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Birds of Saul Kere: A Dry Season Story

This week, I ventured to Saul Kere Lake for a birdwatching trip, hoping to capture some photos and document how the local avian population is coping with Bangalore's extended dry spell. The city hasn't seen rain in six months, with March, typically a wetter month, remaining parched due to El Nino's influence. Here are the pics from the trip.



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I arrived at Saul Kere Lake at sunrise and spotted something special: a pair of black-winged stilts with a nest!  These migratory birds usually don't breed in this lake, but climate change considerations might have influenced their decision to raise chicks here. One stilt sat incubating the eggs while the other was probably looking for food or guarding against dangers. This behavior, where both sexes share nesting duties – is a fascinating example of avian cooperation. 




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The sun rose in a clear sky. 



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The relentless sun has baked Saul Kere Lake nearly dry, exposing a vast expanse of cracked earth where water once lapped. A  few, scattered puddles remained like desert oases.



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I couldn't help but be reminded of George Orwell's Animal Farm, where the cunning pigs seized power and reshaped the world for their own benefit. Here, on this parched landscape, the pigs, in their own way, were claiming their dominion over the exposed earth.  It also raised a question: in this new reality, who would truly thrive – the creatures who once called the lake home, or the opportunistic newcomers?




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I turned my attention to the few watery areas buzzing with birds.



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An intermediate egret speared a fish with its sharp bill in a swift, effortless motion. 



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And again it emerged with a struggling fish.



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The stilt's each step on its impossibly long legs was a picture of grace, as it waded through the water with a measured, almost balletic precision.



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I moved to the cooler, shaded woods in the east side of the lake. Here, a purple sunbird buzzed with vibrant life, its feathers catching the sunlight.



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A Red-whiskered bulbul dazzled with its exuberant song as well as its looks.



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A black drongo, perched alertly, kept a keen eye out for insects to snatch.



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An ashy prinia, the resident chatterbox, was in full voice.



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True to its name, the scaly-breasted munia didn't shy away from showing off its most prized possession – a beautifully patterned chest that seemed covered in tiny scales.




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A male Asian koel, with its bright red eyes, perched on a branch.



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A spotted owlet landed nearby. Its initial gaze held a flicker of terror - wide, golden eyes dilated in sudden fear. 



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But the alarm quickly morphed into a different kind of intensity. The pupils narrowed, the irises contracting as anger surged. The once wide eyes focused into a fierce stare. 



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Yet, within a fleeting moment, the fire dimmed. The owlet blinked, a flicker of something almost smug replacing the fierce glare in its eyes.



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My gaze fell upon a busy white-cheeked barbet. Its beak overflowing with berries, it tirelessly flew back and forth, a dedicated provider for its hungry chicks nestled in a nearby cavity. Two particularly impressive trips...










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Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into birdlife during Bangalore's dry spell. Let me know what you found most interesting in the comments below!

Unexpected Encounters at Hoskote Lake

The past few weeks have felt like one long, hectic blur. Between work deadlines and the endless headaches of dealing with property changes, I was completely drained.  

All I craved was a breath of fresh air and a chance to reconnect with nature's wild side. Thankfully, Hoskote Lake, a haven for birds right outside Bangalore, offered the perfect escape. 

Here are the pics.



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I aimed to be at Hoskote Lake for the exact sunrise time of 6:15 am.  However, by the time I fumbled with my camera, the sun had already risen a cheeky few yards.




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Even a sliver of the moon lingered in the dawn sky.



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Swallows darted across the sky in a flurry of activity.



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A large group of rosy starlings had claimed the ground for their breakfast buffet.



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A solitary white-browed wagtail, danced along the water's edge as it hunted for its breakfast.



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A cattle egret shared a perch on a tree with a glossy ibis. 



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The pre-dawn light was tricky, but I was happy to spot this common hawk cuckoo.



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I spotted a Blyth's reed warbler next.



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A wedge of ibises.



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An interesting interaction unfolded between a white-cheeked barbet and a coppersmith barbet. Both birds displayed focus on the same nest hole. First, the white-cheeked barbet arrived with food for the nestlings inside. Shortly after, the coppersmith barbet entered the same hole. Their behavior towards each other was quite animated, leaving me curious about their connection to this particular nest. Could they be a breeding pair exhibiting cooperative breeding behavior, or perhaps competing for the same nesting site?










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A pied bushchat perched nearby, its posture piquing my curiosity. 



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Exhausted from their aerial ballet, barn swallows lined the wires. 



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A rosy starling materialized for a mere moment.



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The tiny zitting cisticola proved to be quite the challenge. I settled in quietly, and after some focused observation, the little bird finally emerged from its hiding spot.






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A group of cattle egrets had claimed a nearby tree as their breakfast perch, scattered amongst the branches like white flowers.



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A Grey-bellied Cuckoo! The sighting sent a thrill through me.




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 I spotted a paddyfield pipit next.

 


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A Western Yellow Wagtail busily searched for breakfast.



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A black-winged stilt balanced on spindly legs, wading through the shallows.


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 A shy wood sandpiper peeked out.


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A Baya weaver flitted between the lakeside reeds and a nearby cornfield. It enjoyed a meal of readily available corn kernels.



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Sharing the opportunistic spirit was a rose-ringed parakeet. It perched confidently on a nearby cornstalk, enjoying a snack of ripe corn kernels.



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A Brahminy Kite feasted on a large tilapia fish.  



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The Asian Green Bee-eater provided a fitting farewell to Hoskote Lake.


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I hope you liked the post. Let me know what you think in the comments!