It was the Monsoon month and we were in the Western Ghats. The downpour could more often be seen than the sunshine. I am born and brought up in the Western Ghats area and it is always a pleasure to spend my time there, especially in the rainy season.

Anoop and I started birding not very long ago. To increase our bird checklist, we thought of paying a visit to one of the bird sanctuaries of Shimoga, Gudavi. There was another solid reason for us to execute this plan. Our birding pal Dr. Krishna MB had visited us from Bengaluru. He is an enthusiastic birder who has years of experience in birdwatching. It was not his first time in Western Ghats area, but visit to the Western Ghats for a nature lover is always rewarding.

In early August, the rains were intermittent and we managed to spot quite a good number of birds at our backyard. Sometimes, we did bird watching with an umbrella in one hand and the binocular on the other. I had even seen birds sheltering under big leaves to protect from rain. This story can be another good blogpost!

Gudavi Bird Sanctuary : One of the best bird sanctuaries of karnataka

Gudavi Sanctuary filled with breeding birds

On the day we planned to go to Gudavi, we had an early start. Gudavi bird sanctuary is located in Soraba Taluk of Shimoga District. From the Soraba town center, it is around 16km drive to reach the bird sanctuary. Gudavi Bird Sanctuary (Kannada: ಗುಡವಿ ಪಕ್ಷಿಧಾಮ) is considered as one of the 5 best sanctuaries of Karnataka, with a count of 217 bird species all over the year. The small Gudavi Lake, which usually get swollen in rainy season and the trees around is a good habitat for birds and hence attracts many throughout the year.

On the way :

On our way from Thirthahalli to Sagara, we spotted few common birds such as Racket-tailed Drongo, Red Whiskered Bulbul, Spotted Dove etc., First pit stop was a lake on the way which was filled with the water birds. There were Bronze-winged Jacanas, Purple Moorhen, Common Coot, Pond Heron, Lesser Whistling Duck, White-throated Kingfisher and few Egrets. Just beside the lake a farmer was ploughing the land, ignoring the rain. A plastic sheet which he used to protect from rain, failed to serve its purpose.

Back-water area :

Cotton Teal searching for nesting holes

Further we stopped at a reservoir’s back-water area, which turned out to be one of the best stops of the day. There were Red-rumped Swallows and Green Bee-eaters perched on the electric wire. Loud shrill of Magpie-Robin distracted us as if it was complaining for not being noticed. Krishna then spotted a Cotton Teal which was flying from one tree trunk to the other in search of a nesting place. It was my first encounter with a water bird nesting high above the ground. Two Lesser Goldenback woodpeckers were chasing one another, passed just behind us. Then, up in the sky there were majestic Lesser Adjutant Storks. Six individuals circling around made their way slightly downwards before moving away from our sight. That was a lifer for all of us, including our expert Krishna.

One of our pit stops

There was a small reservoir few kms away from this spot. Even though it was very calm and not very promising area for birding, this time we just got down to savour the serenity. There was a huge area filled with water on one side and just on the edge a small temple had been built. Monsoon had used its magic wand to colour everything Green. Before leaving we took some pictures to treasure the moment. A Black Kite, Little Cormorant and Purple-rumped Sunbird were added to our list here.

AT Gudavi bird sanctuary :

Walkway around the Gudavi Lake

After having a short lunch stop at Shiralakoppa, reached Gudavi in the afternoon. We paid the entrance fee of Rs 25 per person and entered the sanctuary. Just near the entrance there was a mixed hunting flock with Bronzed Drongos and Rufous Treepies leading the group. A pair of Scarlet Minivet, Gold-fronted Chloropsis, Yellow-cheeked Tit and a Chestnut-headed Bee-eater also showed up. I spotted a handsome little Woodpecker just on a dry branch up on a tree which turned out to be a Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, a lifer for me.

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

Spotting the water birds:

It started to drizzle slightly, and we then walked on the paved path which would go around the lake. The loud noise from the breeding grounds was reaching our ears even before our eyes noticing the birds. There were few bird towers and we climbed the first one that came on our way. Oh! It was a sight to behold. It appeared as if all the trees are in full bloom. The white feathery birds could be seen on every tree. Black-headed Ibises, Asian Openbill Storks, Eurasian Spoonbills, Greater Egrets, Little Cormorants, Purple Herons, Darters, Black-crowned Night Herons etc., were all sharing the same space. Some were carrying the twigs to their nests and many were guarding the eggs. Few already had nestlings to look after. The sky was filled with gliding birds and their loud calls. Anoop had managed to get few good clicks.

Black-headed Ibis
Asian Openbill Stork
Eurasian Spoonbill
Median Egret in the breeding Plumage
Black-crowned Night Heron

Further very close to the walking path, every small bush was boasting a bunch of 50-60 Black headed Ibis nests. We sat on a stone bench and observed the birds. There was very less space for them that each bird had to squeeze its body among the others! How hard for them would be to find a place to lay their eggs. Those who were on the edges must be facing a difficult time.

More than 60 Ibis birds, nesting on the same bush
Ibis with its eggs

It took around 3 hours for us to complete a circle around the lake. There was a small visitor center where we could pen down our thoughts about our visit. Krishna had some suggestions but he also appreciated the way it has been kept and managed. Finally with few lifers and lot of good memories we drove towards our home.

Some more clicks from the trip

Dr. Krishna MB with Anoop at Gudavi
Asian Openbill Stork
Spot-billed Duck
Euploea core, also known as the common crow butterfly
Indian Bullfrog
Oriental Garden Lizard

Bird list of the day (Including the birds spotted on the way), Date :04-August-2018

  1. Ashy Prinia
  2. Ashy Woodswallow
  3. Asian Openbill Stork
  4. Baya Weaver
  5. Black Kite
  6. Black-crowned Night Heron
  7. Black-headed Ibis
  8. Black-naped Monarch Flycatcher
  9. Black-shouldered Kite
  10. Blue-faced Malkoha
  11. Brahminy Kite
  12. Bronzed Drongo
  13. Bronze-winged Jacana
  14. Brown-capped Pygmy woodpecker
  15. Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
  16. Common Coot
  17. Common Moorhen
  18. Common Tailorbird
  19. Cotton Teal
  20. Darter
  21. Eurasian Spoonbill
  22. Gold-fronted Chloropsis
  23. Great Cormorant
  24. Greater Coucal
  25. Great Egret
  26. Green Bee-eater
  27. House Crow
  28. Indian Cormorant
  29. Indian Grey Hornbill
  30. Indian Peafowl
  31. Indian Yellow Tit
  32. Jungle Babbler
  33. Jungle Crow
  34. Jungle Myna
  35. Lesser Adjutant Stork
  36. Lesser Goldenback Woodpecker
  37. Lesser Whistling Duck
  38. Little Cormorant
  39. Little Egret
  40. Long-tailed Shrike
  41. Median Egret
  42. Nilgiri Flowerpecker
  43. Oriental Magpie-robin
  44. Pied Bushchat
  45. Pond Heron
  46. Purple Heron
  47. Purple Moorhen
  48. Purple-rumped Sunbird
  49. Racket-tailed Drongo
  50. Red-rumped Swallow
  51. Red-vented Bulbul
  52. Red-wattled Lapwing
  53. Red-whiskered Bulbul
  54. Rose-ringed Parakeet
  55. Rufous Treepie
  56. Scarlet Minivet
  57. Singing Bushlark
  58. Spot-billed Duck
  59. Spotted Dove
  60. White-browed Wagtail
  61. White-cheeked Barbet
  62. White-throated Kingfisher

PS : Thanks to Dr. Krishna MB for joining us and making this trip wonderful. Also Thanks to Deepa Mohan for helping me to ID the butterfly and the lizard 🙂

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