A temple, trees, a river and plenty of birds make Kollur an irresistible getaway

Chugging along in the Mangalore Madgaon passenger, enroute to Kundapura at 7.30am, I find myself humming the first line of a song from the film Balika Badhu. “Bade Ache Lagte Hain…Yeh Dharti.. Yeh nadiya…” The landscape was responsible for this refrain in my head.

Our destination was Kollur, the village famous for the shrine of Mookambikai Devi. The train stopped at Suratkal and I heard the call of a drongo. I looked up from the window and immediately rushed out. Not one but two racquet tailed drongos on a branch of a tree! That was a preview of what we would see in and around Kollur for the next three days.

On the way from Kundapura station to Kollur in a cab, we spotted Brahminy kites.

We reached Kollur and had a quick darshan at the temple and went back to relax in the verandah of our friend’s house. Just then, I heard the shriek of a parakeet and saw two Malabar parakeets land on a leafless tree . Parakeets tend to stop very briefly and then take off, but I managed to take a quick picture before they flew off. Kollur is a small village and within a radius of 100mts from the temple you have either arecanut plantations or lots of trees. A priest at the temple told us to head to a specific area to spot more birds. He turned out to be an avid bird watcher and photographer.

In the evening as we strolled around we were rewarded by the sighting of two Malabar pied hornbills. These birds, in spite of their size, are very nimble and hop between branches with ease. After a while we sighted six of them flying into the forest. It is a fabulous sight to see them fly and to hear the whoosh of the their wings cutting the air.

There was a Semal (red silk cotton) tree in full bloom. It was the ‘tree of life’......many small birds perched on it to drink the nectar and get at the insects in the flowers. Next morning we explored a different area and spotted an eagle, some smaller birds and the Malabar giant squirrel. The squirrel was taking a nap and was woken up much to his displeasure. He took to his heels to the upper branches of the tree as soon as he sensed us. When we got back we heard a familiar, unmusical call and spotted a Malabar Grey Hornbill. These birds are a common sight in Kollur. They do not have the horn and are smaller than the Pied Hornbill.

Kollur is also surrounded by forests and the famous Kodachadri peak towered above the surrounding mountains. We also spotted scarlet minivets, a flock of green pigeons, sunbirds, hill mynahs, chestnut tailed starlings, drongos, vernal hanging parrots, barbets, babblers, racquettailed drongos,woodpeckers, an oriental honey buzzard, orange capped thrush, a Malabar whistling thrush, kingfishers and a rare flying lizard, the Draco Dussumieri. The Malabar Trogon, Indian Pitta, the Asian Paradise Flycatcher and the Ceylon Frogmouth are also often spotted in this area.

At the end of three days, I lost count of the number of birds I saw and as I was leaving second stanza of the same Bade ache lagte hain… song played out in my mind…“Tum in sabko chod ke kaise kal subah jaoge”…(How will you leave all this and leave in the morning). We had to, but we will go back there again, soon.