25th April 2010 – Sunday morning brought around our usual photo-date. Today’s agenda was Manchinbele – about 40 km from Bangalore. Its a dam built over a reservoir to provide electricity and water to the nearby Magadi townshitp.
After sifting through many blogs and maps, we decided to take the Mysore road route via the NICE road.
We started from JP Nagar at around 5.30 a.m. and zipped on the NICE road to make good time and reached the cut off point i.e. a right after the Rajeshwari Dental college on Mysore road. A railway crossing later, we were riding on a dream road, seemed to be newly tarred. Soon, we came across some huge dish antennae – looked like some top – secret government radars; were tempted to take some pics but were sure to be shooed away by the vigilant guards at the gate, Nevertheless, it was an awesome sci-fi sight to see.
We continued on to see huge, sprawling nurseries on both sides of the road with some gorgeous colours in the flowering varieties of plants. I recalled that one of the blogs mentioned that this region exports rose saplings; we could see plenty of them in pots in all possible colours. We made a note to stop on our way back and pick some plants from there.
Soon we came upon a glorious site – the Big Indian Banyan Tree – entry was shut at that early hour but we made a note to stop on our way back.
The road to Manchinbele has lots of forks; advisable to do a direction check with local residents there, all of who were “happy 2 help”.
We finally reached (40 kms later from our start point) another fork from where a reservoir was clearly visible. But the reason for stopping the car was a beautiful Black Kite perched on the electricity pole at that juncture. And that was the start of it all – we soon spotted some bulbul; blackbird, green bee -eaters, and all.
The rest of the gang (two more cars full) also trooped in and parked next to us to start shooting. At first we were in a quandary – to take the car further or not? The reservoir was quite some distance away; yet there were birds to be spotted every two steps. Finally decided to park the car and venture forth on foot to chase as many feathered folks as we could.
We crossed a small village settlement on our way down to the reservoir; clicked some roosters and goats. There was a colony of Indian sparrows which were hopping all over the tin sheet roofs of the huts. We spotted, wagtails, robins, bulbuls by the score in this area. And then we came upon babblers – 2-3 varieties of these; all seemingly hopping around in the bushy scrubs.
Suddenly a blur of blue caught our attention as it splashed near the water’s edge; turned out to be a common kingfisher on the prowl. There were some water birds; lapwing, cormorant, herons, etc which were playing around in the shallow water. We could see a rim of white surf on the water’s edge; possibly pollutants in the water.
After 2 hours of chasing the feathered folks, we hiked back to our cars to get some water and snacks. Enroute, we came upon a tiny little sunbird playing in a mango tree – it was quite energetic. Spotted about 4-5 Green Bee eaters on the wires and cables along the roadside.
After some refreshments, two cars left while we were in an adventurous mood and decided to head down the reservoir to the small road we could see winding all the way up. The road was bad; infact at some places there was no road; but we espied some white -throated kingfishers, green gee-eaters, eagles and some gorgeous looking chameleons on our way down and decided to stop at a point in this semi-road. We trekked on down to a thickly forested area near a dried up stream; bird -calls from every direction had us scanning the trees, but no luck.
We spotted some lovely butterflies and even an unusual dragonfly in this area. The butterflies were all gathered on the streambed; possibly sucking up some moisture. I could only identify 2 of the 5 species we saw here.
Finally, we had our fill and decided to head back only to have our car stuck in the loose sand of the road. After much brainstorming, we decided to rock and push the car up the rocky bed; all four of us put our shoulders to the car and heaved with all our mights. Success was sweet – the car came loose and we were able to drive out of there, only to stop a few metres ahead when we spotted an unusual variety of bird on the cable line. Sadly, my camera was in the boot, and by the time I got it out, the bird flew away.
We headed back to Bangalore; making a stop at the Big Banyan tree – this tree has an amazing root network, spanning a huge area. Infact the whole place looks like just one big tree. This tree is reputed to be 400 years old and is a massive site to see.
And yes, we did stop at a nursery to pick up some plants. Infact, I recommend this place as an ideal spot for purchasing plants; gorgeous ones and at a very reasonable price.
After a quick spot of lunch at Mast Kalandar on Bannergatta road, we all headed home for some relaxation.
Our day’s catch comprised of :
1) Black Kite
2) Green Bee Eater ( quite a few in this area)
3) White Throated Kingfisher
6) Common Indian Sparrow
7) Plain dove
9) Oriental Magpie Robin
10) Red wattled lapwing
11) Purple Sunbird
12) Jungle Babbler
13) Yellow eyed babbler
14) Pied bushcat
15) Common Kingfisher
16) And then some which I haven’t been able to identify
17) Then there were butterflies the likes of which I have not seen before
– Blue Pansy
– leopard butterfly
– and few which I haven’t been able to name
18) A beautiful dragon fly
19) And some gorgeous chameleons.
Route : Bannergatta road – NICE road – Mysore road – cross the big Ganesh statue on the left – Rajeshwari Medical college on the left – 500m ahead Rajeshwari Dental college on the right; take this right turn – railway crossing – Satellite installations on the left – Plants nurseries on either sides of the road – Big Banyan Tree – a left from a circle/trisection – finally the reservoir will be in sight on the right – continuing straight on this road will take you to the dam itself.
All shots have been taken with a CANON 400 DSLR and CANON 55-250 IS Lens
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