September 21, 2015: Bangalore, India — The day started innocently enough: Harsha and I joined Siddha again to track down a couple of woodpeckers in the Masinagudi area. We succeeded spectacularly, finding our three targets—White-naped, White-bellied, and Yellow-crowned Woodpeckers—in short order. Siddha knew exactly where to search for each bird (if you ever visit this area, look him up: firstname.lastname@example.org) and the morning passed in a hurry.
While we were watching a pair of White-bellied Woodpeckers in a patch of large trees, a commotion erupted upslope. Bonnet macaques (a type of monkey), a spotted deer, and an Indian giant squirrel started making frenzied alarm calls. “They have definitely just seen a leopard or a tiger,” said Harsha, who, at one point, spent two years as a full-time naturalist in this park. The undergrowth was too thick with lantana, a extremely invasive shrub introduced from South America, to see anything, and I could only wonder what predator was stalking through the forest a hundred yards away. A few minutes later, we came across a family of elephants grazing by the roadside.
In the afternoon Harsha and I began making our way toward Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, for my outward flight in the morning. We stopped along the way to meet some local birders who had volunteered to take us to a nearby wetland, and there things took a turn.
As the group of us walked toward the edge of the lake, my iron stomach faltered for the first time this year. All morning, my system had been feeling unsettled, and it suddenly ratcheted past any measure of discomfort. I sat down next to a culvert, saw a Gray-headed Swamphen, and admitted it was time to call it a day. The five-hour drive to Bangalore which followed, the flat tire, the late-night traffic, and the vomiting are all best forgotten… I figured I’d get some static from street food at some point on this trip, and it’s actually surprising to have survived almost nine months and 27 countries before running into digestive unhappiness. Nothing a good sleep won’t fix, I hope.
New birds today: 15
Year list: 4425