Team Black Stork in the Bangalore Bird Race
January 19, 2010
Anush , Ashwini , Chandu, and were my team-mates, and we also met up with Gayathri, Madhavi, Suma MN, Suma Rao, and Uma , of my favourite BULBs (Bangalore Urban Lady-Birders) team, who were the Rosefinches for the Bird Race....
We set off in the fairly cold pre-dawn darkness, down Bannerghatta Road, then Kanakapura Road, and down the Uttarahalli-Kengeri route to Manchinbele. Then we took the road to Ramnagara, and from there, we went to Valley School. Since we were not really rushing things, that's all we had time for, with multiple stops along the way.
We did take the time for observation and photography...and sometimes just stopped in awe, as when two INDIAN GREY HORNBILLS sailed overhead, or a flock of CATTLE EGRETS took to flight against the verdant green of the foliage and the blue skies...breathtaking moments that will stay with us for a long time.
Anush had asked Sainath to wait for us in front of a "More" store, and since the word means "peafowl" in Hindi, of course we started the bird count with a very keen sighting of the INDIAN PEAFOWL in the pre-dawn darkness by Chandu!
(that was taken with a high ISO seting, to show the colours...which were not visible to us then. So the pic is grainy...and oh, I didn't take the 20D along, only MLC2.)
We spotted this SHIKRA sitting high up in the eucalyptus tree. I am not cropping or zooming some of these pics below, so that one can have idea of the habitat of the birds, and how far away they were...some of them were captured with the full 20X zoom on MLC2.
In the bushes nearby, apart from the SUNBIRDS and FLOWERPECKERS, we watched these TAWNY-BELLIED BABBLERS for a while:
The SWALLOWS...both RED-RUMPED as well as BARN...were swooping around in the morning light, here's a red-rumped swallow, sitting on the wire, doing nothing but looking cute:
We saw several migrants, such as this BROWN SHRIKE:
Our search for MUNIAS was rather unprofitable; we were only able to see INDIAN SILVERBILLS, and were treated to quick sightings of the very beautiful LAL MUNIA (ha, I like saying their other name, RED AVADAVAT!) Here's one in the reeds of a marshy area we stopped at:
Our raptor count started with the BRAHMINY and BLACK KITES, but Sai suddenly spotted this TAWNY EAGLE too:
At Manchinabele, we met the BULBs again, and shared their delicious breakfast!
We started looking around, but did not find the several raptors we were hoping for, but this COMMON KESTREL did appear:
I am reproducing this photograph exactly as I took it, to show how high these birds can soar.
This PIED KINGFISHER hovered over the reservoir waters, and we watched it, fascinated, for a while...
We were just wondering where the regular SHRIKES had got to, when we finally found some LONG-TAILED ones and then this BAY-BACKED SHRIKE:
It's a rule that EVERY bird will have its back to me...except the Bay-backed Shrike, where I *need* to see its back, therefore it will face me...
Even watching the common birds was delightful. We stopped to fill our bottles of water in Manchinbele Village, and a HOUSE SPARROW couple was alternately drinking water from the puddles, and feeding off the millet...
I called it the Sparrow Bar and Restaurant!
On the banks of the reservoir, this YELLOW WAGTAIL strutted about:
and on the wire sat the INDIAN BUSHLARK, all ready to sing:
After Manchinabele, and a lot more birding, we had lunch, and then went onwards to Ramnagara, where, of course, we missed the LONG-BILLED VULTURES completely as it was the middle of the afternoon. However, the YELLOW-THROATED BULBUL and the EGYPTIAN VULTURE, amongst others, were sighted, and we turned our route to Valley School as our final destination. By this time, our species count was 98, and we were wondering if we would cross 100 or not! But Valley School never disappoints, and it was as if all the birds were just waiting to show themselves to us. Some of the highlights were this VERDITER FLYCATCHER:
Sainath also got a great shot of the ASIAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER (this time the rufous male) and I spotted the TICKELL'S BLUE FLYCATCHER.
I had been wondering why we hadn't seen a GREAT TIT, and suddenly, there it was!
It's a common bird, but the Barbets are always fun to watch. A COPPERSMITH BARBET was feeding off the banyan figs:
By this time, it was nearly time to head back, but there were a couple of surprises left for us. Almost as we were getting into the car, we looked back and this GREY WAGTAIL was sitting there for us!
And the very last sighting was one of my favourite raptors, the BLACK-WINGED KITE!
Apart from the various birds, though, was one pretty little "Tweety Bird" that all of us saw for the first time. It's apparently a very common one, but it's a migrant, and we were enthralled and were watching it for a while...
Here's the lifer (first-time sighting) for all of us...it's the TICKELL'S LEAF WARBLER
We had a count of 109 (and to think we left out two birds which we photographed to get the id, and forgot about!) and in great satisfaction, after a wonderful day of birding and being with friends, we got to the hotel where the evening gathering would take place.
More about the OTHER things I saw, next....