“It was still june as Sampath, Moin, Sarada and me from hyticos laden the car for a day long birding trip“.
The weather was cool and pleasant, with slight dampness from showers the previous day, this created the perfect ambience for a bird watching trip. At dawn we started our journey towards Medak to Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary, located around 120kms from Hyderabad. The Sanctuary encompasses around 130 sqkms comprising of a beautiful lake and a deer breeding centre.
As we drove through the villages, the sun broke out with its first rays accompanied by a slight drizzle. Once the showers resided we started looking out for birds, and managed to catch a few around the fields, coucals, bee eaters, drones, shrikes, pied cuckoo and egrets to start with. And of course, our beloved black shoulder kite was
perched unassumingly on an electric pole.
As we drove down staring into the sunrise was a lone spotted owlet hanging out by a tree, we immediately stopped to get a closer look. Instinctively, the bird flew into a palm tree which to our surprise had a series of tree hole nests. And there we found our bird curiously peeping out of one of them.
On reaching the park we stopped by the forest department office to inform them about our arrival. We got talking to the trackers and were a little disappointed to see that the watchers had very little knowledge of what wildlife was found beyond the boundaries of the breeding centre. We were then escorted into the park by one of the watchers.
On entering the park, we were welcomed by a herd of Chital grazing under the tree cover. It was a pleasure to see those tiny chital fawns in some groups. Interestingly we found one chital stag rutting onto a tree trunk, although we are quite familiar with this behaviour it was a rare sighting.
The surrounding forest was a mix of dry deciduous patches with a few random rough patches of scrub and grass. It was lush green due to the damp weather, the man made saucer pits were filled and an occasional chital jumping across into the bushes from near the water holes.
It glided past smooth and agile, before coming to rest in the bushes right in our view, blissfully unaware of our presence. The monitor lizard was almost four feet long and beautiful and to our delight stayed still on the ground as though posing for our pictures. He seemed to be resting peacefully in the shade probably tired from all the scourging at night. We clicked a few pictures and decided to leave him alone. Just as we turned, we caught a four pairs of eyes staring up at us from the bushes. A group of wild boar hiding and sitting quietly, understanding that we were alerted of their presence some of them started moving around and we saw that there had been more than four sitting in the bushes. Now, riding down the road we spotted a herd of shaggy Sambar deer grazing under the canopy, although they were alerted by us they did not seem to be afraid and allowed us to linger and click a few pictures.
After getting out of the park, we drove further to the lake and walked across a small bridge. While walking we noticed a few male Baya weaver birds building their nests and females observing from the same tree. The nests were beautifully woven and one of them was in the process of construction. On reaching the small dam construction, we sat down to officially start our birding exercise, binoculars and camera in hand.
Female Sambar deer at a water source.
A glamours peacock dances around courting several females early in the morning.
Several species of birds were observed, species of egrets, purple and greyherons, kingfishers- common blue, white throated and pied. We also observed pochard, stints, magpie robin, pied cuckoo, lapwings, white breasted water hen, and pied wagtail. Few of the birds seen were my first sightings, such as Jacana, Cotton pygmy goose. Soaring in the skies above were five spotted eagles another first for us. We spent the next two hours bird watching and we rested looking at the crowd of swallows and swifts fluttering above our heads and the beautiful river terns gliding across the water, occasionally diving down to catch a fish.
(photos by Sarada and Sampath).