My friend Sunil, once remarked that nostalgia is a sign of old age, and if that is what I am suffering from, may it be so……As I sit in my ill-lit room in Antwerp, eating microwave heated, yesterday cooked, lemon rice, I think about those wonderful days in the hills…..and my heard dances with BR Hills (No Daffodils there…
As you enter the sanctuary, you start with scrub jungle with regular sightings of Baybacked Shrikes and Peafowl. As you then pass the first waterhole on your right, if you dont see ‘party dudes’ from Mysore listening to Backstreet Boys, you will see sometimes Dholes. If the summer gets real bad, Elephants too, for this is quite a good lake.
As you ascend, you see the towns of Yelandur and nearby villages onyour right from the watchpost, as the road curves to the left. Now theforest slowly turns greener, and trees replace the shrubs. The Laughing Dove turns into the Spotted one. This is where you will see that the trees are all of the same height and one-storeyed almost like a plantation. But, this only indicates the result of ‘protection’, for this is the area of extension of the sanctuary and most of the trees here came up together once the hills got legal protection.
You continue walking up, and you will definitely see Gaurs if it is fairly late in the day. Most of the days, as I returned from my clinics at the foothills, I could see Garus, and on ‘good’ days, bears. Monitors are also seen sometimes. As you go up, you reach the Purani area, which is where the ‘Purani tiger’ frequently hangs around. Curiously, he is sighted more frequently by busloads of uninterested pilgrims, rather than our kinds! This guy can get quite nasty a little later in the year, post-december, when he starts lifting a cattle or two. In fact, one late evening, I saw this guy resting on a rock on a valley across, quite not bothering about us watching him!
You ascend up and you can really feel the air cooling down…..heres’ where the Drongos become smaller and shinier…we start seeing the Bronzed Drongo. The first of the Wagtails you start seeing, especially the Grey Wagtail, in the winters, all along the road! In fact, it is quite a pattern…once the Greys arrive, the Whites seem to go downstairs! And so, do the White-bellied Drongos which go further down..
After this of course, is the town of BR Hills with its own charm and beauty! If you continue down the road, as I see you have, the Drongos become racquet-tailed, the minivets turn scarlet and the Pigeons become green, emerald and imperial! I can go on and on..but, gotta stop somewhere, right..so here goes…STOP……hmm…..getting old is fun!