Location: Mullodi, Kudremukh Range, Chikkamagalur District
Date: 2nd – 4th October 2015
Event: Camping and Trekking conducted by theXplorerguide and Adventure Trips
Number of Participants: 17 including Organisers
A place where any Naturalist would want to spend time understanding Nature that supports variety of life forms.
The camping and trekking event conducted in alliance with Adventure Trips turned out to be a very good experience for theXplorerguide.
Day 1: Journey to the Unknown
The trip started out from Bangalore by around 7:00 AM as opposed to the plan which was to depart at 5:00 AM, because of several reasons. The pit stop for breakfast was at a restaurant named “Malgudi” near Bellur Cross. At this time all the participants were feeling ravenous. As soon as the order was placed, the registration process was done before the breakfast was served.
The journey to the unknown (for most of us) started and we reached the pickup and drop-off point by about 2:30 PM of course with a small tea break before that. The jeep ride to the homestay which looked like positioned almost on the peak was an unforgettable one.
During the ride, several Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea) (first winter visitor of the grey wagtail species) were preying on insects found in abundant in this region. The Grey wagtails fly low with undulations and keep waging their tails like other wagtails.
After reaching the homestay Mr. M R Ragunath of Mullodi Mane welcomed all of us with hot tea and coffee which was revitalizing. As soon as all the luggage was in place, the team planned to visit the mullodi waterfall nearby. Soon it started to rain like cats and dogs but that did not deter the team with their mission. After the rain abated, both me and Seshachalam walked down to the stream but in vain. On the way back, we heard a familiar call, but could not recollect the name of the bird. After a brief wait, the unmistakable Asian Fairy Blue Bird (Irena puella) made a laudable appearance.
By this time it was getting dark as we were in the midst of a valley. The tents were unfurled and pitched by the team flawlessly and all was set.
As it was evening, all the Malabar Parakeets (Psittacula columbodes) aka Blue-Winged Parakeets were returning to their perching locations or nests. A sight not to be missed. The Malabar Parakeets are endemic to the western ghats of Southern India.
Santosh (Adventure trips) had brought with him a Barbecue unit which used charcoal. The barbecue was unpacked fixed and the barbecue was prepared. The preparation had the taste unsurpassed by any of the BBQ restaurants. Food was served by this time by the homestay and all retired to the respective assigned places.
Day 2: Fresh and Sunny
The day started out early by around 5:00AM. It was decided that all the trekkers be ready by 6 AM which was the case. The breakfast was packed along with lunch to all the members and the trekking started off by 6:30 AM.
As for theXplorerguide team members, only Archana opted to participate in the trekking event. Seshachalam and myself were already overwhelmed by the number of birds and butterflies that we observed the previous day. We decided to linger around the homestay.
There were several birds that were making a ruckus in the thicket but non visible due to the dense growth around the region. In the commotion a Bar-Winged Flycatcher Shrike (Hemipus psicatus) made an appearance on the power line which was immediately identified and soon, there were a number of them to be seen.
Nearby almost at regular intervals, the Purple Rumped Sunbird (Leptocoma zeylonica) family would visit the hibiscus plant to collect the nectar which we felt was inexhaustible as they were being probed many times.
After some time, we walked up on the trek route which was frequented by the jeeps ferrying passengers to their home stays as it was a long weekend. Most of the visitors were from the IT capital of India.
Even with all the commotion, the birds and butterflies were visiting the site in abundance, uninterrupted. This gave us an opportunity to study them with our binoculars and get some photographs too.
It started out with butterflies, the Common Threering, Fourring and the Fivering. Although small, these butterflies were in search for an ideal place to bask. The Lemon Pansy (Junonia lemonias) made frequent appearances.
Near the Campsite several Yellow Browed Bulbuls (Acritillas indica)were feeding on the fig tree which was at its prime, abundant with fruits. The population in the north western ghats is paler yellow than the populations further south.
We then spotted a Giant Wood Spider (Nephila maculata) near the house which had built a sizeable web. This spider does not hang the egg sacks on the web but digs a pit, lays the eggs and covers it with a leaf or debris.
The Water Snow Flat (Tagiades litigosa) made an appearance which was a new addition to our list of butterflies.
After spending a lot of time near the camp site, the trekkers started to arrive in batches of twos and threes. Both me and Seshachalam planned to go to the same spot that we had been to the previous day.
The first bird sighted was the majestic Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) which roosted on a naked branch which was selected as a vantage point and a look out post. As we were positioned at a greater height than the bird of prey, it gave us an angle which is normally not the case.
Some of the Asian Palm Swifts (Cypsiurus balasiensis) were flying in unison. These birds spend most of their life in the air. They cling on to the vertical surfaces as they have very short legs. They mainly feed on insects and drink water in flight.
The activity increased by around 5:30 in the evening and we spotted several Black Bulbuls (Hypsipetes leucocephalus) and Hill Mynas (Gracula religiosa) which were on its way back.
As it started to get dark, we stared our descend to the camp site and came across several insects and amphibians.
Some of the team members returned to the campsite after a long wait as it was the first time trek for some of them.
The night was also full of activity, all the moths and other insects were attracted by a solitary incandescent light source. Some of us spent some time among the night activists by praising the patterns and vibrant colours of each one of them. Among the lot, one of the insects, the Rhinoceros Beetle was the showstopper.
After a clear sky star gazing by some of the team members. We called it a night.
Day 3: Back to the Bustling City
All the team members woke up quiet early after a good night’s sleep and it was time to wind up the tents. Which was done quickly.
Breakfast was served by the hosts generously and was equally reciprocated by all the guests.
As the curtain of the camp and trek was closing, All of us prepared for the jeep ride down hill. The team then left to Yagachi Dam for fun with water sports, unfortunately some of us had to head to the bustling city of Bangalore and reached by evening. All in all a great experience which will be remembered by all the attendees.