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Old 12th October 2010, 07:27   #1
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Default Kolleru lake bird sanctuary - The super sultry avian paradise

It was supposed to be a recce mission to check if it is indeed a bird paradise and if a bigger-longer trip is required to the place. We got more than that, a new weekend destination , especially for destination starved Hyderabadi's. Detailed report will come up shortly.

Here are a few pics of the Kolleru lake bird sanctuary:

First bird sighting from the train, near Gudivada
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Our friends from Siberia - Pelicans
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Pelicans in flight and skimming the top for fish
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Sultry sun-set
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Winged beauties
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Fishing among the flowers
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Last edited by ExtremeTorque : 12th October 2010 at 07:29.
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Old 12th October 2010, 10:43   #2
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Excellent start to a log. Now this would definitely turn the eyes of Abheek from Tadoba towards Kolleru.
Great going E_T. But the SLR's absense is clearly noticed here.

And the bird on the wire. Is that a vulture? I'm very poor in identifying birds.
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Old 12th October 2010, 10:58   #3
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Very nice ET. The sunset snap in the background with bird is just too good!
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Old 12th October 2010, 11:16   #4
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Awesome. Waiting to read more on this destination, which is in my list for a long time. Nice pics and looking forward to see more. Nice stuff ET.
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Old 12th October 2010, 12:12   #5
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Great pics.

Is this a season for bird spotting? IMO Dec-Jan are the best times to spot migratory birds. Nevertheless, I see many of them here.

BTW when did you reach there? I mean I see a sunrise pic. You must have started pretty early. Waiting for more details to flow in..

EDIT : Whats the camera you were using?

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Old 12th October 2010, 12:53   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
Excellent start to a log. Now this would definitely turn the eyes of Abheek from Tadoba towards Kolleru.
Great going E_T. But the SLR's absense is clearly noticed here.

And the bird on the wire. Is that a vulture? I'm very poor in identifying birds.
Thank you MS. the need for an SLR was definitly felt but I was happy with the performance of my super zoom SX 20 IS upto 400mm. Beyond and upto 560mm, the pics appear grainy with a lot of noise. The likes of Abheek, Fazal and you too (the SLR/photography guru's should visit this place. The bird on the wire, i dont think is a raptor. There are many birds that we spotted and i could not identify half of them . Dr. Salim Ali could have helped though. Next time i am there, i will pick up that book.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Very nice ET. The sunset snap in the background with bird is just too good!
Thank you ampere, there are many more to come.
Quote:
Originally Posted by muralisk View Post
Awesome. Waiting to read more on this destination, which is in my list for a long time. Nice pics and looking forward to see more. Nice stuff ET.
Sure will post all the details. BTW, you will not believe the total budget of the trip!
Quote:
Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
Great pics.

Is this a season for bird spotting? IMO Dec-Jan are the best times to spot migratory birds. Nevertheless, I see many of them here.

BTW when did you reach there? I mean I see a sunrise pic. You must have started pretty early. Waiting for more details to flow in..

EDIT : Whats the camera you were using?
TB, you are right. Many websites say Oct-Mar is the season but the locals said Nov-Jan is the best as all the water plants (haycinth) dissappears and many migratory birds come in. I was pure lucky to spot more than 30-40 varities of birds. I was supposed to reach early morning on Sun (10th Oct) but the train got delayed by 4 hours! I missed the early morning but made up for it the next day. I will share the full details shortly.
I used the Canon SX 20 IS, super zoom camera for most of the long zoom shots.
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Old 12th October 2010, 13:00   #7
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ET, thats a wonderful new place that you discovered. Some of us amateur photographers can benefit from it.

Appreciate full details of exact locations, accomodation, distance from Hyderabad, any other special info that we need to know before making a visit to this place etc.

Let the pictures do some more talking
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Old 12th October 2010, 13:05   #8
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@ExtremeTorque: You are becoming one avid naturalist. Keep it up. Could you tell me where is this place and how to go there.

BTW you seem to be getting a lot of leaves. Care to share the name of the company so that I can also get a job there as well
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Old 12th October 2010, 13:15   #9
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Arun,
Thats a wide array of birds, well captured with your existing gear.
That bird on the wire is not a vulture or a raptor as the bill is not a meat eaters but a grain pickers.
You don't need Dr. Salim Ali, but some members here will be able to pinpoint it exactly. Especially... Discoverwild (member).

Gudivada, you mean one which is close to Machlipatnam?
Regards,

Last edited by fazalaliadil : 12th October 2010 at 13:22.
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Old 12th October 2010, 13:37   #10
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Default First things first

Most of the Hyderabadi’s agree with me that there are not many weekend destinations around our beloved city. Srisailam and Nagarjunsagar have become more or less like our backyards. With long weekend (Sat-Sun+Mon Columbus day off, thanks to Amrikka based company) fast approaching, I started doing some homework, with the prospect of putting the new camera and its much acclaimed super zoom to test at the back of my mind. I had closed in on the Manjeera bird sanctuary and Kolleru lake bird sanctuary. The Manjeera bird sanctuary is not a very well known place and there are no pin point directions to the place. Further, I wanted to do something that is more than 200KM’s from Hyderabad but will still fit into the weekend.

Kolleru lake bird sanctuary is the countries largest fresh water lake and attracts more than 100 species of migratory birds every year (Source: Wiki). The lake is not one continuous stretch but marshy/swampy kind of lake with intermittent islands, called Lanka’s locally and has a very high humidity content. I initially thought of heading to the spot by Car but in my ongoing efforts of cost cutting and fitting in as many tours as possible, I booked train tickets (must I specify Tatkal?). Further, I didn’t want to fatigue take over my senses with the current state of affairs the Hyd-Vijayawada stretch is in.

So, the first things first (or shall I say my lessons learnt?):

1) Like my title suggests, the area is super sultry, I mean extremely humid. There is no offseason for humidity and it is like that all year round. So, be prepared with the A/C’s and sunscreen lotions.
2) Birding is real tough but fun. One can barely see with the naked eye and you need to have a powerful camera and binoculars. SLR pundits, whip out those telephotos 100-400mm or fixed 400mm should be ideal and P&S folks need to have 10x and above for good photos.
3) The area is not at all commercialized for tourism and one can do very well with a meager budget. I spent INR 3000 for me and wife – all inclusive. When I say all inclusive, this is the amount I spent from Home in Hyd and back home. No fine print.
4) The flip side of not being commercialized is that you need to find your way around. For non-Telugu speakers, most of the locals speak Urdu apart from Telugu. But the directions to the sanctuary are only in Telugu. I will try and help you out as much as I can in my TL.
5) The food is basic south Indian thali (slurp! it was) and hygenic. You get chapati’s only in 1 restaurant, that too only for dinner.
6) Most websites say that the best season for migratory birds is Nov-Mar and the locals agree. Nov-Dec-Jan seem to be the best months when the hyacinth (water plants) or ‘dekka’ as they call it in Telugu, move away, giving way for boats to get close to the bird nesting sites. We were unlucky here and had to do with photos from almost half a KM away from the nests.
7) Budding ornithologists and photography guru’s, this is where you need to be! Though we were a bit early, we did see ample of birds.

TL and loads of photos will follow in my next post.
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Old 12th October 2010, 13:44   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
ET, thats a wonderful new place that you discovered. Some of us amateur photographers can benefit from it.

Appreciate full details of exact locations, accomodation, distance from Hyderabad, any other special info that we need to know before making a visit to this place etc.

Let the pictures do some more talking
Avi bhai, you are being too generous and I am glad if you say I discovered it! It was always there but not explored by many but it is higly recommended if you are looking at some good photographic moments. I will share all the details shortly and post oodles of photos.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
@ExtremeTorque: You are becoming one avid naturalist. Keep it up. Could you tell me where is this place and how to go there.

BTW you seem to be getting a lot of leaves. Care to share the name of the company so that I can also get a job there as well
I didnt get a single leave, Monday was a holiday for us due to US holiday and wife's offs are Sun, Mon. So i purely did this on a weekend.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fazalaliadil View Post
Arun,
Thats a wide array of birds, well captured with your existing gear.
That bird on the wire is not a vulture or a raptor as the bill is not a meat eaters but a grain pickers.
You don't need Dr. Salim Ali, but some members here will be able to pinpoint it exactly. Especially... Discoverwild (member).
Gudivada, you mean one which is close to Machlipatnam?
Regards,
oh yes Fazal sir, i knew we have our own Salim Alis and i am looking for your help in identifying many birds that i shot. Gudivada is close to Vijayawada and Eluru.
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Old 12th October 2010, 14:17   #12
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Default A delayed train and the first sultry outing

The Kolleru lake spans 300 sq Km's and the closest towns to the bird sanctuary are Eluru and Kaikaluru. Both are approximately 400KM's from Hyderabad and are very very well connected by road and rail. After some initial thought, i decidied to stay at Kaikaluru as it was closer to the sanctuary.

So, I booked train tickets in Tatkal (7256 Narsapur Express) from Hyd to Kaikaluru and same train (7255) back. Not wanting to take any chances with the accomodation, my dads contact in Gudivada helped me with locating the best hotel/lodge in Kaikaluru - Hotel Varsha. The train was supposed to start at 10.10 PM but started 2 hours late from Secunderabad station and reached the destination 4 hours late (reached at 10AM as against 6AM), dasing our hopes of an early morning trip to the sanctuary.

Some birds we spotted near Gudivada

A common Egret
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Bronze winged Jacana
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Kaikaluru station is a very small station and the humidity hit us hard the moment we arrived. The hotel is only a KM from the station and is bang opposite the Kiakaluru bus stand. You get ample of sharing auto's and cycle rickshaws (surprise!) to get you there. After a long time we tried out the cycle rickshaw (hey, comon! we are not being inhuman, its just a short distance and once in a while we do this).

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Hotle Varsha is a 2 storied lodge and has a small mess type hotel on the groud floor (dont have photo's though).

This should sound like manna. The tariff is Rs. 300 for double non A/C and Rs. 700 for double A/C. We opted for the Non A/C (remember our budget constraint? that was a mistake here). A/C room is highly recommended, just to beat the heat and humidity but the Non A/C room was spacious, clean and an Indian sitting W/C. We checked in and headed for a quick lunch. Lunch is very basic south indian meals. Apart from that one can order additional curries but predominantly non-veg and again dominated by sea/river food. Remember you are in the fish/prawn capital of AP. The veg meals were tasty and having some time to kill, we casually sat in the reception of the hotel.

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Our first bird sighting experience started. I quick brought the tripod (eyes all around staring, what is this guy upto - remember it is a small town).

An eagle
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Camera shy guy, it took off immediately
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Can you spot the cormorants? (see circled)
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Zoomed
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Old 12th October 2010, 15:07   #13
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Thanks for the PM, Fazil Bhai.

1. Cattle Egret - regularly found around farm land and waters.
2. Spot-billed Pelicans - These are found in India and are not native to Siberia.
3. Pelicans, one Indian Cormorant, one Painted Stork on the extreme right.
4. Grey Heron, Black-headed Ibis among Pelicans.
5., 6., 7. Pelicans
8. Grey Heron

The ducks seem to be the domesticated kind.
A large group of Cormorants with Grey Herons on the ground.
Bird on the wire - This is a Bank Myna gone bald near the eye patch.
Grey Heron.
Blue-tailed Bee-eater.
Indian Cormorants.

Hope I haven't committed any errors here.



Quote:
Originally Posted by ExtremeTorque View Post
Bronze winged Jacana
Attachment 437724
Attachment 437725
Hi ExtremeTorque,
These are Red-wattled Lapwings and not the Bronze-winged Jacana.

Last edited by discoverwild : 12th October 2010 at 15:11. Reason: Multi-quote :)
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Old 12th October 2010, 15:41   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by discoverwild View Post
1. Cattle Egret - regularly found around farm land and waters.
2. Spot-billed Pelicans - These are found in India and are not native to Siberia.
3. Pelicans, one Indian Cormorant, one Painted Stork on the extreme right.
4. Grey Heron, Black-headed Ibis among Pelicans.
5., 6., 7. Pelicans
8. Grey Heron
The ducks seem to be the domesticated kind.
A large group of Cormorants with Grey Herons on the ground.
Bird on the wire - This is a Bank Myna gone bald near the eye patch.
Grey Heron.
Blue-tailed Bee-eater.
Indian Cormorants.
Hope I haven't committed any errors here.
Hi ExtremeTorque,
These are Red-wattled Lapwings and not the Bronze-winged Jacana.
WOW! There you go, our own Salim Ali! Thanks DW, please keep correcting me as i am very new to birds.
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Old 12th October 2010, 16:12   #15
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Default Atapaka - the pelican paradise

Enquiring with the locals helped me close in on Atapaka, a mandal about 2 KM from Kaikaluru. Again there are lots of buses and sharing auto's to Atapaka. One needs to take a left turn at Atapaka - the turn is clearly marked with a green bird sanctuary board, but in Telugu only. If you dont speak Telugu, ask around or you can identify the board with the painting of birds on it. Once you get into this lane, there is this board again.

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This again shows the interest levels of AP govt. in showcasing this beautiful place. The bird sanctuary per se is about a 1.5KM walk from the main road after you take the left turn. Private vehicles, cars can go up to a KM on Kuccha road and walk from there.

The walk to the WLS
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The only English board we saw, but it sure a pelican paradise
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Those are AP tourism boats being put to good use
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We inquired if there were birds around in the local tongue and were told about big 1KG fish eating birds that were spotted sometime back. Wasting no time, we asked if we can tag along in the boat. Now this boat ferries public from one village to another and the boatman demanded Rs. 200 as he had no plans to come back. In our excitement we agreed
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Cormorants at a distance
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Another board indicating the santctuary
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But got down after 3-4 mins as we could spot many Pelicans and other birds enroute. I payed the chap 20 bucks and got down on the path that is used by villagers to go to the other end of the lake. We decided to walk there on and a right decision we made

Spot billed pelicans
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Purple heron
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More flocks of cormoronts
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Waste management?
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Can you spot the birds in this frame?
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Now?
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And now?
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The humidity and bird spotting can be challenging at times
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All in a days work
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something for the birds to stand on
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