River Terns of Bhadra - Abhi Madangeri

The loud noise of the boat was silenced by the calls of the Terns. As soon as the engine was switched off, the boat gently sailed and touched the island, everyone in the boat was awestruck by the sight in front of them. The river terns were all around, while the young ones were waiting for their parents to get them food, the females were waiting for the males to impress them, parents with a fish in their beak were looking for their little ones and males searching for a potential mate.

The island was filled with life and we were spellbound by the activities on this small island that was formed by the dried up reservoir of hot summer. Enveloped by the colony of river terns their calls reverberated all around leaving us  confused on what to shoot. No words or pictures can describe that feeling, the only way to experience it is to witness it.

Our journey from Bangalore started on a Saturday morning and we reached River Tern Resort at Lakkavalli by 12.30 PM. The cottages were allotted and we headed towards it to freshen up. The cottage was on an island connected by a bridge overlooking the Bhadra reservoir surrounded by the dense jungle. On our last visit the water was just 10 feet below the bridge, but this time the water below the bridge had completely dried up and we could walk across the river bed, though standing on the bridge and enjoying the breeze was our favorite past time.  

Post lunch after some interesting discussion it was time to get ready for the evening safari. We split into 2 groups and got into the safari vehicle. As soon as we entered we were greeted by a flock of Indian Hornbills flying across the track, then we stopped for a Serpent Eagle perched right above the safari track. From here we split and took different routes, while the other group turned right we took a left to try our luck with the denizens of Jagara Valley.

As we slowly moved further into the dense wood, something caught my eye on the right. On close inspection we found that it was a Sambhar resting motionless inside the thick lantana. We moved ahead and found a Barking Deer behind a small mound, but as soon as we stopped it disappeared into the jungle. After that we roamed around the jungle without much luck, only to be stopped by Prajnyan who thought he saw an Owl. Everyone got excited and started scanning the canopy for the Owl, but were disappointed on finding out that it was a wasp nest.  

After long dry spell, we got a Shikra sitting on an open branch right above our head. When we were shooting the raptor, other group arrived at the place with big smiles on their face. The reason for the smile was obvious, they had a cat sighting, a beautiful leopard walking down the safari track, scent marking and posing for them in amazing light before disappearing into the thicket. 

With renewed vigor we set out towards the open grasslands of the reservoir, scanning the far away line up of trees for any signs of big cat, but had to return back to the resort without any luck. Drive down to the resort was a funny concoction of happiness as the other group got the cat, disappointment because our group missed the cat and excitement because we had tomorrow to looked forward to.

The discussion in the evening was about our photography and wildlife experiences followed by a delicious dinner. Walk back to the cottage was not without a long stop at the bridge, where the cool wind racing through the valley hit our face and the moonlight complimented it perfectly.

Everyone retired to their cottage for a good night's sleep, and early morning everybody was up, ready and raring to go for the boat safari. The Osprey and juvenile Grey Headed Fish Eagle presented ample opportunities for the camera along with Darters, Cormorants, Pratincoles and the Bhadra river itself. 

It was time to return back to Bangalore with sightings of Barking Deer, Chitals, Sambhar, Shikra, Pratincoles, Hornbills, Kites, Serpent Eagle, Peacock, Osprey, Grey Headed Fish Eagle and Leopard, but at the end of the day, it was the River Terns of Bhadra that took our breath away.  



0 #1 Mohan Watwe 2014-12-08 09:38
Superb !!
-1 #2 Abhi Madangeri 2014-12-22 07:17
Thanks Mohan..

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