When: May 2015 Weather: Warm, 24C
Nikon P900. All pictures hand held.
In Bangalore for a weekend and had a free morning on Sunday to do some birding. Had done Nandi Hills which was quite pleasant on my last visit a year ago so was planning to go Bannerghatta NP but my host felt that it was worth my while going to a proper birding site, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary (RBS), 130km away and nearer to Mysore than Bangalaore. I was a little anxious about the timing and length of the drive cos sometimes investing 2-3 hours each way for a 2-3 hour birding outing is does not always give a good ROI! But my host had kindly made some special arrangements for me to leave my hotel Bangalore at 5am, arriving in Ranganathittu just after seven, and gave me a private tour of the islets on the Kaveri River which is the heart of RBS. The road driving in was already quite promising….baya weavers had made several nests on the electrical high tension wires, francolins were seen scurrying into the scrub and a flock of pelicans flew overhead….
The only way to see the place properly is to take the 1 hour boat ride around the several islands that make up the sanctuary….it is however challenging to shoot birds from afar with the boat’s movement. I was also trying out my new Nikon P900 in deference to the weight advantage over my usual Sony A55 with the mega heavy 70-400mm G Lens. The Nikon has a scarcely believable 25-2000 optical zoom range with digital zoom out to 4500mm or so….I was interested to see how it would compare to the much more expensive and weighty sony system…
We were led down to our paddle boat from which we set off onto the slow moving waters…
The trees and greenery around were lush…and on closer look, they were festooned with birds, not unlike a christmas tree! And birds were flying all around feeding and gathering twigs for their nests…the nesting season was just over so there were lots of juveniles which I had great difficulty identifying…
After the water birding, I took a little walk in the manicured trail/ gardens nearby to see if I could spot some forest birds….
Before long, the star bird of the day appeared for me…the Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher!
So, was Ranganathittu worth the effort involved in getting there? I would say just about…it’s about 2hr 15 min each way which is quite an investment in time….the sanctuary itself is very beautiful and the water birds quite pretty…but if you’re a seasoned birder and have been to places like Keoladeo etc, then you would have seen most of the resident RBS birds already and may not be worth the effort.
What about the Nikon P900? I think it acquitted itself pretty well….all the water bird shots were taken from a moving boat without tripod and even at max optical zoom of 2000mm, I got some decent shots. For web posting and facebook, the images are fine but the sensor is small and cropping in close shows the limitations of the sensor. For just over US$500 though it’s a great camera for birders….I would carry it along with me for long treks and general birding…if I wanted to have the best resolution shots though, I’d bring the DSLR….