Friday, 31 October 2014

Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary Pune

I know not where the white road runs, nor what the blue hills are;
But a man can have the sun for a friend, and for his guide a star;
And there's no end of voyaging when once the voice is heard,
For the rivers call, and the roads call, and oh! the Call of the Bird!


Yes, this very call of the birds made me decide to venture into a scrub land habitat in Pune. My birding friends came up with a suggestion to visit  Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, a little known avian paradise about 70 Kms east of Pune on the Solapur Highway. 

 Little did I know that this deciduous forest, interspersed with grasslands, would unveil a world of 'dream come true' with its varied biodiversity. For many years this was a barren land devoid of any vegetation. Systematic plantations were then undertaken by the forest department. Many trees and various types of grasses were sown. It has now metamorphosed into an excellent scrub land due to excellent vegetation cover and enrichment of biomass.
Showing a cold shoulder to the iring eyes of the murky sky, we left Pune at 6 AM and reached the sanctuary at around 7 AM. After making an entry in the forest office we made our move towards the sanctuary. No wonder it sprung a lovely surprise at the very outset itself. We sighted a group of Indian Thick-knees [Burhinus (oedicnemus) indicus], which were reposing in their typical monk like posture. My eyes struggled to paint them in their utmost grace with my lens but so exemplary was their camouflage that I took some time before I could finally accomplish my mission. As it was drizzling a bit and the shining face of heaven was yet to show up, these feathered beauties just refused to budge. 
My happiness knew no bound once I photographed the Thick-knees with the back drop of the vivid and verdant grassland. 
Indian Thick-knee
Wonderful trails throughout the sanctuary allure one to  just drive through and do watching and photography from the car. There are also three watch towers scattered around which provide a sublime view of the sanctuary. The landscape shifts seamlessly between a forest and a grassland. You can always expect a surprise lurking around every corner you turn and every new trail you follow.

There is a very healthy population of Chinkaras [Indian Gazelle, Gazella bennettii] in the sanctuary. These are the smallest of all Asiatic antelopes. Though these are known to be very shy animals, they appear very bold and are not perturbed due to the Homo sapiens. This is exactly the place if you want to sip in their beauty from a convenient distance. We espied their playful behaviour and two of them even obliged us by putting up a fight. We even sighted an Indian Fox, which rapidly darted across the road and disappeared. Other species commonly seen here include Indian Grey Wolf, Striped Hyena and occasionally Blackbucks.
Chinkara Male
The sanctuary provides an excellent opportunity to sight and photograph birds of scrub land habitat like Indian Courser, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Indian Bushlark, Sykes's Lark and Rufous-tailed lark. Common Hoopoe, Bay-backed Shrike, Southern Grey Shrike and Eurasian Collared Doves. Other sightings included Jacobin Cuckoo, Blue Rock Thrush and Lesser Whitethroat.
Sykes's Lark
Eurasian Collared Dove
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Male
Indian Eagle Owl
However,the royal resident of the sanctuary is 
the majestic Indian Eagle Owl 
[Bubo bengalensis]. How is the trip complete without paying a visit to His Royal Highness. It is a magnificent bird and is a sight to revere to see it elegantly perched on a tree. When it took off, I was simply captivated by it's lazy but mighty flight. The reverberating sound of it's flight and the colors hidden in it's wings will go down as some of the best memories mother nature has bestowed on me. Other raptors that blessed us with their charms were the Pallid Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier and Common Kestrel. Peregrine Falcon and Red-necked Falcon are sometimes sighted in the terrain.
Orphean Warbler Male
Every trip has one defining moment, the moment which you will forever fondly reminisce .The sighting of the Eastern Orphean Warbler[Sylvia crassirostris], made my heartbeats go haywire. We actually were following a Grey-necked Bunting when we chanced upon it. This is a very uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor. We spotted only one male of the species, which granted us some exclusive images and instantaneously disappeared. 

White-bellied Minivet Male
Rains!!! it makes you hurry to pack and cover your gears.It makes you pray to God to let the smiling visage of the sun to peep through the haze. But of late I have realized that some of the best moments can be created even when we are in the most adverse situations. They have their own charismatic beauty and appeal. It was all the more evident when we sighted another highlight of the trip - a pair of White-bellied Minivets [pericrocotus erytropygius]. I was desirous to catch a glimpse of this species for a very long time. An image of the handsome male in the subtle drizzle, calmed my thirsty soul. 

We rounded the trip off with a sumptuous lunch at Diamond hotel near the sanctuary and went back with loads of 'close to heart' images, pleasing memories and absolute contentment. Any birding visit to Pune I feel, would be woefully incomplete without a trip to this serene creation of Nature. 

How to get there: 

Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is actually about 70 Kms east of Pune on the Pune- Solapur Highway. After traveling about 55 KMs on the highway, turn right

(south) on to SH 62 at the village called Chaufula and then drive 15 kms to Supe or Supa, a small village that is on the edge of the Sanctuary. 
You can either drive around the side of this village until a faded sign displays the entrance or ask at the village for directions.

©Megh Roy Choudhury.  All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without my prior written permission . 

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  1. Impeccable language of highest standards. Amazing writing. Its a great pleasure for nature lovers to read thru the blog, as you take us around the places you visited and saw.
    The pictures are awesome, needs no mention.

  2. Superb stuff.. loved the write-up especially. Keep writing.
    - Rudra (

  3. Orphean Warbler image is awesome..Thanks for the "how to get there". Fabulous report in all. Your write up motivated me enough to visit Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, Pune..TFS

  4. I never know that you are also a good writer.A excellent photographer and a good bloger. HATS OFF YO YOU.

  5. Exquisite flowing poetic English. Visiting Mayureshwar tomorrow.