“YOUR ASSIGNMENT” Assignment No. 3

(VOLUME 1, ISSUE 3)                                                                                                               ISSN 2455 – 2135   NOVEMBER, 2015

Story and Photographs by – Iftiaque Hussain

It was on a sunny pleasant Friday morning, on the 6th of June, 2014, that I started from Mysore for the much awaited journey to Kokkare Bellur. I caught a bus from the KSRTC bus station at 7.00 am. After a journey of approximately 1 hour, 20 minutes, I reached Maddur. Here I alighted from the bus and after enquiring from a localite, I took another local bus for Kokkare Bellur.

Entrance of Kokkare Bellur Village

Entrance of Kokkare Bellur Village

Kokkare Bellur is a small village, situated 12 km from Maddur town in Mandya district of Karnataka state and is on the way between Bangalore to Mysore.  After 30 minutes of journey through lush green paddy fields, I arrived on the boundary of the village of Kokkare Bellur. While walking through the village, I could see villagers busy with their morning household chores.

Painted Storks on rooftops

Painted Storks on rooftops

 

A little boy emerged from somewhere and said something to me in Kannada. I could not understand Kannada, or he English or Hindi. Seeing my camera and attire he could perhaps guess that I had come to see the birds of the village. Soon, both of us built a rapport and he accompanied me throughout my day long stay in the village. I was taken with wonder at seeing the birds everywhere- on ground, rooftops, electric poles and backyards. Spot Billed Pelican, Painted stork, Black-headed Ibis, Grey Heron, Night heron and some other birds were found nesting and breeding in the village trees.

Young Spot - Billed Pelicans

Young Spot – Billed Pelicans

As I greedily clicked pictures of the birds, I had a feeling that the birds were deliberately posing for me. They were unafraid of humans. Long years of association with villagers have resulted in the birds trusting visitors at close quarter.

A Brahmini Kite Posing for a click

A Brahmini Kite Posing for a click

While walking through the village, I met an elderly gentleman of the village who was taking out fish from a sack and feeding a young Pelican.  As the man brought the fish near the beak, the bird would open its beak and gulp the food dropped.

Taking care of young Pelicans

Taking care of young Pelicans

Taking care of young Pelicans

A young Spot- Billed Pelican

A young Spot- Billed Pelican

I introduced myself, and came to know his name as Linge Gouda. Mr. Gouda is an eminent person of the village and has been an active conservationist of the rich heritage of Kokkare Bellur ever since he was a young boy. He told me that villagers feed the chicks who come to the ground, as the birds cannot feed themselves. The villagers buy fish with their own money and this has become a tradition over the years. As I was taking pictures from close quarter, Mr. Gouda invited me to feel the coat of the bird. I touched the soft feather of the chick which was sitting happily in Mr. Gouda’s lap.

It was from him that I came to know a little about this wonderful village. The name of the village ‘Kokkare Bellur” stands for ‘Stork village’. The words ‘Kokkare’ meaning ‘stork’ and ‘Bellur’ meaning ‘Village’ in Kannada language. The Shimsa river and several water tanks near the village provide food for the birds. The Pelicans start arriving during November, when they build nests. They leave during June when the young are able to fly. The painted storks stay from February to July. The village has a large number of ficus and tamarind trees where the birds nest. The villagers of Kokkare Bellur believe that the birds are God gifted and bring good luck and prosperity to their village, so they look after the birds with great care. They have taken conservation of the birds on a mission mode. They have formed associations for protection of the birds and their habitats.

A welcome sight for bird lovers

A welcome sight for bird lovers

After visiting this unique place, I turned back to Maddur, where in a small tea stall over a cup of hot coffee and a delicious fresh Maddur Vada, I reflected on this strange intimacy between man and bird. In today’s life when very few people think of their responsibility towards other species, it is indeed great to see this friendship between humans and birds at such close quarters. This is not good bye to Kokkare Bellur but a welcome for all bird lovers- To see and learn about conservation.

  • – Please click on the photographs for better view.

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