Email to Bngbirds about Mavathur Kere, 170220

When the first report of the “phoren birds”…the European Bee-eaters that pass through our area around this time of the year….came in, I didn’t think too much about it. After all, I told myself, I have seen them in the past…glad that someone else can see them now! I fully expected that they would be gone the next day, as usually happens.

But no! This year, the Foreign Bee-eaters seemed to have decide, partially at least, to follow the example of the Spot-billed Pelicans, many of which have practically bought 3BHK apartments and settled down in Bangalore, and can be seen all year round. They (probably expert birders refer to them as EBE, at the risk of sounding as if they are whistling at a pretty girl!) decided to tarry a while. They are not precisely in Bangalore (as in, sitting on top of Vidhan Soudha), but about 40km away. Every day, I got reports reading, “We (this ‘we’ never included ‘me’!) went and they were there”. The birds seemed to fly off at 7.30am or so, meaning that birders would have to reach Mavathur lake area at least half an hour prior to that.I looked at the BMTC bus that I usually use, and put certain “shall I?” thoughts away.

But when my friend Srikanth asked me if I’d like to come along, temptation beckoned. I had gone to Jigani campus of IIMB on Sunday morning; attended to a domestic crisis in the afternoon; conducted the 3rd Sunday walk at Madivala kere in the evening, helped someone’s parent to the hospital at night,and was (am) going to leave for the Chambal Bird Survey on Monday evening. The sensible thing was to sleep well, and forget those birds.

So of course, like Eve (not EBE) and the forbidden fruit…I fell! Being me, I quickly filled up Srikanth’s car with two more passengers (why have 2 people looking at, or for, the birds, when more could do it?), Mamta (from Bhubaneswar) and Padma, we set off in the pre-dawn darkness, with Siva’s tips to guide us.

These tips being very accurate, we arrived at the Google Maps-designated “Your destination has arrived” early enough to walk for about 15 to 20 minutes, beguiled by other birds such as Little Grebes, Coots, and a little blue jewel of a Kingfisher, to the spot where we could see the two electricity pylons. And as we neared them, I did see a few silhouettes beginning to perch on the wires.

The light improved enough to see that they, were, indeed, the European Bee-eaters; these were lifers for all three of my friends. We walked over a rickety wooden bridge, and approached the “bande” or boulders.

The other three managed to climb up; alas, my dinky knee, and the thought of a long journey to Madhya Pradesh awaiting me, kept me back, particularly because of the loose small pebbles and rocks which, I was sure, would roll me down like Jack and Jill! However, I followed a broader path that skirted the boulders, and I could soon see the bee-eaters quite well, if not very close. Since I am far from being a NatGeo photographer, the sight of these colourful beauties, and a few documentation shots, sufficed me.

There were also several kinds of Swallows on the wires; and the beautiful Common Sand Martins I had been told about were there too! I watched for a while, as the birds made their own avian music notations on the wires, as well as chittering away. The Bee-eaters suddenly flew away, at about 7.20am.

Quite content, I looked over the valley, with its check dam and little temple, on the path from which a farmer was bringing his cattle to the fields for the morning’s work. I walked about, seeing several Rufous-tailed Larks, both adult and babies (Larklings? Larkettes?) and many Munias and Silverbills.

By this time, I had armed myself with a stout stick (I’d already fallen once and pulled Mamta down with me too!) and was able to negotiate the Bridge (being a keen birder, I nearly typed “birdge”!) over the River Kwai, well, the wooden slats over the ditch, and came back to the shore of the lake, along with the others.

Here, more unexpected delights awaited us. A Woolly-necked Stork stood, plumb spang in the middle of our path as did a Pond Heron. Clicking contentedly, we also sighted several waterfowl, including a group of Northern Shovellers (I’ve never seen a Southern Shoveller, do they exist?) on the water.

Back to the where the car was parked, a Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher in the fields, and a Blue-faced Malkoha doing its usual skulking act in a wood-apple tree, made a fitting finale to a most enjoyable morning.

We stopped to have breakfast at the new outer space restaurant at Ravugodlu (it’s called NASA’s Davangere Benne Dose!) and filled up our inner space, and returned home by 11 am, well satisified with the morning’s outing!

I do hope that many of you will be going over to see these stunningly colourful visitors to our area before they decide to move on. My eBird list from the morning (what a haul!) is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64628920

I have put up my photos on FB at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157323019538878&type=3

and on Flickr at

IMG_4657

I have included a few videos and photos in my quick-notes blogpost at

Now excuse me, while I go and pack…binoculars? check! Grimmskipp? check!

Cheers, Deepa.

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