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Ganeshgudi : A Bird Paradise - Abhi Madangeri

Most of the participants were traveling for the first time to North Karnataka and they were totally clueless about the place and its offerings. Everything that would unfold in the next two days was completely new and there was childlike excitement in the bus. We hit the bed as soon as we crossed the busy city traffic and left the noise and lights of city behind. 

 

On a beautifully chilled Saturday morning we got down at Dandeli and headed towards a small hotel for some hot cup of tea. After the short tea break, we hit the road again to head towards our final destination, Ganeshgudi - The Bird Paradise.

Old Magazine House is an old place which was built for the purpose of storing dynamites during the construction of the nearby Supa Dam. The place which is surrounded by thick forest is now converted to a resort managed by JLR and is a bird watchers dream come true. We reached this place hours before our check-in time and that really didn't matter as we actually entered our cottages with luggage only after the sun went down. The whole day was spent around the main area where all the birding happens. Yes, that means we had our bath only in the evening, none of us got time for things like sleep, rest or bath, as the birds and other activities kept us busy all throughout the day. 

We did brush our teeth, but even that was interrupted by the first visitor of the day, an Emerald Dove. The dove flew away before we got our cameras out with toothbrush in our mouth. The first visitor made the first timers completely aware of the magic of this place. Everyone hurried to freshen up and within no time everybody was ready with their cameras waiting for the next visitor. A brief silence was broken by the call of a White Rumped Shama which provided ample oppurtunities for a good photograph.

After clicking Shama to our hearts content, we had a delicious and quick breakfast. Post breakfast, it was birds and birds everywhere. Everybody went wild seeing birds like Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Eurasian Blackbird, Orange Headed Ground Thrush, Brown Cheeked Fulvetta, Yellow Browed bulbul, Red Whiskered Bulbul, Reed Warbler, Ruby Throated Bulbul, Blue Capped Rock Thrush, Black Drono, Black Throated Munia, Oriental White-eye, Black Naped Monarch, Grey Wagtail and Little Spider-hunter. When the birds disappeared, a Malabar Giant Squirrel kept us company, while a noisy Lesser Yellow Naped Woodpecker made us run all over the property. A Verditer Flycatcher and a Velvet Fronted Nuthatch also paid a short visit. 

After a heavy lunch, everyone went for rafting in the Kali river, while I stayed back to spend time with the birds. The birds we had seen in the first session kept coming to the bird bath, but the new species sighted during the evening session were Black Lored Tit, Golden Fronted Leafbird, Indian Pitta, Dark Fronted Babbler, Streak Throated Babbler, White Bellied Blue Flycatcher and Indian Blue Robin.

By the time the excited bunch who were all pumped up after a refreshing session of rafting returned to the camp, the sun had disappeared behind the tall trees. At last it was time for some hot water bath and we gathered again at the camp fire for some nice discussion on photography and nature. Post dinner we retired to our cottages for the much needed sleep.

We spotted an Emerald Dove, Grey Hornbill and lots of Scarlet Minivets during the early morning walk but couldn't get any pictures as they were perched high up on the canopy. Morning walk was followed by breakfast and the birding around bird bath continued. The alarm calls of Malabar Giant Squirrel alerted us of a Serpent Eagle patrolling the area. A flock of Plum Headed Parakeets were seen at the edge of a tall tree and a Crimson Sunbird kept flying around with quick stops here and there. All of a sudden the activity around the bird bath began and everyone was glued to the viewfinder while I was busy shooting a Spider on a tree trunk. I was happy to see the photography tips shared during the session was being followed and now everyone was composing their frame and shooting with a lot more patience. 

A few hours of sunlight was left and we had to decide whether to continue it at Ganeshgudi or move to Timber Depot at Dandeli to photograph the Hornbills. Eventually, we decided to go for the Hornbills and the Great Hornbill was high on our list. On our way to the Timber Depot we saw a small Rat Snake crossing the road and a few hundred feet away from the snake sighting, we had our first sighting of the Great Hornbill. The sound of its flapping wings reverberrated all around and the excitement to reach the Timber Depot doubled.

As soon as we reached the depot, we were dumbstruck by the sight and sound of the tree filled with Hornbills. Hornbills are noisy birds and this noise brings the Fig tree to life during the fruiting season. The tree was filled with Pompadour Green Pigeons and Yellow Footed Green Pigeons apart from the Grey, Malabar Pied and a couple of Great Indian Hornbills. 

As the sun set, it was time to get back home. The engine started, lights went off and the curtains were drawn, as the bus started for Bangalore. Throughout the night as the moonlight peeped through the window, we kept looking at it and closed our eyes to get some sleep, all we could here were the calls of birds, all we could see were the myriad colors.

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Comments  

0 #1 Kiran Kashyap 2014-12-18 18:37
Nice report..! Am visiting this place next week, anticipating a good trip.
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-1 #2 Abhi Madangeri 2014-12-19 05:13
Thanks Kiran.. Ganeshgudi never disappoints.. Don't forget to carry a tripod and minimum 400mm is required.. Have a great trip.
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