We (the budding volunteers of the VTP) reached Kalasa in the pre-dawn light:
The promised pickup did not materialize, so we decided to take a local bus that would go past the Bhagavathi Nature Camp (BNC):
Quite a few of us, at the entrance to BNC...we will become friends over the week to come!
Sequestered...this was the only mobile connectivity point, near the gate, about 1km from the camp itself, and we were rarely able to access it, and even then, we needed the BSNL connection, which most of us didn't have :D
The men got assigned to the dormitory (there was no separate accommodation there) and the lucky girls who booked there got a free upgrade to tents!
The pic of the tent will appear in the post about the next few days.
Here are the trekking "rutes" from the camp:
Er, my tent was called "Mecoque" instead of "Macaque". :D
The food was excellent throughout...Basavanna, of Bandipur JLR, took a lot of trouble over designing the menus!
Wild turmeric bloomed everywhere:
The watch tower near the camp was a great source of both bird and mammal sightings, and we sneaked off there whenever we didn't have classroom sessions!
Here's the view of the tree nursery (where native trees are grown for afforestation) from the tower:
The program started off with Sarath Champati (L), Dr Ramesh, the DFO (Kudremukh range) and VMR (R)...these two were our lead trainers.
VMR(Er, Mr Vijay Mohan Raj) was known to me on
India Nature Watch
as a great photographer, long before I realized he was in the Indian Forest Service cadre, and a deeply committed one, too!
Here's Sarath. I've wanted to attend a training program under his guidance since 2006!
MOUNTAIN IMPERIAL PIGEON
which started my "lifer" (first-ever sighting) list:
Ain't it beautiful?
I’ve heard of the Smokey Mountains in the US and visited them, but this was right here, as the clouds rose from the valley:
The first day was all about introducing ourselves and settling in. Read my short account of the sessions
To see photos of the first day of the program,