Going Batty at Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary

On our first full day in Kochi, India, we decided to take a tour of the Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary, which is, among other things, a sanctuary for migratory birds. And one of us has a passion for shooting birds — with a camera, of course — and combing through thousands of photos of them to find the most interesting ones to post on this blog. The sanctuary is a forested, swampy area full of mangroves that is also home to many other kinds of wildlife.

Getting there entailed a bit of a hike. It also entailed a bit of getting lost, as Google was a bit glitchy and had us wandering down what we thought was a narrow street but ended up being a dead-end alley. As we stopped and pondered our situation, the inhabitants of a house we were in front of came out to point us in the right direction — with some amusement, as we were not the first to have made this mistake. The virtual map has some catching up to do with the real map. At least the technology has improved greatly since the time about 20 years ago when we ended up driving our van late at night onto an ATV trail in Pennsylvania. (Or the supposedly true account from the early days of GPS when some hiker studying his device commented, “Ah, I see where we are now — we’re on that mountain over there. “)

When we arrived at the sanctuary, it appeared that the birds also had had trouble finding their way. Very few of them were in evidence anywhere. There were, however, enough mosquitoes to take up the slack — we began to suspect that maybe they had eaten all the birds. Even though there’d been quite a bit of rain lately, and we were hiking through a swampy, forested area, we somehow had neglected to prepare for the possibility of the little vampire bugs being present. And they made us pay for our mistake.

The most interesting life form we saw was a large, busy bee-like critter who kept flitting around us. At least the most interesting until we saw the bats. Dozens and dozens of bats, hanging from the trees. And huge bats they were too, not like the rat-sized mammals we normally see. And rather colorful bats too, with yellowish patches on them — apparently they are a variety known as painted bats. They made the expedition worth it. Now why couldn’t they have done their duty and devoured all those mosquitoes?

Birds of Mangalavanam

Spotted more pictures of birds than actual birds – guess we were there at the wrong time of the year.

July 2, 2022

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