Situated on the banks of river Kaveri, Ranganthittu is a small village that hosts close to 170 species of birds. Naturally created islets are covered with lush green forests.
Social media is a powerful tool if used in a productive way. Karnataka Eco-toursim shared a wonderful post on their facebook wall, "Karnataka Bird Festival--2015". I enrolled to this event, the stage was set at Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary, one of the best bird sanctuary in the world. Dr.Salim Ali, renowned ornithologist studied the habitat and pressed upon the local government to declare this wonderful place as a bird sanctuary.
I had visited this place several times. But this one was special because of two reasons, I could interact with eminent naturalists turned conservationists who are instrumental in bringing several changes in wildlife society. Secondly, I could spend extra bit of time in exploring both wood-land and wet-land birds as the workshop was for 2 days.
Ranganthittu bird sanctuary is well maintained by Forest department. It has all basic amenities required for tourism and bird watching. As days passed I have seen nice improvement inside the park. Good number of dedicated forest department employees start their day at 6.30 AM by cleaning the park area.
Boating is the main attraction of this sanctuary. Watch towers are constructed at necessary places. I checked into a boat and opted for an extended boating session. The boatman had immense experience in boating and birding. He was passionate about sharing the knowledge which he gained from so many years of service.
The sanctuary will be crowded by several species of resident and migratory birds between January to May, that is when nesting starts. I was fortunate to witness bird activities as I had ample time. Many people who are keen in bird watching visit this place to study the behavior of birds.
There will be less amount of bird activity during monsoons due to increase in water level. Water released from Krishna Raja Sagara dam submerges most of the islets. Boating will be suspended.
Our boat slowly crossed small islets which had many nestlings. I saw huge congregation of painted storks, Eurasian spoonbills, egrets, spot billed pelicans, asian openbill storks. It was amazing to see juveniles basking under the sun without any fear.
I started documenting the birds we came across, number of lifers started increasing. Eurasian Thick Knee was one of them. There were about 10 thick knees on a boulder. Apparently they are common in this season. Their eyes seemed bigger than their body.
After a wonderful boating experience, I took a stroll inside the park to check out wood-land birds. Flycatchers, warblers, wagtails, kingfishers and many more were friendly.
With a loud call, Stork Billed Kingfisher flew from direction to another. It evaded human interaction. With great difficulty I managed to get a glimpse of it within a thick canopy.
Karnataka Bird Festival was an outstanding gesture by Eco-toursim board to educate people about birds and their habitat. In times of heavy habitat destruction such kind of workshops would create awareness in the community. The two day workshop included talks by eminent wildlife photographers and conservationists which focused only on birds.
I was able to identify and record 84 species of birds in two days. With many lifers and fond memories, I departed Ranganthittu with plans to come back for more birding.
Venue: Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary.
Location: 5 kms from Srirangapatna, Mysore Road, Karnataka.
Distance from Bangalore: 120kms.
Park & Boating Timings: 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM.
Entry Fee: 50rs per adult (Indian).
Extended Boating session: INR 1000 per boat for 45mins.
Food and Water available inside the park.
Best time to visit: January to May.