A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about gypsy

Pench National Park - Part I

A very rare and endangered sighting this afternoon


View Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright - India 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.

There appears to be some sort of confusion about our park tickets for today. It seems our agent booked them for the wrong gate, some 60km away. Hence the very early start of 04:30. Rakesh (the driver who brought us down from Jabalpur) is picking us up and driving us to the gate in his car, where we will change into the open top safari vehicle (known as a 'gypsy'), so that we won't get frozen solid by taking the long journey in an open top car. Wise move.

4:30 comes and goes. No Rakesh. At 05:00 I ask the young receptionist what is happening. He wanders off to check with the manager. After a few minutes, he comes running back and continues on to the car park.

A short while later a Gypsy arrives for us. There has been a change of plan. We are going to the nearest gate just a few kilometres away after all; and will pay for a new ticket instead, saving all the hassle of the long journey. That sounds good to me, as it would take well in excess of an hour to travel 60 km on these roads.

large_Pench_National_Park_1.jpg

We also have to pay for a (compulsory) park guide who will accompany us on this morning's safari. Once that is all in order, we can enter the park.

The first thing we spot, is an Oriental Honey Buzzard, another new tick on our life list.

large_Oriental_Honey_Buzzard_1.jpg

Seeing very fresh tiger pug marks is promising for a sighting this morning.

large_Tiger_Pug_Marks_51.jpg

The sun is just beginning to break through the mist as we make our way deeper into the forest.

large_Sunrise_in_Pench_1.jpg

Dhole
We are very excited when our guide spots a rare and endangered dhole (Indian wild dog) in between the trees. Our very first sighting of this species in the wild.

large_Dhole_1.jpg

There are thought to be fewer than 2500 of these animals left in the wild, so it is in fact even more rare than the tiger.

large_Dhole_3.jpg

large_Dhole_4.jpg

large_Dhole_7.jpg

We follow him as he makes his way through the forest.

large_Dhole_9.jpg

large_Dhole_11.jpg

large_Dhole_13.jpg

large_Dhole_14.jpg

large_Dhole_20.jpg

large_Dhole_25.jpg

large_Dhole_36.jpg

large_Dhole_38.jpg

Indian Ghost Trees
Found all throughout the park (as well as being quite common elsewhere on the subcontinent), the bark of this very distinctive tree (Sterculia urens) exudes a gum that is used for laxatives.

large_B0AB48BAB04B7825698154CE2A8FF2B0.jpg

large_B0DA86FCBA38AC50F337DBA89354F6B1.jpg

large_Rufous_Treepie_21.jpg

Rufous Treepie

Jungle Fowl

large_Jungle_Fowl_21.jpg

large_Jungle_Fowl_22.jpg

large_Jungle_Fowl_23.jpg

The sun is slowly warming up the air, but the mist is still hanging over the lower ground, creating a mystical and eerie atmosphere.

large_B4432C0DDADA42A8C91BCBAF81D7E696.jpg

large_B4550353AFDE25DF96F567A0C82C5BDC.jpg

large_B45815ACB21BBF4028A7F74A0CB41DA0.jpg

large_B46D590ABBBA51C0D61B9AA78696AD2A.jpg

large_Yellow_Foo..n_Pigeon_52.jpg
Yellow Footed Green Pigeon

large_Spotted_Dove_51.jpg
Spotted Dove

large_Peacock_51.jpg
Indian Peafowl

large_Indian_Pond_heron_51.jpg
Indian Pond Heron

large_Indian_Pond_heron_52.jpg
Indian Pond Heron

Changeable Hawk Eagle

large_Changeable_Haw_Eagle_51.jpg

large_Changeable_Hawk_Eagle_52.jpg

large_B50F7AF5BB64590C7C89FEC017802288.jpg
Another Peacock sunning himself

large_B52EBD4B9A45C1D95AC3080467CD2ACA.jpg

large_B53981FDCDA3A0F014674D026855E3CD.jpg

Brown Fish Owl
The guide keeps telling us the name of this bird, but I just can't get what he is trying to say. It sounds something like 'ground peace owl'. It is not until very much later that I realise he is saying 'Brown Fish Owl'.

large_Brown_Fish_Owl_3.jpg

large_Brown_Fish_Owl_1.jpg

We pass a flooded area with a Green Sandpiper feeding in the shallows.

large_A13.jpg

large_B5880977DBB2A25AC45F62631E8AF3E1.jpg

large_Green_Sandpiper_1.jpg

large_Golden_Jackals_51.jpg
Golden Jackals in the far distance

large_Indian_Roller_52.jpg
Indian Roller

Breakfast
We stop for breakfast in a dedicated picnic area. A structure has been created to provide shade or shelter you from the rain, but as the temperature this morning is still very much on the cool side, everyone remains outside to catch some warmth from the sun's rays.

large_A14.jpg

large_Breakfast_Picnic_52.jpg

The breakfast box is rather disappointing this morning, especially considering how superior the food was at the lodge yesterday.

A rather hideous plastic Mowgli adorns the site, which is appropriately called Mowgli Picnic Area.

large_Mowgli.jpg

We continue to a large wetlands area that is teeming with birds, and spend some time with binoculars picking out various species, many of which are new to us. It is all rather exciting.

large_Indian_Cormorant_51.jpg
Indian Cormorant

large_Bonelli_s_Eagle_1.jpg
Bonelli's Eagle

large_Green_Sandpiper_52.jpg
Green Sandpiper

large_Little_Ringed_Plovers_51.jpg
Little Ringed Plovers

large_Painted_Storks_51.jpg
Painted Storks

large_White_Rumped_Vulture_51.jpg
White Rumped Vulture

large_Indian_Pond_heron_53.jpg
Indian Pond Heron having a bad hair day

large_Greta_Egret_51.jpg
Great Egret

There are also a couple of jackals around.

large_Golden_Jackal_53.jpg

large_Golden_Jackal_54.jpg

large_Golden_Jackal_55.jpg

We reluctantly leave the pond area behind to go in search of more wildlife.

Hanuman Langurs

large_A15.jpg

large_B622291DBEEE36213B976B37E2CAA607.jpg

large_Red_Wattled_Lapwing_51.jpg
Red Wattled Lapwing

large_Hoopoe_51.jpg
Hoopoe

large_Chital_51.jpg
Chital

Nilgai
This is the first nilgai we see on this trip, and then only for a few seconds as she disappears into the forest.

large_Nilgai_51.jpg

large_Nilgai_53.jpg

large_Nilgai_54.jpg

large_Jungle_Owlet_53.jpg
Jungle Owlet

large_Black_Drongo_52.jpg
Black Drongo

Upon hearing loud warning calls, the driver stops the car and we sit and wait. There is obviously a predator in the vicinity, and a lot of very distressed langurs. We wait. And wait. And wait. As time is now getting on, we eventually have to move, despite not having seen any tigers.

It is time to leave the park and return to the Lodge as the park rules have very strict timings for just morning and evening safaris rather than the whole day as we are used to from Africa.

large_Time_to_Leave.jpg

On the way we spot these two gorgeous Indian Rollers, one with his lunch.

large_Indian_Rol..ith_Worm_52.jpg

large_Indian_Rol..ith_Worm_51.jpg

As we were up so early this morning (plus I didn't sleep well last night), I decide to forego lunch and spend the time snoozing instead.

Stay tuned for the next entry.

large_B694ABCDBB94D181D226E67C4276A731.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 02:37 Archived in India Tagged animals birds india sunrise breakfast safari eagle mist birding picnic national_park pigeon peacock roller heron egret stork vulture dove langur gypsy owl cormorant jackal chital drongo bird_watching pench nilgai buzzard early_morning hanuman_langur owlet plover tiger_park breakfast_picnic pench_tiger_park pench-tree-lodge pench_national_park tiger_pug_marks dhole indian_wild_dog wild_dog ghost_tree indian_ghost_tree treepie jungle_fowl early_morning_mist mowgli sandpiper hoppoe snooze Comments (3)

Kanha National Park Part I - Kanha Zone

Talk about "Beginner's Luck"!


View Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright - India 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.

After a restless night full of meflaquine dreams (nightmare-inducing malaria prophylaxis), I wake to a knock on the door. Thinking that Ahmed will leave our coffee on the table outside the door, I just shout out “thanks” to him. It is several minutes later that I realise he is still standing outside waiting for us to open the door, and I feel really guilty about leaving him there.

Kipling Camp has its own Gypsy (specially converted safari vehicle), driven by Rahim, who is not just an excellent driver, spotter and identifier, he speaks good English too and is a thoroughly nice person. This morning we are also accompanied by Jeswin, the resident naturalist at Kipling Camp, whose enthusiasm is highly contagious.

Rahim ensures we arrive first at the gate, in the pitch black, some 50 minutes before they open. As time goes on, a huge queue forms (but unusually for India, it remains orderly), and by the time we are allowed in (after having passports checked and tickets issued), there are dozens of Gypsies behind us.

large_Kanha_Nati..ance_Gate_2.jpg
Drivers queuing for tickets

large_Kanha_Nati..ance_Gate_6.jpg
Long line of Gypsies behind us

large_Kanha_Nati..ance_Gate_7.jpg
We are finally let through the gate

Kanha National Park is divided into four zones, and visitors must drive the circuit stipulated on their tickets. This morning we have been allocated Kanha Zone, The first animals we spot, just inside the gate, are a pack of jackals and some cheetal (Indian spotted deer). It is still very dark, so the pictures are extremely grainy as a result of the high ISO (ISO 32,000 for my photography friends).

large_E84E0958BA3A07B7E6F6E798C6B4A39C.jpg

large_Jackal_2.jpg

large_Jackal_3.jpg

large_Cheetal_1.jpg

Sunrise

And then the sun comes up, and what a sunrise it is, culminating in an elephant and mahout appearing out of the mist. Such a magical moment.

large_Sunrise_12.jpg

large_Sunrise_13.jpg

large_Sunrise_15.jpg

large_Sunrise_31.jpg

large_Sunrise_32.jpg

large_Sunrise_36.jpg

large_Sunrise_43.jpg

large_Sunrise_16.jpg

large_Sunrise_18.jpg

large_Sunrise_19.jpg

large_Sunrise_20.jpg

We continue driving, seeing more animals and birds along the way.

large_Cheetal_12.jpg
Cheetal (Indian Spotted Deer)

large_Oriole__Eurasian_Golden_1.jpg
Eurasian Golden Oriole

large_Hanuman_Langur_1.jpg
Hanuman Langur

large_Cheetal_11.jpg
Cheetal

Tiger

Before leaving the UK, I had warned Lyn and Chris that seeing tiger is not easy, and to expect maybe one tiger sighting for every five game drives. And here we are, before 07:30 on our very first drive when we spot a tiger in the undergrowth. Wow!

large_0F597732D35B331FA98DF99FAC8C3BE7.jpg

The tigress strolls along, taking no notice of us whatsoever.

large_0F5CC51E92EC806A339316EE8938799B.jpg

large_0F89682907C3CF22F144EB2B58EC12A6.jpg

large_0FC53E1897A0CDE40700AEEA62783B88.jpg

She heads straight for us initially, then veers off to her left, pausing briefly to turn towards the elephant that has appeared behind her.

large_10248E60EE6D63C862391D4AF0692E12.jpg

large_Tiger_9.jpg

large_Tiger_10.jpg

large_Tiger_11.jpg

large_Tiger_14.jpg

large_Tiger_15.jpg

large_Elephant_and_Mahout_1.jpg

As the tigress saunters down the path, Rahim manoeuvres the Gypsy to a better position, anticipating the she will cross the road right in front of us.

large_Tiger_17.jpg

He is right, of course.

large_Tiger_18.jpg

You can see from the fact that I have caught part of the car in the bottom corner of the photo, just how close she is.

large_Tiger_19.jpg

And then she's gone. After nearly four minutes of sheer adrenalin and excitement, we are left with just one word on our lips: “Wow!” “We can go home now” says Chris, “we've seen what we came to see.” What an amazing experience and such a clear and close encounter. What a beautiful animal!

How can you top that?

We continue on our game drive to see what else the park has to offer. At least the pressure is off now as far as finding tigers go.

We get quite excited seeing these Blackbucks, as they are a new species to us in the wild.

large_Blackbuck_1.jpg

large_Blackbuck_3.jpg

The male is black, while the females are a more neutral fawn colour. Here seen with a male cheetal.

large_Blackbuck_..e_Cheetal_1.jpg

Hanuman Langurs

large_Hanuman_Langurs_11.jpg

large_Hanuman_Langurs_12.jpg

large_Red_Wattled_Lapwing_11.jpg
Red Wattled Lapwing

large_Gaur__Indian_Bison__1.jpg
Gaur (Indian Bison) sticking his head above the long grass

large_Gaur__Indian_Bison__2.jpg
At up to ten feet long and seven feet tall, the gaur is the world's biggest wild cow. They are HUUUUGE

large_Gaur__Indian_Bison__3.jpg

large_Gaur__Indian_Bison__4.jpg

large_Gaur__Indian_Bison__7.jpg

large_Scaly_Breasted_Munia_1.jpg
Scaly Breasted Munia

large_Wild_Boar_1.jpg
Wild boar

large_Indian_Peafowl_1.jpg
Indian Peafowl

large_1CF1E23FEAB9347AA991A51626B0916D.jpg
Jackal

large_1D12D2BA960441802E9172F66EA389BE.jpg
Jackal

large_Cheetal_21.jpg
Cheetal - apparently there are some 22,000 of these spotted deer in the park

large_Cattle_Egrets__flying_2.jpg
Cattle egrets flying

large_Stonechat_2.jpg
Stonechat

large_Stonechat_5.jpg
Stonechat

large_White_Rumped_Vulture_1.jpg
White Rumped Vulture

large_Scaly_Breasted_Munia_2.jpg
Scaly Breasted Munia

large_Paddyfield_Pipit_3.jpg
Paddyfield Pipit

large_Indian_Roller_1.jpg
Indian Roller

large_Common_Kestrel_2.jpg
Common Kestrel

large_1EA9A483EA49388ED2F5B35DAEB4EC23.jpg
Green Bee Eater

large_Stonechat__Female__1.jpg
Female Stonechat - very much more dull than her husband

large_White_Fron..ingfisher_2.jpg
White Fronted Kingfisher

Breakfast picnic

At the Visitors Centre, we stop for a picnic. Kipling Camp made us some lovely scrambled egg wraps, plus fruit and juice - the best packed picnic on the whole trip.

large_Picnic_Area_at_Kanha_3.jpg

large_Picnic_Area_at_Kanha_2.jpg

large_Breakfast_..ed_egg_wrap.jpg

The monumental arch is made from antlers from cheetal, sambar and barashinga deer. Very impressive.

large_Picnic_Area_at_Kanha_1.jpg

Back on the road again for a little bit more game viewing before returning to the lodge for lunch. Unlike African safaris, Indian national parks only allow visitors to enter for a few hours in the morning and again late afternoon.

large_Kanha_National_Park_3.jpg

large_Stork__Black_1.jpg
Black Storks

large_White_Rumped_Vulture_2.jpg
White Rumped Vulture

large_Indian_Roller_11.jpg
Indian Roller

large_Sambar_2.jpg
Sambar

large_25985E3BFF94A2F9F5261734EFD1FCD0.jpg
Changeable Hawk Eagle

What an amazing morning's game viewing, not just a tiger, but also quite a few lifers (new birds to us) to add to our bird list. Well done Rahim and Kipling Camp.

large_Animal_Tracks_1.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 01:31 Archived in India Tagged india elephant sunrise safari mist birding tiger peacock bison stork vulture peafowl egrets langur gypsy kingfisher oriole jackal gaur indian_roller chital sambar blackbuck stonechat kestrel wild_boar lapwing kipling_camp kanha_national_park tiger_park breakfast_picnic cheetal pipit munia wild_cow Comments (8)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]