“We leave at 5AM sharp!” from Suvi was the whip
“Unearthly hour even for birders!” in protest did we quip
BM Betta will be worth it, just wait and see
So we set our alarms and reluctantly did agree.
Some woke at 3AM and made their spouse fry bhajjis
While others barely awake, headed directy for the spree
The rain gods in turn decided not to make it easy
And sent us at 4.30 an impressive downpour for all to see.
Undeterred, we made our way in the wet darkness
Armed with binocs, cameras and camera harness.
Kanakpura road required a supreme effort of night vision
Avoiding high beam trucks and dogs on a suicide mission.
The drizzle continued en route and a washout did we fear
But the sight of the green fields and hills did us cheer
“crested hawk eagle” an excited screech from Gayathri
But it was in fact an OHB preening itself on a tree.
Baya weavers busy at work crafting their nests
A family of button quails putting us through an ID test
The sight of the betta dawned bright and clear
At its base a placid lake with grebes in breeding gear.
The uphill stretch revealed a treacherous rocky road
Stubbornly we drove on till the cars groaned from the load.
Some skillful navigation from Rajneesh did save the day
Left the vehicles halfway up and then on foot did we foray.
A Plum-headed parakeet couple cooing in delight
A Loten’s sunbird glinting brilliant purple in the light
Social spiders and their monstrous webs did we explore
Scaly breasted munias and flowerpeckers galore.
The other birds appeared to be hiding from us though
Finding no Anush to blame, we looked for other scapegoats
“Rajneesh brings bad luck” did we proclaim unitedly
Or Gayathri’s pink shirt, some may have thought privately.
We marched onward and upward till we could go no higher
Oh! The view from the top left nothing to be desired
And now we come to the real purpose of our expedition
Buns, cakes and goodies made appearances in quick succession.
Tadpoles swimming while granite ghosts hovered in the air
Lotus leaves in a puddle – how on earth did they get there?!
We started our descent as it now grew a lot brighter
The sun was on our shoulders and our belts a little tighter.
“I’m lost” cried Uma, “got held up by a dragonfly”
“A raptor, come quickly! Oops, it just waved goodbye”
A flat stretch of rock proved a good viewing gallery
A lovely butterfly drew oohs and aahs as it fluttered by.
A cheeky warbler mocked and taunted and simply defied ID
Whitethroat (no last name) was the lone migrant we could see
Finally on the last stretch a sighting of YTB (white EB),
But the “bird” of the day was southern birdwing, undoubtedly!
Back at the cars and more goodies magically produced
The 3AM bhajjis, kachoris and more were speedily reduced.
Red spurfowl appeared briefly for our viewing pleasure
A lump of rock started moving and even flew about at leisure!
Painted spurfowl, did 7 pairs of peering eyes decree,
A black-shouldered kite hovered pretending to be a peregrine.
And now to the problem from which there was no release –
How to turn the cars around and manouver down in one piece.
Some nerve-wracking moments as the operation got underway,
In sheer daring and courage the Indica led the display –
With three wheels on the ground and the fourth a foot away!
Whew! Not recommended for a peaceful outing on a Sunday.
With Suvi on firm ground, now it was the turn of the Chevrolet
Safely it descended, but alas! developed a leak on the way.
Despite our best efforts as we scoured the fields around,
No European bee-eaters or drongo cuckoos were to be found.
Drove on merrily until an overheating engine ran us aground,
Frantic calls to the mechanic and advice from him profound –
‘Pour water into the coolant tank and you should be safe and sound’
Did the needful and soon we were once again homeward bound.