Saturday, 14 February 2015

Old Magazine House - Birding paradise in Ganeshgudi, Dandeli

We were waiting for our road trip for a long time. Every year we plan a trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary. This time we selected a road trip to costal Karnataka and forest area. Without a doubt, travelers for this trip were me and my wife Renuka.

Malabar Trogon (Female)
Malabar Trogon (Female)

The trip route was Pune – Dandeli – Karwar – Palolem (Goa) – Gokarna – Murudeshwar – Udupi – Mangalore – Stream of joy near Hathyadka - Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary – Shimoga – Hubali (just for night stay) – Pune

To avoid the length of my travel blog, I have divided it into 3 parts. In this part, will like to share my travel experience at Ganeshgudi, Dandeli – A Birding paradise

About Dandeli and Ganeshgudi:
Dandeli is a perfect destination in north Karnataka for all the nature lovers. It is also famous for adventure activities on the River Kali such as white water river rafting. Dandeli is a paradise for bird watching activity and Anshi National park from Dandeli is the home for Tigers, leopards, black panthers, elephants, gaur, deers, antelopes, and bears. Sighting of cat family in such dense forest is rare.

Ganeshgudi is small village near Dandeli and known for bird watching. The jungle is also home to reptiles and almost 300 varieties of birds.

Route to reach Dandeli from Pune is
Pune – join Mumbai Bangalore National highway – Kolhapur – Nipani – Belgaum – Take exit for Belgaum – Khanapur – Londa – Ganeshgudi.

Day 1: 12th Feb 2015 – Pune – Old magazine house, Ganeshgudi:
            Our journey began at 5 AM as we wanted to avoid the highway traffic and enjoy the morning breeze. The National Highway 4 was in excellent condition and well suited for a long drive. Just a few days before the trip Renuka had met with an accident and fractured her hand and thus I had become the solo driver for this road trip. After Satara, we took a pit stop for tea and coffee. We reached at the Old magazine house resort (a.k.a. OMH) at 2 PM. The Old Magazine House resort at Ganeshgudi is a property run by Jungle Lodges and Resorts. This place owed the ammunition storage during the construction of the Supa Dam project in the 60s. We had reached right at the lunch time; so we quickly freshened up and had our lunch. Food was delicious. After lunch we checked in. 

Old Magazine House Dormitory
Old Magazine House Dormitory

                The Old Magazine House resort has 5 cottages and a dormitory that can accommodate up to 20 people. The dining area is located on the roof of a dormitory bungalow. Without spending any time for relaxation we quickly went outside for what we were here for - bird watching!! There are many birding spots in the resort; the best spot is besides the dormitory area where the birds enjoy bath in the bird bath pots. The people at the lodge have put up a few bird baths, a few perches around it and created a barrier a safe distance away for people to come and watch the bird activities. We saw around 25+ different species in a single morning/afternoon.

Old Magazine House Cottage
Old Magazine House Cottage

Ready for photography?
Ready for photography?

            Our session began with the entry of Emerald dove followed by Oriental White Eye, Flame Throated Bulbul, Monarch, Little Spider Hunter, White Rumped Munia, Shama, Crimson-backed Sunbird and chest nut bee eater. We were busy with the camera. As my wife had a plaster on her hand, she was unable to use the camera and just enjoyed watching bird activity from the binoculars. Due to an odd day, we were only 6 members in the resort area. As we all had a common interest, it doesn't take much time to make new friends. All of them were experts in photography and that gave me an opportunity to enhance my knowledge. There were 2 Naturalist with the good knowledge on flora and fauna in Dandeli. Mr. Jom Pariakar (Naturalist at Old Magazine House) helped us in the 2 days to spot birds. We met Shaji Mohammad, Bhavita Toliya, Neeti Raj and his Wife at OMH. We all enjoyed each other’s company for 2 days.

Flame throated Bulbul at Old Magazine House
Flame throated Bulbul

Emerald Dove at Old Magazine House
Emerald Dove Wing Display

White Rumped Munia at Old Magazine House
White Rumped Munia

Shama at Old Magazine House
Shama

             There was no activity of birds after first show so we all had our coffee/tea break. After some time, the first bird Asian paradise flycatcher female, arrived on the perch. We began our photography. Soon Verditer Flycatcher came at the bird bath. Other birds were appearing one by one and waiting for their turn to take a bath in the pond. Naturalist Jom asked us to keep an eye on the left-side birdbath which was a tiny dug-out on the ground. Racket tailed drongo was about to land in the pond. For the first time I saw racket tailed drongo so closely.

Asian Paradise Flycatcher Female at Old Magazine House
Asian Paradise Flycatcher Female

Verditer Flycatcher at Old Magazine House
Verditer Flycatcher

Greater racket-tailed drongo at Old Magazine House
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

             After some time, we heard a heavy sound of wings. It was none other than the Great Pad hornbill. Naturalist told us to keep an eye on the sky and within few second, we saw a huge beautiful Great pad hornbill in flight. Somehow I manage to click record shot of it. The sight of the Great pad hornbill and the heavy flight sound produced by its wings made my day. The wing beats are heavy and the sound produced by birds in flight can be heard from a distance. Resort staff claimed that they saw great hornbill after 10-15 days in Ganeshgudi. After this, we saw a lot of bird activity in birdbath area. By the way, Resort staff has given the name to this (birdbath) area as OMH studio.

great Indian hornbill or great pied hornbill
Great Indian Hornbill or Great pied Hornbill - Record shot

             Our evening was booked for hornbill Malabar Pied Hornbill show. There is small government pumping station on Kali River near OMH and only resort guests are allowed to visit that area with the resort staff/ Naturalist. We waited there quietly for 1 to 1.5 hours and manage to click few flight shots of Malabar pied hornbill. One side of river has hornbill’s nests whereas other side consists of trees with small fruits which are their favorite food. We saw more than 40-45 Malabar Pied hornbills which was a treat for the eyes.

Malabar Pied Hornbill at Old Magazine House
Malabar Pied Hornbill

Malabar Pied Hornbill
Malabar Pied Hornbill Pair

Malabar Pied Hornbill
Malabar Pied Hornbill in Flight

Malabar Pied Hornbill at Old Magazine House
Malabar Pied Hornbill

              After spending quality time at Ganeshgudi pumping station, we came back to the resort saw some bird activity in the resort area before we called it a day. The tripods were packed away and the studio shut for the day. We went in the room and got ready for bonfire camp. A blazing bonfire came up on the grounds as we sipped hot soup and pakodas seated around it. We spent more than an hour discussing Wildlife, Photography and past experiences before we proceeded for dinner. After a delicious dinner we took rest. It was a fabulous day and great start of our Karnataka trip. 

Restaurant of OMH
Restaurant of OMH

Expense:

  • Car Petrol: INR 2600/- (approx. 41 Lit at INR 63/lit)
  • 4 Tolls in Maharashtra: INR 280/- (Pune to Kolhapur, one way)
  • 2 Tolls in Karnataka: INR 50/- (Kolhapur to Ganeshgudi, one way)
  • Dormitory stay at Old magazine house: INR 3436/- for 2 person with all meal and tax

Day 2: 13th Feb 2015 – Old magazine house, Ganeshgudi - Karwar:
              We woke by 6 AM and were ready for bird watching. Yesterday, few folks had seen Malabar Trogon in the morning time in the Resort area. We were hoping to see Malabar Trogon and to capture in camera which is dream shot for a bird photographer. The morning show started soon and all of us again got busy shooting the colorful birds. Our session began with Emerald Dove, Yellow Browed Bulbul, Shama, leaf bird, Asian Paradise flycatcher, Verditer flycatcher and many more. Yesterday we heard a call of Malabar Giant Squirrel but were unable to spot her. Today Giant Squirrel came and we saw it at the entrance of OMH. Soon we heard the drilling and drumming voice of Woodpecker. It was the Greater flame back Woodpecker. I was unable to click a shot due to the dense trees.

Verditer Flycatcher at Old Magazine House
Verditer Flycatcher

Indian Scimitar Babbler
Indian Scimitar Babbler

Malabar Giant Squirrel at Old Magazine House
When wire spoil your moment - Malabar Giant Squirrel

Malabar Giant Squirrel
Malabar Giant Squirrel - Lunch Time...!!!

Asian Paradise Flycatcher Female

Little Spider Hunter
Little Spider Hunter

               We were about to take a breakfast break when Naturalist Jom called us from cottage side forest. He was calling us because he had spotted Malabar Trogon. When we reached there, we witnessed a Male Malabar Trogon. With some bird activity, we noticed there were few Female Trogons as well. Wow... We saw 1 male, 3 female and 1 sub adult male Trogon. We were following them with a safe distance for around 30-40 min. The appearance of Trogon made our day. This species is becoming rarer in many parts of India. At the same time, we saw pair of Scarlet minivet. But due to Trogon’s presence no one noticed it. After this beautiful sighting, we took a break for breakfast.

Malabar Trogon at Old Magazine House
Malabar Trogon Male

Malabar Trogon Female at Old Magazine House
Malabar Trogon Female

Malabar Trogon Female
Malabar Trogon Female

Malabar Trogon Female at Old Magazine House
Malabar Trogon Female pair

             After breakfast we were again busy with birding activity. We heard a call of Serpent eagle and saw it in the sky. From this point there were no birding activities for next 30-40 min. It was like all birds had gone deep in the forest as their predator was hovering in the sky. After some time the birding activity began but very few birds were making their appearance at birdbath. It was an amazing experience at OMH for birding. We completely enjoyed it.

Malabar Trogon Female at Old Magazine House
Malabar Trogon Female

            In the morning session, we met Mr. Vaibhav Kamat who is the CEO of Jungle holidays. When he got to know about our 12 days Road trip plan, he helped us with the routes, places and things to do during our trip. Best part about this trip for me was that I met quite a number of people who were into birding and happy to share knowledge. It was our pleasure to meet and connect with Shaji Mohammad, Bhavita Toliya, Neeti Raj and Vaibhav Kamat. We are still in touch with each other.

Bulbul

Bulbul with catch

White Rumped Munia
White Rumped Munia



             The Old Magazine House resort is not only a place to photograph birds, it is also a junction where you get to share your experiences and learn about bird behavior as well as about trade photography tips. We skipped the Timber Depot location for birding as the staff advised us that there is no fruiting hence less bird activity in that area. The best time to visit is from November to February 1st week due to fruiting period. We left this beautiful place by 2 PM, deciding to surely visit again in the month of November 2015.

OMH Studio

Malabar Trogon  at Old Magazine House
Malabar Trogon Male

Bye bye to Malabar trogon...See you in November

Bird List which We saw in Dandeli:
Yellow Browed Bulbul
Rock Thrush
Black Drongo
Dark Fronted Babbler
Flame Throated Bulbul
Ashy Drongo
Black-nap Monarch Flycatcher
Spider Hunter
Racket-tailed Drongo
Verditer Flycatcher
Indian scimitar babbler
Yellow-browed Bulbul
Malabar Grey Hornbill
Chestnut Headed Bee Eater
Red-vented Bulbul
White Bellied Blue Flycatcher
Tickell''s Blue Flycatcher
Flame-throated Bulbul
Emerald dove
Malabar Barbet
Black-throated Munia
Asian Paradise Flycatcher
Coppersmith Barbet
Purple Rumped Sunbird
Vernal Hanging Parrot
White-cheeked Barbet
Black-hooded Oriole
White Rumped Munia
Brown-headed Barbet
Malabar Trogon
leaf bird
Plum-headed Parakeet
Scarlet minivet
White Rumped Shama
Lesser Yellow-naped Woodpecker
Malabar Pied Hornbill
Oriental White Eye
Lesser Goldenback woodpecker
Great pad hornbill
Indian Black Lored Tit
Grey-fronted Green Pigeon


             Our next destination was Karwar. Before heading to Karwar we visited Syntheri Rocks. This place is really worth visiting. Rock formation is very beautiful. From main road, you need to drive for 2km to reach at Syntheri rock parking place. The road is in a motor-able state but not in good condition for small cars. From parking space, we climbed down around 300 ft. to the Syntheri rock point. It is really amazing formation of Rocks and small caves on water stream. Good for landscape photography.

Way to Syntheri Rock
Way to Syntheri Rock

Syntheri Rocks

             After quick visit to Syntheri Rock, we went to Karwar which was our first destination from costal region. To avoid bigger blog size, I have written the blog on costal line trip separately. Please click on Road Trip to Coastal Karnataka trip (Coming Soon) to read about our further journey.

Crested Serpent Eagle...
Crested Serpent Eagle...

Expense:
  • Syntheri Rocks Entry: INR 10/- per person
  • Syntheri Rocks Car entry: INR 20/-
Contact number for reference

Costal Karnataka Travel blog link: Road trip to beautiful Coastal Karnataka
Forest trip to Karnataka: Stream of joy and Bhadra WLS visit


I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni
Pune

8 comments:

  1. Superb Pictures .. Must visit place for all bird, Nature lovers & photographers ... Worth to visit again. Great Work Pritesh. Keep it up..

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  2. How to reach you? Please publish your email id.

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    Replies
    1. Please post your email address in comment and i will mail you for further details...OR you cam mail me at pritstravel@gmail.com . This is my alternate email address which i checked once in month.

      Regards,
      Pritesh Kulkarni

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  3. I had been to Ganeshgudi end of the year 2015 on 25th. We had already made the booking through their website. Just like you we enjoyed every activity you’ve mentioned here in detail. To add to the info you’ve provided here, I must mention that the resort’s website http://www.oldmagazinehouse.com/ adds to the convenience of booking the stay in Ganeshgudi . I would consider December the top tourist season and booking in a place like Old Magazine House is quite tough. Nice to see individual resorts in India too adopting technology so well. Just makes the entire thing much more easy to enjoy. Also, wanted to know whether there’s a birding community in the area or nearby?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Aji for your valuable comment...
      Pritesh Kulkarni

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  4. Passionate and comprehensive account. Thoroughly enjoyed your pictures and narration. Humility runs thru your script and you are willing to learn from others. I frequently refer your blog as I am scheduled to be there in two days. All the best in your adventures and thanks for your write-up and pics.

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