Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Birds Of A Feather…Flock Together At Nandi Hills

It was Saturday evening and we were observing Earth Hour at our cousin’s place when Sunday morning came up. We disclosed that we had no plans and when our cousins announced that they had plans of going birdwatching I couldn’t resist the urge to tag along, it had been a while. Logistics were quickly figured out even as we vacillated between venues and settled on Nandi Hills. And a deadline of leaving home at 5 AM was set.

Leave we did. At 5:10 though, on Sunday morning. We picked up two fellow birdwatchers on the way and set out for Nandi Hills. I do not remember much of the journey since I was busy dozing off at the back (I prefer to say conserving energy for better involvement in birdwatching but never mind).

I had been to Nandi Hills earlier. But we were so busy chasing the sunrise and Maggi noodles that we had hardly ever craned our necks beyond an angle of 20 degrees with the horizontal. Sometimes treasures lie scattered in front of you and you fail to notice unless someone comes along to point them out.

The bird life in Nandi Hills is delightful. One just needs to learn to listen and see. Get out of one’s own head and observe. We started near Tipu’s Lodge in the nursery area and in the first 5 minutes we had already spotted an Indian Blue Robin hopping around on the pots. Then came around a Common Tailorbird and a Warbler whose specific name I forget. We also spotted a Blue Rock Thrush female at this point (click the picture to enlarge it and you can see a small bird in the centre).

Blue Rock Thrush, F

All this while, under the canopy a Common Buzzard sat with remarkable composure unfazed by our presence. Its stance commanded a lot of awe. Managed to take a picture before it flew away (my camera is absolutely not made for birdwatching purposes but this is more for reference than anything else).

 Common Buzzard

Just as we decided to move to the next spot, I noticed another Blue Robin in the bushes close by. It sat there grooming itself. When it revealed itself more clearly it turned out to be a Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher (distinguished from the Indian Blue Robin by the absence of the white brow).
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher

While on our way up the slopes, we came by a ditch filled with some water and sat there for a while. We spotted the beautiful Asian Paradise Flycatcher female there…what a beauty that bird is!

 Asian Paradise Flycatcher, F

All this while, calls of the Coppersmith Barbet filled the air and Ashy Drongos flew overhead as also the Red-Whiskered Bulbul.

The next stop was a manicured garden that is still work in progress. The place turned out to be a gold mine in terms of bird varieties. We saw many birds from close quarters as they descended on the ground to look for bugs. Some of them were
the Eurasian Blackbird (the Nilgiri Blackbird treated as separate sometimes), the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, the Olive-Backed Pipit, the Oriental White-eye  and a Blue Rock Thrush male.

 Eurasian/Nilgiri Blackbird

Nilgiri Wood Pigeon 

 Oriental White-Eye (the ring around the eye can be seen behind the bar if you look closely)

 Blue Rock Thrush, M

On our way to the next stop we saw the bamboo-dwelling Indian Scimitar Babbler scourging for nesting material in a bamboo cluster. Quite a pretty bird!

We walked along the fort wall for a while after that and one of us was able to spot the rare Yellow-Throated Bulbul. There were many raptors gliding in the air around at this point. A Tawny Eagle was one of them.

A quick snack of Maggi, Idlis and Omelettes at the restaurant and we started to walk down the hill. We decided to sit by the ditch for a while hoping to see the male of the Asian Paradise Flycatcher and we were suitably rewarded : ) . That bird is truly a bird of paradise! Lovely…And while we were at it we also saw a Puff-Throated Babbler and an Oriental Magpie Robin sang from a branch.

Feeling satiated with the overall experience we decided to head back to Bangalore around noon. I couldn’t help feeling thankful for having had the chance to rediscover Nandi Hills. And now I can only look forward to going back because I know no trip will ever be the same again with such a rich canopy to cover the place.

8 Thinkers Pondered:

Tigerstone said...

its time to pack my bags and get out... a trip is long overdue

Anupama said...

Hey Tigerstone,

That's exactly what you should do :) ...where are you heading to then?

Krupakar said...

Nice one Anu, and a good eye for birding details! Just a small correction, the ubiquitous kutur-kutur call was of the White Cheeked Barbet and not the Coppersmith Barbet.

mentalie said...

what a lovely sunday you seem t have had :)

Priya Iyer said...

lovely!! sounds like a wonderful weekend getaway!!
i should try to visit nandi hills some time... have never been there..

i have a little something for you on my blog.. do come over and accept it!!:)

Eveline said...

YAY for bird watching on a beautiful weekend! :)
I yawned all the way to work this morning. You'd think that having all of the evening free would totally rid me of this whole tired thing but that's not the case.
We have a fairly impressive wildlife going on over here...I really ought to check it out.
Happy weekend Anupama! =)

Kusum rao said...

Hey thr, Very nice blog and pics. Me and my sister are also planning to visit Nandi Hills on our activa. was wondering if the ghat roads were safe to ride thr and if u have been thr on a bike/scooter? Did you guys switch off the engine downhill on the way back? Need some tips, Regards, Kusum

Anupama said...

Hi Kusum, on a separate trip I have indeed gone to Nandi Hills on my Hero Honda Pleasure (gearless) and it is quite doable. Some turns are too steep so the pillion rider might have to get down on the way up. IMPORTANT: Don't switch off the engine on the way down, keeping it on gives you grip on the road. I was about to make that mistake but good sense prevailed. Also be careful on the way down since some turns are steep. Overall, if you are careful it is a very enjoyable ride and experience to ride up Nandi Hills. Hope you have a good safe trip!!