Our trip to Daroji was suddenly thought of and even more suddenly executed. I must thank Santosh Martin, a fellow NTP-er, for extending such warm hospitality to me; he was at the station at 6am with his car, and took us home to an uncomplaining mother, wife and daughter, too!
Santosh is very involved in several projects (I am doing a separate article on him!), and one of them is the Daroji Bear Sanctuary.
Of course, the “main” mammal that one would look for in Daroji would be the SLOTH BEAR:
The bears are easy to find, as the forest authorities smear a mixture of jaggery and honey on the rocks for them, and the bears love that. But from the watch-tower, we could see several bears in their natural habitat:
Here's one forest worker bringing back the utensil in which the jaggery and honey are mixed:
Here's a video I took, of one bear licking the rock:
One bear cub ambled up on to the rocks:
Then, for all the world as if they had just come from the Goldilocks story, there were three bears....
Suddenly, exclaimed, "I can see some bears in the rear-view mirror!" and indeed, there were bears BEHIND us, as well! A sighting of 9 or 10 bears was not bad for a couple of hours' work! :)
Of course, I promptly said that the rear-view mirror would now be called the bear-view mirror....
At the Forest Guest House in the sanctuary, I could not take my eyes off this wonderful photograph by Dr M Y Ghorpade, one of our well-known wildlife photographers:
Photo: M Y Ghorpade
Such an incredible image of a mother bear giving, not a bear ride, but a piggy-back ride, to her cubs, in the days before digital photography, when taking photographs and tracking these animals were both far more difficult!
On our way to Hampi, we spotted this GREY LANGUR mother and child, on the rocks:
We also had the good fortune to see this RUDDY MONGOOSE for a long while on the rocks:
More about the mongoose can be found here
The bird sightings were also many, and varied. On the rocks, along with the bears and the mongoose, we saw a pair of GREY FRANCOLINS:
To make it even more interesting, a PAINTED SPURFOWL joined the cast of characters:
The next day, we saw this lovely LOTEN'S SUNBIRD drinking nectar from the flowers:
I could not resist also taking a photograph of this bird that someone had drawn in the dust on Santosh's Bolero!
One of the best stops we made was the University Lake area, where we could see the KuVemPu University buildings in the distance. In and around this water body was a large variety of birds.
There was a YELLOW WAGTAIL running around in its, er, wagtail fashion, nodding and wagging:
A couple of BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATERS hawked for insects in the air and swooped around:
One "lifer" (first timer!) sighting was of the male (left-hand-side) and female (right-hand-side) EURASIAN WIGEON:
Near the aquaduct leading from the lake, several RED MUNIAS made a bright splash of colour:
On the water were several GARGANEYS:
A mixed bag of OPEN-BILLED STORKS, PAINTED STORKS, and ducks could be found:
Later, we also saw these POND HERONS posing on the bund:
High in the air, a possible PALLID HARRIER soared: (id...AMS)
In the scrub jungle, we saw BLACK REDSTARTS, but couldn't take any pictures because they were so quick in flying off. But this SMALL MINIVET was captured:
I took only the S3 to the ruins of Hampi, and there were these PLUM-HEADED PARAKEETS in all the neem trees, I got a lousy shot of a female:
As we were leaving the forest guest house to visit Hampi, we saw a pair of BLACK-SHOULDERED KITES hovering overhead, and though the 20D was giving a lot of trouble, I managed this shot: