Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Madiwala Lake, cranes, herons and swamphens

The recent trip to Ranganathittu had put us in a birding frenzy. We already visited Ulsoor lake in the recent past. We got to see lots of birds and some interesting looking insects there. Madiwala lake was already in our list for some time. We wanted to see what all birds visit this lake during winter. So last Sunday(06-Jan-2013) it was an impromptu trip to Madiwala lake.

Sunset seen from Madiwala lake.
  Like us, if you're coming from Whitefield, you can take outer ring road and then, just after crossing Silk Board, take a left to get into 29th Main. Soon you will see the parking lot on your left.

  You can park your vehicle(4-wheeler) inside the park for Rs. 20. Entree fee is Rs. 5/adult and Rs. 2/child. And still camera fee is Rs. 100. 

Ticket rates
  The lake also has a park, well shaded with big trees. The park seemed more popular to young couples who wanted to enjoy each others company. A children play area and a boating club are also there. Paddle boats are available at a rate of Rs. 100/half hour.

Boating station
  Now back to birding. Well, we read that there are several different types of water birds in the lake. And during winters, the pelicans add to the attraction. 
To our dismay, we didn't find any pelican. We did see lots of purple swamphens, cranes, purple herons and kites. It looks beautiful when hundreds of white cranes fly around the lake in a formation during sundown. 

  Here are some of the pictures for you to enjoy.

A park maintainer clearing water hyacinth

Black Ibis

Cranes and Purple Swamphens living in harmony.

Purple Heron

Beautiful yellow flower

Seed of the same same flowering tree

A band of wasps

Probably a senior wasp of the band

Two cute puppies playing around

The mosque near the lake


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Weekend bird photography at Ranganathittu and Kokkare Bellur

It’s been about four months since we were planning to visit Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary and Kokkare Bellur. Well, quite obviously because these two places are famous for the migratory birds that flock here for breeding each year. 
So, this weekend, 30th Dec, 2012 to be precise, we decided to hit the road. First Kokkare Bellur, then Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. Although this was a day trip, we broke it down into two blog posts. The only reason for doing that is for you(our most wonderful readers) to distinguish between the two places and the birds you can find there.
Sunrise by Mysore Road

   Here are the individual Blog Post:

Pelican at Kokkare Bellur

Kokkare Bellur Village
Blue Pansy

Spoon Bill Stork
Some of the common info about our journey:
Distance travelled: Around 360 Km (up+down)
Route: Whitefield, Sarjapur, NiceRoad, Mysore Road, Channapatna, Kokkare Bellur, Maddur, Mandya, Srirangapatna,  Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary (the return route is same except no detour to Kokkare Bellur)
Leave Bangalore: 5:15 AM
Return to Bangalore: 6:30 PM

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, a treat for the bird watchers

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is a famous bird sanctuary and needs no introduction.  It’s famous for the migratory birds that come here in thousands every year. However, some birds do stay here throughout the year. 
After our visit to Kokkare Bellur, we headed for the highway and took a left turn to get to Srirangapatna. When you reach Srirangapatna(from Bangalore), you will cross two water bodies in succession. The exit to the second bridge gets you to a roundabout circle; take the first exit on your  right at this roundabout. Soon you will get to a rail crossing and soon after that you can find the gate to the sanctuary on your right.
There is ample space for parking your vehicle. However, try to get there early as it can attract huge number of people during weekends. The entry fee for adults is Rs. 50 and car parking fee is Rs. 30. The park remains open from 9 am to 6 pm.
While in the park, you can roam around without much perspiration because the park is well shaded with big trees. The park encloses a big water body. You can see the big birds perched on the trees and on stones inside the park. To get closer to the birds, there is also a boat ride that you can avail. These boats are paddled boats for the noise from engine boats may disturb the birds. There are two different types of boat rides; the common one costs Rs. 50 for each adult and the special one costs Rs. 1000. By opting for the special boat ride, you actually book the whole boat, and it takes you even deeper into the water body.
We took the common boat ride. According to the boatmen, on the special boat ride, you can see many more birds like Pied kingfisher and all. Maybe next time. 

The boarding point for boat ride.

Boats ferrying people deeper into the lake.

An open bill stork and the boat passing by.
We could see Pelican, Ibis, Spoon billed stork, Open Billed stork, Cormorant, Bats and a beautiful kind of Heron (don’t know the type). To our dismay, we couldn’t find Painted Storks. Well, it was the mistake on our part. Painted storks get to this place only after mid of February and leave by June. So maybe the best time to find both painted storks and pelicans is from Feb to March. We got to know this from the boatmen, too. So another visit to this sanctuary was already due. We have to come back soon.
Spoon bill stork

Cormorants and a heron


Cormorant, after an unsuccessful dive.

Open bill stork, scratching and flying.

Open bill stork, about to land.

The elegant heron

Big cormorant

Bats, lots of bats.

Apart from the birds, you can find many squirrels on the trees. You can find different types of butterfly and insects all around the park. It’s a fantastic place to spend the weekend.
Beautiful blue tiger butterfly.

Common Tiger Butterfly
Blue pansy

A Ladybug

An attractive yellow leopard butterfly

Caterpillar, beautiful and lethal.

Jewel Spider, top view.

Jewel Spider, belly view. This amazing looking spider is actually very shy.

Rainbow Skink

The beautiful lake inside the park.

Benches by the lake.

A fallen tree.

The lake view.

The hanging bridge.

The lake and the tree.
Bench under the shade.

  It was around 2:30 pm that we took some fruit juice and ice cream for lunch and headed out for Bangalore.

Search keywords: Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Bird Watching, Pelican, Painted storks, pied kingfisher, open bill stork, spoon bill stork, heron, bat, stork, crane, boating, mysore.

Kokkare Bellur, where the pelicans are

We read a lot about the direction to Kokkare Bellur not being well defined on the highway. It’s not true (or maybe we didn’t read everything J ). The markers start before Channapatna and gets you pretty easily to Kokkare Bellur. However, in case the markers get hampered with, you can try this landmark. While going from Bangalore, keep an eye for the first “CafĂ© Coffee Day” shop on your right.  After crossing this shop, within 4-5 Km, you can find a broad road getting into the left perpendicularly. That’s the one you need to follow. And you can reach the village within 17 Km.
The landscape along the road to Kokkare Bellur.
          When you reach the village, you can park your car just about anywhere by the side of the road and walk. The villagers can help you find the trees where the Pelicans are. Well, we only found pelicans. Other big birds may also fly here during other seasons.  
          You might find yourselves encircled by little kids who what to be your guide. We would suggest that you do not ask for their help. The reason is that after doing the short guidance, they will ask for about Rs. 10-20 each. Now this is not an issue. The real issue is that after getting the money they will fight over it among themselves.  And that is bad. When we got there, the same happened to us and the elder villagers told us not to give anything to the kids.
          Now back to the bird watching activity. You can find hundreds of Pelicans nesting on the Tamarind trees. They come during November to nest and stay till June when their young are strong enough to fly back with them. You can get pretty near to these trees. Just don’t make any hissing or mimicking noise to attract their attention. If you are a photographer, waiting for half an hour can easily give you some satisfying shots.

A big pelican perched on a branch of a tamarind tree.

A pelican perched on one of the top branches of a tamarind tree

A pelican getting back to its nest.

These small ones were enjoying a little hide and seek.
          We heard there was a river nearby and we could find more birds there, but we couldn’t. Maybe it was not the proper time. So we headed back to the highway.
          On the way back, we spotted a crop field where hundreds of cranes and different small birds were roaming about, feeding from the shallow water. There were some ibis, too. We took 5 minute break to see all that. Took some snaps and headed for our next destination, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary.

The field is being prepared for crops.

An ibis looking for food.
          Small patches on the road to this village are sometimes covered with straws. You can drive over them with no difficulty. If you find some weird noise later, just check if the chassis of your vehicle got something attached to it. Otherwise, the road condition is brilliant.
          We got to this village around 8 AM and the lighting condition was just perfect for photographing birds. Although getting there earlier can get you much more soothing soft light, it may be hard to shoot at that lower lumen of light.

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