The Legend of Pangrad: Grey-headed Bulbul

Written By Amol Kokane on Monday, April 10, 2023 | 6:42 AM

It was an amazing start to my favourite month of the year, April. I was back in the woods after a long break to see a magnificent bird, Grey-headed Bulbul. The trip was obviously planned to see Grey-headed Bulbul, but in addition to that we got one surprise too. You will know as you read on.

I wanted to be in the woods rather earlier but due to some unexpected family-level emergencies, my life went on to completely different track. Not all things sorted out yet but somehow managed to grab some time to go back to my hobbies, first birding, and second writing about it. It feels like I am writing this one after ages.

The trip was planned with my brother and our budding birders. This time, my brother, nephew and my son was going to do all the camera work. I was going to be just a back-pack guy with a binocular. We visited a bird hide in a small village named Pangrad in southern Konkan region. The hide is setup by Mr. Ganesh Margaj who is a Zoology Professor in Savantwadi and obviously a birder.

Anuskura Ghat view

The place is about 370+ kms away from Pune. So we started early morning around 5:30am. The route that we took was, Pune - Karad - Malakapur - Anuskura Ghat - Kharepatan - Kankavali - Oras - Humarmala - Pangrad. The road conditions were mostly good except for few rough patches. With couple of breaks for breakfast and lunch, we reached Pangrad village at around 3pm. Dr. Ganesh Margaj was just waiting for us. By the time we reached there, it got darker due to the unseasonal rainy clouds. The rain was expected anytime. So without wasting any time further, we headed straight to the bird hide which was about a kilo-meter away by foot into the jungle.

After half an hour wait, we got to see Grey-headed Bulbul, an endemic species to Southern Western Ghats. Besides that we could also see other birds which included Flame-throated Bulbul, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Emerald Dove, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Black-naped Monarch, Orange-headed Thrush, etc. were to name a few.

Grey-headed Bulbul

Grey-headed Bulbul with White-rumped Shama

As the evening progressed, we witnessed an incredible bird show, where multiple number of individuals of all the species from above list showed up at the time. Since it was later part of the evening, the light conditions were not at all good for photography. But it was treat for the eyes to see so many species at time.

By the time we wrapped up our evening session, it was completely dark and we started our walk back. We barely started our walk and all of us heard a loud, screechy sound and that too from a relatively closer distance. As the call was very distinctive, we all knew that we are in for a big surprise. After searching in nearby trees with our torches, we found a Srilankan Frogmouth sitting on a branch almost above our head.

My nephew was super excited to see the bird (in fact we all were but his excitement level was 1-step or rather 2-step more than us). This bird was on his wish-list for quite some time.

In a complete awe feeling, we returned back to Margaj Sir's house for overnight stay. Margaj family showed great hospitality. In the food, we had bhakari and kaju bhaaji (a typical Konkan delicacy one must eat) with dal-rice. Post-dinner we spent time talking with kids discussing how lucky we were to see Grey-headed Bulbul and Srilankan Frogmouth during very first birding session. It was tiring, as we were traveling for almost half-day on a hot summer day followed by a wonderful birding session. So we decided to hit the bed early.

With Margaj family

Next day, we woke up at around 6:30am and quickly finished up morning chores. By that time, our breakfast was ready, which included cucumber & rice flour ghavan (pancakes) with coconut chutney. This is a typical breakfast menu in Konkan region. It started raining while we were having our breakfast. We were supposed to reach the hide before 7:30am but rain delayed that.

It wasn't very lucky as compared to the evening birding session as we had to wait for almost 2 hrs before the bird activity started. In first 2 hrs, we could hear calls from lots birds in the canopy, but only Emerald Dove showed up twice for a very brief time. Once the activity started, then lots birds showed up including the same list that I mentioned earlier. The addition to that was Purple-rumped Sunbird, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Common Rosefinch (Male & Female) and a very noisy Greater Racket-tailed Drongo.

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
Indian Scimitar Babbler
Emerald Dove
Male Common Rosefinch
Female Common Rosefinch
White-rumped Shama
Brown-cheeked Fulvetta
Insect's Exoskeleton
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Orange-headed Thrush
Newly born Common Lime Butterfly
Yellow-browed Bulbul
Malabar Whistling Thrush
Black-naped Monarch
Orange-headed Thrush, Yellow-browed Babbler, Indian Scimitar Babbler, all in one frame!

Around 11:30am we started our walk back. After reaching Margaj Sir's house, he offered us freshly harvested Jamuns (Malabar Plums). While our lunch was getting ready, kids helped us in packing and loading baggage back in the car. With stomach full of simple yet tasty food, cameras filled with loads of images and minds full of satisfaction, we started our journey back home.


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