Saturday, August 8, 2009

Birding around Masinagudi

I did not maintain a diary during my Mudumalai days - thats probably because I typed out an email almost every evening documenting my day in field. After this, I did not have anything different to write in a diary. So I blame it on our hi-tech fieldstation that I don't have a field diary from my 2.5 yrs at Mudumalai.

In the last few months, after I put some distance between me and Mudumalai, I have been getting a bit nostalgic etc and started compling those million emails I typed out to compile a field diary. Here are some notes from my fielddays (you can now call this ecological history):

1st April, 2006

It’s been so long since I went out birding and I am quite rusted. Bomma has been taking Harisha out birding, and like me, Harisha's learning bird names in Bommese. "Chitra" for shikra, "Piginy" for Pygmy. In fact, it was Bomma who initiated me into birding too. Before that 1998 visit to Mudumalai, I had not done much birding. Bomma's really good at spotting nests too.

The field station is part of this row of three houses owned by the TNEB (Tamil Nadu Electricity Board). Next to these houses is the Masinagudi FRH (Forest Rest House) and the loghouse - both of which are operated by the Forest Department and accomodate visitors. Behind the FRH is a large stretch of RF (Reserve Forest) which is heavily grazed. The rest of the TNEB township is slowly moving out since the Pykara dam construction is now complete. Masinagudi has shrunk in size in the last 2 years and most of the TNEB houses now lie vacant. Besides the tourism and dung economy, there's nothing much left here now. A lot of wildlife is returning to these areas and the forest area behind the FRH is excellent for birding.

Just trotted around the Masinagudi log house....saw usual dry thorn forest assemblage: sunbirds, mynas, drongoes, coucal, nuthatches, flowerpeckers, doves, white-headed babblers, white-eyes, small minivets, grey tits, red-rumpeds and, tons of blyth's reed warbler...they are in every bush here. Saw three golden orioles together, and a pygmy woodpecker...also heard the first brainfever call for this year. Saw the orange-headed ground thrush at the same location where I see it most of the time (just around the bend, on the road leading to the loghouse). Again, I heard the flycatcher in the lantana bushes, but could not spot it. I am not sure if I am seeing yellow-throated sparrows or some kind of munias. I could not check the chestnut shoulder patch in the fading evening light.

There are over ten flowering buteas around the loghouse...and they are full of mynas, bulbuls and sunbirds. These sunbirds are going nuts and driving everyone else crazy too. They are hollering at the top of their voices from just about every perch that they can find around these flowering buteas. One could spend all day just watching them fight over these territories.
I wandered around a bit, and then sat in front of that water hole (in front of the log house). A solitary pond heron was pecking away in the mud banks...and many mynas were coming in for a dip after their feast at the buteas. Among these were two grey-headed of them had a very white head, while the other was greying. They rolled and fluttered around in the water...and then went to a small fig tree close by and shook themselves vigorously to dry after their bath.

End of a near-perfect day in field.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can see the birds as you're describing them :) There's a sunbird nest now on the path leading to the log house. The female was flitting between her nest (which was right in the open) to a construction on the opposite side of the road. It looked like she was taking bits of concrete and was adding it to her nest...improvisation :D