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It was the first time that a preplanned trip was executed as thought. The trip to Bandipur and Madhumalai was planned well in advance for the 4th of December but we never planned where to stay. Our discombobulation was cleared when I suddenly recalled about the place owned by one of the friend’s (Mr.Deepan) in Masanagudi (New Mountaina Resorts). I took a chance to find out if there was availability of rooms from Ramakrishnan (Associate of Mr.Deepan) for our stay and to our luck we found out that there was room for us.

The day started at 3:30 AM we got ready and started our journey towards Bandipur. The first 35 kilometers was like as we were on a game round within the city. We for sometime thought we were on the moon looking at craters and moving around them. By the time we reached the Bandipur check-post it was 6:30 AM and since it was a Saturday we understood that the first game was out of question. As soon as we reached the Bandipur center we immediately got the tickets for the game and got into the Bus. The light was not as good as we expected, but our objective was to look out for the wildlife and we were at our best in the lookout.

The entry into the wilderness was filled with suspense and excitement. We were welcomed by a herd of spotted deer (Axis axis). The light was not as bright as we thought it would be as per the forecast, but was good enough to spot birds and animals. There was good activity of birds even though the trail was like a highway of vehicles including that of the resorts and the government assigned ones. We saw several jungle fowls
(Gallus sonneratii) on the track and were scrambling around as soon as vehicles passed by. As we moved on we saw two Red Wattled Lapwings (Vanellus indicus) which started their regular display of trying to get the enemy (us) away from their nesting area. Our first bird of prey of the day was the Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela)
which is a majestic bird and was least bothered by our presence. It was resting right across the track planning for the next meal. The driver then stopped the van to show us the Racket Tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradieseus) but my eyes caught up with something more interesting a new woodpecker that was not seen till date the Streak-Throated Woodpecker (Picus xanthopygaeus). The Indian National bird excited most of them present in van. As we moved on we spotted a healthy Indian Wild Boar (a.k.a Wild Pig) (Sus scrofa) (FACT: Same species of pig is found in Europe except that its coat is thinner). The game round ended with the dismay to most of them as they could not spot any big mammal.

We then planned for a second game round to the after breakfast. As soon as we finished breakfast the van was ready for the second round and we were given priority seats just behind the driver’s seat. We prayed that the van takes a different route and our prayer was answered initially. As we were about to enter the forest, we passed a jeep from one of the resorts and the driver of the jeep reported to ours that they spotted a tiger in a specific place, this started us to think of what would be our luck to confront the King of the Indian Jungle. The van was driven with utmost care as possible and all of us were instructed to keep our volume on mute for some time and all of us adhered to the same.
One of the visitors suddenly started off shouting Tiger…Tiger… we all turned towards that direction and to our surprise we spotted the Tiger (Panthera tigris) which had just quenched its thirst in the lake “Kolaka Malli Katte”. It gave us a single long stare and moved on to get away from the greediest animal in the Universe. The sight of the KING made our day, the driver then switched off the van and we all were silent for sometime and expecting another glimpse of the Tiger only to be satisfied with some growls.

Our journey towards Madhumalai continued expecting some more exciting confrontations but to our dismay we were only confronted by vehicles and were chased by many more honkers who never missed an opportunity to blow their favorite music and disrupting the silence of the jungle with their horns to let all the other creatures know that “I am here to destroy your peace…you better be careful”. We then planned to just reach “New Mountainia Resorts” which we did before our calculated ETA.

The Resort is located well within the vicinity of Masanagudi town with an excellent view of the Nilgiris. We settled down and then started off for birding around the resort. We could make out with the overall activity that the place is a heaven for small birds. We were welcomed by a pair of Booted Warblers (Hippolais caligata) a wonderful hyperactive bird. A female Small Minivet (Pericrocotus cinnamomeus) gave us a glimpse to confuse us to some other bird, but our confusion was cleared as soon as we saw the male approaching. We then had an unusual visitor which was another new addition to our life list a Western Crowned Warbler (Phylloscopus occipitalis) an excellent bird with an orange beak and fearless. A Green Bee-Eater (Merpos orientalis) caught an insect, a highly trained bird in catching insects in flight. A Great Tit (Parus major) was trying to find some food under the leaves of the Teak leaf. We then took a break for lunch, as we started having our lunch we could see a colony of mixed species flocking around us several House sparrows, Red-Vented Bulbul, Red-Whiskered Bulbul and Oriental Magpie Robins. A female Oriental Magpie Robin I think knew that we were docile and joined us on the table next to us for lunch.

After lunch we planned for a small drive towards kalhatti ghats as I had been to one of the places nearby and had planned to get back there for birding. The approach road was a shrub jungle with small trees here and there. It had rained the previous week and there were puddles of water in most of the places. We spotted a Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) which was trying to feed on tadpoles. A Bay-Backed Shrike (Lanius vittatus) was resting on a dead branch keeping a watch for a meal down below. We then saw the Common Hoopoe (Upupa epops) which perched on a branch against the shrike. The Yellow Billed Babblers (Turdoides affinis) were making tweeting noise. A Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia) was having its time of the day looking for insects on a Lantana plant. A White-Browed Fantail (Rhipidura aureola) had selected a branch of a shrub and was very possessed with the same. Several Malabar Parakeets (Psittacula columboides) were returning to their nests and gave us an excellent display by flying in flocks. We then drove back planning to continue birding in the resort area.

As soon as we reached the resort we watched a Purple Sunbird (Eclipse Male) (Nectarinia asiatica) was trying to choose flowers which contained nectar to satisfy its hunger, just then two White-Cheeked Barbets (Megalaima viridis) accompanied a Red-Whiskered Bulbul
(Pycnonotus jocosus). A close display was given by the White-Throated Fantail (Rhipidura albicollis) which took us some time to ID it and have a comparison with the White Browed Fantail sighted earlier.

As evening approached we were seen off by a pair of Vernal Hanging Parrots (Loriculus vernalis) and an excellent sight of the Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae) was an excellent curtain closer for the trip.

I would like to firstly thank Mr.Deepan for hosting us and Mr.Ramakrishnan to have suggested this excellent place to stay and spend our unforgettable journey to Madhumalai.

The following is the checklist of the birds sighted by us during the journey from Mysore to Madhumalai and back.

Check List of Birds sighted on 4th and 5th December 2010 (Bandipur, Madhumalai and Masinagudi)

  1. Grey Jungle Fowl – Gallus sonneratii

  2. Indian Peafowl – Pavo cristatus

  3. Streak-Throated Woodpecker – Picus xanthopygaeus

  4. White Cheeked Barbet – Megalaima viridis

  5. Coppersmith Barbet – Megalaima haemacephala

  6. Common Hoopoe – Upupa epops

  7. Indian Roller – Coracias benghalensis

  8. White-Throated Kingfisher – Halcyon smyrnensis

  9. Green Bee-Eater – Merops orientalis

  10. Asian Koel – Edynamys scolopacea

  11. Vernal Hanging Parrot – Loriculus vernalis

  12. Rose-Ringed Parakeet – Psittacula krameri

  13. Plum-Headed Parakeet – Psittacula cyanocephala

  14. Malabar Parakeet – Psittacula columboides

  15. Laughing Dove – Streptopelia senegalensis

  16. Spotted Dove – Streptopelia chinensis

  17. Wood Sandpiper – Tringa glareola

  18. Red-Wattled Lapwing – Vanellus indicus

  19. Black Kite – Milvus migrans

  20. Brahminy Kite – Haliastur Indus

  21. Crested Serpent Eagle – Spilornis cheela

  22. Short-Toed Snake Eagle – Circaetus gallicus

  23. Shikra – Accipter badius dussumieri

  24. Intermediate Egret – Mesophoyx intermedia

  25. Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis

  26. Black-Headed Ibis – Threskiornis melanocephalus

  27. Black Ibis – Pseudibis papillosa

  28. Spot-Billed Pelican – Pelecanus philippensis

  29. Asian Fairy Bluebird – Irena puella

  30. Long-Tailed Shrike – Lanius Schach

  31. Rufous Treepie – Dendrocitta vagabunda

  32. Large-Billed Crow – Corvus macrorhynchos

  33. House Crow – Corvus splendens

  34. Small Minivet – Pericrocotus cinnamomeus

  35. White-Throated Fantail – Rhipidura hypoxantha albofularis

  36. Black Drongo – Dicrurus macrocercus

  37. White-Bellied Drongo – Dicrurus caerulescens

  38. Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo – Dicrurus paradiseus

  39. Common Iora – Aegithina tiphia

  40. Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher – Cyornis tickelliae

  41. Oriental Magpie Robin – Copsychus saularis

  42. Indian Robin – Saxicoloides fulicata

  43. Brahminy Starling – Sturnus pagodarum

  44. Common Myna – Acridotheres tristis

  45. Jungle Myna – Acridotheres fuscus

  46. Great Tit – Parus major

  47. Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica

  48. Red-Whiskered Bulbul – Pycnonotus jocosus

  49. Red-Vented Bulbul – Pycnonotus cafer

  50. Oriental White-Eye – Zosterops palpebrosus

  51. Clamarous Reed Warbler – Acrocephalus stentoreus

  52. Booted Warbler – Hippolais caligata

  53. Common Tailorbird – Orthotomus sutorius

  54. Western Crowned Warbler – Phylloscopus occipitalis

  55. Yellow billed Babbler – Turdoides affinis

  56. Purple-Rumped Sunbird – Nectarinia zeylonica

  57. House Sparrow – Passer domesticus

  58. White-Browed Wagtail – Motacilla maderaspatensis

  59. Scaly-Breasted Munia – Lonchura punctulata

    Team members: M R Rajaram, Seshachalam M A