Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bandipur Expedition

Looking forward for birthdays and celebrating them hasn't remained as exciting as it used to be. But still, somewhere in your mind you will think "how should I start my new year?", "Can I do something special?" etc. etc. If it is on a Monday, definitely you wouldn't want to give yourself "Monday blues" as a gift, would you? When I found that my birthday is going to be on Monday, I felt the same thing. I didn't want to wake up thinking that I have to beat 2 hours of terrible traveling time to reach office; that I have to plan for fixes/releases for the next whole week. I wanted to be away from all this stuff at least on this day and spend some quality time in the lap of nature(again!). So I decided to head to Bandipura Safari Lodge, and booked Jungle Lodges for the first time. My trips are usually not well planned or well organized. It was probably the first time I planned it and made all the necessary arrangements much before the trip. With few of the best pals ever, I headed to Bandipura National Park in the wee hours of Sunday morning. 

BNP is a tiger reserve and one of the well protected forest reserve in India. It is roughly around 220 KM from Bengaluru, and 80 KM from Mysuru. It is 4 hours of journey from Bengaluru. The Jungle Lodges charges 3000rs for one day which includes food, accommodation, 2 jeep safaris (close to 2-1/2 hours each). The arrangements by the jungles lodges are top class and I didn't regret spending 3k for a day for the quality of stay and the food they provided. The safaris were satisfying too. I had a great time on my birthday with my friends adding a magical touch to the day. 

Following are few pictures from the trip. Don't scroll down to look for Tiger or Leopard as they are not the only wildlife to watch out for. (I've been telling this to myself since I couldn't get a glimpse of them). In the recent past there has been a great sighting of Tigers and Leopards in BNP. I was happy to hear that someone sighted a Tigress with 4 cubs by the main road, a few days back. What an awesome sighting it would have been! 

1. A family of elephants gave us some opportunity to photograph them them up and close
2. Meanwhile one of the parents of baby elephant ran towards us to scare us
3. A jeep track in BNP
4. Jeep track on a foggy and misty morning; all we could sight in this foggy morning was herd of Indian Peacocks.
5. A Sambar staring at the visitors
6. Monkey business; as usual 
7. Indian Blue Peacock sits on a broken tree branch on a foggy morning
8. A Mongoose 
9. Indian Roller in Madhumalai Forest

10. Crested Serpent Eagle at BNP
11. Indian Blue Peacock
12. Brahminy Starling
13. Serpent Eagle, another view
14. Always a treat to watch, Common Hoopoe

Monday, February 7, 2011

Valley School Birding, Bangalore

Valley school is a wide area. Though the entry inside the school for photography is not allowed because of some reasons, the area just outside the school is a good place for bird watching. Especially the fields near a small village, are residence for few of the beautiful birds. Here are few pictures from the photowalk towards this area.

Laughing Dove
Common Hoopoe in flight
White Browed Bulbul having breakfast ;)

Juvenile - Eurasian Golden Oriole

Jungle Babbler?

Eurasian Golden Oriole

White Throated Kingfisher waits for prey

Black Winged Kite


Friday, February 4, 2011

Thattekere Lake (Kanive Mahadeshwara Lake) and the route

I had been thinking that I always have to drive at least 300 kms away from Bangalore to get a glimpse of forest until I drove on Ragihalli-Thattekere-HarohaLLi stretch which is just around 25 kms from namma Bengaluru. Most of this stretch falls inside the Banneraghatta National Park. My illusion about this "national park" was that it is a big zoo with bigger crowd hovering inside the park, and there is nothing more than that. My confusions were cleared when I got to see the real stretch of the national park around Ragihalli and Thattekere. Spread over a wide area this place is a home to a giant lake, vast landscapes, numerous water bodies, and various species of birds. There are traces of elephants too.

You can reach Thattekere lake either through Bannerghatta road and Ragihalli enjoying the drive through forest or from Kanakapura road towards Harohalli and then taking a left turn. There are a lot of big lakes on the Kanakapura road and you might get a beautiful sunrise on one of these lakes if you are an early bird. The place around the Thattekere lake is not at all commercialized (and it should never be);  even now in a couple of villages nearby  the buses make only 3-4 trips in a day. There are no hotels around for several kms, so carry some eatables along. During the first visit we drove 8 kms past the Thattekere lake missing a deviation. It is not so difficult but there are more chances that you will miss an important deviation to reach the lake from the main road. The best ever landmark help, is asking people in the village. Follow their directions.

Google Map:

One of the best lakes I have seen in and around Bengaluru. The lake is spread over the forest and looks majestic being situated in the middle of the small hills. There is a temple called Kanive Mahadeswara temple near the lake. There are not many villages and people around. The water is not polluted at all (looks like it is a private property). The Lake on one side has a line up of tall Nilgiri trees and the forest hills on the other side. We walked around the lake to get different views and the walk itself was refreshing. Spending idle time sitting along the lake, listening to the recurring sweet music of the small tides in the lake hitting the shores, the trees making sounds by breezy winds as the birds also chirp, is a pure bliss. If you are lucky, with all this soothing environment you will get to hear woodpecker pecking the tree trunk. We were lucky to find two of them!

For nature lovers, for people who enjoy village side drives, for bird watchers and bird photographers this place is a paradise. Being a nature admirer, one humble request is, please don't litter any of these places you visit. The nature will always remember and respect us for not leaving behind the traces of our visits to it's territory. So please don't pollute the place! 

Following are the few pictures to show the place and few bird life. For more detailed post on bird life around please visit: Ragihalli-Thattekere on Bangalore Captured.
(The blogger has spoiled the quality of the images to some extent, for sharpness)

1. My friend and I climbed up a small rock hill on the way to Ragihalli to find an amazing view; were surprised to see the vast landscape at just around 20 kms from Bengaluru;
2. Thattekere, a giant lake 
3. Thattekere Lake, in the nature's lap 
4. Black-winged Kite, sits on a wire
5. Purple Sunbird reaches out to a dried up leaves
6. Pied Bushchat, Female
7. Grey wagtail sits on a rock in a small water body on Harohalli-Thattekere road
8. River Tern in a delightful flight
9. Rose-ringed Parakeets fight for a tomato, in a huge tomato field!
10. Can easily be one of the worst shots, but sighting woodpecker is always exciting; found this one close to Thattekere Lake
11. My first sighting of Common Hoopoe; The bird is not too shy and doesn't fly away (like Kingfisher) a longer distance when it finds people around; It actually posed for quite a few shots but it was in the bush, didn't get a clean shot.
12. Asian Paradise Flycatcher; There were two of these that we sighted near the Thattekere Lake
13. Bay-backed Shrike
14. Rufous Tree-pie
15. Grey Wagtail takes a stroll as the small waves from the lake hit the shores; with 55-250mm lens, I literally sat very close to this Grey Wagtail; for sometime it ran around with fear but when it came to know that I am not a threat, the bird moved around freely, giving me an opportunity to take closeups.