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Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Dodda Betta" – ending 2007 on a high note!

View from Dodda Betta at Ooty in Tamil Nadu.
I spent the “Christmas Eve” this year with family and friends at Ooty! On the 25th, I had an early breakfast and spent the morning exploring the Dodda Betta area in Ooty. Never did I realize that I was in for such a delightful morning. An apt end to a glorious year of birding!

Dodda Betta at Ooty in Tamil Nadu is the highest peak in the area at about 7500 ft above sea level. The peak is a major tourist attraction. Thousands of tourists in hundreds of vehicles visit this peak everyday. The gates to the peak, open at about 8 am in the morning and close at 5 pm in the evening.

I had been to the peak before to photograph the “Nilgiri Laughingthrush” which is always seen in the area. I also knew that the peak itself was always crowded with tourists. I thus decided to explore the lower areas first and then proceed to the peak.

There is this path that leads down from the peak in the opposite direction. This area is very calm and quite in contrast to the peak. Though the light was very good with a bright blue sky above, I did realize that shooting tiny restless birds in the shade under tall trees in a sloping terrain would be a challenge. However, with a little bit of perseverance, I was able to photograph a few birds I had never seen before!

...and I was glad to see the Nilgiri Langur breed increasing!

Nilgiri Langur with baby at Ooty in Tamil Nadu.
At noon I drove into the parking lot at the Peak. As I had anticipated there were hundreds of tourists all over the place. What I had not anticipated was the birds I would see right next to the parking lot. Standing at the parking lot, (right next to a groundnut vendor) as I looked down into the “garbage dump”, in the shade, I saw several Nilgiri Laughingthrushes, a Black and Orange Flycatcher, many Great Tits and some Eurasian Blackbirds ! The birds however were very agile and I found it very difficult to get a clear focus on any of them. Would you believe that I finally got a shot of the “White-bellied Shortwing” with some nineteen curious onlookers breathing down my neck!

Have a great year ahead folks!

Vijay Cavale
December, 2007.