Bird Watching Tours - A Photo Tour

Bird Watching - Nature Tours

Do you enjoy bird watching? If you do, join me on my road trip to a small village called Kokkare Bellur near Mysore in south India. We could then travel to Ranganathittu a bird sanctuary on the banks of the river Cauvery. This bird sanctuary is about 125kms from Bangalore on route to Mysore, the land of the royals. The bird sanctuary is the place where tourists normally go, but Kokkare Bellur is your ticket to heaven in the peace and calm of a small hamlet lost in time. Kokkare Bellur roughly translated means the place of storks. The village has four or five small lanes and about fifty trees which these birds make a home of between the months of November and March.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Painted storks in RanganathittuNestled on trees - KokrebellurPainted storks nesting on treesAn old painted stork awaiting his end. Rescued chicks playing hopscotch or maybe some other game. I did have a good laugh though!
Painted storks in Ranganathittu
Painted storks in Ranganathittu | Source
Nestled on trees - Kokrebellur
Nestled on trees - Kokrebellur | Source
Painted storks nesting on trees
Painted storks nesting on trees
An old painted stork awaiting his end.
An old painted stork awaiting his end. | Source
Rescued chicks playing hopscotch or maybe some other game. I did have a good laugh though!
Rescued chicks playing hopscotch or maybe some other game. I did have a good laugh though!

Bird Watching at Kokkare Bellur

The birds and people of Kokkare Bellur live in harmony, despite the fact that the thousands of birds that roost here, cackle all day, paint the trees white and fill the place with the smell of their droppings. Amazingly, these kind folks don’t seem to mind it at all, in fact they are very protective of their birds. They will be around to provide you all the information you need, if you ask for it. However, if they sense danger from you to their birds they will have you followed and arrested. The locals rescue fallen chicks and take care of them until they are ready to fly away with their families. Old storks that will not make it to their home after the breeding season are given shelter here. We spoke to a young lad here who came to feed the chicks and the old storks, he spoke about these birds with a certain pride.

Birdwatching at Kokkare Bellur and Ranganathittu Bird sanctuary

show route and directions
A markerBangalore -
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
[get directions]

B markerKokkare Bellur, karnataka India -
Kokkare Bellur, Karnataka, India
[get directions]

C markerRanganthittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka, India -
Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka, India
[get directions]

D markerMysore -
Mysuru, Karnataka, India
[get directions]

Kokkare Bellur and Bird Sanctuary at Ranganathittu - Bird Watchers Paradise

If you want to watch these birds in action, then the best time of course is early morning hours. The drive to Kokkare Bellur will take you about an hour and a half if you can get to avoid the city traffic on time. If you start at 4 a.m you could drive smoothly avoiding the rough traffic of the city especially near Mysore road. Pack your cameras and binoculars so that you will not miss the special sighting of those birds that are not so visible as the storks. Make sure that you have extra batteries and storage cards for your camera. Wear warm clothes as the morning chill does get to your bones as you drive out of the city.

In Kokkare Bellur and Ranganathittu you would find painted storks, egrets, ibis, cormorants and other little birds like woodpeckers, blue kingfishers, pied kingfishers, green bee eaters, night herons, river terns etc. These places are a veritable paradise for bird watchers and photographers.

Painted storks (Mycteria leucocephala)

Painted storks are found in India, SriLanka, some parts of Southeast Asia, and in some parts of China. They have been naturalised on all continents except the Antartica.
These storks are different from the other storks in that their long tertials or flight feathers are tipped in pink. These huge birds live in colonies near human dwellings on houses and trees. They share their breeding ground with other birds like herons, egrets, cormorants etc. The hatchlings constantly make loud clacking noises for about eighteen months after birth and then as if they have lost their voice they generally remain noiseless.

Food Habits, Lifespan and Size of the Painted Storks

  • Their meal consists of fish, frogs, snails, snakes, lizards, hatchlings of turtles and crocodiles, crustaceans, insects etc.
  • They have a lifespan of about 20 - 28 years in captivity.
  • Medium-sized storks are about 93–102 cm (37–40 in) tall, with a wingspan of 150–160 cm (59–63 inches). They weigh about 2-3.5 kg. (Source

Nesting Painted Storks
Nesting Painted Storks

A Delight for Birdwatchers

These beautiful birds often wade through shallow waters with half open beaks to catch fish. The male birds provide most of the sticks and material for the nest. Their nests are huge and the hatchlings often paint the trees white with their droppings. The young ones are dependent on their parents for their food, the fish that the adult bird swallow is regurgitated and fed to the young ones.
The eggs and the babies are often preyed upon by crows and black kites. The adult birds often become the prey of marsh crocodiles.
The males and females look alike but the females are much smaller. In Ranganathittu you can get a closer look at the birds them in the boats you can hire. In Kokkare Bellur you may get a closer look at their colonies and breeding styles.

Asian Storks are grey storks pretty dowdy compared to their painted friends and other water birds. They have long black beaks and legs. These birds are similar to the painted storks in their food and breeding habits. They are slightly smaller and seem not to prefer human habitation like the painted storks. The marsh trees seem to make comfortable homes for these birds.

The storks make a beautiful picture flying against the sun with their necks outstretched. They are a beautiful sight dotting the skyline as you approach the hamlets. I wish, I could have had pictures of them at sunset, but the rain spoiled my dreams of a picture perfect stork filled sky against the setting sun.

The massive Crocodile
The massive Crocodile

Bird Watchers Bonanza - Crocodilles

Where birds abound predators flourish. The painted storks and Asian storks do make a tasty meal for the crocodiles here. Crocodiles are the constants at Ranganthittu, apart from small harmless water snakes. If you are lucky you could see a massive nesting crocodile like we did. There are a huge number of smaller crocodiles sunning themselves out on the rocks. The boatmen will point them out to you. The boat men usually do not take you any closer to the crocodiles than they should, but will help you could get a good look at them.

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Blue kingfisherA little black and white bird River TernHeronLittle cormorants
Blue kingfisher
Blue kingfisher | Source
A little black and white bird
A little black and white bird | Source
River Tern
River Tern | Source
Little cormorants
Little cormorants

Egrets, Night Herons, Blue kingfisher - A Feast for the Bird Watcher

It is a lovely sight to see a kingfisher, the common ones here are the blue kingfishers, perched on electric wires or branches and brooding over the waters, until they swoop down to lift a fish off the water. These electric blue birds have glossy feathers and are easy to identify.

Often you would see the River tern and the night herons standing still on the rocks, seemingly sunning away. The yellow bills of the river terns make them pretty photographic. The night herons look like little penguins standing ten inches above the rocks they are perched on.

The egrets and herons are pretty common here. You can see them riding on cattle or dotting the paddy fields.

It is the little birds like the green bee eater, the kingfisher, the pied kingfisher and the woodpeckers that you sight on trees that make Ranganathittu bird sanctuary a special place to be in. The serene atmosphere is best visited in the early morning before it gets crowded. You could enjoy their tweeting and calls in peace. If you like to sight birds in quiet you need to go there on a working day, the weekends are not for you. The best part of visiting Ranganathittu is that, at each time of the year you get to see a different species of birds.

Ranganathittu Bird sanctuary
Ranganathittu Bird sanctuary

All along the route you have various tourist places, which are rather crowded. You could drive further up to visit Mysore and stay there overnight. The zoo has interesting animals and birds that would be worth your time. The Mysore Palace and the Brindavan gardens are spectacular and are worth the visit. The gardens with their musical fountains are an awesome sight. If you are a nature lover you would enjoy this road trip as we did. Thanks for chugging along with me and I hope you will have a wonderful time when you decide to visit these places.

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Comments 16 comments

aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

It is wonderful to finally see some of the wonderful birds of India. Voted up and awesome.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Beautiful! I love the blue kingfisher there, posing. I really enjoy birdwatching. I'm planning to do one from a bird sanctuary here in NC. I haven't visited it yet this yr to take the photos.

I saw a bird on the docks in Florida recently and cannot figure out yet if it is a heron or a stork? I'm thinking NOT a stork because it was not in shallow water standing. And, I know it was not a pelican because of the shape of its beak.

Great job here, Sofs. Rated up.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is a very beautiful hub. I love to watch birds. Feeding the birds is my first task each morning and then in the evening the humming birds come, I'm not around water but the birds bathe in my bird bath. I enjoyed your pictures..Thank you..

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

aviannovice, I am glad that you enjoyed seeing birds from India.. hopefully I will have some more soon after the monsoon season is over..Have a great day:)

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Denise, Thanks for looking this up... The blue kingfisher isn't my picture .. but I hope to replace it soon with one of my own... this is indeed the right season... but I need to make some time to go out looking for these birds... Have a great day.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Great photo tour and I enjoyed reading about the birds and the area. The crocodile was a bit scary.

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Teaches, thanks for stopping by. The crocodile was scary indeed.. but the birds were awesome. I only wish I had a better camera with telephoto lenses for better pictures. I hope to get them someday soon and have these pictures..changed.. Have a great day.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Those painted storks are beautiful as is the Blue Kingfisher. You captured some great photos and the tour looks like it would be great. Thanks for taking us along on your trip to the Ranganathittu Bird sanctuary . Voted up, interesting, beautiful + sharing. Thanks!

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

Wow....this was so beautiful. I am birds lovers. I really enjoy all the pictures here. Thanks for share with us. Voted up :-)

joanveronica profile image

joanveronica 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

Wow, awesome Hub! This was such a good read. Voted up, awesome, beautiful and interesting

joanveronica profile image

joanveronica 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

Hey, just wanted to tell you I shared this on Stumble and Digg, also FB, and HP.

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Peggy W, thanks for taking a good look at those painted storks and joining me on my road trip... I am glad you liked it.. Thanks for the votes and the share... I appreciate this very much.

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Joanveronica, Oh my Gosh! that is very sweet of you... I am so humbled and grateful to you.. thank you. Have a lovely day.

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

prasetio30, You fascinate me my friend... I did not know that you were a bird lover... and now one more reason to follow you.. Thanks and have a great day!

Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

I have been to Banglore but not to Mysoore. When I visit Mysoore I will surely go or bird watching.

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Vinaya you really would enjoy it... but make sure you get there early in the day... Thanks for dropping by.. Have a lovely day!

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