I am giving all the details of our trip here, for anyone to refer to. Meanwhile, general observations:
Very impressed by Rajesh and the work he is doing, on the preservation of bats in the Kolar area, particularly the endangered Kolar Leaf-nosed Bat. (Permission was NOT given to even go near the cave where these bats are.) He took us to see a large colony of Schnieder's Leaf-nosed Bats, a common species, which was quite breath-taking for us (on two levels....several of us held our breaths because of the typical bat-smell!) A night walk when we saw several amphibians, a Saw-scaled Viper, an Indian Black Turtle, some crabs...you will agree that it was an outing on which we saw several living beings that we never see otherwise!
We started from Bangalore, meeting on the bund of Hoskote lake at 6.30am, and birded until 10am. We then had "outstanding" (we were not allowed to sit, thanks to the lockdown restrictions) at Nalapaka restaurant, and proceeded to Mayuri Lodge, where we checked in by about 11am. After a wash, we went next door to a small eatery, where we had excellent gingerc chai and lemon tea, and then went to the Bat Conservation Trust field station, which was 17 km away. We reached there at about 12.30pm and met Rajesh, who runs the trust, his assistant, a young village boy called Anil (school suspended because of the lockdown) and Shraddha, who is doing her doctoral research on bats.
We went out to the small lake just behind the field station, which is called Devarayasamudra. We birded there (there were quite a few butterflies and plants of interest, too) until we got the call for lunch.
After an excellent lunch which Rajesh, Shraddha and Anil cooked and served us, we had a bit of a rest and left at 3.30pm for Devarayasamudra betta, a small hillock. Rajesh pointed out a cave on the slope where we would find bats, and also talked about climbing the rocks up the hill. But all these plans came to nought as the stormclouds broke, and for some time, we just sat in our cars, munching on the snacks we'd brought with us, and watching the torrential rain. At about 4.30pm, Rajesh said he would take us to an abandoned tile factory in Chitheri village, where we could see some common bats, so off we went.
We could not get out the cars for a while, but as the rain eased, we walked through the abandoned buildings to a low stone pavilion where a large flock of bats resided. Fascinated, we watched them for a while, photographing and videographing them under Rajesh's expert guidance.
We returned to the field station where Praveen H N, based in Bangarpet, had also joined us. We decided to go for a night walk along the granite slopes nearby, and it proved very productive indeed, though we were able to sight only one Nightjar briefly, as it flew off. But, very happy with the many different (and unusual) creatures that we had seen, including reptiles and amphibians, we went to Inchara restaurant for dinner (not recommended; very slow service due to paucity of staff due to Covid, which may be rectified now, but everything was over-fried).
As there were already 4 people in the field station (Rajesh's friend Santosh was also there) only Naveen and Mangala decided to stay there (power is also a problem in the area, and it was quite hot and humid). The rest of us returned to Mayuri Lodge at 11pm.The air-conditioning was welcome in the warm and humid weather, it allowed us good rest for the few hours we had.
We left by 5.15am the next morning, and were joined by the others from the field station, and after birding briefly at Devarayasamudra Hill, we went to Avani Betta, and slowly climbed the rocky path to the Seeta Parvati temple, birding along the way. We finished our outing at about 10am, and returned to a small eatery (the proprietor says he's been running it for 40 years!) near the field station, and had hot chitranna and iddli, with freshly-made ginger chai.
We then gathered under the spreading rain trees for group photographs, before returning to Bangalore.
From Jayadeva Flyover on Bannerghatta Road, via Old Airport Road and Hoskote, to Mayuri Lodge, on the highway : 85 km, 1.45hrs to 2 hrs. Less in the early morning.
Location of Mayuri Lodge:
Prop: Chandrsekhar Reddy +91 80158 23090
(Rs. 1200 for a/c rooms on twin-sharing, and Rs. 1000 for non a/c rooms on twin-sharing. They also have 3-bed and 5-bed options, but we took the 2-bed options as we needed access to more toilets.)
Clean rooms and bathrooms but we did have roaches. We did not eat at the restaurant attached.
From Mayuri Lodge to the BCT field station:
20 min drive, 18 km.
Location of the BCT Field Station (a 1 BHK house, not suitable for groups to stay) : https://goo.gl/maps/eLifKdF5i71fTRRE6
We birded at Devaryasamudra lake, right next to the field station and at Avani betta location below:
Sri Saravana Bhavan is only 10 km from the field station, but it had not yet opened after the lockdown.
There are plenty of small hillocks and waterbodies in the area that can be explored.
Selected photos from my Flickr albums:
Indian Silverbill with nesting material
Northern Lime Swallowtail
Rajesh, Sharddha, Anil, and all of us, at Devarayasamudra Hill, just before the cloudburst
Some of us on the night walk
Schneider's Leaf-nosed Bats
With our torches
Morning birding at Avanibetta:
Seeta Parvati temple
Ramalingeswara Temple viewed from Avanibetta
Indian Black Turtle, Night Walk:
Saw-scaled Viper, Night Walk
Yellow-throated Bulbul calling, Avanibetta:
1. Hoskote (83 species)
2. Devarayanasamudra (55 species)
3. Avanibetta (28 species, including the Yellow-throated Bulbul)
Kolar, Devaryanasamudra, Rain, Night walk:
Schneider's Leaf-nosed Bat
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