It has been a long time since I wrote, and I owe this blogpost to one particular person who made me feel jealous of his wonderful writing, which prompted me to get back to the blog and give it much needed attention! Thank you, friend! :D
Very fortunately this time, I quickly found many reasons to be there. The route was Bangalore-Mysore-Nagarhole-Kutta-Ponnampet-Gonikoppal-Madikeri-Brahmagiri-Kushalnagar-and back.
On 27th April, the four of us started off. The route was obviously boring till Nagarhole. But once we reached the Nagarhole post, I began to count the number of Spot Swordtails (Graphium nomius) that flew past. The movement of the Graphiums seemed to be in a North to South direction. The entire 30-or so kilometres worth of driving resulted in a count of about 200+ individuals. The place was also flooded with Common Emigrants (Catopsilia pomona). I thought that these must be local migrants. They might also have dispersed from another place which is not so far off, due to the lack of host plants.
A sketch of the Spot Swordtail (Graphium nomius):
As we drove past Nagarhole and into Madikeri via Kutta and Ponnampet, we stopped at several places to see the Malabar Giant Squirrels. They are such adorable creatures! One of them was sleeping on a branch very close to us, and we did not dare disturb it. Slowly, we drove, making our presence as undetectable as possible.
Madikeri was a grand feast. The plantations, the tall trees which reach out to the clouds, the turns and the blind corners on the road!
It rained very heavily the night we reached there. The sky thundered and roared as I sat and watched in awe. It was the first rainfall of the season. Due to this, there weren't many butterflies around. Nevertheless, I did find a Common Silverline (Spindasis vulcanus) and clicked it against the mountains in the background!
The graceful, elegant and high-flying Sahyadri Red Helen surprisingly came down to eye level to drink nectar from the Periwinkles.
The next day, we drove upwards to Brahmagiri peak. Delightful landscapes enthralled me to no ends!
It was absolutely foggy. The visibility on the top was reduced to about 50-60 feet due to the previous night's rains.
Here, at a height of about 6000ft above sea level, I came across a courting pair of Painted Lady butterflies. (Vanessa cardui) They would hardly sit down, but I managed to click one shot before my luck ran out.
The next day, we set off to the nearby Abbey falls. It was here that I saw a very interesting bird which seemed to fly in a particular orbit. I could not identify this without getting back to base and checking the field guides. It was a Crested Goshhawk (Accipiter trivirgatus).
The way down Brahmagiri was spent driving down in the rain. I spotted a few Malabar Pied Hornbills, and heard the call of Junglefowls.
On the way back to Bangalore, we made a stop at this Tibetean settlement at Kushalnagar. The Golden Buddhist Temple is a very beautiful place with a massive Buddha statue!
After all this, it was difficult to accept that it was time to return to Bangalore. But yet, we drove back. The hailstones and the heavy rain made the journey very pleasant! The rain faded away as we reached Bangalore, and then, we braced ourselves to get entangled in the boring routine ahead. :)