Ranganthittu – Revisited

I had visited the Ranganthittu Bird sanctuary for the first time in April 2012. You can find my memories of that trip here First Visit. The lake is actually created by the water released by the Krishnaraj Sagara Dam and has some small islands on it which makes it a suitable place for the migratory birds to come and nest. So somewhere in 1940, the famous ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali, persuaded the Maharaja of Mysore (king) to declare this as a bird sanctuary (“pakshi kashi” in the local language Kannada).

Coming back to the present. In July this year, I got the chance to visit the place once again. One of my colleagues and friend, J wanted to visit the place to make some photo shoots. He asked if I would join and since I was free that Sunday, I went along.

It was a beautiful day – not too hot and though there were some clouds, there was no forecast for rains. On the way we stopped for some breakfast near Maddur and then reached the bird sanctuary at around 9:30 AM.

Once inside, we walked around a bit and found a viewing area called the King’s seat or something like that.I learnt a trick used by J but sadly, didn’t employ it there. He takes photos of the information boards so that he doesn’t have to strain his brain later about what he saw, like what I am having to do now! Noted – for the next time. We took some nice photos from there, rested our feet and enjoyed the cool shade of trees. Then we started for the second part – i.e. to enter the lake.
We rented a full boat for the two of us. There are two options – take one whole boat for yourself, at a higher price of course, or take the one which is shared with several people. J wanted to take the full boat as the boatman then takes you even inside the canopies of trees to locate the birds which are hiding, which is not possible with the bigger boat with many people.

It was nice when we started but gradually the sun’s heat began to prickle the skin. So it used to feel really nice when a small cloud would cover the sun for a bit or when the boatman would take the boat inside a canopy of trees.
The last time I went, it was nesting season for the birds. The eggs had hatched and the place was full of cacophony, for the young ones do make a lot of noise. The birds were seen sitting mostly in the trees. This time, it was relatively peaceful as most of the birds who migrate, had left with their next generation. Some like the Painted Stork, Cormorant, Darters, Egrets etc. were still there who were teaching their little ones to fly – for migratory flight needs a lot of endurance. There is also a set of bats who have made their homes on the tall bamboo bushes (or trees?).

Painted Stork with its children
Painted Stork with its children
Birds on trees
Birds on trees
Bats hanging from bamboo branches

One of the interesting things for me was to see the nests of swallows under the boulders and the nests of weaver birds hanging from the trees. The birds have long since flown out but the ruins tell the story of a once thriving colony, as an archaeologist would say :-).

Swallow Nest
Swallows’ nests
Weaver Bird Nest
Weaver birds’ nests hanging like garden ornaments

You can always count on finding at least one crocodile in the water or one resting on the rocks there. I am glad it was far from me (last time it was near the boat!).

The Diving Crocodile
The Diving Crocodile

Once we had our fill of watching the birds and taking the photos, we decided to return and came back to land.

Walked around a bit and reached a garden. It had lots of trees but the funny thing was that the name boards were for the common trees (like guavas) while the uncommon ones were left without any details!

Unknown tree with interesting flowers (or fruits?)

One new thing that I hadn’t seen (or noticed) before that day was ants making their nest on a tree. They secrete  something (probably saliva) which then hardens to make a thin white cottony structure, which joins the leaves.

Ants making their nest on the plant
Ants making their nest on the plant

After taking a round, we came out and proceeded to our next destination – Somanathpura temple. The details of that will come soon. It was a really great visit and I think, I would make another trip in another month – may be when the migratory birds start to arrive again.

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