Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary - Paradise for bird watchers

Jan 30, 2011

And finally, I was there. Yes, Ranganthittu was one place that I wanted to visit since so long but was never able to plan. Finally Vinay and I planned a trip to Ranganthittu. I'll start with some facts about this lovely place and then narrate my day there in brief (with lots of photographs).

Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary also known as Paksi Kashi of Karnataka is a Bird Sanctuary in the Mandya District of the state of Karnataka in India. It is a very small sanctuary, being only 67 km². in area, and comprises six islets on the banks of the Kaveri River. Ranganthittu is located three kilometers away from the historic town of Srirangapatna and 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) north of Mysore. The islets came into being when a dam across the Kaveri river was built in the 18th century. The ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali observed that the isles formed an important nesting ground for birds, and persuaded the Wodeyar kings of Mysore to declare the area a wildlife sanctuary in 1940. (This text has been copied from Wikipedia)

We left for the sanctuary at around 6 AM and reached there by 9 AM. We got tickets for a private boat as we did not want any kind of disturbance when shooting. Apart from the river there is a nice garden and birds can be seen there too. Just as we entered the garden we saw a female Paradise Flycatcher. The light was little low because of shade as there are plenty of trees around. Here's the only decent shot that I managed to get.
Note: You can click on the images below to view a larger version of it

Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Female)
Later on we were waiting for the boat. While waiting itself, I got many shots of birds in flight mainly Eurasian Spoonbills, Painted Storks and Open billed Storks. Here are few shots of Eurasian Spoonbill.

Some shots of Openbill Stork.

And few of Painted Stork.

A pelican was also roaming around and I did get couple of shots.

And finally I saw a Pied Kingfisher making a quick move, I just managed to lock focus on this swift flier and got a shot. Not great, though.

Pied Kingfisher
Finally the boat arrived and we started the 1 hour boat ride. This was an amazing experience. I had never seen birds getting so close to humans. These birds are so used to humans that they are hardly bothered of people around them. You can literally hear the sound of their wings pushing hard against the air. This posed a new challenge when shooting them. Usually I keep my 70-300mm lens zoomed in to 300mm which always seems to be short, and now these birds get so close that sometimes it becomes difficult to frame it. Even before I started the boat ride, I had got few decent shots of these birds in flight, so now I tried to take some different shots. Here are few.

Eurasian spoonbill
Openbill Stork
Painted Stork
A Cormorant flew across and I got one shot with decent focus.

Little Cormorant
Later on we spotted a pair of Stone Plovers. The boat got pretty close to them and they hardly budged. I got couple of frame filling shots of this beautiful bird.

Stone Plover - 1
Stone Plover - 2
Further we spotted a pair of River terns with its nest. Though I took many shots, I just liked one.

River Tern
I was still longing to get a shot of Pied Kingfisher. There was one spot where a bare branch was sticking out of the river in open, a perfect perch for Kingfisher. I was just telling Vinay that we might not get the Pied Kingfisher today as I had seen it fly away to some far off place, but to my surprise I saw the Pied Kingfisher perched on that same branch. The boatman slowly stirred the boat close to it and I kept on shooting with a hope of getting few sharp shots. Here is what I got.

Pied Kingfisher - 1
Pied Kingfisher - 2
 This was it, I was satisfied with what I got. I had got my catch of the day. When returning back we saw a Night Heron (there were plenty of them, just that this time I captured one) and a group of Painted Stork.

Night Heron
After the boat trip we got back to the garden to find some more birds. I spotted Red Whiskered Bulbul, Magpie robin and Tickell's Blue flycatcher and happily clicked them. Here are some shots.

Red Whiskered Bulbul
Magpie Robin
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
By this time it was already 1 PM, we had a nice lunch (yes there is a decent restaurant here) and then decided to make a move back to Bangalore. In all, it was an amazing experience to be here. There are still few more varieties of birds seen here, which I probably missed which encourages me to make another trip. Well, this is it for now. Ending this post with couple of more shots from the trip.

Eurasian Spoonbill taking off
Open billed Stork about to land


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