Jan 15

CORBETT IN WINTERS

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One of the heaviest monsoons, especially the early incessant showers, of our times had left the writing on the wall for a severe winter.  The winter is probably the best time to view Corbett landscape in its entirety.  The landscape, offering multitude of habitats with their unique floristic and faunistic diversity spell one of the best seasons for promising wildlife sightings along with plethora of birds and butterflies filling the log.

The mercury in the mornings as well as evenings has already dropped to force everyone to go heavily wrapped with woollens.  The earliest & the heaviest monsoon showers, possibly of our times, induced a trail for one of the biggest tragedies up in the hills especially Kedarnath & Badrinath, and also had its direct impact on Corbett resulting in a total washout of the road networks in all the 04 tourism zones.  Despite all the odds, the tourism zones were opened exactly on their respective timings thereby establishing the credentials of Uttarakhand Govt in terms of their commitment towards wildlife conservation and tourism.  The most important aspect of the whole commitment happens to be the celebration of Wildlife week (01st to 07th October), which had never seen before such an enthusiastic commitment from all the sections of Corbett stakeholders and rightly the schools and the private individuals were felicitated with honour & pride.  Interestingly, the online booking system has brought a professional transparency in the approach towards sensible wildlife tourism as per Supreme Court endorsed guidelines.  Except the initial hiccups, it has so far been smooth and tourism friendly.  The current management deserves a salute for their commitment in its early implementation.  But I do not agree with the phase out policy and it seems that the forest dept. was anxiously waiting for its implementation for a number of years.  This is debatable and I feel that the Chief wildlife warden should have waited for a year or so before taking the final action.  We have believed that the permanent residential facilities are used by the tourists only in case of availability, as these are actually forest inspection bungalows since their inception about 75 years back.  Also the recent disaster in the state has left trails of unemployment and this action has further aggravated the problems and it will bounce back in some form.  The state with the largest PA forest cover should not suffer from such hasty decisions.  The implementation of the eco-sensitive zone has already been seeing a lot of resilience from the locals and I wonder if the tigers will remain safe if they move out of the boundaries of Corbett.

Corbett, the first endeavour of the country to preserve the tiger and its habitats has once again risen to the occasion while establishing its strong conservation oriented credentials.  Nevertheless, the challenges are still mounting.  Corbett, as a supplying base has distributed tigers to adjoining forests and here comes the effect of increased forest occupancy by the tigers, which is the highest in the tiger distribution range countries but unfortunately all these reserved forests, which fall in Corbett landscape lag a mile in giving the protection to the tigers.  I wonder, if we have still learned the lessons from the past mistakes.  I would be the happiest field biologist the day when all these reserve forests have surpassed the budget allocation in comparison to Corbett.   The Ramnagar forest division across Kosi has the distinction of harbouring more than 40 tigers, possibly better than many other tiger reserves in the country as far as the tiger census figures are concerned, lacks the basic paraphernalia.  The situation is even worse in Terai West forest division which forms an excellent corridor for the tigers to spread.  Protecting the tigers beyond the boundaries of Corbett will be the real challenge and more so because of the fact that Corbett is the only tiger reserve, which has shown a sizeable increase in tiger numbers since the launch of the project tiger.

The water level of Ramganga reservoir in Dhikala tourism zone is not receding, another beauracratic glutton, but the Sambhar road, the prime ecotone between river and forest for animals as well as raptors (birds of prey) sightings, has produced its potential right from the day one.   I am sure this rich bio-diverse edge will be restored to its former glory in a few weeks time from now once the water is released from Kalagarh dam.

Late and heavy monsoon showers have enabled many of the water holes to retain water for so long, which has definitely played a vital role in the early pairing of tigers in Bijrani as well as jhirna.  If the welfare factors in the habitat of tigers are in good supply then their breeding can be pre-poned as well as induced.  The movement of the male and female has led to the increased tiger sightings, as the pair gets exposed to their prey for they give the alarm calls and the tiger and tigress are easily tracked.  Both Bijrani and Jhirna have harboured tiger cubs with their respective mothers.  A female with three growing cubs in Jhirna and a female with 04 growing cubs in Bijrani have been regularly sighted by almost 30% visitors to Corbett so far.  Snigdha, Shekhar, Niting, Gagan, Maria, etc., the last two reviewers of The Ranger’s Lodge on Trip Advisor had an awesome sighting of the tigress for more than 25 minutes in Bijrani on 28th November evening safari .  Then a gropu from Route Purple, Gurgaon had an excellent sighting of the same tigress thrice during the safari to Bijrani on the 11th evening.  Believe you me all, 55% of the total inhabitants of The Ranger’s Lodge so far have had tiger sightings either in Bijrani or Jhirna in the last 2-3 months.

Tendu, the Ebony or Beedi leaf tree and Jungle berries (ber) have started fruiting hence one sees sloth bear pugs as well as their dropping next to their colonies.  After a gap of 08 years i was able to capture a sloth bear in my camera in Jhirna while on Safari with Abhijeet Basu who is yet to right his review on the Trip dvisor.   Most of the deer, especially the spotted deer, are in their prime velvety stage of the antler growth and the rubbing off their antlers against the trunk of the trees and bushes has already started.  Please recall the redness in the trunk at 3-4’ of the trunk height.

Jhirna has attained the distinction of harbouring the resident elephant population for quite some time and on every safari they have been regularly sighted to the visitors.  The howling of the jackals has intensified especially in the vicinity of The Ranger’s Lodge and is often heard in cacophony at the bonfire.  The rehabilitation of Laldhang village close to Jhirna has almost completed and the grasslands surrounding it have started showing their potential.   It is now comparable with Dhikala chaurs except themeda  & vetiverria grass spp.  Biologically speaking, this grassland provides ample palatability to elephants, deer besides loads of airborne species.  I am waiting for the next season when the water availability might change the whole dynamics.  As an experiment, habitat management  programme should include one or two bore-wells in the grassland at Laldhang in order to increase the prey density for the tigers to restrict their territory size on the southern periphery.

The birdlife in the whole landscape of Corbett has increased and one can see mixed flocks of Minivets, Grey-headed canary flycatcher, bronzed-winged drongos,  verditer flycatchers,  grey-capped pygmy woodpecker, common woodshrike, both the species of Nuthatches, grey hooded warblers, etc.  This is all because of the fruiting in Ficus species such as ficus glomerata, F. elastica,  and  Schleichera Oleosa or Kusum.  Chestnut-headed bee-eater and blue-tailed bee-eaters have gone back to their parent habitats while blue-bearded bee-eaters have arrived for breeding.  Interestingly this bird has recently become resident, as I had seen one in August close to The Ranger’s Lodge.  This is one of the species of the top canopies besides two species of leaf birds.  Among other top canopied birds, oriental pied hornbills and great hornbills have started “Gackling” their casks thereby indicating their breeding.  One can see flocks of them on Jhirna safaris.

The mid canopied birds such as orioles and woodpeckers have also started breeding.  All the three species of orioles including Corbett specific Maroon Orioles are heard on the jeep as well as walking safaris.  The three species of Flameback and other mid-sized wood peckers have paired for breeding too.  Constant vocalisation and fluttering in the trees attract the visitor attention.   One of the guests had taken a picture of Black stork perching on a tree, which was unique, as I have never seen black stork on the trees other than on riverbeds.  Subsequently, I had the opportunity of clicking Black Stork on a tree in the ringora region of Bijrani tourism zone.  The Ibisbill has been regularly sighted along Kosi river on the eastern periphery and this time there were two individuals unlike the solitary one who has been sighted in Kumeria for ages.

Overall speaking the park is teeming with birdlife.  On a casual interaction with the research team responsible for camera traps, I discovered that there are 20-25 cubs with their mothers, which is an incredible adult to cub sex ratio for any single reserve in the entire distribution range of the tigers.

Among the raptors, Pallas’s Fishing eagle and Changeable hawk eagles have been seen with their chicks.   An interesting sighting by one of the well wishers of Corbett further strengthened my belief that a naturalist is never a perfect naturalist and one gets to learn a lot on every trip to nature.  It is very unusual for the pied kingfishers to make their nests at this time of the year and there was one sighted doing the nest building close to Ringorha Sot about 10 days back.  I have my explanation that the mother might have been busy training the chick for the tedious exercise, as after attaining maturity the chick would undergo this process and I was proved right, as there were two birds doing the same exercise.

Let me also say that the organic Kitchen Garden at The Ranger’s Lodge with seasonal vegetable is teeming with the fresh crop of radish, carrot, turnip, peas, chickpea, Mustard, brinjal, coriander, potato, garlic, onion, etc.  I have made tempting pickle of “Kamraq” an erstwhile delicacy of our childhood memories and this one grows organically in my garden. The fruit is named as Star fruit.  Though wild boars have taken a heavy toll of my vegetable garden but I feel privileged of being raided by wilderness.  I grow vegetables more to provide an alternative habitat to wild ungulates and the left over crop is used for the guest platters at The Ranger’s Lodge.

Look forward to seeing you all at The Ranger’s lodge till the next phase of Corbett.

Regards imran Khan, www.therangerslodge.in


   Aug 29

Jhirna Tourism Zone is opening for the safaris

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Hello!  I have uploaded the pictures of one of the biggest herds of wild elephants, which I had clicked on my last visit to Jhirna before it was closed for the first time in the history (around 18th June) after heavy rains and the sheer panic consequential to disaster in Kedarnath, Badrinath, Rambana, etc. and other higher reaches of Garhwal and parts of Kumaon.

The Ranger’s Lodge is located on the southern wild periphery of Corbett and this part of Corbett has supported the highest density of tigers. Please recall 2006-07 census when corbett had produced 19.5 tigers per 100 sq.km.  I am not trying to concentrate on tigers but being at the top, the sheer number of them decide the well being, quality and quantity of other creatures too.

The Ranger’s Lodge has been promoting wildlife itineraries including walking safaris, jeep & elephant safaris, birding trails, village walks, night stays in FRH’s and so on.  The Jhirna tourism zone gate is just 20min drive from the Lodge and provides contiguity of forests all along from the Lodge.

Jhirna tourism zone was declared open for the wildlife tourists about 25years back after relocating 3 villages viz. Jhirna, Kothirao & Dhara.  Laldhang village, just before Jhirna gate, is in the process of being shifted soon and already huge grasslands have been developed in the vicinity.  Consequentially, the wild elephants have become more or less resident on the southern periphery.

Jhirna, Dhela, Phanto and the surrounding beats are one of the driest areas of corbett and are fed by seasonal streams of Dhela, Pheeka and other streams.  Since 1974, neither harvesting nor replanting has been promoted in the commercial forests of Eucalyptus and Teak. The natural root stock has developed into secondary and tertiary forests in combination with old growth of teak and eucalyptus.  Jhirna on the other hand has started recovering from the onslaught of biotic factors inducing excellent growth of Sal, tendu, Semal, Khair, karanj and other associated species of dry deciduous and moist deciduous forests (If anyone is interested in english or scientific names of the trees then please do contact me).

All the above factors have contributed to excellent opportunities of birding such as Great & Pied hornbills, Blue-tailed & Blue-bearded bea-eaters, Indian Pitta, paradise flycatcher, Cukoos (atleast 04 species of them), Verditer flycatcher, Changeable Hawk Eagle, peregrine falcon, maroon and black-hooded orioles and plenty more.  This is the only area where one sees Nilgai and there have been umpteenth sloth bear sightings besides regular sightings of wild boar, jackals, yellow-throated martens, large grey mongoose, etc.  Tigers and wild elephants are pretty regular and believe you me, in the last 16 walking safaris by me, there have been four tiger sightings in a span of more than a month.  The wild Elephants are pretty regular in Jhirna.  The most interesting aspect is the presence of the biggest wetland around corbett landscape, which is just 30min drive all along the Corbett landscape forests from the Lodge on the south-western side.  The wetland promises great crested Grebe from tibet, greater flamingo & sarus crane extend their distribution limits besides brown headed gulls, black-bellied & river terns, pheasant-tailed & bronze-winged jacanas, common & purple moorhen, regular bar-headed geese, spot-billed ducks, pin-tails, garganey, ruddy shelduck, Cinnamon bittern, and numerous other waders and ducks.

I might have missed many other positives here but let me promise you that this will all provide the best wilderness experience in a situation where corbett is the victim of too many!  I have always looked for positioning The Ranger’s Lodge as the one independent of commercial corbett.

To top it all, the above is still not at all crowded unlike Corbett as the destination.  We believe in craving for the tiger and exploring the jungle. Let me frame a perfect itinerary for you, valid from 01st September to 15th October:

Day 1: Arrival The Ranger’s Lodge by lunch.  Post lunch, a walking safari and then all the accessories including a slide show on the wealth of corbett, anecdotes on my encounters with wilderness,etc. and all by the bonfire.

Day 2: Half day jhirna in the AM, Breakfast and then PM elephant safari across river Kosi on the eastern periphery

Day 3: AM Tumarhiya and glimpses of Gujjar architecture.  Spend time with the gujjars at their Deras and learn their intricate yet simple lifestyles.  PM Jhirna/Phanto jeep safari.  One can also stay at Jhirna FRH

Day 4: AM walking safari from The Ranger’s Lodge and post breakfast you may leave after the complete rejuvenation.

Those interested in local flavours from the local village market as well as interaction with the village school kids will also have enough time during this 03 nights & 04 days itinerary.  Landscape photography, a trail to Jim Corbett’s village and so on may also be squeezed in.

If you see the above photographs in sequence then you will be thrilled to know that the loner tusker first came to the road and then slipped back after seeing our gypsy to reappear after 5min with the group of grannies, mothers and calves, some of them were just few months older, and he kept a constant vigil by giving mock charges till the entire group had passed by and entered into the forests across the road.  Then he ran charging towards us with a great speed.  It took me few minutes to turn the vehicle to the opposite direction.  He started walking parallel to the Gyspsy showing his disapproval to our presence occasionally and finally joined the herd in the vicinity.  This had all happened on the Kothirau Machaan road after you take the right from the first water stream or “Pehla Pani in Jhirna”.

Overall speaking it was great sighting and I was able to click sizable number of pics and here are the best 42 for all of you!

Thanks and Regards Imran Khan


   Aug 20

Leopard at The Ranger’s Lodge – An exciting evening

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I was about to leave for my daughter’s tuition at 1730hrs yesterday and suddenly the alarm call of a Sambhar, which was confirmed by few langur calls, brought my attention to a Jhingan tree and right on top there was a leopard sitting merrily.  The leopard was possibly trying for a langur.  I have had quite a few leopard sightings and mostly on the trees itself but this was special, as the leopard jumped about 7 meters from a branch to another tree in the vicinity.  I parked my bike and then asked my daughter to get the Camera and Binoculars.  It was a great sighting.  The leopard was first sighted by a boy of 13 years, my neighbour’s son.  I fixed 55-250mm (the only tele with me besides 18-55 wide angle one) lens in my Canon 60D and clicked these pictures.  I wish I had 400mm here.  The leopard must have been about 40 to 50 meters from the The Ranger’s Lodge.  I had seen a pair of leopards about 12 days back right in front of the lodge.  There have been 03 sightings of leopards around the lodge in the last 02 months.  I couldn’t click the earlier ones since those were all sighted in the late evenings.

The number of leopards in the periphery of Corbett has possibly increased, as confirmed by regular sightings on the southern periphery right from Gaujani to Sanwaldeh villages.  In fact a leopard had charged quite a few people in Semal Khalia &, Sanwaldeh villages not long ago.  Let me also confess that the leopard is still there in the vicinity of the lodge, as there are regular alarm calls from the Langurs.

Interestingly, a loner with just the left tusk has also been  doing regular rounds around the lodge.  I have planted a mixed fruit orchard besides maize and then there are fledgling paddy fields next door and possibly these are the attractions for him.  On 18th august evening I had few family friends over dinner and on their return back the same tusker had confronted them.  Finally, other villagers and few Gandhi shots rescued them.  I have also bought a Gandhi gun today.

Isn’ it exciting!

Regards imran Khan

 


   Jun 18

The Ranger’s Lodge & Corbett in Monsoons

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In the last few months most of you have enjoyed your stay at The Ranger’s Lodge not because of just tiger darshan but for an experience beyond & more than tigers at The Ranger’s Lodge.  In fact, I too enjoyed your excitement and thrill that was always written all over on your return from the jungle. I must thank Anushree, daughter of Rajani Iyer for guiding the gypsy to a route, which fetched us all a great tigress sighting in the morning of 12th June and since then the park has been closed because of early onset of monsoons, not only in Corbett but the entire country got covered in a span of 48hrs.  It has caused a disaster in Uttarakhand especially Uttarkashi. Ramban has been worst affected.  I am sure you have all been watching the news where buildings have come collapsing into Ganges and Alaknanda—- and so on.

Next few months are going to be drastically different.  Rains in the hilly terrain of Corbett play havocs and leave hardly anything in the name of road network besides breeding of the herbivore species gets triggered at the onset of first few showers and consequently the park is closed for nearly four months till the new road network is created. But this period would also bring a major worry and concern for the park. Yes, Monsoons is the most vulnerable time for the park and this is the period when anti-social elements are bent upon damaging nature in various ways.  Tourism as an important conservation tool keeps check on illegal activities and without it the entrants with bad intentions go unchecked.

Closing the park has ecological significace, no doubt as it provides undisturbed period for the wildlife but limited presence of visitors in the vicinity also acts as deterrent to anti – social elements. The Jhirna tourism zone, next to The Ranger’s Lodge is now opened for the whole year.

The villagers are busy planting either paddy or soybean crops, as the extent of rains determine as to which of these two will be planted.  There are rutting calls of stags all over the forest.  There are biting insects and mosquitoes all around and especially in the dense vegetation forcing animals to take refuge in the open areas especially in the plantations and on the highways.  The sightings of the animals are great in the open areas during safaris but the visibility gets reduced in the forested areas, as the denseness in vegetation has increased manifold.  Most of the smaller birds are also breeding at this time and in a few weeks from now mother and chicks would be a common sight.  The Nullahs and other water courses cutting across the forest roads and highways are in full flow causing the spread of boulders, stones and soft mud on the roads and many a times flash floods are highly aggressive.  One should be prepared for road blockages and pulling the gypsies out (even the 4WD fails here!) of this rut.

The profuseness in the ground vegetation gives rise to a plethora of insects, also the biting ones, which in turn give opportunities to insectivorous birds to breed.  During the safaris the feel of the forest is deeper.  The sightings in the grasslands are better.  Also animals take refuge in Eucalyptus at this time since Eucalyptus does not allow ground vegetation to flourish hence no insect to bite the herbivores.

Monsoon is the time of festivities for almost all the ungulates found in Corbett such as deer, boars and antelopes, as their breeding gets triggered with first few showers of rains.  The rutting calls have already been on for few weeks and the males are busy displaying their smartness by getting their antlers garlanded with vegetation all around.  Except barking deer all other species are busy forming their harems.  The fighting males display their dominance with their antlers locked.  This is one of the commonest sights at this time.  Once the female is crossed by the dominant male then she gets separated from the harem and waits for the birth of a solitary fawn for 4-7 months.  Barking deer do not make harem, as they are monogamous.  The loud rutting by the males is heard from a distance.

Monsoon is also the time when the denseness in vegetation leads to the breeding of insects.  The biting insects always disturb the herbivores forcing them to take refuge in the open areas for their various biological activities.

Solitary elephant tuskers will start fighting for showing their dominance to protect a harem of females.  During the monsoons herds of elephants with dominant male in the centre will move together in search of fodder.  Jhirna tourism zone, which is open all the year round will have great sightings of elephant herds.  Solitary Makhanas also try to join the female herds but they are not welcomed.

Tigers have no fixed breeding time and they may breed anytime of the year depending upon the availability of prey and water.   There is enough cover for stalking for the two big cats but even they suffer from the biting insects & mosquitoes.  Plenty of water all around will keep them cool during sultry weather.  Because of denseness in vegetation and good water availability, tiger sightings go down but the walking safaris in the vicinity would definitely fetch better tiger sightings than jeep safaris.

The lushness in vegetation brings in loads of changes in the habitat structure and function thereby inducing many bird eggs to start hatching.  Quails, patridges, pheasants, raptors, owls, parakeets, barbets, etc. are seen with their chicks in the beginning of the season while many of the cuckoos are busy finding other bird nests to lay their eggs for raising their families and their calls go down in intensity.

This is also the time to look for new nests on the trees as well as ground.   Eurasian thick-knee, one of the most conspicuous birds on the ground, and Red wattled lapwing are busy diverting the attention of Jackals approaching towards their nest by putting a wing under one of its feet depicting altruistic behavior.

With the first few showers of rains, burrows of snakes get filled up with soft mud and the serpents come out and become active.  Maximum sightings of king Cobra and pythons occur at this time.  Already there have been few sightings of King Cobra in Jhirna tourism zone.

Overall speaking monsoon is the best time to visit Corbett for its unique vistas in terms of changes in vegetation and the activities of the animals associated with it.  I have always recommended more walking safaris, so come prepared for splashing water while wading through numerous monsoonal streams on the walking safaris.

Thanks and regards Imran Khan


   May 29

King Cobra & Monitor Lizard – a Unique Prey-Predator relationship

 

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I had been dying all these days to share this spectacular sequence of action between king cobra, the longest recorded venomous serpent in wilderness, and monitor lizard, possibly the biggest lizard in Komodo dragon lineage.  I have been seeing a number of similar pictures in the facebook uploads in the last few months.  Here is the sequence depicted in 12 pictures where a king cobra had galloped a monitor lizard in a matter of 35 minutes on the 14th June 2010 in Jhirna, a day before Corbett’s main tourism zones are shut for the monsoons.  I have always believed right from 1994 that Jhirna offers more than tigers when it comes to the diversity of wilderness, as human habitations of Kothirau, Dhara & Jhirna were shifted not long ago, in 1991-92.  Possibly the driest part of Corbett offers variety of habitats and the reason for the elephants to become resident, kaleej pheasants to breed more often (more sightings of kaleej pheasant in jhrina than Bijrani & Dhikala put together), a centre of civilisation for Great Hornbill, Oriental pied hornbill,  Paradise flycatcher, blue-tailed bee-eater, chestnut-headed bee-eater, Indian Pitta (except the two resident hornbills the rest are migrants from peninsular India and are seen more often in Jhirna).

I can very well recall that I was in Jhirna with a repeat guest, Mansher singh, a young boy of 15 years along with his mother and a friend, Hunar Mahajan.  I had been on the number of safaris with them in the past and wasn’t very keen on the afternoon of 14th june, 2010.  Finally, Hunar was able to convince me to accompany him and I must thank him for his stubbornness otherwise,  I would have missed this interesting & once in a blue moon sequence.  Close to the remnants of erstwhile Jhirna village on the Jarh paharh Road, Luvkush, our driver spotted this incredible sighting.  The King Cobra had already poisoned the monitor lizard and had started swallowing it.  Please observe the higher ground from where the king Cobra is trying to swallow & gallop the lizard, while slowly & gently the snake is stretching its mouth and body from higher to lower ground, possibly the killing strategy of the snake.  I must thank Mansher and Hunar Mahajan for taking me along to witness this incredible sequence.  During my tenure in wilderness (20years) I have seen King Cobras measuring 5 to 20’ long and this one was just about 12’.  I have seen Pythons longer and bigger than King Cobras but not swifter and more agile than Hamadryad as this one while swallowing and galloping its prey.

Thanks and Regards Imran Khan

 


   May 29

The Ranger’s Lodge Calling

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The Ranger’s Lodge has been operational for more than 6 months and has been thoroughly appreciated by 6 of the total 10 rooms/guests so far, as there reviews have been published by the TripAdvisor till mid April. A German lady, known to me from the days of my former project, and her 8 years old son had experienced my hospitality & naturalistic instincts along with her friend and a same age kid, as the two kids studied in the German school in Delhi and their mothers wanted the two kids to unwind with me.  Possibly, after the first satisfactory trip, the same guest repeated, within a month, in a bigger group – her entire family (three kids and husband besides her visiting brother-in Law and his two kids from Germany).  During their first trip, I had exposed the kids to bird watching, ethno-botany, nature interpretation, understanding the indirect evidences in the jungles and tiger tracking besides making them taste the local flavour in the Mangal Bazaar of Kaniya village where the kids had made jalebis and eaten them too.  Two jeep safaris, an elephant safari and a walking safari had satisfied their quest for tigers, the cynosure of every eye.  We had 300% tiger sightings from all the above safaris.  Finally, I planned a safari to the biggest wetland in Corbett landscape, just 20km from The Ranger’s Lodge through the forests of Corbett Landscape.  The place offers excellent wetland birding opportunities in winters right from the first week of October till the March end.  Though late in the season, our trip caught quite a few resident ducks and waders besides a few species found on the grassland – farms ecotone.

We had spotted a great Crested Grebe, one of the prized sightings at Tumariya.  All the 05 kids somehow insisted on using my Canon 60D and being at Tumariya at the sunset was an icing on the cake, as Tumariya offers one of the most beautiful sunsets of the region.  We had an adventurous safari to tumariya, as on the way back in the pitch dark I had lost the trail to The ranger’s Lodge and instead took a wrong trail into the plantations.


   May 25

Tri Colured Long Tailed Shrike in Bijrani

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An interesting incident happened on 12th of March at Bijrani. While observing a pair of brown fish owl on the road to ringora, i had met a gypsy carrying a couple fully attired in passionate wildlifer’s fatigue along with 7D Mark III Canon loaded with 400mm. They investigated whether i had ever seen a tri-colored long tailed shrike,which is otherwise reported from Arunachal & Assam. I had seen quite a few of them in Pobitara, Laokhowa and Orang Wildlife Santuaries during my tenure in Assam way back in 1989-90. Anyways, they finally guided me to Ringora grassland and also assisted me in spotting the bird. Yes, they were absolutely correct in identifying the bird- the Tri-colored long tailed shrike(concentrate on the black head and the two flanks with the prominent black markings). Later on, the conversation revealed that somehow my passion had instigated theirs when they had met me in 1996. My interpretation of the migratory pattern of “KAIPHAL PAKEYO” cuckoo(India plaintive cuckoo) had convinced them that I deserved to be their mentor and they followed it all along. They both are renowned dentists from Mumbai (they must be doing good, as they find time to invest with nature and still have the abilities to learn and grasp!). This was one of the greatest satisfaction of my life, as my passion had helped someone inculcate an interest in nature. I am sure they must have clicked better ones than the ones attached for all of you here. An additional exploration revealed few more interesting birds, as present in this album. Please keep encouraging.