NOW let me start...and the start itself was very delayed...I thought that the meeting point was in front of my place at 4 am, so Arvind Badrinarayan also landed up then...and of course, at 4.30 am, anushsh calls me to tell me they were just leaving!
We left at 5 am, and alas, the roads were extremely bad, and we missed our way (as the email directions stated we would!) and did 16 km each way before getting on track again.
The good part, of course, was sighting an ORIENTAL HONEY BUZZARD, and a really fantastic aerial/seating display of a group of SMALL GREEN BEE-EATERS (two of those in the pic above, and one landing beautifully, here)
We finally reached the open grasslands of Mydenahalli at nearly 11.30 am! And even though we hadn't stopped for even a bite of breakfast, the birds did make us stop several times...even after shivakumar_l sighted the blackbuck in the distance, we still kept getting distracted by a beautiful BLACK DRONGO that kept posing for us!
We saw several SAND GROUSE flying off at our approach, too.
All of us realized that we had to walk quite a distance over the grasslands to even approach these beauties; but we made several mistakes.
1. We did not realize (the locals told us later) that these animals are often poached at night, so they are extremely wary of human beings. Even when they saw us at a distance, they started running.
2. We did not think of carrying some water with us as we went trailing after the blackbuck over the rolling grassland. This resulted in all of us getting quite dehydrated after a while...but then yet another buck or doe would show itself, and the young men would start
3. Neither did all of us carry our mobiles, I am particularly guilty. We didn't realize how easy it is to completely miss one's way and come back to the road several kilometres from the point where the car (now invisible behind the twists and turns) was parked. When I finally worked my way back to the car, I found that 3 of the others had gone hunting for me...on their way back, they, too, went astray. Please, anyone who goes there...park the car near the "sanctuary" gate and keep some reference point to come back to.
One of the good things about going with sainath and shivakumar_l is the comfortable knowledge that they are going to produce some superb images, so I was not keen on chasing the blackbuck at all. In fact, I was teasing them that the way they were running, they would overtake the buck...and that would be...er..."passing the buck"! (Several groans greeted this Orrible Jokku.)
But I also felt that the poor animals would not know the difference between photographers and hunters, and so it was not wise to stress them out. Also, I think the viral fever must have been beginning to take hold as I felt quite woozy and decided that I would rather walk back to the car!
Here are the four, comparing images and notes...Anush, Arvind, Sainath and Shivakumar:
A lovely JEWEL BUG which the Mydenahalli meadows greeted us, first thing:
Here's one of the magnificient creatures...so alert and wary:
And here's a nice (though of course distant) shot of two bucks fighting:
Here's a KESTREL which, like the Lorelei, led us a merry chase across the sparse acacias:
The swift,silent flight of a raptor is a joy to watch! Here's a none-too-good shot of an ORIENTAL HONEY BUZZARD:
Here's that posing-for-us BLACK DRONGO...
On the way, at one place, we watched this bee-eater decimate a butterfly:
And here are a couple of nice pics that Anush took with the S3...this one is of a fleeing buck:
and this one is an ASHY CROWNED SPARROW-LARK:
And if you look at this photo of Arvind and Shivakumar, you will know why I was not terribly bothered about getting close-up shots...I knew that that lens would do it all!
On the way back, we took Shiva's dad's advice and took a far, far better route...but still, it was a major amount of driving for Shiva and with all the running in the sun, he must have been dog-tired (er, buck-tired) the next day! We had brunch at 4pm and reached home by about 7.30pm (I think Shiva must have reached HIS home by 8.30 pm!)...I will leave you with the beauty of the misty morning, that met us at the outset of the day...is it any wonder that I love Karnataka so much?
A wonderful, though tiring day; it was a real pity that the next morning, I could not get up in time for the drive to Chennai, and we left late, with a "hot woman" (103 degree fever!) sitting in the back seat so as not to infect KM!
However,one negative note...the "sanctuary" is a shambles, though there are a few sparse signposts for the "krushna mruga".... a broken-down gate, no information...cattle, cowherds and blackbuck coexist, apparently not peacefully...well, we still spotted three large herds, so there is some hope, I guess!