This was one of the most awaited event for me. To make it even more special, it was on my birthday. In LIFE meetings we had earlier, we had discussed about attending this survey to get some exposure. Finally, it was confirmed that few of us are going to attend it.
The plan was that we all go in a car on Saturday evening, so that we could start early on Sunday morning. In the end, plan slightly changed. Me and Harsha took bike instead. Harsha had done some home work and got the print of a map that showed the way to our camp, Devarubetta. Although we went bit far ahead from the place we had to take deviation on Hosur road, we took the correct route and reached the place at around 6PM. Another group of people were coming on a car, and, they lost the route many times and reached the place at around 7PM.
At the time we reached there, teams there had already started birding in nearby places, and we had to wait in front of the locked building till they returned. It was also raining heavily at that time. By the time they returned, it was time for dinner. They got us dinner while coming back because there was nothing available in that village.
They were about 15 people, and we were 7. We introduced each other and Harsha talked about LIFE. Those guys were almost full time into these kind of activities. They all shared that day's experience before we went to sleep.
We were all ready to leave for the survey by 7 AM, since, we didn't have to take bath :). We split up into 3 teams. Two teams for survey, and another for birding nearby. The team I was in planed for a hybrid - survey and birding.
We were accompanied by 2 forest guards for safety. We were droped to a place called Vadra Palya, where we were supposed to start. There was little confusion about where we should be dropped because there were 2 places with same name, nearby. Then we started with the survey.
The path we first took was the same place where three people were killed by an Elephant. That was scary! We relaxed when we came to know that Elephants came there only in harvest season to eat crops. First animal we sighted was the Common Indian Mangoose.
Our team consisted of many serious bird watchers. They showed me numerous different species of birds in their powerful binoculers and cameras. The camera I had wasn't just good enough for photography there. Next thing we observed before entering the actual forest were the weaver bird's nest. What we saw was that the females were busy monitering the nests build by males.
We did see lots of different species of birds, although I don't remember all those names. Few of them I remember are Babblers, Dove, Fly Catchers, Wild Crows, Quail, etc. Animals we found with indirect evidence were through foot prints of Jungle Cat, Deer, Wild Boar and Elephant. We did sight some reptiles like Snake's king, Rock Gecko and few other lizards.
We halted in a valley to take some refreshments, where there was a temple as well. It was such a nice place inside the thick decidious forest. We saw three different types of Fly Catchers there.
Just before we reached our camp back, we saw foot prints of elephant and the tree that was broken. Forest guard said that the Elephant had come near our camp last night. We had missed it, as we were all sleeping :). It was a tiring trek of about 13-14 kms, and last few kms being completely uphill.
We then had lunch discussing all our experiences and then we left back for home. They survey we did was just a Rapid Survey to quickly learn about the vegetation and the animals present there. This activity will continue with more systematic survey with Transects and Camera Traps to get the actual count. All these efforts are being put to make it a Sanctuary so that the animals there will be protected. Anyone can join hands with them to volunteer. For more information, visit their blog.