|A scene by the Cauvery|
Finally, after four months of inactivity, I got an opportunity to head once again to Urigam, along with some KANS* members (by now even I was one). This is the very same place I had been to for a ground survey a few months ago. Except it had a stark contrast in colour: it was now covered in green. A couple of weeks prior to our visit, it had rained well, triggering an almost complete transformation of the vegetation. Trees that were bone-dry months ago had sprouted new green leaves. Grass and shrubs shot up from the ground. The entire forest looked refreshed and recharged.
We were welcomed by a Green Bee-Eater (Merops orientalis) as we approached Uganiyam. He sat bang in the middle of the jeep track and I could not resist clicking his portrait.
|Welcomed by a Green Bee-eater|
We reached around noon, ate our packed lunches which we had bought from one of the small eateries at a village nearby, and set off to do what we came to do - roam around! Most of us decided to take the route from Uganiyam to Dabbagulli (approximately 7 km).
Apart from the Grey Hornbills, which were all over the place, the first bird we saw as we started walking was the Sirkeer Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus leschenaultii) -- a lifer for me. Along the way, we split into three groups and took separate tracks away from the main jeep trail which led to Dabbagulli. Khusro, Valli and I walked till we reached a dry stream bed and then walked along the dry stream to reach the Cauvery river.
Here we sat down and relaxed for a while near the bank as it was getting really hot and we were quite tired after walking for around 4 km. I sat watching a flock of Small Green Bee-Eaters conduct their aerial sorties close to the water's surface, when all of a sudden Khusro exclaimed, "Deer! Spotted deer! Across the river!"
We froze, not moving a muscle, as we knew that even the slightest movement would scare them away. All this while I strained my eyes to catch a glimpse of them. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't spot them. Finally, by the time I caught sight of them, the deer spotted us, froze for a second and then took off. But not before I managed a shot of their escape. Happy with our spotting, we began walking back towards Uganiyam.
|The deer take to their heels|
|Elephants by the river bank|
Sometime later a small herd of Chital (Axis axis) with a couple of stags appeared near the opposite bank. Bonnet Macaques (Macaca radiata) accompanied the deer. It is said that they forage together in the forest and rely on each other to detect predators.
After a couple of hours, I went for a walk along the path (which I have named the 'Bear Highway') where I had found Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) tracks during the ground survey. Although I did not find as many tracks as last time, I did spot a couple of them. After walking down the 'Bear Highway' I reached the stream which joins the Cauvery, sat beside it for a while and headed back to camp. On the way back heard a loud whistling call which told me to look up instinctively - it was a Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) flying high in the sky! With this last sighting ended my short but very rewarding trip to Urigam after a long time.
|A cicada bid us goodbye|