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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Changeable Hawk - Eagle

The drive from Wayanad to Mysore took us along the Kabini river, and through the Nagarhole National Park. On our way to Wayanad, we had surprised a Gaur and an elephant on the road, apart from numerous deer. The return journey saw the animals well out of the way, and it would have been a boring drive, except for the number of birds we happened to notice. While most were fleeting glimpses, barely enough for proper identification, this one made out day.....

From our bird book, it appears to be a Changeable Hawk-Eagle, a name which is as interesting as the bird itself! 

Salim Ali, in his book describes it as "A slender forest eagle in various confusing colour phases. Normally brown above; white below with black longitudinal streaks on throat and chocolate streaks on breast." 

Some subspecies among these birds have a crest. Others do not. And, as Salim Ali says, the colours vary too. This is what gives it its name. Interesting, isn't it? That a bird can either be a hawk or an eagle? or maybe we simply don't know what to call it!  

No matter what it was, the bird surely made our day. It was one of the highlights of the trip, more so since it was Samhith who spotted it! Besides, it stayed put for a long, long time on that branch, while I tried to click a decent photo without getting out of the car and scaring it away. It took quite a bit of effort, but the results are worth it, don't you think? 

That seemed to set the tone for the rest of our trip, and we seemed to see birds everywhere in Mysore!!! Watch out for my other posts to know which ones we saw!


  1. What a sighting and what a click, particularly the last one!

  2. Lovely sighting Anu! Wish I could see it too. :-)

    1. Thanks Atula! we were really really lucky that samhith spotted this!!! keep your eyes open! you never know!

  3. It is certainly the Changeable Hawk Eagle. Wonderful sighting and really shots. Must have been very close

    1. Thanks so much, Rajesh! yes, it was really very close. and i was so lucky that it didnt fly away while i was trying to get a better click, so the efforts paid off!

  4. what a spectacular bird! Great capture :)

  5. Brilliant click!!

  6. Nice capture. It looks like a combination of Eagle and Owl.

    1. THank you. yes, it does look a bit like an owl too!!! interesting bird, isnt it!


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