Thursday, 14 March 2013

Nilam's Blessings - A trip to Chikmagalur

Disguised as 'Nilam' the cyclone, a blessing followed us all the way to Muthodi and Chikamagalur. As we stuck our heads out of the car and gazed up at the dark grey clouds that seemed to stretch forever and silently giving up all hopes of any photography whatsoever, we kept going in the torrential rain but as we turned towards Muthodi, we could barely breath, our jaws hung open at the sheer beauty of the forest soaked to the last leaf, adorned with the shimmering pearls of water droplets and nothing else but the sound of the water gushing somewhere underneath to keep us company, made the scene almost like one out of some fantasy movie. The sighting of a chestnut headed bee eater, a lifer, raised our excitement, but after that the birds seemed to have hidden themselves in the comfort of their cosy hideaways and we spotted nothing.
Reaching our destination late afternoon with nothing to do other than watching and listening to the rain from the wet porch as the leech found their way between our toes to make a hearty meal, we wondered if this is how we had to spend the next four days. But then each time the rains subsided the jewels began to shine.

The rain subsided, the chaos took over and we did not have to look far.
One of the many jewels from Muthodi,the Ruby throated Bulbuls seemed to be everywhere,as they danced around without a care.
A bane to some but a boon to many, the Nilam that wrecked havoc, brought out the food in plenty.
We stood there with unbelieving eyes,
The reds and yellows, a pleasant surprise,
From the curtains of rains they were freed,
They came in flocks, they came to feed.
Circumstances made us shift to Chikmagalur. Unsure of what to expect we reached at 9pm in pitch darkness and an eerie silence. The place was new and every hanging root of bamboo managed to create a shape that made sure we would not forget it in a long while. The darkness held us in awe and the silence made us aware of our own breathing. Losing network often was not too helpful in finding the place as we had to backtrack to call again and again. We were again blessed as a good samartian saw our plight and rode ahead of us till our rooms were in sight.
The next morning however we saw everything in a whole new light, no sunshine, but such a grand show by so many birds. The rains had ensured that the insects were in plenty at low levels. The party had begun, the birds having fun. A word from the wise, always look for the blessing in disguise.
The tapestry draped over the canopy,
The blues and the greens flowing gracefully,
Grand laces and satins incomparable to this grand beauty,
He took off, a flash of brown ,
streaking across the canopy's gown,
With immense grace, he set his pace...
Slipping and sliding, cautiously I stepped out, the mud on the road making a rich creamy paste. I was not sure whether to look for birds or save myself from the numerous leech who jumped onto me as if I was a King's platter. He sat there bemused with an almost smiling look, as if I was out there to entertain him. Stand still you silly girl, then you may possibly get a shot of me. I did as he said and finally got a shot of this bird. The blue capped rock thrush.
Glossy black blue feathers and a streaming tail,
mimicking calls and flight so agile, that we managed to just get a glimpse of the tail feathers disappearing through the thickets each time. But the tasty insects were too much to resist,
from flying back and forth for a few moments, he did desist
We got our shots and he took off
impressing us without fail.
There is something about the Scarlet Minivet Female that always amazes me. She is just that, a perfect female, so docile and charming and her eyes seemed to be lined with kajal so exquisitely, that any male even with all his flaming red feathers cannot but fall for this princess.
And then the male, chest held high, face flushed with pride, reds on blacks sat and posed. It had stopped raining but now it was raining minivets. They were everywhere, zipping across, so much to do, so little time, have to get busy before the next rain.
It was so fascinating to watch this little guy, so calm, content and peaceful in his own world, foraging the slushy mud with a quiet calmness,unperturbed by the lenses pointed towards him as he went about his business. We went on to make doubly sure that we do not move a muscle as this guy wandered close had his fill and went his way. Being alone does not mean being lonely and that is the lesson I learnt from this content Little Ringed Plover as the evening sun bathed him in its golden light.
The spot Billed ducks making their flight
As the fading light
made way to another beautiful night
Flying tandem, yellow, blue and green splashing across the sky
A roost to reach before the stars shone high
It would not be long before darkness descended on the blue waters blanketing it in the cool breeze as heads would curl up in the cosy warmth of the feathers and tired eyes welcoming the long awaited rest.
The last 2 images came from a subsequent trip to Chikamagalur as we chanced upon a water body that was a haven to this and a lot more birds, most of which continue to roost in my hard disk and I am hoping a breeding program does not crop up there. If it does a lot more pictures will be added to this blog very soon.
Creative Commons License
Photographs and work by Tharangini is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


  1. Tarangini, Awesome! fantastic pictures.....Good luck, look forward more of your wonderful work,

    1. Thanks so much.Hoping to continue to be regular.. :)

  2. superb frnd even iam a bird lover and iam doing the,i mean even i keep nest boxes and water to birds and iam a bird breeder

  3. Very Nice. I have never even seen these birds for real!