G and G set out to explore Manchinabele on this Sunday morning, neither of us had been there before. We took the route from Mysore Road, and made slow progress on the section of very bad road past Big Banyan tree. Manchinabele was beautiful in the morning light, and near the road next to the lake we found scaly breasted munias, dozens of common and yellow eyed babblers, larks which challenged our ID skills, bee-eaters, ashy drongos and long tailed shrike.
The only other humans apart from us were a man accompanied by a villager, inspecting the lake shore (planning a high-rise or ‘resort’?). We continued our birding but after some time the man came to warn us about ‘notorious characters’ who visit the lake, and that we should leave the place immediately. We thanked him for his concern but politely ignored the suggestion. The duo left, but soon after, a taxi pulled up and 7 men emerged from it holding plastic bags! I started contemplating whether my 300mm lens could serve as a weapon if required. The men disappeared behind some rocks, and then it dawned on us that they were there for swimming. Some embarrassing moments followed when it seemed to them that we were observing them through the binocs.
Moving further on, we discovered a colony of baya weavers, with half a dozen nests (one of them a luxurious multi-storey one!) and a lone male in striking breeding plumage, keeping guard. A vocal ashy prinia gave it company, and later we also spotted its cousin plain prinia. Heading on foot towards the lake, we came across a pair of white browed wagtails, and ashy crowned sparrow larks perfectly camouflaged among the rocks. On the way back we noted flocks of grey herons and cormorants overhead.
We returned back via the Magadi road route, and near Sawandurga had a fleeting glimpse of what might have been a black headed munia. We also stopped and explored a paddy field in that area, where a flock of male and female baya weavers made a pretty picture.