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Hello all,

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Rudra.

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Categories: Birds

Trek to Lohagad Fort

July 5, 2014 1 comment

Monsoon season is invariably the trekking season, so we decided to head to Lohagad Fort for our 2nd trek of the season. We started a bit late this time; at around 7:30 AM and reached Bhaje village at 8:30 AM. We planned to park our car at Bhaje village and trek to Lohagad; however if you wish you may drive all the way to Lohagadwadi (Base of Lohagad Fort). Distance between Bhaje village & Lohagadwadi is around 4 KMs. Don’t worry on the parking front as there is ample parking space; at Lohagadwadi as well as at Bhaje village.

As we walked from the Bhaje village towards Lohagad, we could see the Visapur Fort on left and the Lohagad fort on the right. The Bhaje Caves are also on the same road; just take the steps on left as soon as you start from Bhaje village. As you walk on the tar road, make sure you take the shortcuts to cut down on the distance.

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Bhaje Caves

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View of the Visapur Fort.. on way to Lohagad Fort

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View of the Malavali village

It will also give a decent opportunity for birding as you make way through lovely greenery. After covering around 2-3 KMs, you reach a junction where in a left will take you to Visapur Fort and right leads to Lohagad. There is an open space for parking at this junction as well. Walk for another 1 KM and you reach Lohagadwadi. There are a lot of hotel here, serving Zunka Bhakri, Rice thali, Chicken thali and so on. Strangely the cost was on the higher side; in my past experiences at Sinhagad and Karnala, food was priced very well.

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Temple at Lohagadwadi

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Lohagad Fort – Sign board

The steps of the fort start from this point. Another 30-45 minutes and you will be atop the Lohagad Fort. It does give some beautiful views of Dudhiware, Pawna Lake, and the Visapur Fort. Also, don’t miss the Vinchu Kata. Its the highlight of this fort and lives up-to the hype.

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Macro shot from Lohagad fort

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Vinchu Kata

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Vinchu Kata.. another view

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The entry door at the top of Lohagad fort..

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View of Pawna lake.. from Lohagad Fort

We were all prepared considering the raining season, but there was not a single drop of rain 😦 . Thankfully the weather was overcast most of the times, but it did get hot and tiring while returning.

No trip of mine is complete without birding; there was hardly any activity but I did come across the beautiful Malabar Whistling-thrush and the jungle bush quails! The Malabar Whistling-thrush comes pretty close to White-rumped Shama in terms of voice.. very melodious indeed. The way to the fort was pretty much buzzing with its melodious voice.. We also saw the commoners like White throated kingfisher, Bulbuls, Indian blackbird and Jungle babblers.

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Jungle Bush-quails

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Malabar Whistling-thrush

Malabar Whistling-thrush

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Jungle Babbler

 

How to reach: 

We took the old Mumbai Pune highway and drove upto Kamshet. As soon as you cross Kamshet, you need to take a left to Malavali Railway Station. Once you cross the railway line, you drive along; cross the express highway and follow the road. The road shall take you Bhaje Village. You can rely on Google Maps; just search for Malavali, select the Old Mumbai-Pune road option.. and follow the route..! Total time from Pimple Saudagar to Bhaje Village is roughly around 1 hour 15 mins.

Happy trekking!

Birding at Karnala

June 29, 2014 2 comments

The rains are still awaited in Pune, so it was yet another opportunity to go on a birding trip.. We decided to head to Karnala Bird Sanctuary this time.. I had heard mixed reviews about Karnala, still decided to give it a go.. We started early morning from Pune at 5:45 AM and reached Karnala bird sanctuary at 7:30 AM. Note that there has been a recent update in prices at Karnala, especially the fact that they have started charging 100 Rs for still camera (DSLR or Point-shoot) and 250 Rs for a video camera. I hope that will eventually result in making Karnala a better place for the flora and fauna.

Couple of my birding friends had told me to take the Hariyal trail (Take right immediately once you enter the gate); so I started off with the Hariyal trail. We could here chirps of Bulbul and could see few sunbirds.. Walking for around 200 mtrs, we saw a watch tower. Immediately I noticed a Gold fronted Leafbird on a tree near the tower. I utilised the tower to a good effect to get some good pics of this bright green bird!.

We walked further down the trail and I saw a pair of Racket tailed Drongos! Was a lifer for me, but couldn’t click it as it quickly disappeared in the woods.. Then came a point where we took the peacock trails but it did not yield anything. However, all this time we could hear a very melodious voice. We came back and joined the Hariyal trail and immediately I noticed the Black headed Oriole!.. Another lifer and a lovely sight indeed! Another couple of beautiful birds flew right across, and we quickly identified them.. that was a pair of White rumped Shama.. Now we realised where the melodious voice was coming from.. When I was busy clicking the Oriole, Shraddha noticed the lovely Asian Paradise Flycatcher but couldn’t get a sight of it again!

There is one really good practice followed at the Sanctuary. If you buy bottled water, you need to keep 100 Rs deposit and you can take it back once you are through with the trail. Also, the route to Karnala fort trek is through the bird sanctuary; hence you may very well be wanting to take the bottled water. Even if you get bottled water from outside, you will have to keep  the 100 Rs deposit. And the results are clearly visible. The entire sanctuary was green and clean 🙂 .

There is arrangement for food at the sanctuary and is not over priced.. pretty much value for money.. We quickly had some light snacks and we continued onto another nature trail.. and this yielded in one of the best lifer for me! Indian Pitta it was. True to its local name “Navrang”, this bird is very colourful! Personally, this was a very good trip for me yielding 5 lifers! The Indian Pitta, Gold fronted Leafbird, Vigor Sunbird, Common Tailor bird and Black headed Oriole. Here are some of the birds we managed to see during the trip.. I would be definitely visiting again post rains, hoping for more lifers, as well get better clicks.

Indian Pitta

 

Common Iora

 

White rumped Shama

 

Black headed Oriole

 

Gold fronted leafbird

 

Orange headed ground Thrush

However if anyone is planning a trip to Karnala Bird Sanctuary, I would suggest to wait for some rain.. All the streams have dried up.. no water whatsoever! Only respite is that due to some rain, its all green and dense.. Oh and yes,  I forgot to mention a very important point.. Once we came out of the sanctuary, at the Parking area.. there was a small stall which was serving food as well. We had a lovely dish made up of dry prawns!.. Super delicious indeed. We headed back via the old Mumbai-Pune highway.. I do prefer it over the Mumbai-Pune Expressway as it is much more picturesque and has greenery all along.

Crab time 😀

 

Hariyal Trail

 

Dense jungle

 

View from Khandala

 

Trek to Sinhagad Fort

June 22, 2014 Leave a comment

With rain god ready to drench Pune with rains, it was the perfect time to go on a trek. After checking the weather forecast (Don’t rely on it too much though 😛 ), we decided to go on an early morning trek to Sinhagad. We arrived at the Sinhagad foothills village – Avtar Wadi where we parked our car. If anyone is not interested in the trek, one can drive right upto the top by taking a left Danje Gaon junction. However I would definitely suggest to trek as the distance it relatively less, and more ever its a superb experience.

Coming back to the trek, we started at around 7 AM from the foothills. Looking at the peak it does seem to be a task but as you keep walking, you realise how far you have come and there is that much less to cover.. We trekked taking quite a no. of breaks and at leisure and still managed to reach top in 2 hours. There are lot of places to rest along the way and there are small tapris who serve thrist quenchers like nimbu pani, Kokum sarbat and various types of fruits.

View of the village after covering 1/4th of the trek..



The trekking path

About to reach the top.. 😀

Refreshments on way..

Refreshments on way..

Sinhagad Fort Map

Sinhagad Fort Map

Once we were at the top, we realised how much crowded it was; probably because most of the people drive up-to the top.. We roamed on fort for couple of hours and saw few points (Zunzhar Buruj, Dev taki, Rajaram Maharaj samadhi, Kalyan Darwaza, Kalavantin Buruj), and then decided to lunch.. Whenever you go to Sinhagad, never miss out on the Pitla Bhakri, Vangyacha Barit, Kanda Bhaji and the best of them all.. Matka Dahi..! After having a sumptuous lunch, we rested for a while and started our way back. Climbing down was relatively less tiring but had to be extra cautious due to the loose gravel at some points; hence time taken was almost the same.

Matka Dahi.. Best desert..

Yo Whats up? 😀 

Oh, yes.. I did clicked few birds.. and couple of new ones as well. Especially the beautiful Crested Bunting and a lovely pair of Peregrine Falcons (Juveniles). So here are the birds I managed to click during the trip..

Spotted Dove

Red Vented Bulbul

 

Yellow Eyed Babbler

Peregrine Falcons.. lucky to spot them!

Red Whiskered Bulbul

The beautiful Crested Bunting!

Drive to Pawna lake

June 18, 2014 1 comment

I was wondering if I could explore a new place on Sunday and decided to go to Pawna lake. I haven’t read much about Pawna from birding perspective so thought of taking a chance. We started at around 6:30 am and it started raining like cats & dogs. I just dropped the idea of birding and thought we would just drive through and come back.

We entered the road to Pawna lake in another 40 mins and I could see the sky clearing up. I just hoped the sun came out, and it did!.. We saw lot of Baya Weavers.. such beautiful sights. These small yellow birds do look really beautiful. Driving a little further, I also saw couple of Eurasian Oriole.. but couldn’t capture due to poor light.. We drove adjacent to the Pawna lake, very picturesque indeed!

Mountains amongst the cloud.. on way to Pawna lake

Mountains amongst the cloud.. on way to Pawna lake

 

As we drove further, I heard lot of chirping on a turn; so I decided to explore the bushes next to the road and I couldn’t have been more lucky. I saw atleast 11-12 jungle bushquails.. Luckily I was able to snap a couple of record shots. We went all the way to Dudhiware and then returned back. On way back we saw egrets, swallows, white breasted waterhens and bulbuls..

On way to Paud phata from Pawna nagar.. lovely roads..

On way to Paud phata from Pawna nagar.. lovely roads..

How to reach
We started from Pimple Saudagar and took the old Pune-Mumbai road. Just after you cross the 1st toll, you will get a crowded area where in you need to take a left and keep going on this road (Parandwadi Road). There are sign boards as well. Just make sure you don’t take a right at a junction which say Hinjewadi. Best is to ask locals about Pawna dam and they will guide you. As soon as you reach Pawna nagar (40 kms from pimple saudagar), you will be able to see the dam. From here you have 2 choices, if you go right.. You will reach paud phatta.. Joining the Mulshi road. If you stay on left, you drive adjacent to the pawna lake.. Thats what we did and drove all the way till Dudhiware (10 km from Pawna Nagar). While coming back, we came to pawna nagar, and took the right to reach Paud phatta, and back to pune via Bavdhan. Both the roads are pretty good, except for few odd patches.. Best part about the Parandwadi road is that we could not find any buses plying on it.. So its pretty calm and picturesque all the way..

Here are the birds are I was able to capture during the drive..

Black Shouldered Kite

Shikra

 

Red Vented Bulbul

Red Vented Bulbul

Baya Weaver

Baya Weaver

Birding at Vetal Tekdi (#2)

June 18, 2014 2 comments

This weekend we thought of going to Vetal Tekdi again, however we decided to take a different route. Once you park the car at ARAI, you basically have two trails. One which goes to the Quarry, and the other one which goes to the opposite side. Last time we had gone to Quarry side, so this time we decided to go the other side. Within 15 minutes we realized there is very less birding activity on this route.

As we walked along, we saw another road going down, so we decided to take it. as we reached the lowest point, we saw the commoners; bulbul, bee-eaters, pea fowls, sunbirds and so on. There was one new addition to the list.. the Pale billed flowerpecker.

Now it was time to climb the small peak.. and just as we started, I saw two francolins just run away in a fury!.. There was no chance I could click them as they were too fast! 😦 .. As we climbed the peak, we saw a big group of pea fowls (At-least 8-9) of them.. Beautiful sight indeed. Once we reached the top, and walked a little further, the trail led to the quarry again! So we kind of created a full circle this time.. For people who are going purely for birding, I would suggest to head the quarry straight away!

So here are the birds we saw this time at Vetal Tekdi..

Indian Robin (Female)

Indian Robin (Female)

Tickell's blue Flycatcher

Tickell’s blue Flycatcher

 

Green bee-eaters

Green bee-eaters

 

Oriental White Eye

Oriental White Eye

 

Small Minivet

Small Minivet

 

Small Minivet

Small Minivet

 

Common Myna..

Common Myna..

 

White browed Wagtail

White browed Wagtail

 

Indian Robin

Indian Robin

 

White breasted kingfisher.. wing span!

White breasted kingfisher.. wing span!

 

White breasted kingfisher.. in flight..

White breasted kingfisher.. in flight..

 

Oriental Magpie Robin

Oriental Magpie Robin

 

Great tit

Great tit

Upgraded Gear: Testing at Pashan Lake

June 8, 2014 2 comments

Yay!!.. finally I upgraded my gear.. Got the Canon 60D & EF-S 55-250 mm IS II lens.. I could not wait to test it, and the best place was Pashan (Considering it is pretty close by with an opportunity to get close to birds). Got to say I am pretty much happy with my new gear and super excited!.. The manual control you get on a DSLR over a point and shoot is tremendous.

Coming to the trip, I did not expect to watch any new birds as it was my 3rd trip to Pashan.. but such is the beauty of nature that it throws pleasant surprises every time! 4 new birds added to the list!.. The total count of identified birds now stands at 81!.. :D. White breasted Waterhen, Hill Myna, Indian Plaintive Cuckoo and the beautiful Small blue Kingfisher. It was a trip completely dedicated to kingfishers; we say Small Blue Kingfishers, Less Pied Kingfishers and White breasted Kingfishers all in one trip.. D. So here you go.. 🙂

 

Small blue kingfisher

Small blue kingfisher

 

Lesser Pied Kingfisher

Lesser Pied Kingfisher

Green Bee-eater

Green Bee-eater

 

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

 

Greater Coucal

Greater Coucal

 

Lesser Pied.. In flight!

Lesser Pied.. In flight!

 

Random click..

Random click..

 

Black Shouldered Kite

Black Shouldered Kite

White Breasted Kingfisher

White Breasted Kingfisher

 

White Breasted Kingfisher

White Breasted Kingfisher

Indian Plaintive Cuckoo (Female)

Indian Plaintive Cuckoo (Female)

 

Plum headed Parakeet

Plum headed Parakeet

 

Black Drongo

Black Drongo