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HOME » Tour Info » 2011 » Karnala Bird Sanctuary

Dec 11

Had a real gala of a time at Karnala Bird Sanctuary. It has been a shame for me not visiting this place in the past but better late than never. Left home at 5:30 am aiming to reach the gates by 7:30 am. Accompanied by couple of my enthu office friends and budding photographers like me, could manage to reach the gate by eightyish. Parked the car and geared up to enter the sanctuary in the chilly misty morning.

As I was assembling my gears, could not expect a better start than this.. Male Shikra flying from the nearby tree with his typical call and landed on the tree just next to where I was assembling my tripod. On the top of the tree across the road, the Pond Heron was busy bathing in the morning sun… This was the indication of what was expected inside. Did not dare to waste a single moment we started our walk on the concrete roads of the sanctuary. Few meters ahead, we could manage to get the map of the sanctuary – a perfect guide for us to start our trail.

The Karnala Bird Sanctuary is located in Panvel Taluka of Raigad District, outside Mumbai, India near Matheran and Karjat. The sanctuary is quite small with an area of 12.11 square kilometres but is one of the sanctuaries except the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Tungareshwar sanctuary to be within reach of the Mumbai city.

The sanctuary lies just off the Mumbai-Pune National highway to Goa. It is 12km from the Panvel. It is home to over 150 species of resident and 37 species of migratory birds who visit the sanctuary during winter. It is one of the more popular destination for avid bird-watchers and hikers in the Mumbai area. Karnala Bird Sanctuary is centered around the historic Karnala Fort which stands 475 metres high.

The sanctuary is open to visitors throughout the year. The resident bird and animal population can be seen at any time of the year, especially the monsoons, while the best time to see migratory birds is from October to April.

Four nature trails exist in the sanctuary

1) Hariyal nature trail - 1km

2) Mortaka Nature trail - 6km.

3) Garmal Nature trail - 3km.

4) Karnala pradakshina trail - 10km.

With we being the first timers to this sanctuary, chose the best and the easiest trail (Hariyal trail). As we entered the trail, just 500 meters ahead, we saw a small wooden bridge and a watch tower nearby. Well, it was been told to spend quality time on the watch tower to have better sightings…. By the time we reached the tower, sun gods had woken up completely showing their morning golden rays on the chilled jungle. To our luck, as we manage to reach to this watch tower, a pair of Chestnut belied Petronia sat on the nearby branches giving us the first opportunity to click the shutter button of the camera. As we were busy clicking, my eyes were scanning other parts of the forest.. Far off, could see some movement of an uncommon birdy… To my luck, it was a male Green Leaf bird busy sucking honey from the nearby flowers… Woow – I silently patted my back to spot this green beauty in that dense vegetation. Could manage to spend quality 35-40 mins at the watch tower and saw many petronias busy chirping and hopping from branch to branch.

As we headed from the watch tower further to the trail, we could see Orange headed thrush busy hopping in the nearby bushes. Further ahead, could see purple sunbirdsGreater Racket tailed drongo pair, Clamorous Reed Warblers busy with their morning sessions. With few clicks, we moved ahead and saw a riot of birds – a mixed hunting party… Asian Paradise Flycatcher female, Red throated Flycatcher female, Green bee eater, Jungle babblers, sunbirds, Dark Hooded Orioles, Red Vented Bulbuls, Red Whiskered Bulbuls, Jungle Babblers.. But to our tough luck, a drongo pair was not a party to this as constantly flew these birds. In this tussle, could manage to get the glimpse of the Oriental Honey Buzzard who flew from the top.

Further as we walked, we could see quite a few Giant Woody Spiders hanging around in their huge webs waiting patiently for somebody to stuck in and become their prey… We moved further… The forest indeed is very dense and despite of several familiar calls / sounds, sighting these birds was indeed a challenge. To our tough luck, could see many love birds busy in their own mood flocking in… with many not having any civic sense of behaving when they are in the arms of Mother Nature. The bollywood songs echoed from few corners of the jungle making me wonder why are Sanctuaries preferred for such deeds… Please spare them atleast!!!

On one marshy patch, could see few butterflies and my friends got busy shooting them. My eyes were constantly screening the woods. Far off on a mango tree, a Shikra call caught my attention. I approached slowly, keeping my eyes and ears open… Again to my tough luck, saw drongos chasing Shikra who perched on that mango tree.. Seems these drongos had some personal grudges with me. Soon after Dark Hooded Oriole was sighted and started focusing it.. All of a sudden, there was another riot of birds – I could not believe my luck, mixed hunting party once again in action. Small Minivet (female) just perched nearby. I shifted my focusing and was trying to focus the vibrant yellow coloured beauty but she had some other plans.. As she left – the sighting of that day – Heart Spotted Woodpecker pair – landed on the same tree… Opps!!! too many things in mind – aperture, shutter speed, light direction, white balance, exposure, metering, bla bla, bla bla.. I just focused on it and started clicking as if I shall not be able to see it again… These swift beauties gave me just few seconds as they were heading straight towards the top of the tree.. I could manage to call my friends to see this beauty. My wish was his command as he came back again on the same perch for few seconds and flew back… Now there were 6 eyes screening that patch of the forest and the opportunity of sighting increased.. Racket Tailed Drongo again, Small Minivet (male) gave a glimpse from far off dense trees, warblers, drongos. It was a subject of your choice and with the light incident on the warbler; I chose to shift my positioning and focus.

Pair of Clamorous Reed Warblers was busy preying on the small butterflies and spiders from the nearby barks. Could manage to get some decent shots of the predator and its prey. With this drama continuing for few minutes, the jungle again went in to a silent zone with no movement. As we moved ahead, we decided to again visit the watch tower and expect the same drama. Apart from Sunbirds and the Petronias, could not manage to spot anybody as the sun gods were perpendicular to where we stood. We marched to the main gate and decided to give a try walking straight on the concrete road inside the forest before we leave for the day. Male Shikra perching on the tree right next to the concrete road… The shy raptor just gave us few seconds and before I could focus it, it bade a good bye to us.. We moved ahead as the map showed water body ahead. Few meters ahead, we saw few cages were few parakeets, a juvenile spotted eagle (injured I guess), peafowl and peahens were kept in captivity. That place was full of Rhesus monkeys and could manage to take few portraits. In hunt of that water body, it was a big dejection to see nothing. It was mid afternoon and no movement, no bird calls – we thought of waiting in the shade. Waiting in the shade, could manage to see a Pond Heron resting in the shade too.. A drongo busy with his acrobats feasting on the flies and perching on the nearby branches.. From nowhere Ashy Prenia flew and perched on a far off branch for few seconds.. After few frames, vanished in the nearby bushes.. With a marshy patch nearby, many butterflies flew around and could manage to get few clicks from my bazooka.. The shy Lesser Coucal hopped far off showing its glimpse for few minutes.. Far off the vibrant blue coloured birdy flew off and perched to the shades of the tree – it was White Throated Kingfisher.

With sluggish movements and empty stomach, we finally dragged ourselves back home treasuring the sightings of quite a few species…

1.     Chestnut Shouldered Petronia

2.     Shikra (Male)

3.     Pond Heron

4.     Purple Sunbird (Male / Female / Eclipse Male)

5.     Purple Rumped Sunbird

6.     Green Leaf bird (Male)

7.     Asian Paradise Flycatcher (female)

8.     Green Bee Eater

9.     Read throated Flycatcher (female)

10.  Black Hooded Oriole (male / female)

11.  Ashy Prenia

12.  Heart Spotted Woodpecker (pair)

13.  Small / Scarlet Minivet (male / female)

14.  Oriental Honey Buzzard

15.  Black Drongo

16.  Greater Racket Tailed Drongo

17.  White Throated Kingfisher

18.  Orange Headed Thrush

19.  Jungle Babbler

20.  Lesser Coucal

21.  Clamorous Reed Warbler (id to be confirmed)

22.  Red Whiskered Bulbul

23.  Red Vented Bulbul

24.  Parakeets (Rose Ringed)

Few of these moments have been treasured and saved under “URBAN WILDLIFE - MUMBAI”.

 RSS  Disclaimer : This photograph is taken in the natural habitat. Incase if anybody needs the copy of this picture, please contact me. All Rights Reserved by Yogesh Rane (www.junglebook.co.in / www.yogeshrane.com)