Eastern Ghats - Bio-diversity Study

During 2nd week (10 to 13th) of December, AWIFO (Asian WIldlife FOundation) conducted a Bio-diversity study in the Eastern Ghats area, above Rajmundry. Schedule (meaning wifes work!) somehow worked out at home leaving me free to participate. 3 of us (Joy, David and me) took the Sheshadri Express from Bangalore reaching Rajahmundry early Thursday morning. There we joined about 25 others from Andhra, Chennai and even Singapore. There were Butterfly experts, Drangonfly/Damselfly (Damselfly sits with the wings upright) experts, Birding experts, Entomologists, Photographers and some just along for the ride. I went only as an amateur birder hoping to contribute and learn from the trip.

Some highlights:

Day 1: Cruise down Godavari River


From the railway station we went directly to Papi Hills, where we boarded a boat for a day long cruise along the Godavari River. It was an experience of a lifetime. The river is wide and it was quite smooth sailing. There was plenty of avian activity though it was more on the shore and we could not get too close due to shallow water. Brahminy Ducks (Ruddy Shelducks), flocks of Small Pratincoles, River Lapwings, Open Billed storks were among the many species we saw. We had lunch on the boat itself and also were treated to a Bison Dance on a sandy beach by the Tribals who had come along with us. Forest area was thick all through. We were treated to a Peafowl couple who had come out to enjoy the river as well.

Day 2: Maredumilli

After the cruise, we drove to Maredumilli for the night. Early morning saw us birding around the bungalow. It was misty but I still got my first sighting of a Vernal Hanging Parrot as well as Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch. We left after breakfast and birding in a Farm and River side picnic spot on way to Mothugudem. At the farm, Joy and Me went along together to see Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Black Hooded Oriole and Verditer Flycatcher. When we stopped for some shots of the Habitat along the way, we were treated to a group of Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters having their mid-day lunch. It was incredible to see this uncommon (for us) birds casually going on sorties for the flying insects. We also got sight of Yellow-crowned Woodpecker here which we saw only because it was sharing the same trunk as a Bee-eater. By evening we had reached Mothugudem.

Day 3: Mothugudem

Mothugudem, our quarters were in a bit of plains with the Eastern Ghat Range surrounding us. Morning by 6am saw us out and treated to Plum-headed Parakeets which were as common as Rose-ringed here in Bangalore. Asian Pied Starlings, Ashy Woodswallows, Minivets, Velvet Fronted and Chestnut Bellied Nuthatches, etc., were the highlights for the morning. Prabhu took us to a Dam close to Chattisgarh Border. Here we sighted a lone Blue-rock Thrush. On the way back we had lunch at a scenic waterfall and joined in on some serious Butterfly and Dragonfly hunting along a river. We were lucky to sight pair of Malabar Pied Hornbills and also a Heart-spotted Woodpecker.

Day 4: Mothugudem to Rajahmundry

Morning we managed to squeeze in some more birding and were treated to a lone Barred Jungle Owlet sitting openly on an electric wire. Soon after breakfast we left for Rajahmundry to catch our trains to Bangalore. Ride was quite uneventful though I missed the sighting of a Crested Serpent Eagle perched on a roadside tree.

Overall a great experience and it was fun spending the 4 days with other like minded nature lovers. Hopefully AWIFO is able to establish this area as a rich bio-diversity spot and protect it for the enjoyment of future generations.

Images from the trip:
http://picasaweb.google.com/naturerambles/AWIFOEasternghats2009Birds
http://picasaweb.google.com/naturerambles/AWIFOEasternghats2009Insects
http://picasaweb.google.com/naturerambles/AWIFOEasternghats2009People
http://picasaweb.google.com/naturerambles/AWIFOEasternghats2009Misc