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Nandi Hills...a fantastic day...

When anushsh, sainath, his friend Manu and I set off to Nandi Hills, we also got the welcome news that Adarsh and Nisarg would be joining us. But as we approached Nandi Hills, Adarsh and Nisarg (on a bike, we were in Sainath's car) told us that it was raining heavily. However, we decided to press on, a decision which was quite correct, as the rain then held off almost all the time, and we had an amazing time. A usual, I found a huge variety of interesting things, not just birds....Let me start with some flowers, whose name I don't know, that we saw...


un id flower Nandi Hllls






I think it is important to visit Nandi Hills on a weekday; the usual tourist crowd is absent and the place is much quieter. On the road to Nandi Hills, we stopped to see some BUSHLARKS and I snapped this cute little TAILORBIRD on the ladder of one of the large water tanks:


Tailor bird on ladder


When we reached Nandi Hills, sightings of all sorts awaited us, not just birds...here's a picture of the amazing BRACKET FUNGI that were growing all around:


Bracket Fungi

(id by Karthik)


And I spotted this ANTS' NEST on one of the trees; Karthik has promised to id it in detail for me later:



Ants' Nest? What type?


Soon, Sainath spotted this EURASIAN BLACKBIRD amongst the conifers and we were clicking away:


Eurasian Blackbird nandi hills 19jun07

The rain had also brought out a lot of millipedes, and many of them were two-by-two on the barks of trees, in great profusion. I checked with Karthik, who confirmed that they were indeed mating:



Millipedes Mating


Well, on the birding front, too, we were lucky to see several TICKELL'S BLUE FLYCATCHERS flying around, and indeed, we watched one feeding her baby bird for a while!

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher

Some of the flowers there looked so beautiful too; here's a DHATURA flower, so beautiful, but the Dhatura fruit is extremely poisonous!


Dhatura flower

As we climbed up the hill, two EGYPTIAN VULTURES suddenly soared up over the crest of the hill, for all the world as if they wanted to put up a show, which they did for quite a while, soaring on the monsoon winds:


Egyptian Vulture Nandi Hills 19jun07


Some more flowers caught my eye and my lens; here's one flower of the GUL MOHAR (or the MAY FLOWER), brought to the ground by the rain and the wind:



Gul Mohar Nandi Hllls

And a SPIDER LILY plant...


Spider Lily nandi Hllls








We watched the behaviour of some BONNET MACAQUES for a while, too; they are endlessly entertaining. Here's one being groomed by another:



Macaque grooming


Somewhere after this point, the battery on the Canon SLR also packed up, and Sainath borrowed my CF card so that he could continue shooting when his CF card became full. The following images were shot by him, sometimes (like the citron fruit) at my request...


I found a citron tree, and found some fruits (one neatly cut, presumably by some visitor) on the ground:




Citron fruit nandi hills 19jun07

(pic by sainath on my CF card)


As we traipsed around, on the edge of the pathway, we found this Peninsular Rock Agama (id by Karthik) butting her head against a depression in the ground, and then scrabbling the mud all over the depression. A nearby cowherd told us that she had laid her eggs and was covering them up, he was right about it, but we felt, looking at her distended belly, that she had yet to lay her eggs.


Peninsular Rock Agama trying to clear space for egg-laying

(pic by Sainath on my CF card)

Even when thrice scared away by people passing along the path, she returned with tenacity to the depression and continued her activities. Alas, we could not spend any more time watching her, and we left her, hopefully in peace, to start her family...

And of course no visit to Nandi Hills would be complete without a sight of more raptors than we had seen yet (the vultures and the black kites..one struggling with the plastic) that I have posted earlier. I told Sainath that whenever he wished for something in a particular syntax: "I wish that I see...." that wish seemed to come true, right from our Bandipur trip last year; (such is the scientific basis on which we sometimes do our birding!)...so he solemnly made a wish....and WHAM!



crested serpent eagle

(pic by Sainath on my CF card)

There this magnificient bird was, right next to the road, and we spent another half an hour watching him

We would have been quite happy with our day...but then, as we came down from the hills and were driving past some road construction, we got this further bonus...we beheld the sight of this beautiful BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE sitting on a tree nearby!



Black-shouldered Kite

(pic by Sainath on my CF card)



I will close with this picture that delighted me, which proves that children are children all over the universe...as my little niece lisped to her mother many years ago, "Mummy! Cawwy me!"




Mummy gimme a ride nandi hills 19jun07

THAT pic was by me before the battery on KM's camera died...I just can't resist the antics of these macaques!
Tags: anush, birding, manu, nandi hills, photography, sainath
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