Hampi. The name brings to mind ruins in stone from the Vijayanagara Kingdom. Music in stone. But Hampi is not just about the Vijayanagara Kingdom and its ruins. Hampi has a side to it that not many know or realize. It has a lot to offer to anyone who loves nature. This post is about the flora and fauna of Hampi.
We heard about the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary for the first time when a new Jungle Lodges resort was opened at Kamalapura near Hampi. We decided to go there with a group of friends towards the end of October 2010 for 4 days. That was going to be enough time to visit the sanctuary as well as explore the ruins of Hampi. I wrote separately on the ruins and if that is what brought you here, here is the link to that post.
JLR Sloth Bear Resort
The resort situated at Kamalapura is set at a very peaceful location. One of the things we liked about the resort was that it has been put in place without altering the “feel” of the surroundings. There are no “artificial” manicured lawns etc. The staff were all wonderful and very helpful. The cottages, like with all JLR resorts were large and spacious. Not exotic by any means but perfect for a peaceful time.
Birds around Kamalapura
We had a surprise in store for us during the whole of this trip. The birds that we saw here will remain in our memories forever. The resort itself is home to quite a few birds. We were welcomed to the resort by Common Hoopoes who seemed to be quite at ease perched on the arch at the entrance of the resort! A Long-tailed Shrike posed for us when we opened the balcony door of our cottage!
A Rock Agama near our cottage was almost invisible as its colour blended with that of the rocks and soil around providing it with an excellent camouflage.
Special thanks to Mr.Virupaksha who was our Naturalist at the resort. He helped us to spot quite a few birds. He took us for a drive along the Tungabhadra Canal at Kamalapura. It was heavenly for us as we had just gotten into birding at that time. The terrain was so different and very rocky with quite a lot of huge boulders.
The first colourful bird that we spotted was the Baya Weaver by its nest. We spent some time observing these.
A Common Kingfisher came nearby and seemed oblivious of our presence. Suddenly Virupaksha excitedly called Nagesh and said that a Red Avadavat had just flown by and must be somewhere close by. The two of them went in search of this lovely bird and managed to find it! We also saw a Tricoloured Munia close by.
As we went ahead we spotted the majestic Pied Kingfisher gazing at the canal. What a beautiful bird!! We were seeing it for the first time. A White-throated Kingfisher was also spotted perched atop a tree by the roadside.
Few of the other birds that could be seen were the Red-wattled Lapwing, Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Purple Heron, Jungle Bush Quails, White-browed Wagtail and Grey Wagtail. A Water Monitor was sighted for a few seconds and disappeared as soon as it realized our presence.
We stopped by a small bridge and spent some time soaking in the sights. A flock of Green-bee Eaters were fluttering nearby. We spent some time enjoying the beautiful sights.
A Damselfly feeding on what seemed to be a worm kept us engrossed in watching it. As we walked on a path near the canal off the main road we sighted a Shikra. An old and huge tangled tree at the end of the path revealed the presence of a Common Hawk-Cuckoo, more commonly called the “Brain Fever Bird” after it’s distinctive call which seems to go “brain fever… brain fever…”.
We went on a morning birding walk with Virupaksha on one of the subsequent days. The rains had caused a break in the canal flooding the stretch we had visited on our first day here. So we went on the other side of the canal where we had not ventured before. We sighted Indian Silverbill, Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Common Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper, Indian Robin, Common Tailorbird and Indian Pond Heron. A Crab also came along our way.
Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary
The Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary is home to the Sloth Bears found in this region. This region is believed to have been the mythical Kishkindha of Ramayana which was inhabited by Jambavantha who was a bear and helped Hanuman to fight against Ravana. The sloth bears here are believed to be the descendants of Jambavantha. This is not a widely known fact as compared to the ruins of the Vijayanagara Kingdom.
The hills were looking magnificent far away. You need to climb a watch tower in order to spot the bears. Salt licks have been placed at many locations within the sanctuary to draw the bears from their lairs. There are huge hillocks with caves opposite the watch tower. This is the home of many bears. It may be unbelievable, but bears can run very fast and apparently the only way one can escape them when being chased is to run in a zigzag manner or run down a slope. We waited for more than half an hour but there were no sightings. In the meantime we saw some beautiful Painted Spurfowls wandering nearby.
When we had almost given up any chance of sightings and were about to leave, I suddenly spotted a bear with a cub following it walking towards the watch tower. All of us were very excited and our joy knew no bounds. It felt nice to see a bear in the wild in its own natural habitat. A far cry from watching a bear in a tiny cage (in a zoo) with hardly any space for it to move. I have seen bears in zoos looking very tired and bored which is a sad thing! These bears walked around for a while before heading back to their home in the hillock. This was not the end for us. Three more bears came out to meet us! This encounter with the bears brought back sweet memories of listening to the story of Goldilocks and the three Bears in my childhood days :) Our day was done!!
Birds of Hampi
Virupaksha came with us to Matanga Hill to help us spot the endangered Yellow-throated Bulbuls which inhabit the rocky areas around this hill. There was a rough path to climb the hill and we followed Virupaksha as he scanned the area for the presence of the Bulbuls. He and Nagesh went further climbing rocks while the rest of us waited on a landing. While they were looking for the elusive bird that was scurrying away when they tried to get close, the bird caught me by surprise. It landed very close to me on a bush and sat for a good 5 minutes maybe. Though I had a camera with me, unfortunately I didn’t click the shutter :( It then went back to its original spot and allowed Nagesh to get some pictures.
Some of the other birds that we spotted in the surrounding area were Red-vented Bulbul, Common Hoopoe, Grey Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail. Rose-ringed Parakeets were found aplenty in the Vijaya Vitthala temple complex. We missed spotting the Plum-headed Parakeets which are supposedly found near the elephant stables.
|Bee-eater, Green||Merops orientalis||Meropidae|
|Bulbul, Red-vented||Pycnonotus cafer||Pycnonotidae|
|Bulbul, Yellow-throated||Pycnonotus xantholaemus||Pycnonotidae|
|Cormorant, Little||Microcarbo niger||Phalacrocoracidae|
|Cuckoo, Common Hawk||Hierococcyx varius||Cuculidae|
|Dove, Laughing||Spilopelia senegalensis||Columbidae|
|Egret, Cattle||Bubulcus ibis||Ardeidae|
|Heron, Indian Pond||Ardeola grayii||Ardeidae|
|Heron, Purple||Ardea purpurea||Ardeidae|
|Hoopoe, Common||Upupa epops||Upupidae|
|Kingfisher, Common||Alcedo atthis||Alcedinidae|
|Kingfisher, Pied||Ceryle rudis||Cerylidae|
|Kingfisher, White-throated||Halcyon smyrnensis||Halcyonidae|
|Kite, Black-winged||Elanus caeruleus||Accipitridae|
|Lapwing, Red-wattled||Vanellus indicus||Charadriidae|
|Lark, Ashy-crowned||Eremopterix griseus||Alaudidae|
|Munia, Red||Amandava amandava||Estrildidae|
|Munia, Tricoloured||Lonchura malacca||Estrildidae|
|Parakeet, Rose-ringed||Psittacula krameri||Psittaculidae|
|Robin, Indian||Saxicoloides fulicatus||Muscicapidae|
|Roller, Indian||Coracias benghalensis||Coraciidae|
|Sandpiper, Common||Actitis hypoleucos||Scolopacidae|
|Shrike, Rufous-backed||Lanius schach||Laniidae|
|Silverbill, Indian||Euodice malabarica||Estrildidae|
|Spurfowl, Painted||Galloperdix lunulata||Phasianidae|
|Tailorbird, Common||Orthotomus sutorius||Cisticolidae|
|Wagtail, Grey||Motacilla cinerea||Motacillidae|
|Wagtail, White-browed||Motacilla maderaspatensis||Motacillidae|
|Wagtail, Yellow||Motacilla flava||Motacillidae|
|Weaver, Baya||Ploceus philippinus||Ploceidae|