Hampi, in Karnataka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is very well known for the unearthed ruins which serve as a testament to the exemplary skill, exceptional planning and amazing grandeur of the erstwhile Vijayanagar empire. A place that was very prosperous, wealthy and a major trading hub, attracting people from far and beyond. The many hillocks around Hampi also offer a grand view of the sunset and sunrise. A visit to one is always on the itinerary of every traveler to the place. Hampi is indeed a beautiful location for those interested in travel, culture, architecture and landscape photography.
There is yet another amazing aspect to Hampi, which is its highly diverse wildlife. The architectural ruins, the rocky habitat, the riverine eco-system along the banks of Tungabhadra and the scrubby outgrowth adjoining the irrigation canals provide a wonderful haven for varieties of avian, mammalian and reptilian life.
Hampi boasts of around 200 species of birds. One of the flagship species of the place is the beautiful Yellow-throated bulbul. A great place to find this one is among the rocky ruins, opposite the Virupaksha temple.
Many other species of birds like the Plum-headed parakeets, Spotted owlets, Blue-rock thrush, Indian robin, White-browed bulbul and the Common hoopoe can also be seen around the ruins.
The rocky, hilly terrain also offers a thriving habitat for many bird species like the colourful Painted spurfowls. Here’s a lovely couple, the male on the left and the female on the right.
One cannot miss the Indian peafowls, which are found in plenty there.
The dry patches of the scrub forests can spring a surprise with the fantastically camouflaged and beautiful Painted sandgrouse. Here’s a beautiful male.
The jagged faces and the short shrubby outgrowth along the irrigation canals are home to species like the Indian eagle owl.
Along the canal, one can also find species like the Rufous-tailed lark, Grey francolin, Jungle bush quails, White-breasted waterhen and Barred-button quails among many others.
Most evenings, one can see many bird species coming down to these canals for a drink.
Heading towards the fertile banks of the Tungabhadra river we come across many verdant green patches of agricultural fields. These are great places for spotting birds like the Red avadavat, Plain prinia among many others. Also, a great place to look for the Smooth-coated otters too.
While birding in Hampi, many other forms of wildlife can cross one’s path too, like the Monitor lizards, Indian grey mongoose and the busy & belligerent squirrel among others.
A short drive away from Hampi is a beautiful lake known as the Magadi lake. Each year during winter, this place is witness to a wonderful spectacle. Thousands of Bar-headed geese arrive here to spend the season. These amazing long distance and high flying birds travel far down south from across the Himalayas to escape the severe cold there. They have found a haven in Magadi.
Each morning they come in droves and settle down on the lake to laze around for the rest of the day. By sun down, they all wake up, have a good bath and begin to take off, heading out to forage.
A spectacle that one has to experience to truly enjoy and appreciate.
Hampi is as rich in bird life as it is in its cultural and architectural magnificence. An outing to the place is always a very fruitful one for bird lovers.
I conduct bird photography workshops in Hampi along with Magadi, each year, in the month of December. If you are interested in being part of it, please do drop in a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, will keep you updated.