Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bird and Butterfly Resources

Some quick bird resources on internet

1. List of Indian birds
2. Photographs of birds
3. Indian Birds news letter
4. Threatened birds of India - RED Data book
5. Bird Life international
6. Taxonomy browser
7. Birding in India
8. Sound of Birds

For Butterflies

1. Check list of butterflies of Kerala
2. Check list of peninsular india butterflies
3. Photo of Indian Butterflies

Ooty Tour

It was last year christmas holidays that we chose for our Ooty trip from Bangalore. Ooty is around 284 Km away from Bangalore. We started by 4.30 in the morning on 23rd Dec 2006 in Ratheesh’s car. Ooty road takes a diversion from Gundalpettu [Bangalor-Mysore-Gundalpettu] and then goes through Bandipur National Park. We could see deers, peacocks, elephants, monkeys and lion tailed macaque. Road through the jungle is not too bad. We were in full spirit to spot wild animals and photograph them. It was by 10.30 am we reached Theppekkadu. From here we can take two routes, they are kind of parallel routes.

Route1: through Masinagudi which is 7Km away from Theppekkadu. Road in this route is narrow some times, contains 36 hair pin bends and most interestingly 40 to 50 degree slop in those bends! This route is open from 6pm to 8pm after that it is closed to ensure easy crossing for the wild animals. But there won’t be any lorries carrying luggage in this route and the road is also good. There are many scenic spots in this route, mainly hills and valleys.

Route2: This route touches Goodalur and later we knew that roads are in too bad conditions, we really thanked God that we took route1.

First view point in the Masinagudi route is Bison Valley viewpoint. This view point is very near to the main road and it is at one the steep bends. We could see three hills tending to join and form a wonderful valley there. Though the weather is not good to form water falls, some water streams were distinguished in background because of the colour difference from green. There is a small “traffic island” from which we can view the surrounding, nothing was viewable towards the bottom since thick rocks and tree leaves hidden the sight.

Kalhatty waterfalls is 2Km away from Bison Valley view point. There wasn’t water in this fall and so we didn’t get down there to trial our fate. Time was nearing 11.30, sky was clear and weather getting colder and colder as we passed each hair pin bends. We stopped near a hotel named “Rock Picnic”, the view from here was superb, and on the hill in right side, we saw large number of houses arranged in rhythm. I had collected some data about Ooty and the people living there, so I was keen to know more about those houses. A malayali is running that hotel and we met Pratheesh from Manjeri who is working in that hotel. He said that Badagas are the main residents of this area of Uthagamandalam, and the east side is inhabited by Todas. Badagas live in villages and these villages are called “hatti” in their Badaga language. Pratheesh said that those groups of houses are hattis – he told me their names too. Ekkuni, Ullathi and Melullathi. There are more than 100 Badaga hattis in Ooty. They are mostly farmers and cultivate carrots mainly. Pratheesh said that from one acre of carrot they will earn one lakh as profit, and this is with in three months time. We took our lunch from there and resumed journey by 1.30 pm.

After covering 8 Km we reached Thalakkada by 1.45 pm. We decided to see Pycara lake which is 16 Km away from this place. Upper lake view is 2 Km away from Thalakkada and the way to the lake is steep enough that we can’t control our steps. Next point was Film shooting point, which is a sloppy hill with a vast view over the horizon. Towards the other side of the hill, there is a valley with uniform curvature. The beauty lies in its uniformity and structure. By the time we descended the hill, it was 3.50 pm. We reached Pycara by 4.20pm. We went for boating there for 20 minutes. That experience was not that much as we expected. All of us dreamt a speed boat, but we could hire only motor boat. Even then we could feel the depth of the lake and its serenity… Heard that this lake has inclined muddy bed, so lake has more depth towards the centre. This lake is a part of Kamraj sagar power station reservoir.

Second day, we decided to explore in and around Coonor. We started by 8.30 in the morning from the hotel, where we stayed last night. Route to Coonor was picturesque, has good road compared to first day, lots of valleys enclosed with mist, plenty of tea plantations on the way and could see different ‘Hatties’ as we moved. Most of the time we had the direct and deep view of the scenes with a pleasing cold wind. The heritage train track is laid along this route. With in 45 minutes we reached Coonor. We had break fast from there. Coonor is a small town.

Our next plan was to go to Catherine falls. We passed Kottabettu, which is 12Km away from Coonor. In this route, there are bends where we stopped and enjoyed the wide scene. We can’t capture the loveliness on this scene in a camera as the view is more than 180 degrees. By 11 am we reached Kottagiri after covering 8Km from Kottabettu. We have to take the right diversion from Donnigton, which is a junction in Kottagiri town along Kottanad route. We had to travel 10Km more to reach Catherine falls from this junction. Then the road takes a right diversion from Aravenu. This place has a Hatti named Aravenu Hatti. Road was steep and covered with mist. We stopped here and there, that we reached Catherine falls by 12.30. We walked one and half kilometers through the tea plantations to reach the falls. Thanks to not having a direct road to this falls, the fall is clean and felt as unexplored by most of the tourists. Mavukkara tea estate is the main estate here. At 2.15 pm, we returned from Catherine falls.

Roads to Kotttanad is the best of all that we took till that time, surrounded by tea estates which are well maintained and beautified to a certain extent. Canopy of the plantations and trees in the valley which shined in the evening cold sun light was a fantastic view. It is sure that they are spending huge money for the maintenance of the estate.

We reached Kottanad view point at 4.15pm. The view from this point is ultimate and the view angle is more than 200 degrees. We could see Moyar river, a pale grey mark in green background, flowing down through the thick forest. The lighting effect showed that there are many small hills surrounding this river. Rangaswamy peak is the main attraction from this view point, which is the fifth highest peak in the Nilgris [1786 meters]. This peak is 30 Km away from Kottagiri. We spent 45 minutes at this view point.

At 5’o clock we started our return journey to Ooty. There is a direct route to Ooty [19Km] from Kottabettu, with out touching Coonor. We took that way; this route was misty and too dark. We reached Ooty by 8.30pm.

We returned Bangalore on the next day. The trip was incredible with lots of good natural sightings and nostalgia. Nature really calm us and bless with an overwhelming feel in which we can’t fully realise the magic it shows. We are eager to attain and experience more and more as we explore this nature.