Ganeshgudi was turning out to be a fantastic choice to spend a few days. Pundalik, Joma uncle and Vinayak were alway around for guiding me around. A few other birders had arrived by then. We bumped into Gaurav, who was walking through Ganeshgudi trying to find OMH premise. Kartik and Radhika were another awesome couple with superb spotting skills. Birding turns into fun with good company I would say.
One of the highly recommended spot was Timber Depot. We all piled into a Bolero early in the morning and took off with Vinayak. We were hoping to see hornbills and may be woodpeckers. However the luck was not on our side. Hornbills eluded us but we did come across a pair of Jackals who just took off without letting us admire them. Still it was a good walk. We ended this walk at JLR Dandeli for breakfast. I went off wandering around while rest of the group had some good views of hornbills right from the resort. Well, I ended up getting a head massage for the pains.
While back at OMH, we were treated to a couple of reptilian experiences. Both were lifers for me. Basically that means I have not had much luck with snakes yet but I am now looking at taking care of that. First was a green vine snake that was spotted on a previous hike by Vinayak. It was a wonderfully camouflaged little beauty with big eyes. While this is a mildly venomous snake, its very shy and docile. Gaurav and I had fantastic views and I ended up borrowing his camera (he was the smart one with a macro lens) to grab a few pictures.
Other opportunity was even more exciting western ghat endemic “Malabar Pit Viper”. Joma uncle found it near my cottage and decided to move it a bit so that it does not get disturbed with our movements. This beautiful snake became center of everyone (photographers) attention in the camp for a few minutes while it graced us with its presence. It really was a highlight of the trip for me. Got me thinking that I have to do a monsoon trip in the ghats for the beautiful herpetology treasures.
Due to weather being cold, going for white water rafting was out for me. I could take a bath every day but that’s where my business with fully body immersion in water ended. Don’t get me wrong, I love jumping in the water as much as everyone if the weather is favorable. But the weather was like bbbrrrrr. So I went ahead and did the next best thing, get myself into a coracle ride with few other guests. Turned out to be a good choice. While the ride started on the calm waters of the reservoir from a tranquil Shiva Temple, it resulted into a lot of hornbills. While I failed miserably at this, the ride was worth it. I am sure going to be spending a few rides there.
At last I had exhausted my quota if free time. It was time to leave this paradise and move back into the part of the year where everyday one has to go to work and (gasp..) work.. Ah well, as they say, all good things. While this almost month long journey was ending for me, I was glad that I got to witness such diverse flora and fauna of two different parts of India. From the frenzy of tiger centric safaris in MP to extremely fulfilling birding in Bharatpur and Tal. From long hikes in Goa to armchair birding in Ganeshgudi. This was a memorable trip, and I was lucky to have met some great people while traveling. When I started this journey, I was doubtful if I could enjoy a solo trip. Turns out, solo trips are fun. Gotta take another one soon.
If anyone is planning to travel to Ganeshgudi, I would highly recommend Old Magzine House for accommodation. It is kind of default accommodation for most bird photographers visiting the area and it can get a bit crowded around the bird baths. I was lucky that I did not run into any such “hordes of photographers” that a lot of people complain about. However I believe a little walk around the area would result in some excellent sightings and photo ops. Also, OMH guides are really good. If you need a bird guide while you are there, get in touch with Vinayak (9620785247) at OMH. Also you can ask for Pundalik or Joma uncle. Basically all the naturalists at OMH are great.
Do note that western ghats are going through many challenges. Habitat loss, deforestation, plantation, Hydroelectric are just to name a few. So, if I have piqued your interest a bit in this place, go ahead and visit this paradise before we loose it to our greed and to the wave of development.