Friday, October 28, 2011

Weekend Getaway: Malavalli and Shimsha

As we started early on a Saturday morning, we didn't really know where we were heading to :-) I guess Balu wanted that to be only felt. As we called Balu near Malavalli, we were told to wait near a temple on the out skirts of Malavalli. Our first pit stop was a 11th Century Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy temple @ Marehalli near Malavalli.
Kalyani near the Temple
Waiting was never boring in the premises of such a temple. This temple is within a massive compound that has various trees within and a kalyani just infront of it. With a water body and fauna nearby , this was a nice habitat for birds and for us too :-). As I understood later, if we could have gone little ahead, we would have come across a kere (tank)  I really appreciate the wisdom of our forefathers in building such a temple complexes and water bodies in the vicinity of these. I guess this really promoted co existence :-).
Green in Glory
After a spending considerable time here, we moved in to our destination Abbies wilderness Camp. This place has few huts and is has very basic accommodation but truly wonderful hosts. More than this, its the surrounding where its located makes your visit worth your penny. As soon as we checked in , we headed in to the wild and it was time for afternoon trek :-) Yes.... we trekked in the afternoon and came back by evening. Guess we were tired and so the birds too, we just had the luxury of watching nature from vantage view points. 
Two Twigs
Nest of  Social Spider
Giant Wood Spider??
Next day, we were up early for birding had a quite time. After birding as we returned for breakfast we  nature unraveled itself with this. Just a few feet away from the camp, this pangolin's body was all around, fresh , blood dripping in at few places. As I was taking the pictures , the camp's staff informed that its a leapords kill and pangolin must have fallen prey the same morning. As I scavenged the surroundings for any more drama found this lever? of the pangolin lying few meters away. There was no other trace left over there and the killer had done his job perfect!  As we headed for our breakfast, I am sure the killer leopard had his sumptuous breakfast for the day.
Pangolin  in pieces !
Next destination was to visit the other side of  Asia's first Hydro Electric Power Station near Shimshapura. As we descended down the valley in the rocky terrain, an Indica which accompanied us had a flat tyre!. As we were changing the tyre this DRONOG and Black eagle made their appearance. Nothing is for free for sure!

We drove some distance and then it was the time for "Nataraja Service" (Walking). As we walked further in the forests, our destination was Benki falls  as the locals call it, we had to walk quite a distance. There was this temple in the midst of the jungle added lot of color to lush green surroundings. A few  brahminey kites were doing great acrobatics and catching fish in the water. As we cameback, I was not sure whether my dear ALTO will keep its breath till we comeback up hills, but I must say, it held on and did a fantastic JOB!
Benki Falls - I am sure this will turn glorious during monsoon!
Liked the creators Idea of filling these steps up in all possible colors!
Check out Birding report here and Butterflying report here

Friday, October 07, 2011

Butterfly-ing near Malavalli

Early days of butterflying in our lives, we had a good time with butterflies in between birding near Malavalli, Shimsha :-) A post on birding will come soon. Enjoy the pics. Comments welcome.
Blue Pansy - Wings folded

Blue Pansy - Wings folded

Blue Pansy

Common Pierrot

Plain Orange Tip

Tiger in Malavalli :-)


Another Tiger- This is Striped ......

Pioneer :-) - A perspective (Thank you Rohit Rohit Girotra) 

Baronet Wings folded
And, finally this one! Sum called me to watch this interesting thing as she was taking video. An emigrant was struck in the spider web and soon the spider came, it quickly encircled its prey and I am sure this fella would have enjoyed his lunch for the day. Watch this video and a couple of shoots.

Spider (ID needed) munching on its prey - An emigrant 

Emigrant struck in a spiders web

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bangalore to Kodai - Memorable Drive

You would probably call me insane! Instead of zipping past on NH7 from Bangalore to Kodai, rather I opted for more round about route to reach Kodai via Bandipur and Ooty. But believe me, the drive was worth! Zipping past the highways is always an option but I prefer going round country side and enjoy the nature around. With booming highways now a days, I feel there is no real life that you can see when you are on highways, and I would rather prefer to see some life around and opted for singlelane country side routes.
The first pit stop was at Chik-Yelchetti, on outskirts of Bandipur. Truly wonderful and serene place and Subbanna and family were true hosts. Read about the experience here.

Bandipur Forest - This myna gave us a good timeshare
Having spent quality time at Chick Yelcheeti, we headed out to Coonoor. Drive from Bandipur to Coonoor was excellent, as most of our journey was through the national park and we were lucky to sight some wild life on our way. Coonoor was just a brief stop over on the way and plan was to head towards to Kodai the next day. We took Coonoor-Coimbatore-Pollachi-Udumalaipettai-Palani-Kodai route and drive was excellent. Starting early from Coonoor helped as the summer was at its best throughout the plains below.
Rich Canopy - Kodai Hills
We found Kodai, more non commercial than ooty, still has a bit of old rusty town look. The place of stay was at Hill Country resorts, which has quite a huge property and is bit away from town. After doing a quick round up for regular sight seeing places, overflowing with people, we decided not to venture any more to those spots and to stick to Berijam Lake.
Misty Mountains
Berijam Lake is an artificial lake created during British Era and wiki tells that this lake is quite significant from palynological point of view as well. This lake is supposed to have hidden 20,000 years of history in its sediments. This lake is covered by forest area and access is controled by State forest department. You will have to stand in a queue infront of Kodai Forest department and post 10 AM department folks will start issuing the permits.

Mother and Kid - Bonnet faced Macaque

Nilgiri Langur- An endemic to the region

Pill millipede
A Beetle- ID needed

I must tell you, the way the permits are given is quite messy! Typical of any government office.  Make sure you are there early in the queue to get your permits. After forest check post, it's a 14 kms of drive up to Berijam lake and as usual we did car-birding. Initially we expected good birding, but may be due to the timing, we managed only to catch up with a few birds. We saw, fly catchers, thrushes, crested serpent eagle  call, probably its nest also (near the lake), a glimpse of Besra and pipits as well.

Nilgiri Pipit - Female???

Nilgiri Fly catchers- Couple

Thick billed/Jungle Crow

Nilgiri Laughing Thrush

Jungle Myna
Nevertheless, with a decent outing in the forests during the first day, we decided to head there second day as well. This time around we spent quite a bit of time in walking around the trail near the Berijam Guest house/Lake. The only suggetion I have, to TN Forest departments is, they should allow the naturalists/birders a bit early in the Forest.
Mango Slices - Bazaar Street Kodai
With a good memory few days spent at Kondai, we took the usual route back home via Dindigul. Descent from kodai was pretty scenic and we reached Dindigul pretty quickly. After a break there, it was all through NH7 till Bangalore. 

Friday, September 09, 2011

Butterflies, Bucks and Bugs at Nannaj

Three days spent at Nannaj really went in a jiffy! Every outing out there had lot of surprises. Presenting the photo feature of bucks, butterflies and other mammals at Nannaj.

Awesome Foursome!! This gang of four Male Bucks were grazing around. So far we haven't seen more than one male black buck in a group. There were juveniles also in the group!
Black Naped Hare - shot at night
Indian Bull frog???- They were pretty huge! Two of them sitting near a lake
A for Ant hill B for Black Buck .. Thanks for posing
Beetle - Sucking the nector during morning. (ID needed)

Blister beetle - Thank you Deepa

Garden Lizard

Dreamway !
I remember reading somewhere that Nannaj has more that 40 species of butterflies. We were quite happy to spot a few during the trip.To ID butterflies, we have taken the help of book written by Kishen Das and his wonderful site Flutters which is quite informative for amateurs like us.
Rounded Pierrot
Lime Butterfly
Plain Cupid ???
Common or Mottled Emmigrant??

Blue Pansy - Male

Blue Pansy - Female

Daniad Eggfly- Male

Danaid Eggfly-Wings Closed
Danaid Eggfly - Female

Striped Pierrot

Painted Lady - wings open
Painted Lady - wings closed
Peacock Pansy- This was basking in the morning Sun
Tiny Grass Blue

Plain Tiger - wings closed

Plain Tiger - wings open
Common Rose - Wings Open

Common Rose - Wings Open
Crimson Rose
Cabbage White??

Grass Yellow - Not sure which sub specie??
Beetle ??? - ID needed

Finally a Moth - Google tells that it's a Crimson speckled Flunkey

Comments and Corrections are welcome :-)
For the account of trip and birding report please follow this link.
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