Looking for birds in Gulakamale Village
We have been visiting our old birding suspect Hessaraghatta grasslands for a long time now. Time for us to venture into newer pastures. I opened my list of bookmarks and one area looked promising enough. I discussed this out with the husband and he, too, agreed upon Gulakamale Village for our weekend birding session.
We set forth early at around 6.00 am since there were around 60 km to be covered till our destination. We had become quite familiar with Bannerghatta Road and reached the first milestone of Bannerghatta Police Station without a hitch. Once there, we took the right turn and to our amazement, found ourselves on an unpaved road. Rocky hill faces looked sternly down at us. Quite a severe change in view within a few minutes, I must say!
We continued driving on the bumpy road and soon the scenery changed from rocky hill-side to a forest. A few more kilometers into the forest and doubts started to creep in. “Are we on the correct path?” Such profound thoughts, really! It was still too early for us to meet many people along that road to guide us. We would look at old folks sitting out in the morning sun, an out-of-this-world expression on their faces, and decide not to disturb them from their reverie. Finally, we managed to catch hold of some students on their way to college and they affirmed that we were on the right path and that the ‘straight road’ led to Gulakamale Village and in no way can we miss it.
So, we managed to reach the village without any mishap. The next step was to look for the lake. Now, our birding experience had taught us some Kannada words which we would not have learnt otherwise. We asked the local people for the ‘kere’ and we were readily guided towards it. But we were still skeptical of finding the lake; there could be more than one lake in a village. We came upon an area surrounded by a high border which reminded us of Hessaraghatta. There were a few guys on the road and we decided to confirm our lake with them. “Kere?” we asked hopefully. The guys looked at us and shook their heads, “Maalum nahi saab, aap kya puch rahe hain.” (Don’t understand what you are asking, Sir.) So much for learning Kannada.
Anyhow, the lake was indeed on the same road and by the time we entered the lake area it was around 7.30 am. The sun was still not up fully and it was nice to catch the silhouettes of grey herons and a lonely painted stork up on a tree. The lake itself seemed to be drying out. The land around the lake had hardened up and had cracked, making a beautiful pattern. The husband left me behind and walked up fast ahead while I took in the surroundings in my own leisurely manner. I am always reminded of the poem ‘Leisure’ by by William Henry Davies. “What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.”
I was lost in such musings when a cry from my husband brought me back. He seemed to be kneeling down on the ground just near the water. At least that’s how it looked to me. He was gesticulating wildly and then I realized that the poor guy was not kneeling down but he had sunk into the ground! The hard cracked ground was actually treacherous near the water – it was all mud underneath. So, please beware of going near the lake. Somehow, the husband managed to pull himself up and wash away the sticky, almost black mud.
After this excitement died away we tried to concentrate on the birds. In some way, we had become a bit disoriented. We could not locate too many birds, although the area seemed perfect for them to reside. There were grey herons sitting hunched up along the water while the painted stork could not make up its mind about settling down. A few river terns were busy scouring the water for their breakfast while pippits and bushchats were looking for theirs on the ground. A couple of scaly-breasted munias and wagtails were going about their business.
White-browed Wagtail (female)
The lake seemed to have quite a lot of fish, considering the small splashes in the water from time to time. A brahminy kite was circling overhead, readying for the kill, but we could not capture it enjoying its meal. Another bird which appears to be favouring us in our birding trips is the common kestrel. We saw more than one kestrel in the area, as well as a black-winged kite.
Complete list of birds sighted in Gulakamale Village and lake:
White-browed Wagtail, Paddyfield Pippit, Pied Bushchat, Grey Heron, Painted Stork, Common Kestrel, Black-winged Kite, Brahminy Kite, Green Bee-eater, River Tern, Red-vented Bulbul, Scaly-breasted Munia, Little Cormorant, Little Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Indian Robin, Barn Swallow, Rufous-tailed Lark.