Monday, August 12, 2013

Trip to CWLS

I Had very busy last few weeks with lot of work at office. I was eagerly waiting for this long weekend to cool off in some fresh air. The only problem being most of my friends had planned for long weekend trips and all I had was 1 day to spare for going out. But still that was enough to blow off some steam:-)

Most of my birding friends were busy during the weekend except for Ajit. Raghu went for long weekend birding trip to Mysore and surroundings. Me and Ajit planned to visit Bheemeshwari and surroundings for one day birding. Raghu had drove through Kanakpura road and had reported sightings of 3 Red necked falcons and this was near Malavalli. We were hoping to see some raptors ourselves while driving through the forest and this reporting of falcon just increased my anxiety.

We started at 5:30 in the morning, Ajit picked me from my house. Near one of the lakes before Harohalli we saw atleast 25 Spot Billed Pelicans and around 10 Painted Storks. After a very long time I was seeing such a huge congregation of pelicans.

Spot Billed Pelican

We reached Sathanur around 7AM. From there the drive was good for birding but the road condition was not that good. One way it is better that it doesn't encourage lot of us to drive through this road more often.

Our first raptor sighting for the day was a Red necked falcon. The light was not that good for photography. At first we thought it was a kestrel because of its size and were confused of seeing him at this time of the year. But later when we got a good look of him then we realized we were wrong and it was indeed a falcon. I'm not sure how often it is seen here but I was very happy to see this bird. This being my first sighting of this bird :-) This fellow kept chasing the crows, don't know what was that all about. Another behavior that we saw is, the bird coming down to the ground often. Maybe it was trying to eat some insects on the ground? I'm not sure.

Red Necked Falcons

Red Necked falcon chasing crow

Before the forest started we saw a checkpost which was closed, I had not seen this when we visited last time around. Now the allowed timings into the forest is only after 6AM. And near the checkpost there was a mandatory checking of all the vehicles for liquor. I think this is a very good initiative from the forest department. Each and every vehicle gets checked including the 2 wheelers.

Our next interesting sighting of the day was a very Large sized Pigeon. It looks like Green Imperial Pigeon but not sure of the exact ID. I hope to get it confirmed from the experts. It looked really huge in its size, It was a lone bird sitting on top of a tree. Just took couple of poor photographs to get the ID and then moved on.

Green Imperial Pigeon?

Next we saw few Swallows and White Browed Bulbuls taking bath in small ponds which were formed on the road. And then after driving for a while we stopped to see an interesting tree spotted by Ajit and meanwhile I saw 3 Yellow Footed Green Pigeons. By the time Ajit came they flew away. This is the second time seeing this bird and our first sighting was in the same region too. Very cute birds.

Indian Roller

White Browed Bulbul

Yellow Footed Green Pigeon

Bay Backed Shrike

Yellow Eyed Babbler


Our next stop was when we saw a huge raptor coming down and sitting on a tree right next to the road. We stopped our car to check the bird. Before we could get out, a fellow came in a bicycle and scared away the birds. In next 5 minutes we could see atleast 8 Tawny eagles there. Again I'm not sure the reason for such a big congregation of these raptors. The cycle guy then hid his cycle in the bushes very smartly and went on to graze the cows. It was right in the forest. We also saw another raptor a little far away which looked like White Eyed Buzzard but later ID'ed as Short Toed Snake Eagle. It was there sitting for a long time basking in the morning sun. We left the place hoping to see more of these majestic raptors ahead.

Short Toed Snake Eagle

Tawny Eagle
Our next stop was for breakfast. My wife had prepared chapatis for breakfast. Had a sumptuous breakfast and before we started Plum Headed Parakeet decided to give us a visit. This was the second time I was seeing this bird in the wild. And my first photograph of the same.

Plum Headed Parakeet

Common Iora

We visited the forest office near Muthathi and enquired if there are any treks conducted by the forest department for which we were told to enquire more at Kanakpura office.

We decided to stop and do birding at a small stretch which turned out to be an amazing stop. Our first sighting there was a Tickell's Blue Flycatcher and then we saw another amazing bird which I was longing to see for a long time. It was the Lesser Fish Eagle. This fellow was just waiting for its lunch, waiting to pounce on fishes. We waited there for a long time without disturbing him to see if he catches any fish. We waited for about 20-30min and then decided to walk a little ahead. There we saw a Brown Fish Owl. It was my second sighting of this bird and in the same region.

When we returned to the spot where we had seen the Fish Eagle, we saw couple of bikers there with the bikes exactly at the same spot where the eagle was waiting. I was sure those guys would have scared them away :-( We just hoped that it was disturbed only after getting its lunch. When we were about to leave we saw the Jungle Owlet. Then we were given a visit by couple of Common Hawk Cuckoo's.

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher

Lesser Fish Eagle

Common Hawk Cuckoo

Jungle Owlet

In the river we saw couple of boats carrying people. The water current was very strong but still I saw people getting into the water just holding the rope of the boat. They were wearing the life jackets but still I could not believe people doing it with such a strong river current.

List of birds seen during the day.

1. Common Crow
2. Jungle Crow
3. Black Kite
4. Black Winged Kite
5. Spot Billed Pelicans
6. Painted Storks
7. Common Coots
8. Little Egrets
9. Purple Moorehen
10. Pond Heron
11. Red Whiskered Bulbul
12. Red Vented Bulbul
13. White Browed Bulbul
14. Yellow Eyed Babbler
15. Red Rumped Swallow
16. White Browed Wagtail
17. Scaly Breasted Munia
18. Indian Silverbill
19. Baya weavers
20. Rock Pigeon
21. Yellow Footed Green Pigeon
22. Green Imperial Pigeon?
23. Spotted Dove
24. Laughing Dove
25. Common Iora
26. Purple Sunbird
27. Hoopoe
28. Indian Roller
29. Rose Ringed Parakeet
30. Plum Headed Parakeet
31. Green Bea Eater
32. Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
33. Brown Fish Owl
34. Jungle Owlet
35. Red Necked Falcon
36. Lesser Fish Eagle
37. Tawny Eagle
38. Short Toed Snake Eagle?
39. Peacock
40. Bay Backed Shrike
41. Yellow Billed Babbler
42. Jungle Babbler
43. Large Grey Babbler
44. Purple Heron
45. Rufous Treepie
46. Greater Coucal
47. Red Wattled Lapwing