Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary Birding (Muthathi Included)

Well, well, well! It's time to relate my next birding adventure. Those of you who read my previous post on Hoskote Lake Birding would already know that I hired a Sigma 150-500 lens (highly recommended for birders) for this very planned adventure. Thanks to K B Srinivas who inspired my trip to the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. The birding trip was on August 16, 2013.

This was the first wildlife sanctuary I visited. I had no idea what to expect. It was always my idea that a wildlife sanctuary would have an entrance (a huge gate, to be specific), would be a gated area, would require an entry fee, and so on; perhaps, all influenced by zoo parks. It wasn't anything I dreamed of. Only after my visit to this place did I observe that I had been to other wildlife sanctuaries but did not realize it!


The Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Kollegal area of Karnatka, not too far from Bangalore. From my home (Ramamurthy Nagar) it is about 106-120 km depending on the route chosen. However, for those of you who would like to visit this bird paradise here's how you reach it: Get on to Kanakpura road (well, finding your way to this road depends on which part of Bangalore you're located in). Once you cross Nice Road junction on the way to Kanakpura road, it should take you about 45 minutes or so to reach Kanakpura, which is nearly 39 kms from the junction. On the way you will find many lakes - some dried, some filled with reeds and weeds, and some actually with water! Don't forget to stop by all of them. The birdlife you see here early in the morning will be something you won't find in the CWLS area.

About 17 kms from Kanakpura (keep straight, by the way), you will reach Sathanur. You will find a board saying so. Look for a direction board on your left that will lead you to the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary (take the road even if it says Muthathi or Bheemeshwari fishing camp). After a kilometer or so you should reach another junction - the left leading to Galibore Fishing Camp and the right (I mean straight road) leading to Muthathi. That's your road. Drive on till you reach Bheemeshwari Nature Education Camp.

You will be surprised to find that this road leads you right through the middle of villages! Don't stop to ask for directions. You're already on the right road. I've heard that it could be very dangerous to get their help - they're mostly in for the money. Beware. Winding and pot-hole filled roads will take you to your destination after 19 kilometers.

The road is not so good. You cannot drive fast. Moreover, the mountain road is not very winding - which means, the steep passages require you to be extra careful!

Don't go to Muthathi with great expectations. The birding is best along the way, not in Muthathi. Muthathi is only good for monkeys!


The whole journey is one that will present you with a varied species of birds. Your camera may have no end to clicking! Make sure you have enough memory cards with you, if you're shooting RAW + Fine (you're using that setting, right?).

We were a band of 6 members including 2 tiny birders (one 4 years old - my son, and the other 9 years old - my friend's daughter). We had a wonderful time! The first uncommon sighting was after we hit the Kanakapura road. A Black Shouldered Kite. My first sighting of this pretty bird. It was sitting on a high tension cable and didn't move until I had gotten fairly good shots of him.

We stopped at all the lakes. One of them had a multitude of birds. Jacanas, coots, ibises, herons, moorhens. Well, just make sure you don't focus your lens to areas where humans are busy, quite obliviously, relieving themselves of the night's collection in the intestines. :) The next lake had a congregation of painted storks. We had the privilege of capturing a fish catch on photo. Beautiful scene! A kingfisher graced the photo scene as well.

The area seemed to be dominated by Laughing Doves all along the way. You will find a lot of Indian Rollers (in the afternoon time) and wagtails.

The common birds of Bangalore are common there as well. Sparrows, you will spot them in the village areas. Guess what, I forgot to take a snapshot of them!

The other birds we saw included: plum headed parrot, hoopoe, flameback woodpecker, wood swallow, grey hornbill, leaf birds, shrike, rufous treepie, brahminy starling, baya weaver among others.

One interesting birding spot on the way is about half a kilometer from the checkpost. The landmark is a tree on the left that has a tree-house kind of structure. We spent about 45 minutes here on the way to Muthathi and half an hour on the way back as well. This is where we spotted the hornbill, leafbird, bulbuls, sunbird, babblers, prinias, starlings, blue jay and more! By the way, there are a lot of peacocks along the way. Unfortunately, though one of them, I believe, was very close to us, we could not spot it.

Hoopoes and flamebacks are quite sensitive birds. Make sure you approach with caution. If your car has a reverse alarm, then your chances of capturing a picture of the bird after you pass by it are going to be bleak.

The main bird spotters were the ladies sitting on the back seat of the car. Without them it would have been impossible to spot all the birds we saw! My friend's wife is an avid bird watcher, and she contributed a lot to my knowledge of birds.

If you want to do more birding after you reach Muthathi, drive on to towards Bheemeshwari Fishing Camp. You can spot quail, jungle fowl, wagtails, and other tiny birds.

Oh, and before I forget, there are a lot many raptors as per sightings of K B Srinivas and group; but, we didn't get to see any here due to the bad weather condition.


View the complete set at http://www.flickr.com/photos/21761803@N02/sets/72157635240642277/


  • Start early. If you want to see birds, start early. Remember, it will take you about 2.5 hours (or more if you sto along the way) to reach.
  • Equip yourself with a number of memory cards.
  • Have food (breakfast or lunch) before you enter the Muthathi area or after you leave the checkpost on the way back. This is to avoid monkey trouble.
  • Drive slowly once you cross the checkpost.
  • Police/security personnel at the checkpost will question you. Inform them you're on the way to Muthathi. They may check your car's boot space. Just be prepared.
  • If you don't know Kannada, this may help at the checkpost:
    • on the way to Muthathi say, "Bangalore nindha Muthathi ge hogutha-idivi"
    • on the way back, "Bangalore nindha Muthathi ge hogi, vaapas hogutha-idivi" (well, I'm not a Kannadiga - so if any of my readers is, please correct this so others will benefit)
  • There are no bathrooms or toilets anywhere. So, either be prepared to go in nature or control your urges.
  • There is wildlife in this area (yeah, I know I sound redundant), so don't venture out too much into the forest. Wild boars and foxes have been seen. The sanctuary is home to deer, elephants, tigers, leopards, pythons, Russels vipers, krait and crocodiles among many others. Be careful.
Happy Birding!

Waiting to hear your thoughts in the comments.

List of Birds seen (Bangalore - Kanakpura - Muthathi - Bangalore)

  1. Common Crow
  2. Jungle Crow
  3. Pariah Kite
  4. Brahminy Kite
  5. Indian Koel
  6. Little Egret
  7. Cattle Egret
  8. Great Egret
  9. Pond Heron
  10. Grey Heron
  11. Purple Heron
  12. Lesser Cormorant
  13. Greater Cormorant
  14. Bronze winged Jacana(A)
  15. Bronze winged Jacana (J)
  16. Purple Swamphen
  17. White Breasted waterhen
  18. Common Coot
  19. Common Moorhen
  20. Black Shouldered Kite
  21. White Breasted/Throated Kingfisher
  22. Common Myna
  23. Jungle Myna
  24. Brahminy Starling
  25. Painted Stork
  26. Red Rumped Swallow
  27. Red Wattled Lapwing
  28. Greater Coucal
  29. Rose- Ringed Parakeet
  30. Plum-Headed Parakeet
  31. Laughing Dove
  32. Spotted Dove
  33. Blue Rock Pigeon
  34. Pied Bushchat
  35. Red Whiskered Bulbul
  36. Red Vented Bulbul
  37. White-Browed Bulbul
  38. Jungle Babbler
  39. Large-Grey Babbler
  40. Yellow-Billed Babbler
  41. Long tailed Shrike
  42. Hoopoe
  43. Greater Flameback
  44. Black Drongo
  45. Drongo Cuckoo?
  46. Indian Robin
  47. Magpie Robin
  48. White tailed Robin?
  49. Ashy Prinia
  50. Malabar Grey Hornbill
  51. Scaly Breasted Munia
  52. Green Bee eater
  53. Little Green Bee eater
  54. White-Browed Wagtail
  55. Coppersmith Barbet
  56. White Cheeked Barbet
  57. Rufous Treepie
  58. Grey Jungle fowl
  59. Peacock (calls heard)
  60. Baya Weaver
  61. Indian Silverbill
  62. Common Quail
  63. Pied Crested Cuckoo
  64. Domestic Fowl
  65. Jerdon’s Leafbird
  66. Blue Jay
  67. Tailor bird
  68. Common Iora?
  69. Ashy wood Swallow
  70. Hen
  71. Rooster
  72. Goose


  1. nice writeup and really nice pics...

    Some pics are a bit dark though, maybe you can add some fill light for some simple program like picasa :-)

    1. Thanks Santa! I'll definitely try out the fill light suggestion.