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A Date With the Winged Visitors at Ranganathittu

Discussion in 'Travelogues' started by Debapriya Deb, Jun 30, 2015.

  1. Debapriya Deb

    Debapriya Deb Active Member

    Men love bird watching! While few prefer to watch the two-winged, feathered species belonging to the class 'Aves' and clade 'Avialae', the admirer of the fairer-sex belonging to the 'homo sapiens' species are far more from a purely statistical point of view.

    This travelogue is all about the former kind of birds - both the natives and migratory ones. My father-in-law, who came over to Bangalore on an official trip, is an ardent twitcher and an amateur wildlife photographer. Located at just a couple of hours' driving distance my place, Ranganathittu - a bird sanctuary which is pretty rich with lots of migratory avian species - was an obvious choice to give him a pleasant surprise. Ranganathittu is considered as a bird-lovers' paradise with one of the highest bird population density in the country.

    While I am not an ornithologist by any stretch of imagination, the sheer pleasure of listening to their melodious chirpings is a reward enough to set up a date with the winged visitors that throng Ranganathittu year in and year out. Add to that the prospect of capturing few of those on your camera lenses - it's a temptation that's hard to resist!

    I have been to Ranganathittu earlier as well. Not too far from Bangalore and Mysore, the place is usually crowded over the weekends, however, week days attract only a handful of visitors. So to avoid the weekend mad-rush, I decided to take a day's leave from office on a Wednesday, the 4th of February 2015, for the Ranganathittu trip.

    Although early morning is the best time for spotting birds, I did remember from my previous trip that the official visiting timing is from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM. I was also aware of the fact that a reference letter from Karnataka Forest Department can be obtained for being allowed inside the sanctuary beyond the stipulated timings. I got in touch with Srini, one of my ex-colleagues at Infosys, Mysore. His father is a well-known political figure who could have helped us to obtain the reference letter.

    I received a copy of the reference letter signed by the Regional Manager, KSFIC with in a couple of hours. Soon after, I received a call from Ranganathittu DFO for a confirmation on the trip schedule. He also confirmed that a boat-man will be on duty from 6 AM to take us through the islets on Cauvery river.
    Next morning, we set off for the day-trip to Ranganathittu at 4:15 AM. In order to get inside the sanctuary latest by 6:30 AM, I decided against taking any breaks during the journey. We even packed our breakfast from home to save us some valuable time.

    Place - Ranganathittu
    Category - Wildlife / Bird Sanctuary
    State - Karnataka
    District - Mandya
    Trip - 1 Day Trip
    Date - 4th Feb, 2015
    Travellers - My wife and daughter with their respective fathers
    Our Ride - Maruti Alto 800
    Bangalore to Ranganathittu Route (132 KM) : Bangalore -> Ramanagaram -> Maddur -> Mandya -> Srirangapatna -> Ranganathittu

    It took us just 30 minutes to hit Bangalore-Mysore Expressway at the Kengeri junction via NICE Road. It was still dark outside and traffic was paltry. I was driving non-stop at a speed of no more than 100/110 KMPH. By the time the first ray of daylight descended on earth, we were approaching Srirangapatna. I slowed down a little as I had to take a right diversion couple of kilometers further down the road - which was very easy to miss out.

    Last time around, we could not spot the signboard, ended up at Mysore and then had to take the Mysore Ring Road towards Brindavan Gardens to arrive at Ranganathittu.

    This time though, I was more cautious. After passing by an Indian Oil filling station on the left, I took the diversion towards Ranganathittu. The clock was yet to strike 6:15 AM mark and we were on target to reach the sanctuary by 6:30 AM. Ranganathittu gate was just 4 KM away from there.

    However, it was not the case. There's a railway crossing en-route after a KM or so. To my utter disappointment, I found the railway gate closed. We waited patiently on the small queue with a few more vehicles. There was a small tea stall a few meters away. So we decided to sip on a hot cup of tea as the wait continued for the train to pass by. There was no sign of the train though, even after a few minutes. I was increasingly getting restless. Finally, after a 10 minutes' wait, the train arrived at a snail's pace and eventually the gate opened up.

    We landed at the entrance of Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary at 6:35 AM. The staffs at the gate were very courteous and they allowed us in after thoroughly checking the reference letter along-with a copy of my ID proof.

    At a distance of just 4 KM from Srirangapatna off Bangalore-Mysore expressway, in the downstream of KRS, Ranganathittu Bird Sactuary is located on the bank of river Cauvery. It consists of 6 tiny islets formed by the Cauvery river meandering around a rocky terrain.

    A leisurely boat ride can take the visitors within touching distance of a variety of migratory birds. It's a delight to watch the winged visitors making happy forays into the water. Surrounded by deciduous forests with lots of bamboo, eucalyptus, Terminalia Arjuna and various pandanus trees, you can spot a variety of native and migratory bird species including cormorants, darter, white ibis, spoonbills, open-billed stork, painted stork, egret, heron, stone plover, Indian cliff swallow and kingfisher to name a few.

    Besides the avian species, there is the prospect of catching glimpses of the marsh crocodiles in their natural habitat on the banks of the Cauvery river. Bonnet macaque, otter, mongoose and palm civet are among other common mammals and reptiles found here at Ranganathittu.

    There was absolutely no human presence inside the sanctuary besides the staffs. The piece of nature was all ours. The first thing we did was to reserve a 6-seater boat for a ride through the islets. We had an awesome time spotting a host of known and unknown birds. The boat-man was of great help to us in identifying the unknown species of birds.

    My daughter was, however, more excited to see the crocodiles that were basking in the glory in their own lazy elegance. They looked extremely ferocious - if my wife's words have to be believed. But thankfully, they were not bothered at all by the human presence and happily posed for photographs.

    We spent over 2 hours on the boat ride, till the sun started to come down with all its prowess. It was 9:15 AM by the time we disembarked from the boat, but the amazing surroundings made us forget about the breakfast - or rather the lack of it.

    Once back at the shore, the hunger made its presence felt. So we finished off the breakfast with the packed food brought from home and then decided to grab some ice-creams from the nearby food joint. I wanted to catch the scenery from top of the watch tower, but my daughter was not ready to let me climb up alone. She too wanted to join me, but her mother was in no mood to let her go. To be frank, it was impossible for a 3.5 year old kid to climb the risky metal ladder.

    As the tears were about to roll down her cheeks, I asked my daughter to jump over to my shoulder and her 'SuperMan' dad somehow managed to climb on top of the viewing tower. It was well worth the effort - we could get a beautiful panoramic view of the entire stretch from top of the watch tower. And, most importantly, the winner's smile on my daughter's little face was as always a priceless possession.

    We lazily roamed arround the park for another hour or so. There's a beautiful lotus pond near the parking lot. After a brief spell of photo-shooting over there, we proceeded on the return trip towards Bangalore at 11 AM. Few more photographs from our Ranganathittu tour are embedded below.

    The return drive took more than two extra hours. Firstly, we halted for an hour at Kamat Lokaruchi near Ramnagaram to have our lunch. Secondly, due to the increased traffic congestion after Bidadi till Bangalore. But the discomfort was too insignificant compared to the bundle of joy that Ranganathittu presented us. It was a perfect short family trip that all of us thoroughly enjoyed.

    Last edited: Jul 1, 2015
    DhongiBaba and Chahal like this.

  2. Deven

    Deven Member

    Brilliant write up and I especially love the picture of the pelican, very well captured.

  3. Debapriya Deb

    Debapriya Deb Active Member

    I will gladly take the compliment, but frankly, the credit must go to my Nikon D-3100 SLR for the amazing work it did.

  4. Isafab

    Isafab New Member

    Very clever of you to get in early before the crowd! Also a good way to avoid the heat of mid-day. I love the escellent photos, there really are some amazing birds there.