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Blackbuck Resort Vilaspur – Idyllic Weekend Getaway from Hyderabad

Vidya and I spent a delightful three days at the Jungle Lodges at Vilaspur. It was a wonderful experience, and we hope to do it again sometime.

The Drive

We drove from Hyderabad to Vilaspur – a distance of about 135 kilometers. It took us a little over 3 hours – we stopped on the way for breakfast and pictures. The road was a National Highway all the way to Zaheerabad and except for a few patches around Zaheerabad, it was quite alright. After Zaheerabad, we turned into a state highway – this was bad in patches, but again, was not too painful. We continued driving past Bidar and past Naubad till we came to a sign for the Black Buck Resort. We turned off the state highway into a narrow road which soon petered out into bare rock. After about 3 kilometers of following signs on bare rock, we reached the resort.

The Re

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Narsapur – A Birding Trip Report

Saturday found us on a birding photography trip after a longish break.

We set out early to catch the 6:17 AM sunrise at Narsapur, and managed to make the 50-odd kilometers in time to reach there at dawn. We stopped first on the trail leading to the ANGRAU research station. As we drove along the trail, we saw a sounder of boar slowly walking away from us into the undergrowth.

We parked off the trail and set off into the woods. While the others wandered off into the scrub, I walked along a trail that separated a patch of scrub jungle from a cleared area where some sort of farming activity had been attempted. The transitory zone between two habitats would make for some interesting birding, and I was not disappointed.

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Volunteering at the Zoo

Every Sunday, volunteers from the local Roots and Shoots chapter visit the Nehru Zoological Park and station themselves near the cages. They talk to visitors, keeping them from feeding or troubling the animals. Since the park receives (roughly) ten times the number of visitors on Sundays as all the rest of the days put together, this action is very impactful.

Today, as part of an initiative at work, a few colleagues and I joined the R&S volunteers for a day at the zoo.

But before we kick off, a word on the zoo itself. Known locally as the Joo Park, Hyderabad’s zoo is to it what the Marina beach is to Chennai – the one place where every local family and their non-local extensions heads for some R&R. Hyderabad empties itself into the Joo Park on Sundays (similar to how Cyberabad empties itself into Shilparamam on Saturdays and Sundays). The Zoo is by no means small – it is indeed one of India’s largest – but on Sundays, it quickly starts resembling the Black Hole of Calcutta. Given that there are thousands of children and only two medium sized slides, the lines for each is roughly about 2600 long and full of angry parents yelling, “My son was here before your son” at each other. Of course, someone has to back down, and all of them storm away into the zoo to take out their frustrations on the poor animals. Which is where we come in – we try and stop them from behaving inappropriately with the inmates. read more

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Birding at Anantagiri Hills

Went birding in Anantagiri Hills this morning. It is 88 kilometers from my place in Hafeezpet, and Ajith and I drove down. We made an early start, leaving at 5 in the morning. The roads were nearly empty and the drive was comfortable.

Anantagiri Hills is just past Viqarabad, reached from Hyderabad through Moinabad and Chevella. The roads were good, though the ever-changing geography of the way to the airport made it a bit tricky.

As we were driving on the perimeter wall of the Gandipet lake, a sleepy Brahminy kite was startled out of its stupour as it lazily glided in front of us. Further down the road, a peahen flew across the road in front of us. Just outside Viqarabad, we saw a black-winged hawk alight on a treetop in front of us. However, he would not stop for us, and went on his way when we tried to take a picture of him. Just before we reached Anantagiri, a grey hornbill did the same thing to us. read more

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Morning at the Lotus Pond

An early morning walk around the Lotus Pond – Ajith and I have been planning this for a while, and managed to make it happen today.

The Lotus Pond

We set out early (by my standards that is!) and reached the Lotus Pond around seven. There were a few cars parked outside, and there seemed to be quite a few people walking around. However, the birds were pretty much minding their own business, and didn’t seemed to mind us stopping and staring at them, and clicking away with our cameras.

A Purple Moorhen running on the leaves on the Lotus Pond

The atmosphere in the pond and the surrounding park was serene, and the morning sunshine was golden. On the water we saw a grey heron standing on a rock, Zen-master-like. All around it, coots and moorhens squabbled over who got to walk on which part of the water. A purple moorhen suddenly took umbrage and ran, screaming, across the lotus leaves that covered the water around the edges. All this action happened within the first couple of minutes of us entering the park. read more

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Jungle Lodges – KGudi

We just came back from a short, but nevertheless long-anticipated-with-relish, holiday to Bangalore and the Jungle Lodges Resort at Kyathadevarayangudi – KGudi for short.

The resort itself is right inside the Biligiri Ranganna Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, about 86 kilometres from Mysore. Its setting is quite picturesque – it has its own waterhole, and the tented cottages and log huts blend in perfectly with the surroundings. Since the resort itself is plonked right in the middle of the jungle, quite a bit of animal and bird life can be spotted right from one’s balcony.

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Vedanthangal

Sunday before last, I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m.

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