Friday, November 30, 2007


For most of the weekend was unable to get out for birding or photography. Was feeling a little different not having "gone anywhere". I really have become a "habitual clicker" on the weekends atleast. I guess it's my version of spending some time with myself and nature. I simply have to do it on the weekend to have a complete weekend !

Done with most of the home chores, was past noon and had some time on my hands!
Was then that I thought I'd go somewhere nearby to shoot raptors.

Thought of a small dam on Kanakapura road that I know boasts of a good number of kites. But then going there in the mad noon traffic and the hot sun, I trashed the destination.

Mom hinted Madivala lake with the hordes of pelicans that had made the news in the papers. But on INW (, there were a few people who were troubled by the staff @ the lake for photographing. Did not want to run into trouble as I usually shoot alone. So this also was dropped.

And the next spot was right in the midst of Bangalore and always provides me something everytime I go there. And did not involve a lot of travelling either. A nice sized water body and lots of greenery around... Lalbagh it would be for the next couple of hours or so.

I had shooting raptors in mind and with the sun almost on it's horizon, I could get light on the flying machines only in some angles... but then again something's better than nothing (had I just stayed back home).

There were a lot of kites around... the Pariah kite and the very beautiful Brahminy fishing kite. With the lovely golden brown wings and a nice white head, it's our own very version of the Bald Eagle.
These are supposed to have evolved from the sea eagles and to this day retain some of the features.... excellent fish hunting skills, strong flyers, well suited tallons for grabbing onto prey !

Got some shots of the kites gliding around.

The brahminy kite for all this while way out of reach for the camera's reach. But when it did start gliding it got so near above me that I almost fell off behind trying to keep it within the viewfinder. The effort paid off with this shot of this lovely flying machine that is called the Brahminy kite

Was already feeling content having got atleast one decent shot. And it started getting better.

Watching the kites soar, I saw something which simply did not look like a kite. Looking closely I was thrilled to recognise it as a gliding pelican.

One, then two, then three of them descended down to the Lalbagh lake.

With their huge wingspan, they look marvellous in the sky.

And with their grace in the water, look fabulous swimming too !

Watched them hunt down a few fish and gulp them down with their pouch-like lower beak. They do like the company of each other and swim around in groups.

Content having seen our own raptors and the pelicans, came back home for a nice lunch.
And then it was siesta time with a very rare afternoon nap.

Adios till the next ride :)


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Mysore n Bandipur Gig

I'd left my previous company and had extra time on my hands :D
Had initially planned of Nagarahole all on my own. But with my friend also wanting to join in, we decided to a mysore-Bandipur gig.

Googled up for accomodation @ Bandipur, and found this neat place called "MC resorts", which I made a booking for one day.
My friend Mayur managed to get us accomodation at the "Cosmopolitan club" as his dad was a member there.

With accomodation done, was time to think of transportation. With my car having some problems, had to look for other alternatives. Somehow managed to get hold of my friend's Indigo (Petrol). Prepared the car by getting it checked by a mechanic. charged up the camera batteries. I almost could not sleep half the night thinking of the days to come.

Left bangalore on Nov. 1st morning and stopped over @ Kamat Lokaruchi for breakfast. With that done, stepped on the accelerator and reached Srirangapatna in no time. Was nice to see the Dariya daulat and sit on the banks of the cauvery. Got to bounce a few flat rocks on the water's surface.

Drove around a bit to see some places and decided we would take Ranganthittu on the way back to Bangalore.

Reached mysore a short while later and checked-in to our room. A nice shower and a change later, we were itching to go out. Had lunch @ a hotel and went to the Mysore zoo. Was visiting this place after a very long time. It's really been developed well and looks after it's animals well.

Although it's sad to see wild animals caged in, they are a sort of a necessary evil. "Evil" for keeping them captive, and "Necessary" to help spread awareness and the need for conservation.

Got some nice shots of a few animals.

Hysterical smile

Awesome twosome !

Having walked a long long way in the zoo, our legs were beginning to ache. Took rest sipping sprite for a while. Was almost evening, and we were planning to visit the Mysore Dasara exhibition.

There was a huge rush at the place and parking was a pain! But sort of worked out for the better. Got to shoot the Mysore palace all decked up with a handheld shot :D

Mysore palace decked up

Managed to find a parking spot and went in. Was sort of okayish, bought a couple of bedspreads for home. Snacked a bit on "bajjis" and cotton candy.
Did not spend too much time in there. Went on to a hotel, had a light dinner and crashed onto the beds.

Woke up early next day morning for a visit to the Karanji lake. Is very well maintained and boasts of a good collection of aquatic birds. Has a nice Aviary with some nice to see birds.


Turkey Hostility


During the boat ride, a group of larger cormorants accompanied us. Was nice to see just the heads above water. They really are supremely well designed for the wet life.

Greater cormorants

Greater cormorants

Spotted the "Little grebe" and a darter up on the branches.

Common Darter


With the Karanji lake visit done, we went back and had a sumptuous breakfast. Done with it, had our showers and started off towards Bandipur. Checked out of the club. The route is dotted with loads of water bodies and am sure supports good bird-life. But we did not have too much time on our hands and had to reach Bandipur, check in to the hotel and then be there before the Safari started.

Reached Bandipur at 3pm, having driven for 1.5 hrs. MC resorts is pretty decent. Freshened up, went to Pugmarks for lunch. Had some lovely fried rice and chicken. Reached Bandipur visitor's lounge by 4:15pm only to find that the Safari for the evening had been cancelled due to rains the previous day :(

Was quite a let down, having really anticipated a long while for it. nevertheless, drove on towards the tamilnadu border. Spotted a few wild peafowl in the evening light. Seeing a peacock is in itself an awesome sight, and one in the wild quite something else.

Driving on, we saw an elephant grazing.
Yound elephant @ Bandipur

And this HUGE male with just one tusk !
Elephant @ Bandipur

Nearby in the trees were the black-faced Langurs. The evening light lending a nice backlight.

Backlit Langur

Saw this little one clinging onto it's mom.

Langur affection

There were hordes of spotted deer on the plains.

Deer with the fawn

Even if not the Safari, was a solace nonetheless to have spotted something.

Stopped a little while to take in the atmosphere. Nice n foggy, taking a deep breath would liven up the lungs which were used to the polluted city air.

Pond @ Bandipur

Bandipur roads

Watched the sunset beyond the hills with it's different hues.
Soon, darkness set in. And then magic happened !
We saw the whole sky with thousands of stars. It's a feeling which is hard to describe in words.

Reached the resort with a bunch of wild boars greeting us at the entrance. Settled into the room, chatted up for a while.
Dinner at the resort was almost home-like. Light and very very delicious.

Setting the alarm early for next day (for the Safari), we crashed.
Was woken up a while later when I heard some commotion. It was a small herd of elephants which had entered the resort. They passed by without any incident.

Next morning, we rushed to the Safari and boarded the forest department's van. We could not spot anything :(
With each turn, the excitement of seeing something would soon turn to disappointment.
All we saw were a few blackfaced Langurs on a tree.

Dejected, we started our journey back to Bangalore. Reached mysore to bangalore in 1hour 45 minutes, thanks to the awesome roads and the very solid car that the indigo is. Completely forgot about Ranganthittu as we pushed the accelerator.

Past NICE Road, was greeted to bangalore with a huge traffic jam.

A nice trip which could have been better in terms of spotting wildlife. But the awesome company I had more than compensated for that.

Adios !


Sangam !

Had been quite a while since I'd really "been out". with James also hinting for an exotic n wild location, going out on the weekend was almost inevitable. Plus, James had just got his Nikon D-80 and was very very eager to try out his new gear. After a bit of discussion, we decided it would be Sangam (Mekedatu).

P.S - The images all are links to my flickr page. If you do like any image, would love to get comments from you :)

We started off on a very very cold saturday morning, all batteries charged, fuel tank full !
Being close to Kanakapura road, did not take long to hit the road. With the sun still yet to rise, had to ride a wee bit carefully, as the twilight at morning aint the best for riding. The headlights aren't strong enough and the sunlight's not enough either.

With not enough light, stopping @ lakes on the sides of the road did not make sense. About 50 minutes into the trip, we reached Kanakapura. There was this one little bridge which I remember which ran over the Arkavati river. So there we were on the bridge with our cameras in hand shooting. The amused villagers were at their wit's end trying to figure out what on earth were we trying to capture :D

@ Dusk

Saw these dudes who were mining sand from the middle of the river. Made for a nice shot.

On the downside, sand mining's killing the rivers :( I remember seeing so many types of fish as a kid here, but with sand mining, the flow of the river's reduced and there's lots of silt around.

By now, we were hungry, and having known kanakapura, I suggested an awesome place which serves fantastic Masala dosas. I dont remember the name, but locals call it "Vasu's hotel". Got in by about 7:15am, but were let down. they did not serve their famous "Masala Dosas" before 8am :(
Anyway we made do with idly sambar and vada. James enjoyed the strong coffee.

With our bellies full, we moved on towards Sangam. The route was pretty scenic with small little villages and lovely lush fields dotting the roads. on the way spotted a group of cattle egrets.

Also saw this lovely little cobweb with the morning dew.
Morning dew

Moving on, we stopped for a little birding. Spotted "Indian roller", "Black drongo", "Little green bee eaters" and for the very first time for me the "European bee eater". The european bee eater's larger in size, has a different coloration and lacks the characteristic "thread" on the tail of a green bee eater.

Black drongo

Merops Orientalis

A few mushrooms gave more photo opportunities. The morning dew on them added zing.



The european bee eater -
European bee eater

Along the way saw lots more lovely landscapes. With the fields having various produce, the hues and colors added lots of vibe.

Sangam landscapes

The road to..

Sangam landscapes

Sangam landscapes

Sangam landscapes


We were really beginning to enjoy all of it. The serenity, the views, the atmosphere, all to be taken in.

Arrived at Sangam, the point where the two rivers - Arkavati and Cauvery meet (hence the name). The place was full of water and the views nice n green, with the rainy season at it's fag end.

We had to take a coracle ride to reach the other side of the banks, which leads to Mekedatu. A rickety old bus greeted us for the 4 or so Kilometres. Wonder how it still runs !
With loads of bumps, reached mekedatu. There used to be a rock ledge that was so narrow that a goat could leap it to reach the other side of the gushing river. Provides for quite a terrific view of the valley and the gushing waters.

Gushing valleys

with some photographs taken, was time to move on to some "real action". Took the bus back towards Sangam and got down in the midst of nowhere. Trekked for about 45 minutes on rocky terrain to reach a spot with 4-5 mini-cascades.

Nature's force


Felt awesome being in the middle of nowhere with no one around for miles together. No sound other than the flowing water and birds chirping, with occasional winds whistling. You really begin to see the real beauty of nature in all it's entirity. Sat there for quite sometime. A couple of dragonflies were mating in a nearby puddle with sudden dips into the puddle to drop the eggs, where the young would develop into awesome underwater hunters.

In the blazing sun, had to navigate real tough terrain to move ahead. We were aptly rewarded for all our efforts. We reached a spot in the corner of the river which formed a slope with fine sand in the shadows of trees. Little waves splashing against little rocks.... bliss !!


Had a relaxed dip which helped bring back some life into our now battered strength. With the sun bang on our heads, it really was getting HOT. Quenched our thirst with the cool flowing waters of the Cauvery.

We did not want to leave that place, but had to as we did not want to stay there for too long (it's still a wild place).
started our trek back to the banks if Sangam. Going was really tough now, with the sun beating down and the uneven surface of the rocky terrain making it tough, had to take numerous breaks to let our fatigued muscles recuperate.

In a largish puddle, saw a croc basking on a rock. Before I could take my camera out, it dove into the water (I'd been spotted! ). Also saw a couple of mongooses. We decided that the plain surface of the dirt track would be better to get back than the rocky banks. After a bit of a mini-climb, reached the dirt track that connects Sangam to Mekedatu. A short while into the walk, saw some movement on the edge of the track. Tracked it closely to find a juvenile snake (some kind of a boa) with a frog in it's mouth. Pulled it out of the bush, knowing that the snake would not be able to bite with it's mouth full and snakes generally do not let go of their prey easily. Was about to take the camera out and click when James said he wanted a clearer shot. So pulled it out on the track, but alas ! the snake spit the frog out and slithered into the bushes :( An awesome photo opportunity missed :(

Sangam wilderness

Sangam Dirt track

Dung beetle

Ruing the missed shot, trudged back to the banks. Took the same coracle back to the banks. Thirsty and tired, we gulped down a couple of litres of water and sprite. With the rainy clouds threatening to break, wanted to get back to Bangalore at the earliest. stopped over on the way before Kanakapura for some landscape shots.

Reached Kanakapura pretty early. This time there was no way we were missing the masala dosas. Hungry, we ordered for 4 dosas for the two of us, not before the waiter confirming that we really were eating two dosas each :D
Devoured the dosas eagerly, they were simply delicious and cost just Rs.10/- anyone passing by Kanapura during the day/evening must stop over at "Vasu's hotel"

With darkness set in, the rain clouds opened. But with us being tired we were in no mood to stop. Drove on in the rain and reached bangalore by 8pm, dropped James to the bus stand where he took the bus to viveknagar.

A trip which worked out very very well, with some awesome shots. Had the opportunity to view nature's beauty in all it's splendour, the unforgiving wrath of the sun and the tough rocky terrain.

See you all till the next ride :D