Birding around Manchanabele Dam
This has been a long pending post. It was supposed to follow my post on TG Halli but dengue fever took over the reins and we had a lengthy battle against it. Finally, when we recovered a bit, we took off for Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary once again and wrote about it. Poor Manchanabele kept on getting postponed further. I also had to write something about food in between. And now my son and I have viral fever (I think)!
But, I shall not push away Manchanabele back any more. What if I forget everything? I already had some trouble recollecting things when I looked at the pictures clicked there. Age and sicknesses are fast catching up on me, I guess.
View of Manchanabele Dam
Anyways, let’s get on with my tale. First, the checklist:
Destination: Manchanabele dam (also known as Manchinabele)
Distance from Bangalore: 50 km (approx.)
Route taken: Bangalore – NICE Ring Road – Magadi Road – Manchanabele Dam
We have been to Manchanabele dam twice till now – the first time on 21st June and the second visit on 13th July. It had rained heavily the second time but it was still loads of fun. We had missed the entrance gate on our first visit and had driven off the road towards the reservoir. The lane nearest to the entrance gate had an amazing view of the waters as well as harboring quite a few families of green bee-eaters, oriental white-eyes, sunbirds, munias, coppersmith barbets and silverbills. Unfortunately, the light was too low for photography and we feared a downpour any moment.
Early mornings at the dam are a picture of tranquility, and yet as the day progresses, it becomes quite a hub of activity. We were glad to have reached it before anyone else on both the occasions and had the whole area to us for at least 1 and half hour, till the picnickers showed up in droves.
The first birds to welcome us into the area were the lapwings, the wagtails and the brahminy kites. Then, gradually as we began to accustom ourselves into the surroundings, we found a lot of activity near the ground and in the small bushes near the huge rocks. The ground brigade was led by the doves and pipits while the little bushes were filled with sunbirds and prinias. The musical cacophony floating to us from these shrubs led us to walk upward towards the rocks. On close observation, we realized that it was more than only sunbirds that inhabited the area. There were tailorbirds, munias, avadavats and one more species that were hopping about among the bushes, but not coming out in to the clearing.
Purple-rumped Sunbird (Male)
Purple-rumped Sunbird (Female)
We waited for these birds and finally restlessness got the better of me. I am ashamed to say but I decided to do something that I had done as a child in Guwahati. We had a family of scaly-breasted munias living with us in our Guwahati home and I would catch glimpses of them every now and then. None of them ever sat still for a moment. Hence, whenever I spied a munia flying past my window I would make a chirping sound and the curious bird would fly right back! It would sit on my window and try to make out the source of the sound. I hoped that this ploy would work on these Manchanabele birds as well. And it actually did! (The husband almost jumped out of his skin by my unexpected antic.) The hiding birds came out immediately, piqued by my ‘chirping’ rendition. They turned out to be the tawny-bellied babblers, a first sighting for us, and they regaled us with their ‘hiding the tail’ antic.
Another highlight of Manchanabele was the flighty group of red avadavats. You could never make out that these beautiful creatures were right beside you till you put forward a step and whirrrrr, there goes your flock of avadavats! The husband swore that he would not leave the area until he got a decent picture of one and so most of the time we sat patiently till the birds came back to their favourite bush. But on hindsight, it was good that we waited for the avadavats for we got to see plenty of other birds in the process. We saw an oriental honey buzzard pass us overhead, as did a woolly necked stork. A brahminy kite swooped down and caught hold of a rock agama, feasting on it later, perched on a nearby pole. We also heard the call of the grey junglefowl by the water’s edge but could not locate it. There were not too many water birds, barring the perseverant egrets, grey herons and cormorants.
Red Avadavat (Male)
Brahminy Kite with Rock Agama kill
Oriental Honey Buzzard
We decided to leave the area as the crowds started to pour in through the gate. The hill side near the reservoir looked promising and we drove around a while before calling it a day. There were a number of babblers, baya weavers, bulbuls, robins and bushchats around that area and most of them gladly posed for us.
Indian Robin after the rains
As we left Manchanabele behind, we realized that we had one big hit and one terrible miss, both related to the same family. First, the miss. We had come upon the elusive blue-faced malkoha twice during the day, and both the times we were left high and dry. The hit was the brilliant sighting and a record shot of the super elusive sirkeer malkoha. Of course, I saw it first while the husband was clicking away at a white-browed bulbul. The moment I saw its red parrot-like beak and dark eyes, I was reminded of what a person had commented on Facebook – the bird with red lipstick and kajal. How very apt!
Sirkeer Malkoha (Record shot)
And so, that’s how we spent our time in Manchanabele dam. If not for my recurring illness, we would have definitely paid a visit there during the long weekend. I hope we (my baby and I) get well soon and explore more areas around Bangalore and see more birds!
Large Grey Babbler
List of birds witnessed in Manchanabele dam during the two visits:
Scaly-breasted Munia, Indian Silverbill, Red Avadavat, Gree Bee-eater, Oriental White Eye, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Common Tailorbird, Ashy Prinia, Plain Prinia, Yellow-billed Babbler, Large Grey Babbler, Red-vented Bulbul, Red-whiskered Bulbul, White-browed Bulbul, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, White-browed Wagtail, Laughing Dove, Spotted Dove, Paddyfield Pipit, Black Kite, Brahminy Kite, Grey Heron, Intermediate Egret, Little Cormorant, Woolly-necked Stork, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Red-rumped Swallow, Grey Junglefowl (call), Indian Robin, Oriental Magpie Robin, Pied Bushchat, Baya Weaver, Coppersmith Barbet, Blue-faced Malkoha, Sirkeer Malkoha, Jacobin Cuckoo, Common Babbler.