Feb 25, 2011

Ganeshgudi birding trip II

Ganeshgudi Birding II

How to reach – This time we tried out the rail network to reach Ganeshgudi.
From Bangalore to Londa junction (reaches around 6am), trains ply regularly. From Londa either wait for the direct bus service to Ganeshgudi or travel to Ramanagara (10rs on a shared auto) and from there to Ganeshgudi (more bus facilities available).

We did the return journey also in the same fashion reaching Londa and then hopping on a train to Bangalore.

Overall a good option but slightly uncomfortable if you have heavy backpacks and if you want to travel around Ganeshgudi. Well, all transport options do have their pros and cons right? J

The winter had set in, the rains had stopped and the weather was good but 1 thing that plagued us was light… as the sun would come out only past 6:30am and the Old magazine camp having a thick cover of green, it was all the more challenging for photography.

I’m still hunting for the elusive Malabar Whistling thrush that entertains me with its song everytime but never dares to come out in the open! The Great Indian Hornbills are still a distant dream and I’m waiting for my opportunity to sight those endangered birds. The Emerald dove and the Malabar Trogan finally gave up their resistance and presented themselves in front of me their glorious colors and literally put me on a wild hunt to spot them. (It so happened that the Emerald dove eluded me whenever I chased it, but surprised me when I was patiently and silently was waiting for it but preoccupied in other work…!)

Except for the dim light, I had gala of a time birding in and around the JLR Old magazine house campus for 2 days with the help of Joma uncle and Vinay. I should appreciate the staff of JLR camp who help us in all matters and are expert birders, Joma uncle has years of experience and Vinay has got sharp ears and wonderful eyesight. Kudos to the JLR staff and hope they remain the same.

At Ganeshgudi, 6am sharp, I’m up, pick up my camera, come out and seat myself in one of the chairs and the next 15 minutes, sit, acclimatize and listen, listen listen… At this time, the light is very poor and not suitable for photography and I don’t intend to shoot also at this early time. Just sit back and enjoy the early morning songs of the birds around especially the long tunes of the Malabar Whistling thrush. The next 1 hour passes by with the light conditions improving and with my buddies up by this time, we walk around observing the birds going about their daily chores. In this camp water pots are kept at strategic locations that attract a lot of bird that come to drink, bathe and play in the water. It’s a visual treat to watch multiples of them sharing the same tub and also waiting for their turns to the tub. I have had the opportunity to click many birds in and around these tubs be it summer, winter or rainy seasons.

We enjoyed the couple of days with a session of rafting and birding for the rest of the time. The Great Hornbills did not show up as expected and the Malabar Whistling thrush was as elusive and reluctant to come out for us.

We will be back here sometime and hope to catch them all soon :)

Our sightings:
Brown cheeked Fulvetta
Asian brown flycatcher
White bellied blue flycatcher
Blue napped monarch flycatcher
Asian paradise flycatcher
Verditter flycatcher
Red whishkered Bulbul
Ruby throated Bulbul
Yellow browed Bulbul
Jungle Babble
Dark fronted Babbler
Scimitair Babbler

Malabar Whistling thrush
Malabar Trogan
Malabar Pied Hornbill
Indian Grey Hornbill
Emerald Dove
Blue capped Rock thrush
Orange headed thrush
Oriental white eye
Jungle Mynah
Purple rumped sunbird
Crimson backed sunbird
Orange Minivet
Eurasian Golden Oriole
Malabar Parakeet
Blue tailed Parakeet
Vernal hanging Parrot
White cheeked Barbet
Coppersmith Barbet
Rosy starling
Heart spotted Woodpecker
Lesser backed Golden Woodpecker
Scaly breaster Munia

Feb 12, 2011

White water rafting on Kali II

White water rafting session II on the Kali

We were back and back very soon to participate in another session of rafting in the Kali river rapids through Jungle lodges Old magazine house camp at Ganeshgudi near Dandeli. This time around all 4 of us – I, raja, guru and nag were in attendance.

Rafting in Dandeli is directly dependant on the water released from the Supa dam. If the gates are not opened, then no rafting will be held and if more gates are opened, the rapids are all the more swift. So, in short no sessions of rafting are pre decided, the status needs to be checked every day and for every session.

The first day morning, only 4 of us were there and we were taken to the rafting point but as we came back with the same intensity as the gates were not opened and the water levels had gone down. However the same afternoon, rafting session was confirmed and we had more people joining us and accordingly 4 rafts were readied for the purpose.

Post lunch, we reached the rafting point and after the introductory instruction session, batches were formed and set out in the rafts, each having between 6-8 people in it. Every participant has to mandatorily wear the life jacket, helmet and have an oar. Kim, the most experienced instructor was our guide and he ensured we enjoy the session to the core and also participate actively. We four along with Kim and another couple were batched in one raft. First 10 minutes in the raft, you are taught how to move forward, backward, relax, sit down and all the basic instructions. Next you are drenched with water from the oars by the instructors to really get in. Next you are asked to jump off the raft into the water! The first time, I was little hesitant as I can’t survive by myself in water, but the safety jacket that is bound to you ensures you don’t drown but stay afloat. Kim ensures the entire people jump into the water and those reluctant are convinced to do so ;-)

This time the water levels were good and so were the rapids and it is adrenaline pumping fun passing through each one of them and we enjoyed till the end. At a predefined point, the instructor does the snowing activity and that is you take the raft against the flow of water towards elevated rocks from where the water is flowing towards you and all the people in the raft bend forward, what happens here is that the people sitting in the front are completely submerged in the gushing water splashing onto their faces and the raft stays put as all the people are pushing against the current of water. Hu! What an activity…brr.. the rapids hitting straight onto your face is pure fun and it also ensures you are drenched to the core J. Rafting is an activity that needs to be experienced and enjoyed and at best sounds moderate when put in words!
After a long session of exciting rafting, we were driven back to the Old Magazine house camp and Nag was super excited, this being his first rafting experience. The much needed hot tea and snacks were served that were gulped like hungry men never seen food before :)