An early morning start saw us off the Bangalore-Tumkur highway at Dobbaspet well before day-break. The speed-breaker (should be called back-breaker) filled road slowly started getting pleasant with the chirping of Ashy Prinias, Common Tailorbirds and White-browed Bulbuls. Very soon, House Crows and Common Mynas were seen on the roads. Spotted Owlet silhouettes were visible on the electric wires along fields. A colony of Baya Weavers were showing frenzied activity next to the road.
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As we drove into Maidanahalli (or Jayamangali Blackbuck Conservation Reserve), we were welcomed by this Yellow-Wattled Lapwing.
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We saw a huge group of Blackbucks (numbering above 50) walking across the grassland. They seemed pretty relaxed and were even occasionally jousting.
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I observed this behavior from the (possibly) alpha male whenever we went close enough for comfort. Not sure whether this is an alarm behavior.
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Apart from the 2 Black-naped Hares that sprinted away at full speed, we didn’t see any other mammals on the trip. Of course, the domestic sheep and cows that are brought into this magnificent grassland for food and drink didn’t add much to the beauty of the place nor to my camera’s memory card.
We saw a bird land at some distance from us around 9AM. The first thing that came to my mind – Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse. I remember my friend Sharad mentioning sometime that Sandgrouses can pretty much be called the 9AM birds – they are most active around that time when they go to drink water. A quick drive (and some considerable effort in spotting) and we found it comfortable with its camouflage.
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I was super-excited as this was my first sighting of this bird in Maidanahalli. And then it flew. Along with it at least 19 others that were sitting all around the car! The power of camouflage at its best.
We saw at least 3 different Tawny Eagles, including a dark morph. They were pretty much active throughout the day.
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It was a fairly pleasant day, with the sun playing hide-and-seek most of the time. After a quick shower in the afternoon, we also chanced upon a White-eyed Buzzard.
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A pleasant day ensured good sightings of most of the common birds there. The Southern Grey and Bay-backed Shrikes acted pricier than they normally are. Large Grey Babblers kept warning other grassland denizens of our presence.
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We bade farewell to this superb grassland with a sighting of this Blackbuck in a yoga pose.
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Complete birds list: Here
Coming up soon: Tea with the Lapwings