It was really tough, after getting back home at 1.45pm after our monthly QuizFamilies meet, to wake up again at 5am, to go to Turahalli; but Chandan had been talking about his trekking trips for so long that I was determined to go on one with him!
Chandan was a little worried about whether KM and I would be able to make it up the slope…but he need not have worried, as the slope was a very, very gentle one, and in any case, we were ambling up and down, as we kept looking for birds!
For me, any trip into the forest/wild areas has both the bird and the non-bird components; the two together make up the whole experience, so if one is disappointing, the other generally makes up! The trip to Turahalli was, primarily, to enjoy the beauty of the landscape, but the birds didn’t let us down (though the bird photography part was pathetic!) Let me discuss the bird component first:
This started off on a really awesome note. We had hardly stepped out of the car and on to the slope of the path that led to the Munishwara temple when we sighted the Eurasian Eagle Owl, sitting quite a way from us in the early morning light. Of course, there was no opportunity to take anywhere near a decent shot, but since, for me, the documentation is the most important part of bird photography, I have no problems in including two of my terrible shots. One is practically a silhouette that only a committed bird-watcher could recognize as the EURASIAN EAGLE OWL (click on the words for a much better picture!):
Here’s the same pic, slightly zoomed and cropped; it’s terribly grainy, but at least one can make out that the subject IS the owl:
In this pic, that slightly different blob of grey, somewhat different from the grey of the rock, at the base of the two young trees, is the owl:
Wouldn't I have *loved* to get a great photograph of this bird and generally flaunt it around birding circles! :)
We did manage to see quite a variety of birds; but the photographs....even this RUFOUS TREEPIE was in the clutter of the foliage and I could not get a good shot:
This PURPLE-RUMPED SUNBIRD, too, was sitting in the shadow and would NOT co-operate with me:
Look at him, filling his round little belly with nectar from the flower!
We saw many PEAFOWL, but never got close enough to one, so I decided to include this "habitat" shot (if you can't get close enough to a bird to get a good shot, call it a "habitat" shot. If your hand shakes while getting the bird in flight, call it a "behaviour" shot. I have learnt some good lessons from birding.) The rocky outcrops, the trees...they make a dramatic background:
This pic of the RUFOUS-TAILED LARK was something I managed to get as we were back near the car, waiting for the others!
Then, of course, we had a sighting of the male ASIAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER, in all its glory. I spotted it first and exclaimed loudly and was met with much scepticism, until the others all saw it too...but it kept skulking in the foliage, and none of us was able to get a decent shot of the bird. So here is another TTS (Truly Terrible Shot), but you can see, like my sceptical friends ultimately did, that it IS a Paradise Flycatcher. Just look at the length of the tail, and you will realize why I feel soooo bad that I never got a good shot:
I would also like to include this NOT-good shot of the ASHY PRINIA, simply because I took it!
And here's a nice shot of the SMALL MINIVET, taken by Immidi:
Then there is this TTS of the male ASIAN KOEL:
Bird photographers who stumble on this page have probably, by now, have died of shock at seeing such pictures being posted, so I can safely carry on.
That concludes the bird-photograph part of Turahalli..but the place was so beautiful. It's not a "tourist" spot, so there are no little stalls to clutter up the place with their refuse and plastic, and it's pleasant and peaceful. Of course I started off with sunrise photographs (we were there at the crack of dawn, that's why there was hardly any light for that blasted Owl!)...here they are:
A slight close-up:
And further up the slope:
Difficult to believe that at that short distance from such major building activity, this wilderness is untouched and pristine...but so it is!
We tiptoed around this rock-bee's nest in the BANYAN tree that sheltered the smaller of the two shrines:
But the flowers on the FRANGIPANI tree at the larger shrine (it doesn't seem to be used for worship regularly) were in full bloom; there was not a single leaf on it, and the tree with the little statuette on top of the shrine made a lovely picture:
Here is a close-up of the frangipani blooms:
The light inside the shrine was really lovely, reflecting off the pink walls:
The plant set inside is Thulasi, aka Basil, which is a sacred herb for the Hindus. She is venerated in the following shlOkA:
thuLasi shree sakhi shubhEy
pApa hAriNi puNyathEy
namasthEy nArada nuthEy
nArAyaNa manah priyEy
(thulasi, companion to Sree,that is, Lakshmi, giver of good things, destroyer of sins, one who is Virtue incarnate; salutations to thee, beloved of the sage Narada, and dear to the heart of Narayana, that is, VishNu.)
End of side-wandering thread....
It was very intriguing to see, when we went to the little pond near the shrine, that someone had dug a grinder out of the rock. Here is the grinding-stone, set into its little hole...you can see the square markings of the "bottom" part of the grinding stone.
Did priests use this to grind batter to make offerings at the temple? I don't know, as there was no one at the little temple to ask The wooden handle that is usually let into the grinding stone was missing, you can see the hole where it should go:
Though the shrine said it was dedicated to Munishwara, and Ishwara usually denotes Shiva, the decorations inside the temple were all Vaishnavite (the nAmam, the vertical-striped caste- and religion- mark that many temples and devotees wear):
The view from the temple area was gorgeous. I thought the building pictured below was another temple, but Chandan told me it was an....Engineering College! Fitting appearance for a temple of learning, I suppose...!
The pathways were full of WILD JASMINE, and the flowers smelt very sweet:
...I thought of you. You would have made a wine or perfume of it!
Here are Mahesh, Anush and Immidi, all beginning to feel the heat and thirst and ready to go down and go hunting for breakfast ....
And here's Chandan, helpful as always, carting KM's camera bag:
The list of birds is not bad at all, considering that this is not supposed to be a "birding" spot:
House Sparrow(there, I've got those out of the way)
Small Green Bee-Eater
Blue Rock Thrush (see Mahesh's excellent pic of it at
Oriental Magpie Robin
Asian Paradise Flycatcher
Eurasian Eagle Owl
Not bad for a non-bird trip, no? :)