Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Soaring Vultures of Ramanagara - Trip report - 20 Jun, 2009

Saturday morning saw us drive to Ramanagara - the land of gigantic rocks, Sholay and, of course, vultures.

The first sighting of the Long-billed Vultures (Gyps Indicus) roosting high on the rocks was amazing. They look like small rocks from the ground. Also known as the Indian Vultures, they were previously clubbed together with the Slender-billed Vultures of NE India as a single species. They are among the worst hit by diclofenac. We spotted 7 of them on the rocks.

Since it was early morning, we decided to check out the Long-billed Pipit on the plains around the rocks. As is becoming common with most of my nature-watching visits, I startled a quail soon after we got there. An Indian Bushlark was singing and doing its parachuting display. A group of Scaly-breasted Munias were busy around a small tree. The number of butterflies fluttering around was sheer magic.

We spotted the Long-billed Pipit sitting majestically on the stump of a palm tree. It's a rare pipit (there is only 1 photo on INW).

We then decided to trek up to the top of the hill to view the vultures as they took off. As we approached the car, the Egyptian Vultures on the opposite rock had taken off and were doing their morning recce flights. We drove up to the base of the Ramadevara Hill and climbed the stairs. Midway, we took a diversion and trekked up the rock. As we climbed higher, the landscapes got more and more beautiful. By then, the vultures had taken off and it was a sight to see them soaring with their huge wings. They were flying back to their roost and taking off again. It was awesome.

I stopped a little way before the summit. The rest of the group got some interesting views and a pair of Long-billed Pipits as well.

This was insect kingdom. I've never seen such a wide assortment of butterflies, hoppers, bugs and spiders (even a green one!). A lot of them were totally new to me.

Crimson Tip (Colotis Danae)

We trekked back to the steps and walked up to the temple in search of the Yellow-throated Bulbul. We heard them a few of times and saw fleeting glances. One of the tourists there alerted us of a tortoise. We discovered an Indian Pond Terrapin, possibly lost or looking for a nesting site, very close to the temple. I guess it would've wandered from the pool around the temple.

We finally saw the Yellow-throated Bulbul at the base of the stairs. An adult was feeding a spider to its young one. A little more butterfly-watching and we were off.

A fantastic trip and so many lifers too - Long-billed Vultures, Long-billed Pipit and Yellow-throated Bulbul, not to mention the butterflies.

Post-lunch, we proceeded to Kommaghatta Tank.

List of Birds

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