It is definitely a paradise, where else would you be woken up early in the morning by the call of the Malabar whistling thrush. Yes, it is the Old Magazine House forest camp in Ganeshgudi, the birders pardise located on Londa – Dandeli Road. The history of the camp can be traced back to the late seventies, when the mega Kali Hydro Electric Project in Supa came up. This was built for the purpose of storing of ammunitions and dynamite used for the blasting of rocks for the construction of the hydro electric dam. The camp is surrounded by some of the finest moist deciduous forests. These forests support a wonderful assortment of wildlife. One could get completely immersed in the layers of Sal,teak, mango and rosewood trees complemented with shorter trees and evergreen foliage. The forest is filled with fruit bearing trees which provides food for the birds. It is a biodiversity hotspot more known for armchair birding where you do not have to strain yourself for spotting birds. An ideal location for a family outing where there is so much greenery and wild life around.
The bird baths near the dining area is the main attraction. A flock of stern looking dark fronted babblers come and have a dip in this bath. When suddenly there are hushed tones of whispers and you turn around to see a white rumped Shama makes an appearance the smaller birds dissappear then the Shama steps in to take a dip. It is interesting to observe how some birds wait for their turn to have dips in the bird bath. Community bath is also prevalent here where different species of birds come together to have a dip.
The Racket tailed drongo, Blue naped monarch, Indian pitta, Emerald dove,Vernal hanging parrot,Ruby throated bulbul and Blue capped rock thrush are regular entertainers in the migrant season.Birding is complete when one sights the Malabar trogan couple . There is excitement in the air when the Malabar squirrel jumps from one tree to the other. All this drama can be observed by just sitting on a chair sipping tea or having lunch. The kids get excited when a green vine snake slithers down a tree. A colorful caterpillar keeps them occupied when the elders are busy watching birds and butterflies. The malabar pit viper on one of the trees offers enough distraction to feed a child who otherwise would be glued to the television.
The tarantula spider’s nest is indeed fascinating as to how it has managed to scoop out a hole on one of the side walls away from the ground. One manages to get a peep of this scary spider.Lying on the hammock after lunch one can savour the sounds of the Woodpecker and the gentle rustling of the leaves. One could keep gazing at the magnificent ceylon oak tree with different shades of red glistening leaves. When a Red Helen and the Southern birdwing flies past you gracefully, the hammock is abandoned as one does not want to miss out any drama that happens in this place. The Blue mormon which could be easily mistaken for a bird by its size enthralls one when it chases its pair and disappears in the greenery to suddenly appear again.
The Lacewing’s stunning wing pattern sets one to ponder about the intricate patterns in butterflies. It is indeed a wholesome experience where one gets to experience wildlife at such close quarters in the pristine forest.
The link to the article on Ganeshgudi which appeared in The Traveller – Hindu.