Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wild Bandipura (Part III)

Well, Part II will appear as a guest post in one of my favorite blogs, you people need to wait for that for some more time... Let me quickly jump to the next phase of my adventures at Bandipura National Park :)
After the boys left, had an intense birding session and finally had to rush to catch the bus to Dharwad from Ganeshgudi and just made it in the nick of time. Carrying two heavy bags, one with all the equipment and the lappy and the other with apparels and shuffling b/w buses was a big task to accomplish. All along it was just one song playing in my mind -
Musafir hoon mein yaaro,
Na ghar hain na tikana,
Mujhe toh bas chalana hai,
Bas chalte jaana hai!


Similar song in Kannada-
Ellige Payana, Yavudo daari,
Ekangi Sanchaari, Ekangi Sanchaari!


After a heavy dinner at Dharwad, I traveled to Mysore bypassing Bangalore in the KSRTC Rajahamsa bus service, well the ride was pretty decent and comfortable. Sleep walking into the Mysore bus terminus and after a cold face wash and breakfast later, boarded another bus towards Ooty to alight at Melkamanahally check post (Bandipur National Park entrance) where the property of JLR (Bandipur Safari Lodge) is located. I would be here for the next 4.5 days only to roam the jungles, eat and sleep, solo.
After a warm welcome from the staff, inspite of the long journey and sagging shoulders, I was feeling energized just because I was there where I wanted to be :) Probably, for the first time, I had carried books to read (EH Aitken's 'A Naturalist on the Prowl' and Kenneth Anderson's 'Nine Man-eaters and One Rogue'). I never wake up to the alarm ringing at home and finally it snoozes getting tired..., well here I didn't require an alarm to wake me, my senses were sufficient and I never missed the time all the days :) Such wonderful things happen when your mind, body, heart and soul are in the place they want to be. Waking up early, safari ride, bfast, break, lunch, break, safari ride, snacks, dinner, sleep was all that I did but the excitements of each day made it interesting. Due to an unforeseen cyclone effect, the weather was cloudy and rains were happening on and off dampening my spirit. Well, all that in my mind was 'Why the rains when I had to be there?' :)
Spotting Deers, Gaur are quite common in Bandipur and you get your share of them more or less in all safari rides. The first safari passed off peacefully w/o much activity in the forests and just as we were heading back to the resort, saw a big sloth bear passing just beside the main road in twilight. So far never been lucky with bears and it continues... Overnight rains were quite heavy and early morning the situation was more or less similar from which I believed would be a wet outing in the jungle. Good things do happen and in a span of 15 minutes, the entire cloudy weather cleared up and the sun shone like there was no tomorrow. Just as we entered the jungle and within minutes I could see a bright flash against a tree basking in the golden sunlight! It didn't take much time for us to realize it was indeed a 'Tiger' basking in the sudden sunlight available.
Just as we moved towards him, he moved inside off the track into the field keeping a watch on us sitting, rolling, sleeping in the shade of a tree. Every now and then he would raise his head, look around, gaze and us and again go back to his slumber. I was so excited that the first few beautiful frames of him were all shaken (I realized this only after few days).  If my readers recollect, just in the last post of Bandipur I had mentioned I was due for a long tiger sighting and the day had arrived. The beautiful, bold male that we were seeing is about 14 months and one from the successful litter of the current reigning queen of Bandipur, Gauri (You can see her in my Bandipur post of 2009 crossing the track).
-> http://adventureanytime.blogspot.com/2009/08/bandipura-wishes-coming-true.html
Tigers are generally elusive and especially cubs are more so shy and they avoid humans like hell but this little young chap was all grace and confidence and his stare so charming you just could not take your eyes off him. We enjoyed his company for the next 20 minutes till he decided enough was enough and walked away into the bushes probably to join his siblings there. 45 minutes later roaming other parts of the jungle, we came back to the same place to see him again basking under the sun and he was around again for the next 25 minutes with us seeing him roll, stare, doze and finally walk away not to be seen again. Along with me in the jeep was an ace photographer from Mumbai Vedwati Padwal along with her family and we thoroughly enjoyed the show but I thoroughly missed my boys during this.
Back at the resort, it was the hot news for the day and we enjoyed the discussions thoroughly. Wonder what happened next - the clouds and the overcast conditions were back and the next 2 safari's were literal washouts in spite of no other vehicle other than ours roaming the jungles in the morning and evening. That is luck and when it decides to leave you, you are just left nowhere!


Next, in my 5th safari, one cloudy evening just as we entered the park, Kiran, the driver shouted Wild dogs and so my luck continues with their sightings every time I'm in a jungle. It was a pair and probably searching for their pack and they kept us company for the next 30 minutes until we decided on the insistence of other people to jeep to move ahead. Wild dogs or Dhole's are very relaxed once they find the vehicles are no threat to them and they stick around for a long time till you are bored. In this scenario, asking the driver to leave them and move put me in jitters as these kind of opportunities are few and far.
So far, tiger, elephants, gaur, sloth bear, mongoose, deers were all sighted and the missing link was the leopard and to say I have poor luck with them is not untrue! Finally after extended stays, in my last safari at Bandipur, just about the time we had to leave the park got a chance to see the leopard crossing the road in a fraction of a second. All that I could manage was a shaky image of the ghost crossing the road, yet I was happy and content on seeing it in the first place. I know my time will come and the lady luck will smile upon me... :)
Meanwhile in all the dull safari's, birding was opportunistic and soon I realized the variety I could see and the list grew longer and longer much to my surprise and mind you all this from the moving jeep. Also was nice meeting Thomas, Vineet and others and had a good time with them.
Finally, time to leave with GB's of photos, heart-full of memories and with little intent to go back home. Rested for the night at Mysore and was back at home early next day thus ending my mega trip covering Ganeshgudi and Bandipura.


Travel partner - ever dependable KSRTC - www.ksrtc.in
Stay partner - Jungle lodges & Resorts - www.junglelodges.com


Bird checklist -
1 Oriental Magpie Robin

2 Yellow Wagtail
3 Jungle Fowl
4 Peafowl
5 Indian Roller
6 White Breasted Kf
7 Pied Kf
8 Hoopoe
9 Jungle Babbler
10 Common Flameback Woodpecker
11 Lesser Flameback Woodpecker
12 Streak Throated Woodpecker
13 House Sparrow
14 Scaly Breasted Munia
15 Rose Ringed Parakeet
16 Plum Headed Parakeet
17 Yellow Footed Green Pigeon
18 Spot Billed Duck
19 Common Coot
20 White Ibis
21 Spotted Dove
22 Laughing Dove
23 Brown Fish Owl
24 White Breasted Waterhen
25 Asian Paradise Flycatcher
26 Darter
27 Blue Faced Malkoha
28 Ashy Drongo
29 White Bellied Drongo
30 Racquet Tailed Drongo
31 Pond Heron
32 Red Wattled Lapwing
33 Indian Grey Hornbill
34 Eurasian Golden Oriole
35 Bay Backed Shrike
36 Long Tailed Shrike
37 Large Cuckooshrike
38 White Browed Fantail
39 Common Iora
40 Rufous Treepie
41 House Crow
42 Jungle Crow
43 Hill Mynah
44 Jungle Mynah
45 Common Mynah
46 Brahminy Mynah
47 Green Bee Eater
48 Common Hawk Cuckoo
49 Black Kite
50 Brahminy Kite
51 Black Shouldered Kite
52 Crested Serpent Eagle
53 Short Toed Snake Eagle
54 Malabar Starling


Wildlife -

1 Hanuman Langur
2 Bonnet Macaque
3 Black Naped Hare
4 Spotted Deer
5 Sambar Deer
6 Barking Deer
7 Grey Mongoose
8 Stripe Necked Mongoose
9 Wild Boar
10 Wild Dog
11 Malabar Giant Squirrel
12 Indian Gaur
13 Elephant
14 Tiger
15 Leopard
16 Monitor Lizard
17 Garden Lizard
18 Tortoise
19 Indian Rock Python
20 Water Snake (Un Id)

More photos on my FB pages here and here :)
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