It was probably five in the morning when I woke up to the call of the wild. As my eyes accustomed to the darkness around me, I had the peacock calling , in a persuasive tone, almost pleading with me to wake up. I opened the door and stepped out. It was dark and the moon was in no mood to let go of the sky. Drenched in its light, I saw the bamboo groves standing still . No sign of the peacock though, although its continuous calls echoed through the Nilgiri mountains and reached me at the Club Mahindra resort in Masinagudi. It was probably more than a couple of hours later that I managed to get a glimpse of it, as it gracefully walked around the resort.
Wake up call from the peacock – Pic : Lakshmi Sharath
Finally it took more than a couple of hours for the sun to displace the moon . The birds that greeted me immediately were the spotted dove and a magpie robin . Sipping water were the red whiskered bulbul and a flock of noisy seven sisters – the jungle babblers.
A spotted dove looks on – Pic : Lakshmi Sharath
Flitting in the leaves – a magpie robin ; Pic : Lakshmi Sharath
Mind if I drink some water asks the Red whiskered bulbul .Pic : Lakshmi Sharath
Jungle babblers quenching their thirst – Pic “: Lakshmi Sharath
I looked at the dense canopy of bamboo and spotted a tickell’s blue flycatcher basking in the morning light. I had repeated sightings of the bird almost throughout the morning session.
Sightings of the Tickells Blue during the day – Pics : Lakshmi Sharath
Then came the great tit but it flew away , distracted . Pic : Lakshmi Sharath
Soon we joined the manager, Atul and a group of enthusiastic guests from Mumbai who were birding for the first time. While most of them were senior citizens, their excitement at sighting a new bird was similar to a school boy who was gifted a candy.
Looking down at the photographer – Malabar parakeet . Pic : Lakshmi Sharath
An iora looks on – Pic : Lakshmi Sharath
The enthusiasm and energy was infectious as we sighted several birds – the malabar parakeet, the brahminy starling, the common iora, a grey wagtail, the jungle fowl among others.
Standing still – A Brahminy starling
Standing right on the way – a grey wagtail . Pic : Lakshmi Sharath
Jungle fowl in the wilds – Pic : lakshmi sharath
We walked towards a dry stream and the not so common kingfisher was waiting for its breakfast in those little puddles of water.
Looking away – A common kingfisher . Pic : Lakshmi Sharath
We walked a bit further and the remaining guests left us while Atul and I sat on the rocks and looked around.
Chased away : An orange headed ground thrush . Pic : Lakshmi Sharath
We saw a orange headed ground thrush being chased by a small bird which turned out to be the Indian pitta. Excited and happy to see it at eye level, I sat on a rock and watched it. It seemed oblivious to me, busy chasing the thrush as it surveyed the scene.
This is my turf says the Indian Pitta . Pic : Lakshmi Sharath
I dont know if the bird saw me or not, but it seemed perfectly at peace. Nothing like observing a bird with your own eyes – no camera lens or even a binoculars was required to watch its behaviour. It hopped from rock to rock, walking around in the greenery, with its brilliant colours merging with the scenery around.
I watched it for a while, until an excited Atul pointed a male paradise fly catcher perched above me , camouflaged well in the leaves. Only its long white tail fluttered around as we saw it fly into another tree. Soon it was followed by the rufous tailed paradise flycatcher and the female bird , without the long bird. We watched them for a while as they remained hidden amidst the leaves. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, we managed to tear ourselves from the stream. As we walked back, we saw the pitta still out in the open, walking around and chasing the orange headed ground thrush . And what a morning it has been in the company of the pitta, the peacock and the paradise flycatcher .
Look at me and my colours – the Indian Pitta . Pic : Lakshmi Sharath
Casa Deep Woods in Masinagudi almost feels like the continuation of the forest, with bamboo trees and dense foliage surrounding your rooms. While the birds greet you in the morning, you often see a herd of deer drinking water from the stream behind. This property is a haven for birds. Just a walk in the morning and one can see a myriad range of colours flitting through the woods. Come here for a weekend and refresh yourself in the company of nature.