Pelicans at Kokkare Bellur

Location: Kokrebellur, Mandya District
Date: Dec 6th, 2008
To get there: From Bangalore on Mysore road turn left after Channapatna and before Maddur. There is a prominent yellow sign saying Kokrebellur and a circle. It is about 5km after Indradhanush hotel.
Distance: Apprx 75km. Final 10km after left turn is on badly maintained road. However birding starts here so slow going should be more fun!
Trail type: We did not find any good trails to take other than walking village roads. One possibility is to walk around the Thylur Lake. Have to explore options next time.
Facilities: Indradhanush Hotel, Coffeeday (5km before left turn) and even a McDonalds now(3km before left turn) on Mysore road. There is also a fairly large village 5km before Kokrebellur having many bakeries.
Map: Thylur Lake. Kokrebellur is just further down about 7km.

Saturday afternoon we just felt like going somewhere out of Bangalore. Kokkare Bellur or Kokrebellur was a place we had heard of many times but had not visited yet. Kokkare in local kannada language means a stork refering to the colorfull Painted Stork which along with Pelicans comes to this village every winter and occupies its trees for breeding since 100's of years as described in this article. Since it was the start of the Pelican season we made a spot decision after lunch and heading out towards Mysore road tagging along 3 kids, ours Nithila & Swarup, Tejas our neighbour carrying biscuits, bananas, dates and a bar of chocolate for food.

We left at 3pm and were taking the left turn towards Kokrebellur from Mysore road just before 5pm. Immediately we were enveloped with a flurry of bird activity. Drongos, Bulbuls, Indian Roller, Swallows, Sunbirds and other small birds (unid as always for us :( ) were all over the place. There was even a Red-wattled lapwing calling urgently in its inimitable style did we do it? rendering. It was a period of utter frenzy as we tried to take in all of this and at the same time aware that we needed to get going if we wanted to reach our destination before dark. Reluctantly moving on, we were rewarded with an Eurasian Collared Dove sitting on an electric wire. The road goes by Thylur lake where we could only take a quick look and saw several common coots. In a field close by we found a large group of Black headed Ibis feeding and one Black Ibis flying by. Behind it further away was an even larger bunch of Cattle Egrets following a tractor digging up the field. This I am guessing is similar to its instinct of following cattle to get to worms disturbed by it thereby giving its name. So, should they now be called Tractor Egrets?

Soon, we were at a small 3-way junction in the middle of Kokkare Bellur village. A fading sign there had a painting of the Pelican indicating that we were at the right place. Going right we went about 10 mtrs and were amazed to see the giant and majestic Pelicans nesting right above our heads! Getting down from the car we saw that 3 to 4 trees in that area were all habited by them. It is truly an amazing sight. We did not do any count but I would guess at least 20-30. We were told more will arrive in the following days. Painted storks were not to be seen anywhere. The villagers said that the storks usually start arriving from late Jan onwards. We drove further down and crossed the bridge over Shimsa. By this time, dusk was almost upon us. For some reason, not sure why, we thought there was a lake here for more birding. We found out that it was not true. Shimsa river is the biggest water body close by other than the Thylur lake. The Pelicans apparently go some distance each day to get food and get back to their host village! We were advised to come in March when the bird activity will be at its peak. Have to keep that in mind.

I was able to capture an interesting behaviour of Pelicans where they do some tongue stretching, a kind of Pelican yoga, to keep their pouch in good condition. In these photos you can see that it has turned its lower beak or pouch inside out. More details can be found in this National Geographic article.

Reluctantly we headed back as darkness spread over the fields, stopping once to snack near some fields. Made the obligatory stop to buy Maddur Vadas at Indradanush Hotel ( they were very good at 10rs each) and were back in our homes by 8.40pm.
Well worth the drive but we needed at least one hour more to enjoy birding along the road towards Kokrebellur.

Please be sensitive to the villagers and birds. Do not trash or be noisy when visiting. As always take all the pictures you want and leave only footprints!


laks said...

Thanks for your blog, we visited Kokkare Bellur yesterday (Dec 27) and had an enjoyable trip.

Nanda said...

Great! I am happy you also enjoyed the pelicans there now. Comments such as these gives me the motivation to record our "nature trips". :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing! Life has so much to offer if we take the time to look! I believe in nature will take care of you if you take care of it.

Priya said...

Great pictures. The ones of the sunbird and the red-wattled lapwing made me nostalgic about my own birding trips years ago.

ganesh.nayak said...

Awesome article. Would now be a good time to visit? Will there be pelicans there now?

Nanda said...

Thanks for the compliments, Ganesh. I think you should be able to find the Pelicans now. However, the link to a nice research article which had specified the seasons properly does not exist anymore. Our trip was in Dec and lot of sites say season starts from Nov or Dec. Worth a try I feel. :) If you are a birder, then you will enjoy lot of bird activity along the way also.

visual said...

I recently visited Kokkere Bellur. I suggest you visit after Jan 15th. Read more about my trip there at -

Devaraju M said...

Im from Kokkare bellur, If any more information about birds please contact me.
Devaraju M, my cell no +919535630860

Devaraju.M said...

Im from Kokkare bellur, If any more information about birds please contact me.
Devaraju M, my cell no +919535630860