Saturday, 9 February 2013

The little known bird sanctuary

Karnataka has several well-known wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. But what many do not know is that it also has the largest and the second largest sanctuary for painted storks in south Asia.
Well, no prizes for guessing which is the largest sanctuary for painted storks- Kokre Bellur in Mandya district which is just off the Bangalore-Mysore highway.
However, the other bird sanctuary is not as well-known as Kokre Bellur. This sanctuary too is near Bangalore and the approach road too is pretty good. Unfortunately, it has not received the due attention from bird lovers and tourists who prefer to give it a go by.
In a way, the ignorance about this bird sanctuary is good for the birds, particularly painted storks.
The birds are thriving and it is only in the last few years that awareness is growing about this rival to Kokre Bellur. This is the small but beautiful sanctuary of Kaggaladu near Sira in Tumkur district.
The Kaggaladu bird sanctuary is the second largest colony of painted storks in South Asia, right after Kokre Bellur. While much has been written about Kokre Bellur, not much is known about Kaggaladu.
Kagggaladu is a must watch and visit for bird watchers. Painted storks can be seen nesting from February to August. The birds move away during August and towards the end of the month, you see only a handful of them.
Kaggaladu is such a small village that it could not be located even on the Google map-that is till the painted storks made the few trees in the village their home.
The sanctuary is located about 130 kilometres from Bangalore and it takes just a little over three hours from Bangalore to reach the nesting place of the birds.  It is 9 km to the north-west of Sira town on the Sira-Chengavara main road.
The villagers here have joined hands with conservationalists and the Forest Department in looking after the birds. They have maintained the tamarind trees on which the birds nest. Apart from the storks, the blackbuck and grey pelican too have been sighted.
The grey herons come here in large numbers. Villagers tell you that several years ago a small group of grey herons came and settled on the tamarind tree. Slowly, the tree began attracting other herons and today the trees are full of them.
If you are lucky, you can spot White Iblis too.
The birds were first discovered in 1999 by a non-Government organization and since then its reputation has only grown.
The villagers protect the birds as they believe they bring them prosperity. To ensure that the birds have a regular supply of tamarind seeds and also shade, they do not harvest the tamarind.
You can also sight some other species of birds. If you are lucky, you can see the Blackbuck. Summers are usually hot.
Another attraction is the Kallambella Wetland, which is home to waterfowls. It is situated 36 km north of  Tumkur, off National Highway No 4. A large tank, supposed to have been built by Holampayya is located here. It acts as a reservoir for the Hemavathi river.
 The temple of Narasimha at Seebe is also nearby.
Sira itself has a historical background. It was once ruled by the Adil Shahis, Mughals, Marathas, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan and subsequently the British.
Sira is a fairly big town and it is located in Tumkur district. It is 50  kms from Tumkur.

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