Hah, that was a nice serious title...but we had so much fun yesterday, too!
yathin had again offered his Skoda for the ride, but I think I am jinxed...at Bannerghatta on Wednesday, someone had apparently deliberately punctured his tyre with a nail, and he didn't have the time to get it repaired thereafter. So I offered to take KM's pet, the Honda CR-V...(much jubilation amongst the juvenile members of the trip, one in particular who wants me to adopt him so that he can get his hands on KM's camera, lens and car!)....but wait..Murphy had no intention of being left behind. When I went to fill up petrol, there was this "rolling" noise on the right rear wheel, with Yathin instantly identified as worn out brake disks. There was no way I was going to take a car with that kind of question mark, out on the bad stretches of Kanakapura Road!
So the second choice was the Honda City. Yathin was called to work at about 3 am much in the manner of a surgeon, and arrived at my place at about 7am, by which I had the City fuelled (wheels and spare tyre checked!) and waiting. We went off, picking up amoghavarsha and prashanthks on the way (and a very rough way it was, too.)
DISCLAIMER AT THE BEGINNING: Anyone who is looking for quality photographs..go to the LJ's of Yathin or Amogh or for that matter, anyone else...because I realize that I have committed many mistakes, starting from using the wrong lens....Remember, these are all going to be just ORDINARY tourist-with-a-camera pictures to help me with the field trip report. There will be no sniggering, thank you very much.)
It was a heart-rending sight for me, as we bowled along the better stretches of Kanakapura Road, to see the upturned stumps of the huge trees that have been cut down for the road-widening. Not that the road has been widened yet, either...I do know how Dogmatix feels, more and more, nowadays!
We took the Mutthatthi road and in spite of several bad patches of road, were in the Kaveri Forest Reserve Area by about 9.35 am or thereabouts. We started spotting a lot of SMALL GREEN BEE-EATERS.
Here's one on the river bank:
We also spotted TAILOR BIRDS, PURPLE-RUMPED SUNBIRDS, WHITE-BROWED WAGTAILS, BUSH LARKS, LONG-TAILED SHRIKES, RED-VENTED BULBULS, JUNGLE BABBLERS, SPOTTED DOVES, COLLARED DOVES, LAUGHING DOVES, HOOPOES, AND ROSE-RINGED PARAKEETS, GREY HERONS, and CATTLE EGRETS as we started nearing the river.
And then our old friend Murphy proved that he was still riding with us. Not even a seasoned guy like Yathin had thought of taking out the camera and keeping it at the ready...so naturally, just as we crossed the border of the sanctuary, two JACKALS came out right into the open on the side of the road. We watched them with both happiness at having such an excellent sighting and chagrin at not being prepared!
We went to the gates of the Bheemeshwari property and contrary to the way it had been left welcomingly open during my visit last year, the gates were closed. Apparently, my fellow-JLRNTP student Nahar, whom I had informed of our arrival on Saturday, had forgotten to mention this to the manager, Mr Pampapathi. So I left the others outside with the car and went inside to talk to him, and was able to convince him of our bonafides. At this time, coincidentally, he also got a call from Nahar, who said we were his friends. So we brought the car in and parked.
The beauty of the river and the lovely huge trees on its banks was so wonderful that we literally fanned out for a while, but then I located GuruDutt, the naturalist at the resort. kalyan had told me that he would guide us to the rare Grizzled Squirrel which now has its abode at Bheemeshwari.
But even while going to the area where he had seen the squirrel in the morning, Guru pointed out several birds...the RIVER TERNS on the rocks in the river, the SMALL GREEN BEE EATERS, the SMALL GREEN BARBET, and the BARN SWALLOWS hawking in the air.
We approached the tree where the squirrel was...and it was a mixed happiness, again. Yes, there he was, and for a visual sighting of a rare animal, it was great.....but the guy insisted on remaining high in the tree canopy and we had to take our pictures through all the foliage. Here are two photographs that illustrate how NOT to take mammal pictures:
sanathreddy laughed his head off when he saw this photo just now and said, "sex determination photo!" He has a point. But the squirrel was a) high up in the canopy; b) right overhead so obviously no eye-level shots were possible; and c) I realize now that my 75-300 mm lens is NOT the right lens for this kind of photography. Add to this my general level of photo skill...and you get this shot! Guru told us that Kalyan was lying on the hammock and the squirrel came practically to eye-level for him and for quite 20 minutes he was photographing it. (note: next time I must disguise myself as Kalyan.)
But oh, well, you can get a clear idea of the large size and the bushy tail of the Grizzled Squirrel, and I am sure no expert photographer would get you a picture of the underside of its paws as I have got!!
The squirrel was running around, gathering twigs and nesting material. If you look carefully at the right hand side of the picture below, you can see the face with two squirrelly teeth, and the squirrel using its mouth, and one of its hands, to break off a twig:
After having waited a while, in vain, for him to come further down the tree, Guru took us further on the trail. And there, on an acacia tree, we spotted this delightful little ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHER:
Though he, too, was rather far away, he did stay still long enough for even a greenhorn like me to get a shot...though I couldn't get him entirely. Here's another shot of him:
After this guy flew away, we went on down the trail with Guru, going down to the water or going up into the trees, to see what we could spot. I was amazed by the circular structures of the ant nests on the ground, which gave the area the appearance of the lunar surface, with craters:
Here is the close-up of one of them; look carefully, and you can see the ants:
Naturally, we watched our step as we crossed these, and just then, Guru pointed up, far into the leafy canopy of a large tree, and breathed, "Owlet"...and there he was, a JUNGLE OWLET, fast asleep at first, but later, after hearing our camera clicks, wide awake and looking at us as if to say, "Go Away!"
sainath....I certainly thought of you then!
We went on, over the forest floor. The others were more interested in the marks of deer which they could see, and were looking for birds; but I, being more of a tree person, was very intrigued by the beautiful shape of this, which was probably a fruit that had fallen to the forest floor and was now filled with mud:
Don't you agree with me, the flower-like shape is exquisite?
I also thought immediately of asakiyume when I saw these mushrooms on the forest floor...she would been able to id them and tell me if I should cook them and give them to my friends...or my enemies!
At the water's edge, we were looking around and these POND SKATERS (some people call them Jesus insects because they walk on water like He did!) caught my eye. Again, wrong lens for this kind of photography, but I call this picture
NOUGHTS AND CROSSES
because of the "X" formed by the creature's legs and the "O"s formed by its feet touching the water! I should have had a macro lens to take a clear photo of that....
And then, as I tried to catch up with the others, I realized that I was missing a great photo-op...this STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER (rather more rare to sight than the other kinds) was sitting on a branch. Alas, in my hurry to get the bird, I didn't realize that some leaves would somewhat obscure the top of his head. But anyway, here he is:
You can see the difference between his bill and the regular kingfishers' beaks.
Amogh has taken some beautiful macro pics of a spider, and Yathin sighted a rare FOREST WAGTAIL but could not photograph it; and we wandered up the banks of the stream, watching CORMORANTS, RIVER TERNS, GREY HERONS, RED-WATTLED LAPWINGS, BLACK KITES, BRAHMINY KITES, and INDIAN ROLLERS, too. (I think the others have got good photographs of these, unlike yours truly.)
Delighted with everything that we had seen, (though I was less than delighted with my photographs) we slowly trudged back to the Gol Ghar to have lunch, and I decided on a documentation shot of the guy who had been so helpful to us. I think this is the only really nice photograph I took that day...I do love the three-quarter profile, and the pensive expression on the young man's face.
Guru has been at Bheemeshwari for the past 6 months, before this, he was at Dandeli, where he was born and brought up...and where I am going on the 29th. Thank you very much for your help, Guru!
The bluish thing on the right-hand-side of the picture is the board that lists the regulations that guests must follow at the resort. No. 5 was that "Guests must maintain peace and serenity at the resort". As I read this,there were some particularly racuous shouts from the corporate group that had come to the resort for their "team-building" activities!
We broke off, finally, as we were hungry and thirsty, and after lunch, decided to return home as none of us had really slept well the previous night. I managed to bang the car against a stone, too, while reversing, and needed a little help from Yathin before we could drive back smoothly!
A lovely half-day of interesting sightings, and great company...I both listened to, and participated in, several interesting debates on the drive back, and came home well-satisfied!