Posts Tagged ‘zoo’

Reunited with my beloved Flycatcher Avenue!

February 27, 2019

From 2006 and a couple of years after that, I used to haunt the Bannerghatta zoo area regularly. There was (and still is) a direct bus from my home to the area. The zoo was small (smaller than today), and with the Jungle Lodges and Resorts property right there, it was a very safe place to wander around, as the staff and the guards would let me know if there was any elephant movement I should be wary of.

Just outside the old wall of the zoo (which has been pulled down now, but in a touching bit of conservation, has a small part with a strangler fig growing on it, retained!)


there was a beautiful avenue (that is, a tree-lined road). At one point, the road divided into two; the left-hand path went steadily upwards, with a sign (which is still there) saying, “To Mirza Hills”. However, I increasingly started frequenting the lower path, which went along the old wall of the Zoo, and led to a small pond, which had a circular path adjoining the Herbivore Safari area.

The pond was a lovely, leafy place where one could (and still can) see the three most commonly-occurring Kingfishers in our vicinity: the Small Blue, which is no longer “common”, the Pied, and the White-throated Kingfishers.

The areas behind JLR and along the rocky hills were also a great place to sight various birds. The area where the BMTC terminus is today was the home of a family of mongoose, which went about their business without fear. The area near the Butterfly Park was a place where I regularly sighted Scimitar Babblers.

After enjoying all this, I would fetch up along what I named “Flycatcher Avenue”, to get an unfailing bonanza of flycatchers, during the winter months. The summer months still yielded the resident ones such as the Tickell’s Blue and the Fantail Flycatchers.

The signs of change came when the present BMTC terminus was built, and much of the area which had been free and open, was walled up and included in the gated, ticketed area of the Zoo. This meant, not only that I had to pay each time to get to my favourite place, but that I could not get access to it until the gates of the Zoo opened, at 9.30am, which is usually late for birdwatching. But since the avenue always has good shade, I found the Flycatchers even after this time, and hence did not mind paying up for the privilege. We have even sighted the Blue-bearded Bee-eater, the Orange-headed Ground Thrush, and other such species, when we looked across the barbed wire into the undisturbed Herbivore area; a Nilgai or two would amble into sight, and we never failed to spot crocodiles half-submerged in the water, or sunning themselves on the rocks.

Then came more construction. Access to the Flycatcher Avenue was barred as a new wall came up across the lane, and from taking groups of children and adults there regularly, I stopped visiting the area completely. Friends who did visit also told me that access to the lane was no longer available, leave alone accessing the Kingfisher pond.

So it was with a sense of “What will I find?” that I decided to go with Vidhya to the Zoo area again, during the Great Backyard Bird Count, on 15 Feb ’19. I was in for a treat!

Of course, we had to pay for ourselves and our cameras, and could only get in at 9.30am…but once we got in, we found that the disappearance of the old wall was good for us as birders. Where the flycatchers would disappear frustratingly behind the wall earlier, now the area was clear, and we could watch to our hearts’ content.

On this first visit after a long gap, we were able to sight no less than seven of the nine kinds of Flycatchers that I have seen here. We saw the male Paradise Flycatchers in their sub-adult stage without long tails, with half-grown tails, with the fully-grown, replesendent streamer tails too! I need not tell you that we returned with beaming smiles from the visit. Nor have the two subsequent visits been a disappointment in any way, on the 23rd and 25th of Feb. Indeed, near the Leopard/Lion cage (the notice says Leopard, but there is a lion in the enclosure!) there is a bamboo stand which is home to a very tame Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, which led my friends teasingly around the thicket as they got their DSLR shots…and then sat patiently for them…while a full-tail white-morph Paradise flycatcher flaunted his “ribbons” at us from the trees above. We were quite spoilt for choice!

Paradise Flycatcher, White morph

Paradise Flycatcher, Rufous morph

The eBird list for the area behind the parking lot from the first visit (I’ve done three so far) is at

and for the Zoo itself (including Flycatcher Avenue) is at

I’ve put up photos on an FB album at

The flycatchers I’ve sighted and observed here are:

Asian Brown


Black-naped Monarch




Grey-headed Canary


Indian Paradise






Tickell’s Blue






White-browed Fantail


White-throated Fantail


Which makes 11 kinds of Flycatchers, all in that small area!

I am writing to the Karnataka Forest Dept at Bannerghatta, giving these details, and asking for access in future…let’s see what comes of it!

Cheers, Deepa.

Other flycatchers I have seen elsewhere:

Great Crested Flycatcher, St Louis, Missouri:


Dark-sided Flycatcher,Nandi Hills, Bangalore (a record for south India)


A dead Black-and-Orange Flycatcher, Munnar:


Nilgiri Flycatcher, Munnar:


Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Oklahoma:

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Forest Park, 100814

Least Flycatcher, St Louis:

Least Flycatcher, St Louis, 100413

Two outings with Savithri Singh, 23 and 241214

December 25, 2014

Email to the bngbirds egroup:

The visit of an avid birder and a friend from Delhi, Savithri Singh, meant a couple of birding outings, one to the zoo area on the 23rd of December, 2014. (Kartik, Karuna, Savithri, and I.)

This visit was curtailed as I had forgotten that the zoo would be closed on Tuesdays, and Flycatcher Avenue, being now in the ticketed area, would not be accessible. We birded in the orchard area and returned reasonably satisfied with our morning. observing Lark behaviour and the flight of Rosy Starlings. I also got to see the Rufous-tailed Lark in the orchard area after a long time. I wish I’d been able to take Savithri to show her Flycatcher Avenue and Kingfisher Pond…but that will be next time! We took a drive along the Reserve Forest on the Bannerghatta Kaggalipura Road, too, up to the Bhavani temple, but the Kingfishers eluded us there, too.


Barbet, Coppersmith
Barbet, White-cheeked
Babbler, Jungle
Bee-eater, Green
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bushchat, Pied
Bushlark, Jerdon’s
Coucal, Greater
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Black
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Little
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Flycatcher, Asian Brown
Honey-buzzard, Oriental
Lark, Rufous-tailed
Kite, Black
Kite, Brahminy
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Oriole, Indian Golden
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Pigeon, Blue Rock
Pipit, Olive-backed
Prinia, Ashy
Prinia, Plain
Robin, Indian
Shrike, Long-tailed
Sparrow, House
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Red-rumped
Swift, House
Wagtail, White-browed
Warbler, Booted
Warbler, Greenish
White-eye, Oriental

Photos on my FB album


However, Savithri’s wish to sight the Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher came to fruition on the 24th, when a group of us ( Brinda, Kartik, Karuna, Kiran, Savithri, Sharmila and I) went to Nandi Hills. Though the Nursery area was rather sparse on sightings (more photographers/birders than birds!), enough birds obliged us to keep us very happy. One of the highlights was sighting both the Red-breasted Flycatcher and the Red-throated Flycatcher, the differences between which I came home and read about. My post about this beauty is at

(All my pics were of Ficedula parva, and none of F. albicilla! I’ve also included a short video of its call.)

The Blue-capped Rock Thrush put in a very brief appearance at the ‘water leak puddle” near Tipu’s summer lodge, but thereafter, the hordes of visitors seemed to keep it away. We followed a pair of Puff-throated Babblers around the entrance to the Nursery area, and into the broken shed of potted plants there. Bird photography can be “potty” work sometimes!

The Pied Thrush and the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon eluded us, I am afraid, as did many of the raptors. But an Asian Paradise Flycatcher did its Ribbon-tailed Flaunty Dance in the area near the Monkey-Puzzle tree near the summer lodge, the Auricaria cookii tree opposite the water reservoir, and again at the Nehru Nilaya. We were happy with our morning as we headed home.

Here is the list I’ve put up on eBird.

Barbet, Coppersmith
Barbet, White-cheeked
Babbler, Jungle
Babbler, Puff-throated
Bee-eater, Green
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bushchat, Pied
Bushlark, Jerdon’s
Coucal, Greater
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Ashy
Drongo, Black
Eagle, Crested Serpent
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Little
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Flycatcher, Asian Paradise
Flycatcher, Asian Brown
Flycatcher, Red-breasted
Flycatcher, Red-throated
Honey-buzzard, Oriental
Kite, Black
Kite, Brahminy
Malkoha, Blue-faced
Martin, Dusky Crag
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Oriole, Indian Golden
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Pigeon, Blue Rock
Pipit, Olive-backed
Prinia, Ashy
Prinia, Plain
Robin, Indian
Robin, Indian Blue
Robin, Oriental Magpie
Roller, Indian
Shrike, Long-tailed
Sparrow, House
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Red-rumped
Thrush, Blue-capped Rock
Wagtail, Grey
Wagtail, White-browed
Warbler, Booted
Warbler, Greenish
Warbler, Tickell’s Leaf
White-eye, Oriental

Photos on my FB album


Up next, my quick “bird-butter” trail to Valley school this morning (Christmas Day), after the disappointment of having to cancel the volunteer trip to Bandipur. That will have a bird and butterfly list!

Cheers, and hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend and the festive time!

A movie of my favourite haunt: Bannerghatta, zoo area, 261114

November 28, 2014

Instead of the pictures, this time I decided to try and make a movie, and here goes:

Hope you enjoy the images!

More photos on my FB album,


Bannerghata zoo area with Chandu, and David Frye, 120414

April 17, 2014


David Frye (seen here, posing with all the wildlife on sale at the Zoo) is a birder from Detroit, and the previous week we had taken him to Hoskote Lake. We had a good time, too!

In the zoo, we hunted for this


all over the cage, and finally found him right next to us, huddling in the corner of the cage (not distressed at all!) and looking at us with a beady eye.


We saw a


trying, literally, to feather its nest:




deighted us:




had started blooming:


The flowers of the


looked lovely, too.


The Kingfisher Pond (I was very happy to hear the guard in charge of boating call it by this name, and say, “A naturalist has named it!”) looked green and peaceful:


Here’s David, documenting something:


I couldn’t id this tree:




is another tree in full bloom everywhere now:




displayed its scales:


Chandu and David walk down Flycatcher Avenue:


See the beauty of Flycatcher Avenue:


This is the only SMS I could get of the






looked quite greedy as it took a whole Singapore Cherry in its mouth (but it only sucked at the juice and threw the fruit down.)




foraged along the path to the Quarry Pond area:


perky little bird:




made its characteristic “Didyoudoit?” call:


It was lovely to see the Champaka Dhama temple on top of the sheet rock, from the orchard area:




showed its breeding colours:


This is a very non-green “green” photograph, of broken glass litter left behind by visitors:


Some of the animals on sale were very realistic!


We saw these two, with a net and a cage, and we hope they wer
e not going to catch butterflies, because that is illegal:


Everywhere, the


were flitting around, on their annual migration:


David appeared to enjoy his morning, and we gave him a really democratic experience..we took him from my home to the zoo area by one rickety bus and brought him back in an even more rickety one!

Let me close with this close-up of the Queen’s Flower:


The Camp Elephants at Bannerghatta Zoo, April 2014

April 15, 2014


Having gone thrice to the zoo area in the course of a week, I was able to see the camp elephants being brought back from their foraging trips in the periphery of the Bannerghatta forest area.


I must say, I am very impressed with the health of these camp elephants, and their excellent relationships with their mahouts.

They are fed large balls of rAgi (a kind of millet that Karnataka is famous for…Kannadigas love rAgi muddhE, small balls of rAgi flour, with sAmbhAr), every day, and are given enough fodder, too.

As they come back towards the Kingfisher Pond, they seem to love having dust baths. Here are the females, lying down in the dust:


They are helped by their mahouts…the second one is just about settling down!



Look at the little one nuzzling up!


The amount of dust that a female human being would instantly set about cleaning, seems welcome to a female elephant!



A young one comes along curiously (she’s called Roopa):


There’s work to be done…this wood has to be carried inside the zoo, but neither youngster is doing to do that (just like humans!)


The little one, indeed, roots along happily:



They start walking towards the rear entrance of the zoo:


Here’s a short video of their gait:

It’s left to the adults to bring the baled wood:



The elephant’s trunk and mouth are such amazing things!


Obediently, El Nino follows his mother and aunts:


Now, it is the turn of the tusker (in India, only male elephants have tusks) to come and settle down:



Not an appealing sight, the rear of an elephant? I found it quite interesting…


Because, as the mahout dusted him down, I saw a part of an elephant I’ve never seen before (no, not THAT, you dirty-minded lot!)


The soles of an elephant’s feet!


This tusker is called “Vanaraja” (King of the Forest):


After his dust bath, he headed in the opposite direction, back into the forest periphery:


Here’s the tusker getting up:

We watched him as he swayed off, majestically:


After being brought back into the Zoo, they seemed to be very happy in their enclosure:


Throwing dust over themselves, or dusty stuff, seems to be a way of relaxing:


The unnamed baby was especially happy, lolling about in the fodder:


A foot…and four hands in summer….

April 1, 2014

I got two images at Bannerghatta, which I liked…

A decorated, adorned foot..I was amazed at the craftsmanship of the anklet, and I enjoyed the fact that the young woman obviously likes to wear such jewellery.


And this image, to me is redolent of the joys of summer. Ice-cream, and a visit to the Zoo, with the family…

Will post later, about my outing to Bannerghatta Zoo area, where I concentrated more on clicking trees and less on the birds….

Bangalore Bird Race, 190114: Of Flycatchers, Kingfishers…. and Thrushes

January 20, 2014

As the sun came up,



six teams (and one family who was with us for a while) gathered together


to participate in the annual bird “race”. This time, there was even less reason to call it a race, as it was non-competitive.

Our group had a lot of fun,throughout the day, but for me, a time of especial delight was when we were walked along “Flycatcher Avenue” which lived up to its name, and, indeed, added the



to the Flycatcher list (which, on this day, went: Flycatcher, Asian Brown/Asian Paradise/Black-naped Monarch/Red-breasted/Tickell’s Blue/Verditer/White-browed Fantail..only the Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher was missing!)

We then walked around “Kingfisher Pond” (yes, we sighted all three Kingfishers: the Pied, the Small Blue, and the White-breasted)


and went to the edge of the Herbivore Safari area. Here, we sighted some birds that I have never before seen in the zoo area. One was the Black-naped Monarch, which flew off too quickly for me to photograph; and there were two more.

One was the




a quick video (it’s quite shaky, as I was balancing and trying to keep away from the mildly electrified fence)




another quick video capture of the thrush:

These birds set the seal of contentment on the day for me, and I fell in love afresh with my favouite haunt. I also realized that two assumptions of mine were wrong:

1. Thrushes do not visit south Bangalore, but stop at Nandi Hills, and one has to travel there to see them.

2. Access to this area (it used to be open, earlier, but has now become a ticketed area) after 9am is in vain, as the bird activity would have died down.

Indeed, the area of the Herbivore Safari, just beyond the fence and a small water body, seems to be a place where these birds are not disturbed by any human activity; the safaris conducted by the Forest Department pass a good distance away from the rocks and pile of bamboo leaves and other deteritus that these birds love to walk through, looking for insects.

So now, to Flycatcher Avenue and Kingfisher Pond, I’m adding the Thrush Area. Thanks to Valli, who first spotted the Monarch and the Blue-capped Rock Thrush! Feeling good, thinking about it even now!

What do you do if you’re four years old, and go to the Seal/Sea Lion show at the St.Louis Zoo?

October 12, 2013

It’s not given to everyone to watch the Sea Lion show sitting on their 91-year-old great grandmother’s lap!


You admire the whiskers:


You also take a little time to explore the railings:


You wonder when the show will start:


You watch the trainers take the stage:


You watch the seal sliding down the chute:


You wonder at its ability to balance that ball so perfectly:


You watch Mark, who’s volunteered, as he interacts with the pinniped:


You love the smile on his face:


You wonder if you would like fish as much as these creatures do…


You are stunned to silence when the Sea Lion arrives:


You watch a little more:

You go down to the water’s edge with your Amma and Nana, to get up close and personal with these creatures of the sea:



You go out to enjoy the rest of the Zoo, talking excitedly about the Sea Lion show!

It’s supposed to be Spiderwoman…061013

October 8, 2013


DS had a Corporate Day At The Zoo, with free rides on the train, the Carousel, and tickets to other paid attractions like the Sea Lion Sound, and KTB got her face painted. However, she looked more like a bat with fangs, rather than Spiderwoman!

I must say, those are the sweetest fangs I’ve seen!


The machine in the background is one of those that flatten and elongate your penny and put it out for you…if you also spend a dollar!

Lenticular Mural, by Rufus Butler Seder

October 7, 2013

At the Sea Lion Sound , an award-winning exhibit at the St.Louis Zoo,

I saw this wonderful Lenticular Mural by

Rufus Butler Seder

At the Sea Lion Sound , an award-winning exhibit at the St.Louis Zoo,

I saw this wonderful Lenticular Mural by

Rufus Butler Seder

(Turn the volume down, it’s only crowd noises.)

How I wish Indian Zoos had the money and the imagination that the St.Louis Zoo displays…it’s one of the best Zoos I’ve ever seen, anywhere in the world….and most of the Zoo is free, which raised the amazement factor very high for me.