Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wildlife Rescue Volunteer at People for Animals

I wanted to involve in this kinda volunteering program from a long time but wasn't finding the right channel until I came across People for Animals' Bangalore chapter. Well, they are quite well known and I guess I wasn't searching in the right places and thus the treasure hunt! :P

Last Saturday was a workday and so I landed at the shelter in Kengeri on Sunday along with my bro. While we were waiting for Mr. Kishen, the head caretaker at the shelter to brief us, he got a call for a snake rescue from a nearby village called Kodihalli and he asked my bro and I to accompany the rescue team! 

Snakes??!! It gave both of us goosebumps! Nevertheless we tagged along..

On arrival, the worried family showed us to the drain where the mysterious snake was taking a refuge. Rahmath, the PFA snake handler got into action and swiftly grabbed the snake by its tail! Surprise surprise! It was the dreaded Cobra! And a mighty one at that! Rahmath handled the beast with ease. He apparently has been in this business of Snake rescue from the time he was kid and has endured 28 cobra bites!

After securing the Cobra in the basket we headed back to the shelter. And back at the shelter Kishen had already received another call and he set us off on our next errand and this time to rescue a  juvenile crow that fallen from its nest and had injured one of its limbs. Rahmath and I set off for the rescue while my bro stayed back at the shelter. It was a long uneventful journey to Tyagrajnagar (except that it took us some time to locate the spot). Upon completing the quite a "regular" rescue we headed back to the shelter.

The afternoon was spent in exploring the shelter. The shelter's very own pet cemetery draws quite a large crowd  despite the steep price but it is this funding that helps in its smooth running. Pariah Kites, Parakeets, Star Tortoise, Barn Owl, Monkeys etc rescued from the city and the outskirts are rehabilitated here and then finally released in the woods.

By 5:30 p.m we set out to the nearby Turahalli Reserve forest to release the cobra and a few other snakes that had been rescued earlier. At the forest, Kishen gave us a few lessons on handling snakes. 2 cobras, 3 rat snakes and one sand boa were released in the forest and I even managed to get my hands on the sand boa. Yes, the experience was quite weird!

A few shots from Sunday...

Upon coming out of the drain-Furiuos
Rahmath directing the snake into the bag

PFA Shelter
Bro playing with a monkey
PFA logo
Turahalli Forest
Kishen giving handling lessons

Those who are interested in volunteering can look up the website www.pfa-bangalore.org. Also to aid in wildlife rescue call PFA on the numbers
+91-80- 2860 4767
+91-80- 2860 3986
+91-80- 2273 3350

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Glamour in the neighbourhood

The ruling government of the year 2002-03 was kind enough to convert a barren patch of land in my neighbourhood to what is now the JP Bio-diversity Park. This is the third largest park in the city after the Cubbon Park and Lal Bagh gardens and over the past few years the green cover here has greatly improved. The park's water body supports several water bird species and is home to a good number of Cat Fishes.

Winter is upon us in Bangalore and so is the migration season. And there is glamour in the nieighbourhood! A flock of Spot-billed Pelicans have made the JP Park lake their winter home! Pelicans have been common visitors in the Hebbal Lake area of Urban Bangalore but this is their very first visit to Mathikere. This is a promising sign for the Bio-Diversity park and definitely a feather in the park authorities' cap. The good work that they've done in grooming this very young park is finally paying off!

Pelicans huddle up in the lake at JP Park


Some common problems that I've noticed are the presence of a large number of aggresive and territorial crows and the proximity to humans. Though all is not rosy for the pelicans yet I am positive! I am sure they'll adapt to this habitat in a few days and make this a regular stopover in thier migratory path each year. 

Crow chaisng a Pelican out of the lake area

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Birding pics from Byalkere and Hesaraghatta

1. First up is the Little Green Bee Eater.

2. The Purple-Rumped Sunbird

3. The Unidentified bird!

4. Oriental Magpie Robin

5. Nrityagram Amphitheatre

6. Prothima Bedi Temple, Nrityagram

7. Hesaraghatta Grasslands

8. Sujay reviewing his shots on the grassland

Monday, November 22, 2010

Birding at Byalkere Peacock Reserve and Hesaraghatta

Hello Blog World!

This is my first ever blog post and am really glad that I finally managed to convince myself to start a blog to document all my travels and photography experiences.

So the best place to begin with would be my weekend getaway to Byalkere Peacock Reserve and Hesaraghatta on the 21st of November, 2010, for a first time (yet again!) birding trip with my buddy Sujay Dsa. (Will skip out the details regarding where we met up and stuff before we proceeded to Byalkere.)

This Byalkere Peacock Reserve had been intriguing me from the day I noticed it on google maps and when on further research on the internet I found no related articles, I grew restless! The reserve forest is on the way to Hesaraghatta via MS Palya. We reached there when the sunlight was still forcing its way out through the morning mist. Finding the place was quite easy as help was always at hand in the form of some morning walker.

We were actually on the look out for the elusive Slender Loris also called the "Kaadu Papa" in kannada. From my research I'd learned that there are around 20 specimens of this endangered species living in these parts of rural Bangalore but looking for one was like finding a needle in a haystack! We put this pursuit aside and started enjoying the sights and sounds of the various bird species that came out of their nests as soon as the hot morning sun began to thaw the forest flora. Some bird species that we spotted here were:

1. Green Bea Eater
2. Spotted Dove
3. Purple Rumped Sunbird
4. Common Mynas
5. Bulbul
6. An unidentified bird.. (WIP)

What might seem ironical is, where is the peacock in a peacock reserve? Wait for it.....

On our way out from the forest, just as we mounted the bike and were proceeding towards Hesaraghtta, we had a peacock encounter!!! This particular peacock had shed its tail feathers and scooted across the road and ran towards the neighbouring village. I must say its quite a fast runner 'cause by the time i took out my camera from the bag, it had vanished into the thick shrubs! Both of us missed the chance of having it on ur LCDs! Sigh!

Next up was Hesaraghatta lake after a quick breakfast pit stop. This lake, I hear has been a birding heaven from a very long time and a lot of bird species (some migratory even) have been spotted here over the years. We spent a good 2 hours at the lake bed and some birds that we clicked here were:

1. Oriental Magpie Robin (Hope its the right identification!)
2. Indian Robin
3. Egrets
4. Brahminy Kites
5. Black Kites or the Pariah Kites
6. Kingfishers

While at Hesaraghtta, one should pay a visit to Nrityagram the dance village set up by Protima Gauri Bedi. This place is an interesting combination of great architecture, nature and music and dance. We spent another 2 good hours soaking in the ambience and enjoying a Odissi performance by one of the resident Odissi teachers, Surupa Sen.

With the camera battery dying and our energy levels plummetting we decided to head home. But hey wait! I still hadn't come across the picturesque Hesaraghtta grasslands yet!

Sandwiched or should I say elbowing its way past Nrityagram and Adarsh Film Studios is this vast expanse of grassland that has been a bone of contention between nature lovers and the government from a long time. The government wants to set up a film studio here while the rest believe (and so do I) that by doing so we will lose a heritage, a getaway and some breathtaking views.. On a clear day the views are just amazing! And we were lucky this saturday. Such lovely weather and such a clear blue sky! Heaven!

Eventually hunger rose its head again and it was finally time to head back home. On the way back, we spotted the Bulbul and the Indian Roller which is the state bird of Karnataka as well as that of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.

All in all, it was a great weekend getaway and a good beginning to my tryst with birding. We want to come back to this place every weekend but there are more hidden teasures around Bangalore to discover still.. but we will be back soon!

P.S. As I am posting this from office, I am unable to attach the pics from the trip. Will upload 'em tonight from home and oh I've another interesting story to share too... :)