Sunday, November 20, 2005

Tungareshwar - An overlooked forest

Hi All,

(Photos courtesy: Mr.Murlidhar)

After a splendid last weekend in Tungareshwar, where we saw an Immature Rufous Bellied Hawk Eagle, Malabar parakeets, Crested Tree swifts & White eyes….I wanted to explore this place again and see if I could get a photograph (Mobilescope atleast) of the R.B.H.Eagle..... a very sighnificant sighting for the region.

The recently declared Tungareshwar sanctuary ( deciduos / Moist decidious/ semi evergreen) can be accessed by various routes and having birded there several times by the main route (Vasai/Tungareshwar phata), Mandar suggested to take another route that is close to the famous Vajreshwari springs…….To reach this place one has to go via the Ahmedabad Highway, take a right turn at Shirsat Phata (Or Vajreshwari Phata) and after crossing “Usgaon” (8-10 kms from Shirsat) village about a km., there is a Kuccha road that leads to the “Sadanand Baba Ashram” ….there is a board that announces this……
Last Sunday (…), we had some good catch like Malabar parakeets, White-eyes, Crested tree swifts, Y.Legged Green Pigeons etc…….. We were lucky with Malabar parakeets (Western ghats endemic) this time as well…..This area apparently seems to be the northern most range of its distribution ( Sunjoy informs , he too has sightings of these parakeets from this area) …….We also had a very clear and confirmed sighting of Juv. R.B.H.Eagle. This species has distribution from Goa south and we all were surprised and stunned to find this bird here…way way north…..The unmistakable black hood and whiter under parts and the small size ( +Booted eagle ) makes its ID fairly easy.
It was not a particularly happy day for me though……firstly my mobile phone (Mobilescope fame) went dead and I have to give it for repairs, secondly my S.Scope fell and broke the adapter (Thankfully the optics are safe), so could not use it for the trip (And won’t use atleast for a couple of weeks now) and lastly my right eye got some particle and was sore………
The prospect of sighting a Rufous bellied Eagle, had Venkat come all the way from Chembur and Amod Karkhanis & Mr.Anil Kunte from Thane at 7.00 am on 20th Nov'05, rest of us had stayed at Mandar's ( Dahisar)........
The climate, however was cool when we* spotted our first species- a pair of Common Rosefinches. Continued with Malabar parakeets, White browed Bulbuls, Imm. Shikra, O.Honey buzzard, E.Golden & Black hooded Orioles, Small minivets, Rufous bellied babblers etc…..
Pugmarks of a Leopard in the mud on the main path and further on, of a Civet cat (Mr.Anil Kunte) indicated of a good healthy forest, but the rampant woodcutting activity along the way made us realise the true picture……..
Among the other species we saw were Verditer flycatcher, White bellied, Ashy and Greater Racket tailed drongos, Common woodshrikes, Redbreasted, Paradise & Monarch flycathers, Greenish leaf warblers singing, a Good sighting of Western crowned leaf warbler and Sulphur bellied warblers, Thick billed and Pale billed flowerpeckers, Common Ioras, Black headed cuckoo shrike, Yellow crowned woodpecker, Plenty of Crested tree swifts, Tree pipit, Grey brested prinias in non-breeding flocks. Also what I thought was a Tytlers leaf warbler, but could not confirm…… Good & plenty sightings of Eurasian Crag martins hawking insects along with the swallows and swifts……
The region seems very good for forest raptors. We had very good and prolonged sightings of a pair of Changeable hawk eagles and with the breeding season commencing, this pair is expected to stick to this place, also magnificent Black Eagle rising on the thermals….one has to see it, to experience the graceful flight of these majestic eagles with the glistening black feathers shining in the sun rays………
Though I birded with my damaged phone (camera), Spotting Scope and one eye, I had my 2 ears, 1 eye, and wonderful birding pals with me …….
This part of Tungareshwar deserves more visits that promises plenty of surprises…..
Happy Birding,
*Participants (on 14th Nov'05) : Myself, Ashwini Vaidya, Mandar Khadilkar, Abhijeet Narvekar, Animish Mandhrekar, Ms.Pallavi Joshi & Mr.Murlidhar
On 20th Nov: Venkat Krishnan, Amod Karkhanis & Mr.Anil Kunte.