Thursday, July 23, 2009

Agumbe - Monsoons, Rainforests and the King

Agumbe in monsoons is addictive! Many people I know are still unable to comprehend why I was in a place which gets the most rainfall in South India, that too at the height of the monsoons. It’s a joy that can only be experienced...

Monsoon in Agumbe

Along with a group of photographer-naturalists, I spent an extended weekend at Agumbe last week. Our base was the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station (ARRS). ARRS was founded by Romulus Whitaker to study the rainforest ecology. Their flagship project is the King Cobra project. These elusive giants are among the least studied animals in the world.

Our trip started off with a rather adventurous twist. For those not following the news, Karnataka’s coast has been battered by the monsoons. Most of the ponds and lakes are overflowing and the roads were flooded at multiple places. As our bus from Bangalore navigated through tyre-deep water (where cars and vans were stuck), we ran into electricity wires that were hanging low! A few tense moments and we realized that the place (luckily for us) had no power. The bus conductor, rather foolhardily than bravely, pushed the wires with a plastic bag and we took a deep breath again.

A glimpse of the rainforest

Monsoon is the best time to be in Agumbe. That’s when the forest comes alive. Streams turn into rivulets. Waterfalls abound. Raindrops fall on your head :). The fog turns it into a dream. Although most animals and birds are hard to spot in this weather, frogs, crabs and snakes appeared to be having a gala time.

Crab

Calotes Rouxii

The following is a list of frogs and snakes seen on the trip.

Frogs:
1. Rhacophorus Malabaricus (Malabar flying frog)
Malabar Flying Frog (Rhacophorus Malabaricus)
2. Duttaphrynus melanosticus (Common Indian Toad)
3. Sylvirana Temporalis (Bronzed Frog)
Bronzed Frog (Sylvirana Temporalis)
4. Philautus Neelanethrus (Blue-eyed Bush Frog)
5. Philautus Ponmudi (Ponmudi Bush-frog)
6. Philautus Wynaadensis (White-nosed Bush-frog)
7. Euphlyctis Cyanophlyctis (Common Skittering Frog)

Snakes:
1. Spectacled Cobra (Naja naja)
2. Hill Keelback (Amphiesma monticola)
3. Green vine snake (Ahaetulla nasuta)
Green Vine Snake
4. Malabar rock pit viper (Trimeresurus malabaricus)

The thing with most of us city-breds is that rains automatically trigger an instinct to get indoors. I “suffered” with this for the first couple of days of my trip. I would get up to the sound of rain and would feel so thankful that I was indoors. Then, better sense would prevail on the purpose of my trip. I would slowly get myself into a raincoat, with my camera hanging on my side, and be off into the rains.

Forest Fungus

Leeches were a particularly interesting part of the trip. These slimy heat-sensing creatures come out of a long sleep at the onset of the monsoons and suck blood out of everything that moves. And they are everywhere. I was, admittedly, very scared of them for the first two days. I wouldn’t go out without leech socks and would scream when I found one of them on me. Then I saw a long stream of blood on my leg (from a leech that had had its fill and fallen off). And, leeches became a part of life.

I must thank ARRS for the fantastic experience. They helped us get around the rainforest and see the bio-diversity. They educated us on so many aspects, including how they track the King. The stay was homely and I still miss the simple food. Thank you guys!

21 comments:

Chandu said...

I can recall my last year's monsoon experience in agumbe! I started recommending everyone to try agumbe only in monsoons! Whatta fantastic place it would be in monsoon. ah those leeches, quick, smart heat sensors!ARRS is the place to be if you are in Agumbe!

Prashant said...

heavens descend on Agumbe during monsoons. Absolutely beautiful place. Please do write more on ARRS, would love to read.

molarbear's posts said...

I do love Agumbe, but I must say, my love of wildlife stops short of leeches, mosquitoes, roaches and rats! :)

Waiting for more photos, Shreeram!

Prem said...

Wow Shreeram!!
I can only envy you.. sounds like a fantastic trip! I can almost feel and sense the rain in the snap...

But the conductor touching the wires... too dangerous! (I recently saw a video of electrocution).

BTW, I will be in Agumbe in Dec / Jan... sigh... not during the rainy season!!

Thanks for the nice report
Prem

supra said...

extremely well photographed dada.

Shreeram M V said...

Thanks everyone. Will be posting more pictures soon...

Ajay said...

hi shreeram,
can you post some pictures of the hill keelback snake? I want to compare it with the picture that I have.
Best regards
Bala
balan@webindia.com

Shivakumar said...

Hi Sreeram,
Visited your blog from a link in INW.
Very beautiful collection of images - truely potrays the feel of monsoon in Agumbe.
Personally in love with the first image of the rain.
Thanks for sharing.
Shivakumar L Narayan

Tharangini said...

Thanks for sharing your experience as well as these amazing snaps with us.. :) It is certainly motivational.
Never knew crabs and frogs could look so wonderful..:)

Ravi said...

Beautiful pictures and a very interesting report. Thanks for sharing.

Ravi Maganti

Saloni said...

beautiful pictures of agumbe...made me nostalgic! (i was working on the radio telemetry project sometime last year)

Roma said...

Loved the picture of the pond surrounded by tall trees and mist. Its breath taking!

Resham Gupta said...

Fabulous pictures Shreeram. I particularly like the crab and the snake. Good compositions and color clarity!!

Rathika Ramasamy said...

Thata awesome macro shots!

Uma said...

Hi Shreeram, your post and your photographs are simply superb! It brought back memories of my trip to Agumbe last year with Deepa, Karthik, Amogh et al (a whole bunch of NTPers, mostly). I've been meaning to write it up since, but have yet to get around to it. Though it was post-monsoon, the effect of the rains was still there - everything was green and fresh... But I'm sure being there in the rains is a totally different experience! Looking forward to more posts from you.

Lakshmi said...

what a place..lovely pics ..would love to be there

India, kernataka, shimoga, thirthalli said...

good photographed dada waiting for more

mM said...

super awesome pictures...loved them...am planning to get there before the monsoons end...

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http://www.wow-wonderworks.blogspot.com/

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