The name Old Magazine House had a hint of some Dak Bungalow from the colonial era hidden in it. Since I heard the name I travelled through my own world of fantasy to imagine an adventurous stay in the resort. Adventure stories from my childhood are to be blamed for such fantasies. Coming back to reality, Old Magazine House (OMH) is basically a bird watching camp located within the thick forest of Ganeshgudi near Dandeli under the Jungle Lodge and Resort chain.
I have been to various properties of Jungle Lodge and Resort previously and was well accustomed to the residential facilities available here and the activities provided along with the stay.
In quest of Malabar hornbill, we travelled to Dandeli and thus stayed in OMH. (Read my previous post on Malabar Hornbills).
Reaching OMH through the beautiful roads we found the resort not matching to the image I had in my mind (remember the Dak Bungalow thing I mentioned before). A long section of uneven, forest area cleared to build the resort.
A couple of consecutive buildings are built in a row – the reception in the office building is followed by the accommodations. The cleared area opposite to the buildings is provided for the parking of the vehicles.
There are five rooms in a building, a single cottage and a 40 bedded dormitory facility on the ground floor of the restaurant building available for accommodation in this camp. The surrounding is covered with thick forest, so thick that the foliage even veils the open sky.
This is the basic setup of the resort and the rooms are equipped with the whatever required for a stay in the forest. It was quite different from the other properties of JLR. I had no previous exposure to any bird watching camp and this was my first visit, so I was extra curious and excited about the stay.
It had to be different as this property was specialised for bird watching. The main stage was at a higher ground with a few terra cotta birdbaths placed with moss and mushrooms around them. A green mesh separates the bird area with the birders.
Multiple cameras with telephoto lens and teleconverters were seen resting on tripods, peeking through the opening on within the green mesh. The birders were seen relaxed, sitting around the tree and conversing about the bird life in this area.
It was the afternoon time and there was less probability for any sighting thus they seem to relax in the time gap.
Being an amateur birdwatcher I had my humble lense of 300 mm zoom capacity attached to my camera so, coyly and stealthily I joined the group.
An hour of wait yielded no result. The birders seemed reluctant and relaxed chatting with one another. I became a little perturbed. The naturalist of this property advised us not to worry as afternoon time is the show time.
After a long drive from Pune to Ganeshgudi, we decided to relax for some time before the show begins. I was not so sure about the show waiting behind the mesh. But the afternoon proved the worth and kept the name of this bird watching camp. My pictures will speak about the show, words will not do justice to the show.
Then it was the activity time. We were taken to the bridge near the Supa dam. It was again a birdwatching site specialised for the hornbills frequenting the area.
We were not so lucky to witness any, this day. Only a few macaques doing some monkey business on the bridge. The coracle ride next morning was rewarding enough with Brahminy Kites flying above and then finding its nest with the mother bird incubating the eggs.
A few white breasted kingfisher, a pied wagtail and a couple of river tern kept us engaged as we floated on the still waters of the Supa Dam. Local visitors and other onlookers from the bride were watching us and we were watching them and the huge beehives dangling below the lower edge of the bridge.
Returning back to our stay brought a fascinating surprise for all but me. There was a handsome Malabar Trogon sitting on a branch near the restaurant. Almost all except me could catch a glimpse of this beautiful bird. By the time I could identify the spot it was long gone.
Thus, I missed some awesome sighting due to lack of good observation but whatever seen was no less in my worth. This was a totally new experience for me to quietly stand by a side and wait for the birds to come and go. It was no fake, every article that I read on OMH was true.
Every morning and late afternoon is the peak time when multiple birds come to the birdbaths placed behind the green mesh. They quench their thirst and also take bath in the water that is replenished after a few hours.
The bird species keeps changing along with the season but few resident species are the regular visitors and are comfortable to be around this place for a long long time. Few species are shy and appear for a few seconds and then vanish in the thick cover of the forest.
The chirping, squeaking, screaming was the early morning and late afternoon music for us during our stay in the camp. In this couple of days, I developed a quick habit for this music which I missed for some time after I returned back from this wonderful bird watching camp at Old Magazine House within the forested area of a rural set up in Ganeshgudi.