Three amazing sightings at Nandi Hills
This weekend I thought we should visit Nandi Hills. It’s been a while that we visited the place…maybe two months. As usual, Nandi Hills turned out to be a gracious host and we had an amazing birding session, despite a huge crowd and some ear-splitting yodeling by a raucous group. Sigh.
Anyways, let me not digress.
The highlights of this trip (Saturday, 21st February) were three sightings:
1. Red Spurfowl
We had come across red spurfowls previously in BR Hills but the skittish birds just would not allow us to photograph them. They would suddenly emerge out of bushes, run in front of the vehicle for 5 seconds and before we could focus, they would be gone. I thought we would have to wait for another trip to BR Hills to see them again.
But the old adage that extolled the virtues of one’s own backyard proved true. For, the spurfowl appeared right in front of us, on the way to the hilltop at Nandi Hills. For a moment, we thought it was a lone grey francolin or maybe a female grey jungle fowl, since most early mornings we would find them foraging near road-sides, just like domestic chicken. But this morning, it was a red spurfowl.
Poor record shot of Red Spurfowl
The light was too low and I guess we were just not prepared. Hence, the pictures failed again miserably, but at least this time we could make out that it was a red spurfowl and also that these fellows were closer to us than we had known.
2. Tickell’s Thrush
We had gone down to the nursery, hoping for some respite from the shrill shrieks of the species homo sapiens. There, near the statue of the beautifully calm Nandi bull, we saw a bird that resembled an Indian Blackbird. In fact, we thought it was a blackbird till we saw the patch near the neck and the absence of a prominent yellow eye ring. Back home, we consulted our Birds of Indian Subcontinent and found it to be the Tickell’s Thrush. The distribution map showed that although the bird migrated towards peninsular India in winters from the Himalayas, its presence was sporadic in Bangalore.
I did a quick Google search to find out about its previous sightings in Nandi Hills and found that someone had noticed it on the same day as we did, in the same area, and had posted a query on bngbirds regarding how common or rare were sightings in the Bangalore area. Something that even I would like to understand.
In any case, I am absolutely thrilled and I think I will place it alongside our other fabulous sighting – that of a greater flamingo in Bangalore (Rampura) in 2012.
3. Red-breasted Flycatcher
This one had been on our list for long. It seemed to me that it appeared in front of everyone at Nandi Hills, except us. Last season, we had gone looking for it high and low and instead of the red-breasted we had come across the more elusive ultramarine flycatcher. This winter we sought for it with renewed vigour and still the little creature would not appease us with its sighting. Finally this trip cracked it and although we had a fleeting glance of it and a very poor record shot, I am just happy that I can now tick it off our list. I have observed that once I tick it off the list, the sightings become more frequent.
Poor record shot of Red-breasted Flycatcher
So then, here’s to more amazing sightings at Nandi Hills!