|Bird watching @ Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary|
Road trip to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
It has been a while since I joined the Birdwing team for a birding / photography trip. So thought it would be a good time to join when there was a trip planned to Ranganathittu Sanctuary. Incidentally my last trip with them also involved a visit the sanctuary.
Once decided, I checked with my friend Dinesh in Bangalore if he would like to join and he agreed after making some adjustments in the work schedule. Santhosh was the leading this trip and the plan was to meet up with him and a couple of others somewhere in a common location and join them in their car to Ranganathittu.
I travelled from Chennai to Bangalore the previous day and stayed with Dinesh the previous day itself, so there are no delay due commutation. We were planning to meet around 5:30 in the morning at Corporation Circle. Since we were staying in Electronic city, we thought it would be quite difficult to reach there so early in the morning. The public transport did not have good frequency at the hour and the taxis / autos are also not so reliable at that hour. So we both decided that we will change this to a bike trip as well! We informed Santhosh that we will be coming in motor cycle. He was fine as long as we can make it safe. We decided to meet near the NICE road and proceed from there.
We all were on time the next morning at the NICE road. After a quick introduction, we dumped our bags in their car, since it had some space, and started on the journey. I am sure the trip would have been complete without the “thattu idli” at Bidadi. We stopped there for our breakfast briefly and had the famous and tasty thattu idli and proceeded on our journey. There were quite some travelers like us who were making use of the weekend to escape to Mysore or to other nearby locations.
Still the traffic was not too bad and it was good drive. We stopped only one more time, after travelling for about 100km, for a short break. The stay was planned at Amblee resort, which was right on the banks of Cauvery. We could not have asked for a better location for a birding trip. Staying in the resort itself will give plenty of opportunities for bird watchers. We reached the resort around 11:00AM and decided to walk around the place to check on the birding activities. We were not disappointed at all. They also had some captive birds among which Emu was also one. But they also had left the Emus roam freely without actually putting it behind a cage or restricted area. That was good.
After spending sometime in the resort, we had a good lunch on the banks of Cauvery. Apart from the dining hall, the resort had placed a few tables outside, right on the banks of the river. This was one of the most pleasant experiences of the trip. Food was reasonably good but have to mention that it really takes a while for them to prepare and bring the food. So it would be better if you order the food a bit earlier and not wait till you are really hungry.
The Sanctuary will be open for visiting from 3:30 PM in the afternoons. So after lunch, we drove in Sanothsh’s car to the sanctuary, which was only about 10 to 15 minutes’ drive from the resort. They have a very nominal entry fee or Rs.25 / person and Rs.30 for vehicle. There is no separate charge for cameras, however if you are using a DSLR and using a lens that is 500mm or greater, then better be prepared to shell out another Rs.500. Any lens lesser than that will not have any cost. Since I was the only one who was carrying a 500mm, we had to take a separate ticket for that. At this point I want to mention that, in Ranganathittu, you really do not need a 500mm lens. You can get very good close up photographs even with 300mm or 400mm lens.
The place is a very well maintained one. The garden or park before getting into river / backwaters also provides plenty of opportunities for bird watching / photography. We spent about 15 to 20 minutes in the garden before heading to the boating. You will have to take separate tickets for boating. We took a open boat for ourselves, so we can get some good photos. The boat ride was a good 60 to 90 mintues which provided plenty of opportunities for watching the winged beauties. Since it was their nesting period, we were able to see almost all the birds involved in building nests. Some of them were even nursing their young ones. It was a well spent 90 minutes in the boat. We finished the boating around 5:00PM and returned back to the garden, where spent another few minutes in watching birds. We were able to spot the elusive Paradise Flycatcher here.
Tickell's Blue flycatcher
Asian Paradise flycatcher juvenile male.
Open billed Stork
Spot billed Pelican
White throated Kingfisher
Stork billed Kingfisher
Oriental Magpie Robin
Pale billed flowerpecker
Indian Grey Hornbill
Black capped Night Heron
Indian pond Heron
Red Wattled Lapwing
Great EgretCommon Iora
Lesser flameback Woodpecker
White browed Wagtail
White breasted Waterhen
Black headed Ibis
Red naped Ibis
Green Bee eater
Red whiskered Bulbul
Gold fronted leafbird
White cheeked Barbet
Apart from the birds we also spotted the Flying Foxes and Mugger Crocs.
We returned back to resort by 6:00PM, refreshed ourselves and reviewed the photos for sometime. While the resort itself is a very beautiful place and lot of birds also call the trees in the resort their home, I cannot say so about the kind of crowd that it gets. We had a group of 20 guys who were there only for party and were playing very loud music, drinking and having a camp fire on the banks of the river. While there is nothing illegal about it, I felt these kind of activities spoil the serene atmosphere of the place. This is just my perspective of the crowds that come in. Others may choose to differ.
The next day, we had planned to visit the sanctuary again. It opens around 8:00AM, so we thought of having an early breakfast and reach the sanctuary on time. To our dismay we came to know that the breakfast will be available only from 9:30AM in the resort. This is another let down for us. So we decided to start about 15 minutes earlier than we had actually planned and have breakfast outside. Thankfully, there was a small eat out right before the turning into the sanctuary. We had a quick breakfast there and proceeded to watch the birds again. This time, we were unable to get an open boat, but the covered one we got did not pose any problems.
After spending around 90 minutes there, we headed back to the resort again. We had planned to vacate the place before noon and were planning to reach Bangalore by evening. We reached the resort around 10:30 AM and started from the resort by 11:00AM. We stopped at Mandya on the way for lunch and then proceeded on the journey back. Overall it was a wonderful road trip as well as a very good bird watching trip.