in. Jackals have always caught us by surprise and never ever have given us a good chance to spend time with them.
Post lunch, we met Dr Ravi, Sadat and Vinay all with big cameras and bazooka lenses out there to capture everything on offer. With clouds looming large, the afternoon was spent around the camp loitering around and birding, the session was a mixed bag as by now there were 8-10 of us shooting together and I personally chose to shoot from a distance w/o wanting to disturb the bird or venturing too close to it. Post evening again the campfire, sit out and snacks and finally dinner to close the day.


I personally love the time spent with boys during the evenings or while on walks cracking silly jokes, poking fun at each other, discussions and sometimes going overboard. We particularly had a good time there with the staff laughing the butts out of ourselves and stopped only when our stomachs started aching :) Good times and I hope they last forever...
Next day, prior to the departure of Raja, Guru and Nag, we were up early and visited a couple of other camps nearby, the Bison river resort and the Hornbill camp in search of the elusive Great Hornbills and raptors that were being seen there regularly, but with the dark clouds hovering we were to return disappointed after stopping over at the bridge area for some time.
Post breakfast, the boys departed towards home and I stayed back as I was scheduled to leave only by evening towards Mysore on the way to Bandipura. Dayananda and team also left the place as they had to drive back till Bangalore. Post lunch the light conditions dramatically improved and we got to see good display of the thrushes, flycatchers, emerald doves and the many other little one's around. 
A sudden call of the Trogon sighting made all of us run and the next hour or so was spent in tracking the elusive one. Rains hampered the activity as I hurriedly got back to leave towards my next destination.
Parshuram, Joma, Anand, Singh, Vinay, Mylari and the others have been very helpful to us as always and continue to do that whenever we are there. A heartfelt thanks to the team there from all of us, its a pleasure being out there!


From Ganeshgudi in the north of the state, I traveled to Mysore via Dharwad and further towards Bandipura National Park to the southern part of the state where I would be spending the next 4-5 days in wilderness :)


Bird checklist:-

1 Malabar Pied Hornbill
2 Malabar Grey Hornbill
3 White Breasted Kingfisher
4 Common Kingfisher
5 Grey Wagtail
6 Pied Wagtail
7 Brown Cheeked Fulvetta
8 Orange Minivet
9 Crimson Backed Sunbird
10 Purple Rumped Sunbird
11 Emerald Dove
12 Vernal Hanging Parrot
13 Rose Ringed Parakeet
14 Plum Headed Parakeet
15 Malabar Parakeet
16 Rock Pigeon
17 White Rumped Shama
18 Oriental White Eye
19 Wooly Necked Stork
20 White Cheeked Barbet
21 Chestnut Tailed Starling
22 Golden Fronted Leafbird
23 Chestnut Headed Bee Eater
24 Eurasian Golden Oriole
25 White Breasted Waterhen
26 Barn Swallows
27 Jungle Fowl
28 Banded Bay Cuckoo
29 Black Lored Yellow Tit
30 Velvet Fronted Nuthatch
31 Hill Mynah
32 Jungle Mynah
33 Common Mynah
34 Brahminy Mynah
35 Common Iora
36 Blyth's Reed Warbler
37 Ashy Drongo
38 White Bellied Drongo
39 Black Drongo
40 Racquet Tailed Drongo
41 Red Whishkered Bulbul
42 Red Vented Bulbul
43 Yellow Browed Bulbul
44 Ruby Throated Bulbul
45 Asian Koel
46 Black Headed Munia
47 Puff Throated Babbler
48 Dark Fronted Babbler
49 Scimitair Babbler (Call)
50 Jungle Babbler
51 Common Flameback Woodpecker
52 Rufous Woodpecker
53 White Bellied Black Woodpecker (Call)
54 Blue Capped Rock Thrush
55 Orange Headed Thrush
56 Malabar Whistling Thrush
57 Asian Paradise Flycatcher
58 White Bellied Blue Flycatcher
59 Tickells Blue Flycatcher
60 Bar Winged Flycatcher Shrike
61 Asian Brown Flycatcher
62 Black Naped Monarch Flycatcher
63 Verditer Flycatcher
64 Kestrel
65 Malabar Trogan
66 Spotted Dove
67 Laughing Dove
68 Pond Heron
69 Brahminy Kite
70 Black Kite
71 House Crow
72 Jungle Crow
73 Indian Pitta (Call)
74 Little Cormorant
75 Darter
76 Common Coot

Mammals and Others

1 Malabar Giant Squirrel
2 Indian Jackal
3 Water Snake (unidentified)
4 Scorpion
5 Tarantula Spider
6 Barking Deer (Call)
7 Leopard (Call)
8 Draco Lizard

More images in my Facebook album here :)
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