Trip to Manchinabele

This is a long overdue post. I was very busy in the recent few weeks to sit down and write! Bad!!

I am a huge fan of Sudhir Shivaram and when he announced his Elephas outdoors, I was keen to participate. And when he tweeted on the date and location, I sent my confirmation immediately! I was happy that I was part of the 3 member team that would go on the trip with him. Vidya and Jayaram were the other two.

The date was June 28. We started at 6.30 am. I parked my car @ BDA complex in HSR layout and hopped into a nice and new Scorpio (Sudhir’s). Weather was excellent. We reached Manchinabele in about an hour. (Via Nice road). Surprisingly, the road was good throughout.

ROUTE: HSR layout- NICE road – Mysore road – Dodda Alada Mara – Confusing lefts and rights – Manchinabele.

Upon reaching the first birding spot, Sudhir gave us a few tips on bird photography (some I knew already, some I didnt).

June is not a great period for birding (Sudhir too had conveyed this point earlier in his email) and we didnt see many birds. But we did see the regulars.. mynas, bulbuls, bushchats, parakeets, bee eaters, etc and we clicked those. A few like the red wattled lapwings were too far away and we didn’t bother to click them. And our search for the baya weavers was not fruitful.. 🙁 (I have never spotted them till date).

Green bee eater
What was new to me was driving into rough terrain (in Scorpio) and getting real close to birds. Previously, I had always tried to approach birds by foot and in many cases only scared them away.


I got some good shots of the shrike, bushchat and the myna. The shrike especially was patient enough to pose for us many times. Sudhir also helped with a few tips on composition and also about the angle at which the shrike looks beautiful on snap. He then took us around to quite a few areas in search of more species. At one spot, I saw the coucal. But before I could get a good click of him, he scampered away.. leaving me with only a record shot.
Record shot
We then decided to take a break and have breakfast. Thatte idlis and coffee. It was decent enough and filling. We then resumed our birding.

At one location, we noticed a parakeet sitting high on a branch. The background was too bright. I raised the exposure by 2/3 stop and clicked. It looked better. (Previously I had attended Kalyan Varma’s training and knew how to use these options. But after a field trip like this, with Sudhir to clarify any doubts I had, I felt I only improved my photography skills).

Rose ringed parakeet

We moved onto rocky areas. The terrain was rough and we sighted a few kites there and a few lizards like rock agama. Also a Laughing pigeon at close quarters. We drove close to it and got a few good shots.

Laughing dove
Laughing dove
By then the light was harsh and not many birds were around. So we decided to hit the dam, the main attraction around the place.

Boy.. it was amazing! The place is just too awesome! I dont feel competent enough to describe the place, you need to experience it yourself. Pure magic. I clicked a few shots of the place after changing from 70-300 VR to the 18-70 lens.


At the water body, I was able to click a shot of the Brahminy kite. Also a few Grey Herons… till date I had not been successful in going close to these. We spent some time driving around the dam area. It was purely blissful to explore this area. This area still remains virgin territory inspite of being close to Bangalore. I wish it stays that way!

Grey heron
Brahminy kite
It was lunch time by then and Sudhir had brought bread, jam, cakes, fruits, etc and we munched on them. It was time to explore the place more. We travelled around the place. I was never short of amazement. I had never seen this place before and was basking in its beauty.

On the way to Savanadurga state forest, we stopped at a place to spot the Kingfisher. We did, but weren’t successful in clicking. Instead we got a few good shots of the pond herons. Till date, I have missed the kingfisher narrowly several times. This too added to that count.

Pond heron
While driving on the NICE road, we spotted a black shouldered kite. It was my first sighting of this bird. Took a few distant shots of it. Hopped back into the vehicle and drove back towards HSR and reached the place by around 4 pm. The roads were good all throughout (except when we went off-road.. 🙂 ).

It was a day well spent. I didnt see many birds, but did learn a lot. Sudhir is awesome and has a ton of ideas and tips. I felt I was a better ‘bird’ photographer after this trip.

I will add a few more snaps from this trip in a few days. Been busy a bit and have a ton of snaps to process.


Please read Sudhir’s trip report at this link. It also has images that Vidya and Jayaram clicked too.

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