A birding trip to Kokrebellur had been on my mind, ever since I heard of this exotic village where migratory birds flock in year after year during this season. So last weekend, we were off to Kokrebellur, 80kms from Bangalore, zooming off through Bangalore-Mysore highway at sunrise.

Spotbilled Pelicans, Painted Storks, Black Ibis breeding on the tamarind trees of this village is a sight which left us spellbound. We were completely bowled over by the sight of these huge birds, the size of which would easily put the local birds to shame. These enormous birds swarming in flocks on the top of tamarind trees, noisily flapping their wings, building nests, briskly flying in and out carrying small branches in their beaks made this place resemble a crowded street, which in reality is a peaceful village. In comparison to these avian species, we birdwatchers looked like jobless jacks hanging out here merely watching this flurry of activity and flashing our cameras.
Spotbilled Pelicans

Painted Stork
We were here at the right time and lucky to have been able to watch this nest building activity. And it is curious that these birds chose to come only to this village. It must have to do with the existence of numerous lakes and the Shimsha river flowing here, which provides for their food, mainly fish. It is also curious that they only chose the Tamarind trees to breed, while there are other bigger, sturdier trees like Peepul trees nearby. Both Pelicans and Painted Storks are seen co-existing on the same trees.These birds will now lay eggs, hatch and rear their off springs before they finally fly back to their place, usually by the month of May.

The villagers here never seem to trouble these birds, and look upon their arrival every year as sign of good luck and prosperity. If these avian visitors don’t arrive, villagers believe their crops will be lost that year . It seems the underlying fact behind this popular belief is that these bird droppings are a rich in phosphorous and potassium and act as good manure for crops.

To reach this haven, we took a turn from the highway and drove 12 kms inside. The barren landscape suddenly gave way to a beautiful green stretch, with fields of paddy, sugarcane and raagi fringed with cluster of coconut trees. Sericulture seemed to be quite popular here and we passed several silk farms on the way. At times we had to drive over stack of hay, the villagers had spread out on the road to get sun dried.
On the way was Tailur Kere lake, painted in golden honey by glistening rays of rising sun and the silhouette of numerous birds wading in the water sketched quite a contrast against the backdrop. Watched the Pelicans, Cormorants, a bevy of Blackwing Stilts and other unidentified duck-like birds wading here.

Tailur Kere
Flight of the Painted Stork
A canal feeding from the lake runs through paddy fields on the opposite side of the road. Village women were seen washing clothes along the canal sides. Spotted few green bee-eater birds here tirelessly darting from one electric line to another.

Later we drove towards the bridge over Shimsha river. We stopped here and sitting inside the car gorged on a quick breakfast of bread, jam and juice. The river brink was peppered with a generous sprinkle of lovely white waterlilies. Common Coot was seen gracefully wading between these lilies, randomly pecking on leaves and disappearing at times behind tall blades of grass. How lucky is it to be dreamily swimming between these beautiful water lilies all day long.

River Shimsha
Common Coot
An old man with his family embarked on the river bank with a huge flock of sheep, then to our utter surprise and delight started bathing the sheep. The reluctant sheep vehemently protested, bleating and wriggling under the old man’s strong arms, as he dragged each one of them into the water, giving them a good dip and briskly scrubbed them with his palm.

We then decided to call it a day, pleased at having spent an otherwise lazy Sunday morning, birdwatching in this beautiful village.