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30 November 2008

A show of man's Best Friend

(Click for full size)

This Saturday & Sunday saw The Bangalore Canine Club go ahead conducting its 16th Dog show in the city and looked quite promising on the papers. I was equally surprised with the decent turnout at the event as with the sudden change in the weather that morning. The chances looked equally opposite in the morning but seems it was the canines who won their favor from the almighty. The Palace grounds shed the water soon and made quite good ground for people to come in and enjoy the show.
I may not be the best person to name all the breeds of the dogs who lined up with their proud owners, but sure am a dog lover and nothing excited me more. In one corner could be another surprisingly fed and grown mastiff waiting to be clicked for a shot, where on the other side, a pair of Siberian Huskies, sniffing around all around, fully alert.The dog barks in the environment and kids getting enticed by their looks & playful mood, was something that was really making up for the event. Here are couple more shots from the day. There were almost 400 different varieties of dogs which were scheduled to be exhibited at the show. Some of the dogs to be noted were St. Bernard, Neapolitan Mastiff, Maltese, Bull Mastiffs, pugs, Great Danes. I could also click a shot of the famous "The Mudhol hound" as a special exhibit.
A great day with the best friend of man, in such huge variety. Some More at http://www.flickr.com/photos/quitefar/

26 November 2008

Experiments with my Macro kit


(Please click to see the original size)
I ordered my macro kit and couple of filters final from one of the manufacturers after a long wait and lot of searching around. Filters and lens for larger sizes(77mm) are tough to find and most of the retailers i came across, were from out of India. Ordering through them would mean lot of hassles of custom duty and secondly you may never be able to trust them with your money and quality of products.
The light has been extremely bad these days with bangalore going in a blanket of showers and mist in the early morning and continuing with an overcast day leaving no time to take any good clicks. Being desperate to click using my macro lens, i experimented on my living room and as after i finished some mixture with tea, i used the spoon to click and magnify. As i magnified, i observer the salt and other masala giving nice color to the surface and the spoon appearing as craters on the moon. Here is the first glimpse.Shall post some interesting subjects soon.

25 November 2008

A stray pup

Some weeks back, over a slothful Sunday afternoon, all of a sudden my wife got restless to some noise coming from outside. I was in an extremely lazy disposition and didn’t bother for; the movie playing was worth it. But then she moved to the balcony and tried to look for something which was taking her attention. I was snoopy this time. After a while, she started calling me and pointed to a Little stray Puppy, stuck in the small garden with vegetables and some nice bushes planted throughout. The puppy was too small in size to make his way out, and the bushes also not kind enough to extend any help and now, there he was, stuck in the middle with completely confused mind. The line of sight, I presume would not be more than half the length of the bushes, in which it was, bewildering him further. It was getting restless and crying. My wife, though extremely petrified of dogs, but generous, asked me to do something about it. For a while, I was wondering if it would be the right thing, since a week back itself a bitch, gave birth to some pups and probably my helping hand may land me into a combat with the mother.

Finally overriding the fear, I charged down stairs and went outside near that garden. I tried to calm the pup and called him, expecting that listening to me, he may try to get out and come near the fence. I could have easily rescued him from there, by lifting him out. But nothing seemed to help and the battle between the bushes and the mini paws of the pup continued. By now one of the other neighbors had also come out and felt sad for him. I was left with no options and had to do something like that. I went to the neighbors’ place, asked for permission and jumped over the wall to get in to the garden. Carefully making my way through some herbs planted in the corner, I went up to the pup who was now struggling with the marigold plant. The fellow was anxious and was trembling. The pup weighed almost nothing and looked not been feed since long. I could jump the wall back, after having rescued, and holding him in only one hand. As I took it near my apartment, waiting for the rescue operation to finish, my wife was elated and gave me a look, as if I got the Indian sailors out of the Somalian hijackers’ clutches. We made arrangements for milk and bread dipped into it, and he gulped and slurped everything in a jiffy. He was still trembling and I could understand that he was scared. He was alone and quite young for being able to survive as a stray dog. I could not though sight his mother yet.

After a while, we decided that we would take him upstairs to our apartment for sometime. My wife made a nice cushioned bed with some rags in the balcony for him, where all proud possessions, my plants sit around. In one corner were my fishes swimming around and would peep through the fish bowl glass occasionally, to figure out as who their new friend was. We kept him for sometime, played around but soon he felt asleep. As he got up, he had a little more water and bread and then tried to move around the balcony, having the feel of the place. By the evening, we could observe that he wanted to go out, and it was the time, to say our little friend good bye. We left it in one of the safe corners, where after sometime; he caught up with his siblings and mother. What a Sunday it was!!

23 November 2008

Trip to Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary

(Babu rowing us through the lake)
The place was calling me since sometime and finally the trip came along. I had heard about this place lot many a times and this was it. I understand that this place was setup by lot of efforts from Salim Ali, who is a well known name in the arena of Wildlife conservations. There is another national sanctuary in Kerela, in his name, the Salim Ali National Park. We headed out of Bangalore, on a sunny Saturday morning and after a sleepy bus ride, reached Srirangapatna at 9:30. We hurried to the Ranganthittu Bird anctuary, a little worried about the light being harsh in the afternoon and wanted to reach as soon as possible.
The place has been maintained extremely well and lot of work was also under way. There are options when it comes to boating, and we choose to take a personal boat for three of us which costs 250Rs for a 25mins ride. The other option with boat having full amount of people(20 seat boats), would cost Rs. 25 each. The price was worth it and the folks rowing around are skilled physically and in their knowledge as well. The person, "Babu" who rowed the boat for us, seemed to have excellent details about birds, their proper names, their habitats and had been observing their activities since donkeys days. His observations were impeccable and could name the birds while they were in flight. The lake, is the actual diversion of river Cauvery, around this area and maintained as a place favourable to birds. There are lot of islands throughout and around the lake and offer solace to birds and Crocodiles with enough of food and place. I had read somewhere on a website, in the tips for birds photography "if you are clicking around a lake, try taking a boat and you would be surprised to see how close you could to them", and that's what i witnessed there. Babu started rowing around and started showing us the birds. The first huge islands had a complete family of Ibis sitting and enjoying the Saturday morning sun. There family had a guest "painted Stork" visiting them and sharing a branch. There were few herons who looked at ease with people getting closer in the boats and a young one of the family, just wading near water. And the best part, a huge crocodile sitting below on the island... The sight left us with Goosebumps and boy!!, was it some experience to see it from so close, in the wild. Through the boat ride, i could see lot of crocs moving with the boat, in extremely scary close vicinities and this sent a shiver down us all, but then Babu told us that they folks are quite cool and never seem to disturb anyone till vice-versa happens. At one point of time, he took boat near one of the crocs on the islands, and probably the distance was just 1.5 feet or so, and this was really exciting. We could even hear it breath. Amazing....Moving ahead the shots continued and Babu kept explained about birds and their nature. A small rock standing out in the water, saw these beautiful "River Tern" sitting in a pair and i could get portrait shots of these beauties with orange beaks and paws. On the way back, he took us to show some Snake birds sitting around the place and left us back with a smile.

The trip was enthralling and an experience something for the first time.
The park outside is still coming up and has excellent parking facilities. There is a small restaurant available for people to quench their thirst or feed. We headed out of this place, committing to return again as per told by "Babu" about the birds which would be frequenting in the month of Jan now. The trip continued towards exploring the other royal remains of the city of Srirangapatna. A writeup for the same to follow soon.

18 November 2008

Weekend Trip-Bannerghatta National Park, Bangalore

Bangalore has a vast flora and fauna swathe in and around and is known as Garden city for its beauty. With time, as more and more concrete jungle has been digging in roads the cover has also reduced with even greater speed. There are umpteen number of lakes around the city, some of then beautiful and fresh and some dying of not being able to aid them from the growing human waste dumps.
At around a 30 kms drive from the city centre, is the very well known Bannerghatta National Park. This place has been able to establish itself in a nice green cover on the outskirts of Bangalore and houses a zoo with lot of varieties of birds and animals, Children Park and a small cafeteria. It also offers a Lion, Tiger and bear safari with lot of jungle lodge buses plying throughout the day with tourists from all across, to sight these wild animals kept in their natural habitat, with the major attraction being White tiger. There is also a unique butterfly park on the other side of the zoo, which is an extremely beautiful, well maintained park with a huge dome shaped building for keeping butterflies in a Green house type environment, suitable to them. It also has a small museum for people looking to read and known more about the butterflies and moths and their beautiful world.
Bannerghatta Zoo: The zoo has a lot of variety of all kinds of birds and animals kept in the cages. Over the weekends the place is frequented by school children. This is their fantasy land with white peacocks, zebras, elephant rides, mini tree huts and a lovely

park and lots






of exciting colorful
species of birds. The sight of snakes and crocodiles scare them completely and aquatic birds from night herons, storks and pelicans show them the serenity in the nature. The place has been maintained in an average manner and with huge area available, there is much more that needs to be done. A small theater to show a film on the national park and variety of birds is also played at a nominal fee for some 45 mins of show.


Jungle Safari: Jungle safari remains the biggest attraction for all coming in and there would be surely a lot of lens men in every single bus going out in the wild. The areas for safari has been divided into two parts, offering tourists a complete safari covering Tiger, lion, bear and deer arenas and another one, which offers tiger, lion safari, and have been priced accordingly. The buses which ply on these jungle areas are in extremely poor condition, showing the low of the maintenance. There are no roads in most of the safari area and it’s an uncomfortable bumpy ride for all. The animals do look irritated sometimes with frequency of buses rising over the weekend to maximum and most of the times, people making lot of noise as they inch close to these animals. These animals though tired of being showcased, look much better than those kept in the cages in even worse conditions.
Butterfly Park: This is the best part of the national park visit. From the road, a huge board with a butterfly etched to its back, a nice open place with lot of greenery and small boards with tit-bits of information on butterflies welcome and attract inside as you pay for entry ticket. This place has been maintained excellently and has a very green envelop all around. After a little stride and reading fascinating information display about the moths and butterflies, a dome in the centre of the frame appears with a colossal butterfly modeled as the entrance to this place. As you enter, it appears to be a fairy land with water pool, lot of flowers & plants, butterflies, and some scent in the air. There are lots of colored fishes in this pool and a small bridge built over it. The place is huge and houses all sorts of



butterflies inside. To the top, there are huge nests made of fiber and cloth, tucked to the top. The entire place has a compelling beauty to it. And for some time you would feel completely lost into it. The pathway takes you through the entire place and ends up in a beautiful museum about birds and moths. There is pond at the back of the park and also the butterfly rearing plant.

Some Tips:
  • Gets extremely crowded, so if you are planning to visit this place, start early to avoid queues for safaris.
  • There are Volvo buses available too directly to BNP which could be a great medium if you are looking to come by public transport.
  • The place is a great picnic spot. There is lot of space to enjoy a good meal and play games with your family over the weekend. Also the pond & green cover at the Butterfly Park is idea to spend some casual moments over a weekend.
  • Best time to sight butterflies is from 9:00am -3:00pm.

07 November 2008

Weekend Trip-Manchibelle Dam Experience and photos

The best part of being in south India has always been the extensive range of places you could visit near around. I love to budge around and being located in Bangalore, I have lot of opportunities of photography and sight seeing in close vicinities of the “Garden City”.
With the weekend drawing closer, I started my pursuit for a place around Bangalore, and MANCHINBELLE DAM appeared top on my interest list. I shall include some important details about the trips and hopefully those should help the commuters making it a more comfortable journey for them.
Trip To: Manchinbelle Dam & visiting banyan tree & Naga Temple on the way.
Free Add-On: banyan tree, Naga Temple.
Distance: Almost 40 Kms from Bangalore City.
Trip directions: MG Road -> Take the Mysore road -> Look for Rajeshwari Dental College (which should come to your right side travelling from Blr)->Take exact right from there (there is a board also which shall confirm you are turning the correct road).

TIPS FOR REACHING:
The road next to the dental college, leads you straight to the Big Banyan Tree and then carries on to the Manchinbelle dam. About the road conditions, drive on the Mysore road is a pleasure as always, till the Rajeswari Dental College. As you turn, the road looks retraced, with a fine outlook, not posing any troubles. It’s a beauty till the Big Banyan tree and one can cruise through scanty traffic and scenic landscapes around. From the big banyan Tree, another few Kms are promising and then they fall apart, both the road and the promises it made. It’s a complete devastation and bumpy ride hereon. As one drives down to the dam, the road is a little slippery posing risk if driven without taking care.

EXPERIENCE
As the drive from the rajeshwari dental college starts, we started feeling alike of some place around Madikeri. The vegetation around the road changes and everything turns a lot greener, the lovely winter morning charmed us into the drive with the sun coming out and a beautiful aroma added to the air by flora around. The place smelt fresh and clean. We could not find much human movement in this area and the traffic on the road was reduced suddenly too, with few buses and trolleys passing by at times. These were excellent conditions for a metropolitan resident like me and I could recollect pleasure of driving at my native place in Punjab. After a good drive of 8 Kms from the Rajeshwari Dental college, we reached the Big Banyan tree which also known as Ramohalli and is a 400 years old, banyan tree. The tree trunk has already expired and the splits have been able to flourish with the little maintenance offered by this place. The span of this tree is huge and has the whole park built around it. The spot has got some attention from the authorities, with one of the nationalized, maintaining this park. There is a bus stand built over here a small market in front, catering the needs of locals and people visit this historical tree. After spending sometime and gulping some warm tea in the cold morning, we continued. The road continues from here in the same manner and the scenery starts to change fast. It’s a beautiful drive, extremely hush and green, and one more major crossing comes your way. WE took left and continued and didn’t get any further choices of roads, since it heads directly to the Dam. The road suddenly got worse and the speed never went beyond 10-15 Kms. Still nothing should dampen your spirits, as I could only hear birds’ sweet sounds and slow music wind. We were enjoying the drive, though it was quite bumpy now. There was this huge turn coming our way, and as we took that on, voila…this was it. The Manchinbelle Dam water bed, in front of our eyes, and we were spellbound. I just pulled over. If someone has ever driven to Goa from Bangalore, that’s the same surprise which shocks you as you discover Karwar coasts suddenly appearing. In this photo embedded below, you could also notice the Savandurga peak, which acts as a backdrop to the water bed.
Now we needed to find out the way for reaching the base and getting down to business. A couple of meters from this place, there was a muddy road, which leads towards the base. We took this right turn and carried on. The road is even friskier here and one needs to be extra conscious from here on. It’s hard to imagine such a place so up and close to Bangalore, and we just absorbed all the beauty around. It’s a Mecca for Birds and bird photography enthusiasts.
We had started from Bangalore at 6 am and by now it were 7.15, with birds already moving around the place and enjoying the morning sun.

We started moving around the base. The first stop was made, near a huge boulder near the water bed. I sighted a greater coucal on the rocks. It was far off, so I crouched and went near the rock. I could just get couple of shots, when it flew off. I was happy since I saw this bird for the first time, and the shot too was decent to start with. At the same boulder, there was couple of lizards which I shot and just spent couple of minutes, pondering on their agility and camouflage. I bet on a rainy day, it would be nearly impossible to spot them with their body changing color as exactly the surface they move on. A little further were a gang of laughing doves, magpie robins and lots of red vented bulbuls. Their movements were brisk since the place offers them homely comfort and capturing shots is not easy with the birds being quite shy. We moved ahead and there was huge resort, a dhabha, completely abandoned. I ventured through the complete area. It’s an excellent location to have a resort at, but for reason it was gone. There was an artistic tree across the road with a Green “OM” painted on it. Well, as they say, God is everywhere. I could also see some gray spotted owls on this tree tops. I was excited since never have shot an owl before. I spent some time waiting for the owl to pose for me, but they won’t come down. As for a moment I got lucky, one owl flew in to the tree and probably he didn’t notice me. The moment he saw below, I clicked and he left. It was as simple and quick. It’s just that this was my lucky day and the capture was spot on. Satisfied and even more energized, I spotted a white dot near the far end of the water bed. We drove towards it. After a little more, I could make out a large Grey heron bathing in sunshine. I parked on the road, and start moving through the fields, clicking on various distances. As I approached near I slowed down and crouched to give no signs of any interference to the bird. I got quite close to the bird and got this decent shot. I shot it from quite close by and the posted photo is an un-cropped version. After I started to move further from here, it probably noticed some movements and left me wanting for me. There are lots of maize fields around this whole area and is the same reason for lot of parakeets around. There were some red whiskered and white-browned bulbuls hiding and playing around these fields, not giving me a single chance to click them. But I soon got lucky with couple of Brahmin kits flying in to a tree nearby. I got busy with clicking them in their prideful posture and probably got some good eight to ten documentary shots. Also some more birds sighted around the place which I could not capture were Small Green Bee-eater, Tickell’s Flowerpecker, Magpie Robin, Hoopoe, and Small Blue Kingfisher. I got a click of pied bushcat but from an angle that could not expose its eyes.

The sun rose higher and birds started disappearing. We moved and before heading to Bangalore, we took a little diversion and decided to drive near the DAM for couple of shoots. Do not miss the place and a small village near the dam, heavenly place. As we moved from here, we stopped at the huge construction site with massive Dish setup and got to know the Space research institute coming up over there, which is one the finest investment goverment is making. I refrained from clicking any shots of this place, considering the security breach it may cause. On the way back, we also took a small road to the Naga Temple, which to us looked the most visited & famous place in the complete region. We didn’t see so many people during the whole journey, which we saw at this temple. The temple is small and beautiful and getting a revamp these days. A nice place to visit during your trip to this area. A memorable journey with lots of photos to share my experiences with you, and shall expect that you would comment back about how did you like it. Please write to me at quitefar@gmail.com for any information I can offer and also visit my flickr for more shots.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/quitefar/
I leave you with another panorama Shot, taken from near by the water bed and covering the complete backdrop.


TIPS
o Take eatables as per your need. The basic snacks are available in plenty near the Banyan tree but tough to find afterwards since least no of shops follow. Please do not litter for it’s sad to see people leaving their waste behind at such a spot.
o No petrol bunks on the complete route and in fact very few on Mysore road too, so folks leaving quite early should take care of fueling up.
o Extremely lone place early morning and during the day times too. One needs to be extra conscious.
o We saw a board near the Dam in front of few houses “BEWARE OF ROBBERS, PLEASE DO NOT GO INTO LONE AREAS”. As we ventured around photographing we realize the relevance. The place is lone and quite.
o Tough ride so make sure you pull up your socks for the bumpy journey.
o Excellent place for birding. Not seen any such place around Bangalore with so many birds around.

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