Friends today is Karnataka Rajyotsava and I was born in this state and have spent a great amount of my early childhood in jungles and Mysore so I’m in love with namma Karnataka. This is my experience from my recent excursion and my photography of wild life in Bannerghatta .
It was a cold misty morning of the October. I along with my grandad were in front of the Toehold office waiting for the force traveller to arrive. As soon as it came, I hopped onto it. I stuffed my suitcase in the dickie and placed my bag pack in front of my seat. Soon the force traveller zoomed away, taking us past fields, villages and some vegetation. Soon we entered the gate of Bannerghatta or Ragihalli forest. We opened the window to get the aroma of the lush, green forest. We soon reached the Outback Farm.
Sandwiched between two hills, it was a haven for birds and wildlife. We soon entered the farm. It was a lovely, cozy farm with a small lake, three rooms, an activity centre, a kitchen and a really interesting bird hide. We were introduced to our rooms and were allowed to freshen up.
After an hour or so all of us collected in the activity centre. We were first introduced to the place by Phillip, our camp mentor. He talked to us about the flora, the fauna, the birds and the photography opportunities you would get in the farm and the surrounding forests of Bannerghatta. He told us about Bannerghatta being the closest forest to any major city to house elephants, leopards and tigers in the world. We then looked around for the signs of the animals and put up camera traps there hoping to catch a sight of a leopard, a porcupine or the elusive pangolin.
We later had our lunch and were ready to go for some bird photography. It was around 3 and the bird activity would start getting higher at the time of the day. We armed with our photography equipment headed towards the bird hide. The bird hide was kind of a shed which had holes on either side to put out our lens and transparent glass to look through. This helped us observe and shoot birds without disturbing them. We got to click photos of a variety of exotic birds. We saw many bulbuls, white eyes and munias. We were also lucky to see the rare tickellblue’s flycatcher and the white browed bulbul. I also got a chance to use Phillip’s huge 500mm lens. It was certainly one of a kind experience.
We later were ready for bonfire. The warmth of the bonfire gave us some relief from the cold nights of the October. We played many games, had our dinner and went to sleep. The next morning we woke up to the sounds of the birds. It was a new day and a fresh start to something new. It was morning and the best time to spot birds. Therefore we spent our time in the bird hide aiming to get a glimpse of a few more birds. We were this morning really lucky to get a glimpse of a mongoose.
We later had our breakfast and put on our baits. Yes, it was time for angling. I managed to catch a carpe. We released it back without harming it. After a while of fishing Phillip decided to take us to Tattekere or the ‘plate lake’. Why the name? It’s because the lake was flat, as flat as a plate, and in Kannada Tate is plate and Kere is lake. The lake was popularly known as the ‘Kabini of Bannerghatta’ due to the elephant activity here. After a time of clicking landscape pics of the lake we retreated to the farm and had our lunch.
After having lunch we rested to save our energy for the hike to the top of ‘Doddabetta’. Doddabetta had been Phillip’s favourite place in Bannerghatta and therefore he had decided to take us to the place. We left the farm at 4 in the evening. We started hike at 5 passing through evergreen forests, dry deciduous forests, elephant territories and leopard territories. We managed to spot a black capped oriole and tiger pug marks on our way up.We finally reached the top. The view from the top was amazing. We managed to spot a lot of birds at the top. We saw loads of swifts, raptors and swallows. We also spotted a lark and heard the calls of the elusive yellow- throated bulbul. We got amazing landscape shots. On our way back we managed to see a nightjar. I got amazing pics of it. We enjoyed our bonfire where we made and devoured our own s’mores. However it soon started pouring badly. We decided to call it a day. The night Phillip slept in our room as it was on the edge of the forest and a few were feeling scared to sleep alone. It was finally our last day which we spent angling. We also saw an olive keelback killing a fish. We soon bid goodbye to the farm, Phillip, Samantha and the Rosses. It was time to go back home with the amazing stories of our camp. It was a memorable experience which would remain in my memories forever.
I hope this Diwali you also realise what responsibilities you have towards your environment and how many birds and animals die due to noise and sound pollution. So let us keep safe our beautiful nature and the various wonderful spectrums of our Mother Nature. Jai Karnataka !!
Written and photographed by – Vedansh Pandey,
7 th grade student, NPS