My series of posts on the Jungles of South India continues. This time its a post on Masinagudi, a place close to my heart. Yes we re-visited Masinagudi in August this year during the Independence Day long weekend. The original plan was to go to Alleppey to watch the Nehru Trophy Boat Race. But we could not go as all the trains were fully booked and flights were very expensive at that point of time. Our anniversary was on 14th and we wanted to go to some nice place and relax. Suddenly Nagesh suggested why not go back to Masinagudi where we had had a good time previously. I readily agreed. We were lucky enough to get a room in Safari Land Resort as someone had cancelled their booking.
We started by 6 AM from home and were in Mysore by 9 AM. After a hearty breakfast at my home there we set out to Masinagudi. The weather was good and we managed to reach the resort by around 12 PM. Unlike last time when it was raining most of the time, this time the weather was sunny allowing us to be outdoors most of the time.
This time we were put up in a tree house next to a stream that marks the end of the resort property. The other side of the stream is the forest area. We could sit inside the tree house and gaze towards the forest. The gurgling stream provided a pleasant sound in the background.
Our first sighting was of a Crimson Backed Sunbird near the parking lot of the resort.
After having lunch followed by a siesta, we met Zo (The Nawab’s daughter-in-law) and the Nawab who welcomed us gladly. We had a cup of tea and the Nawab suggested that we could go for a walk with him to the forest if we were not tired. We agreed heartily and Zo informed us that another photographer Lakshmikanth and his wife and friends from Bangalore would be joining us. We waited for them to arrive. The Nawab showed us a nicely camouflaged nest of a Red-Whiskered Bulbul with the young ones right opposite the dining area.
We started walking enthusiastically towards the forest. As we took the diversion from the main road, we saw a Black-Rumped Flameback Woodpecker nearby at almost ground level. It was feasting on the insects present on the bark of a tree. We spent some time observing this beautiful and shy bird. The cameras in the group went into action and resulted in some brilliant pictures :)
Immediately after this was one of the best sightings that we have ever had. A Changeable Hawk Eagle said the Nawab excitedly. What a majestic bird it was! Our joy knew no bounds and Nagesh and Lakshmikanth started going closer to where the bird was perched to get better pictures. It soon grew weary of us and flew off. The Nawab managed to spot the eagle again after a short while. This time it did not notice us as it was being pestered by some pesky Bulbuls who were trying to shoo it away. They might have had young ones in the nest nearby is what we felt. Anyway this proved to be advantageous for us and resulted in some good pictures.
We then spotted some Yellow-Footed Green Pigeons far away. Since the light was not good in the place where they were perched, we could not get any pictures of them. After walking for a while we reached the ruins of an old temple. We spent a bit of time here and started on our way back.
It was approaching dusk and the wild animals would come out of their lairs. Sloth Bears and Elephants had recently been seen around this time by the Nawab. As we walked back, we could smell the presence of Elephants. We started walking together fast as we did not want an encounter with the Jumbos. The Nawab told us that he smelt Tiger Urine all around. A Tiger had passed by recently here and marked its territory with its urine! The Nawab’s jeep arrived and we were on the way back to the resort.
Suddenly we saw a juvenile Changeable Hawk Eagle being attacked by a Crested Serpent Eagle over what seemed to be a territorial conflict. Our arrival terminated the fight and we probably saved the poor bird’s life. It was wounded pretty badly and could not fly for a long time. Finally it made a mammoth effort and scurried off somehow.
After dinner we had a surprise awaiting us. Zo had found out that it was our anniversary and ordered for a cake :) We cut the cake amidst the cheers from everyone gathered for dinner. What a nice ending to our day!
We woke up early next morning and decided to go to Salim Ali’s tree nearby. As we approached the gate, we sighted a Purple-Rumped Sunbird busy hopping from flower to flower and drinking the nectar.
We had some treats awaiting us around Salim Ali’s tree. First sighting was of a Brown-Necked Raven and a huge fat Myna. Next came the Yellow-Crowned Woodpecker and the Lesser Yellow-Naped Woodpecker. A pair of Brahminy Starlings hopped on the ground. An Indian Palm Squirrel put out its tongue at us :) All in all we spent a good 2 hours here before it was time for some food.
After breakfast we had a close encounter with the Malabar Giant Squirrel which was feeding voraciously on the Guavas atop the trees. It was a pleasure watching this beautiful creature pluck the best Guavas, get it to its dining area (It was coming back to the same branch while eating!) and then start peeling the fruit vigorously. A shower of peals dropped on the ground!
We went back to the tree house and watched the trees around for any activity. We sighted a weary Mongoose who just rushed through the bushes. A pair of Scarlet Minivets were flitting nearby but at an angle where we could not get any pictures unfortunately. We managed to get some pictures of a White Cheeked Barbet which seemed to be feeding its young ones.
After a while we decided to go on a drive till Singara Coffee Estate and then towards Mudumalai. We tried spotting a Jamun tree in vain within the resort which is frequently visited by a Malabar Grey Hornbill around 11 AM daily as per the Nawab. The drive was nice but we did not spot anything except an Elephant in Mudumalai.
In the evening we went on a jeep ride with the Nawab and our new friends to the forest. We did not spot anything on this ride.
On the last morning of our stay here we decided to walk with our friends towards the Salim Ali tree as well as a path leading to the stream near Bear Mountain Resort where they had sighted birds before. We set out early. The sightings included herds of Chital Deer, Scarlet Minivets high atop Bamboo Thickets, Green Bee Eater and the Common Kingfisher.
The Salim Ali tree proved to be disappointing this time as there was absolutely no activity by the time we reached there. There are probably timings at which the birds are active here depending on the weather I guess. On our walk back to the resort we saw a Coppersmith Barbet.
Post breakfast we bid farewell to our friends who were leaving. After spending some time in the tree house observing the pet Geese of the resort playing in the stream we packed our belongings and started towards the parking lot.
Suddenly Nagesh said “Hornbill” and dropped all the stuff that he was carrying :) He immediatedly pulled out the camera and went in pursuit of this majestic bird. He came back excitedly. He had managed to get the pictures of the Hornbill as well as a Malabar Whistling Thrush which is a very elusive bird and more often heard than seen :) What a way to end the trip!
We met the Nawab who was very happy to know that we finally encountered the Hornbill. Bidding farewell to the entire family we set out at around 11 AM. We reached Mysore at around 1.30PM and had lunch at my home. We reached Bangalore at around 5.30 PM.