Sunday, December 18, 2011


Started 6:30am from Kothrud, Pune, with my friend Ritesh and his wife, for Kavdi the first destination.
Reached Kavdi by 7:15am. Bank Myna at the village was the first sightings.
At the temple just near the river there were house sparrows and a yellow eyed babbler gave good views.

Yellow Eyed Babbler

House Sparrow
House Sparrow
At the river the calls of river tern fighting over something welcomed us.

Also Brahminy shelducks were also flying around.
Brahminy Shelduck
There was a huge flock terns in the middle of the river.

On the right side of the bridge there were wood sandpipers, common sandpiper and a common snipe near the shore.

Wood Sandpiper
There were lot of Little Grebes.

Little Grebe
After doing some photography of these on the right side came on to the bridge and there was a White Throated Kingfisher sitting beautifully on a small stick.

White Throated Kingfisher
While I was photographing it sitting on the bridge there was a yellow wagtail and paddy field pipit in the ground below and a pied kingfisher hovering above searching for food.

Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher
In the water there were lot of ducks mainly northers shoveller and Common teal.

Common Teal (Female)

Jungle Crow

Wood Sandpiper
As i was sitting on the shore clicking the wood sandpipers and little ringed plovers i could see on an island in front a Common Snipe and Small Pratincole, one of the birds on top of my list for some time.

Common Snipe
Small Pratincole
Small Pratincole

Small Pratincole
From here we went to the Bhuleshwar via Uralikanchan. We had some heavy brunch at Urali.
The food was very tasty :)

We were an hour late to start from Urali as we had tyre puncture at Kavdi and it was needed to attend to it before we take it on a not so very good road with no guarantee of shops in between.

So we were on this barren road at around 12noon. Not a very good time for birding and so we did not spot any exciting birding activity.
Near the temple we saw a bay backed shrike, black drongo and a booted eagle.
Bay Backed Shrike

Booted Eagle
Bhuleshwar temple was built in 1230 AD. It is built in block basalt rock not the same found around which is brown rock.
The carvings are beautiful but many have been destroyed by attackers. The specialty is the carvings of gods in women attire (see pic below).
Bhuleshwar Temple

A dog relaxing in the temple

View from Bhuleshwar Temple

A Sadhu just outside the Temple

Carvings inside the Temple

Rock pillars supporting the Temple

Ganapati, Shiv and Karthikeyan in women attires

Nandi in front of the gabhara

Bhuleshwar Temple
There was lot of activity on a peepal tree in the campus of the temple. Small minivets, crimson breasted barbet, oriental white eye, a warbler and last but not least lesser white throat.

We left from the temple after clicking some pics inside and outside at around 2pm.
Just near the bottom of the hillock on which the temple stands we saw a white eyed buzzard sitting elegantly at the top of a tree. It gave us short glimpse and then flew on a tree behind.
We decided to go behind walking on the bunds of the fields.

White Eyed Buzzard's back of the head

White Eyed Buzzard
At the back of the fields was a completely different world. We saw many brahminy mynas flying. Then came 3 hoppoes and sat on a tree in front of us. As we were clicking hoppoes came samll minivets (2pairs) on the same tree. It gave us fantastic views for a long time.
Small Minivet (Female)

Small Minivet (Male)
We saw some activity on the fields and saw a grey necked bunting on a wire over the field.
Sensing that it could be bunting we decided to explore but they turned out to be baya weavers but in big flock of around 10-15.
Just then came a black shouldered kite and hovered just above us.
Black Shouldered Kite hovering
After around 20-25 minutes we started towards Sasvad to proceed towards Dive ghat.
On the way got usual sightings of yellow wattled lapwing and Common Kestrel.

Yellow Wattled Lapwing

Common Kestrel

Common Kestrel
As we reached Dive ghat after tea and a good tasting bhel in sasvad it had turned into beautiful golden light of the evening.
We started seeing activity along the narrow road. There were common stonechat, pied buschat and red vented bulbul.

Red Vented Bulbul
As we were deciding which area to explore we saw a raptor flying high in the sky.
It was a short toed snake eagle

Short-Toed Snake Eagle
There were many larks coming down for roosting. Also saw an harrier.

Indian Robin

Syke's Crested Lark
The surprise before we left Dive ghat was a India Grey Hornbill which came out of nowhere and went the same way
Indian Grey Hornbill
Indian Grey Hornbill

We got down from Dive ghat and reached pune station by around 6:15pm and took Shivneri back to Mumbai.
Another wonderful day of birding in Pune came to an end!!

To view more pics visit the following album

Sunday, December 04, 2011


Had a wish to visit Tadoba for many years but finally it came true when few of my friends from office planned a trip.
The plan was to start by Thursday afternoon by Sewagram express to Chandrapur, do 4 safaris and start back by Sunday afternoon to resume office on Monday :-)

It worked out exactly the same.

One of our friend Rohit took the lead to do the bookings of train and MTDC stay and I contacted our INWian Mr Manish Varma for the safaris and Chandrapur to Tadoba and back transportation.

The main challenge in front of us was a long 18hour journey to Chandrapur but it went well with a nice sleep in AC 3 tier compartment of the train which was to our surprise exceptionally clean. The blankets looked to be new and very clean.
The only surprise for me was absence pantry on this long distance so we managed with snacks we had carried and a biryani (which was hopelessly tasteless) taken at igatpuri station. But the wada sambar and idli sambar bought at igatpuri was tasty.

25th November

Reached chandrapur just some 30min late at around 9:30am. Manish had already arranged for a Sumo for pickup and the driver had called earlier day evening and also same day morning and was waiting outside the station.
Immediately hopped into the Sumo and our journey to Tadoba started.

A few km after leaving Chandrapur we started seeing the huge chimneys of the thermal power plant. As we passed through the area of the power plant the scenario was very gross with roads completely black due to coal deposits even the tree leaves had turned black. The surrounding hills here complete stripped not only of greenary but also of the stones and we saw huge craters carved out for mining of coal.

As we reached the forest gate the scenery changed completely. Both sides had beautify thick forests and no sign of pollution any where. The first sighting here 2 huge cheetal deers running across the road in front of us. They seemed to be very health and it was a pleasure to see them.

I had taken the role of bird guide with some knowledge on birds and just before and after leaving chandrapur we could sight some birds like Pied starlings, White throated kingfisher, Indian Roller, Spotted Doves, etc.

Grey Pansy

24th November

As we approached the Moharli MTDC resort we could see some birds in the backwaters of the dam surrounding the MTDC resort. We reached MTDC by 10:30am.
The check out time is 12:00noon and checkin time is 1:30pm.
So we decided to have tea/coffee and then ordered for lunch till we got a room.
In the meantime we moved around the MTDC resort to look for photography opportunities and birding.

The reservoir around the MTDC gave a good opportunity for birding. We could see black headed ibis, open billed stork, Purple swamphens, bronze winged jacanas, pond heron. There were also some butterfly photography also done in the campus.

Manish was back from safari in sometime and he met up with us. We did some chat about the sightings within tadoba, condition of other tiger reserves, some of interesting incidents that Manish had faced in so many years in Tadoba.

Had our lunch and got room by 12:30. Freshened up, got some rest and then started for our first safari at 1:40.
When we reached the moharli gate of TATR we were already 5-6 in the line of jeeps and we had to wait 20-25 minutes till entry is made by the forest officials. It seemed to be an unecessarily slow process which was taking around 5min per person when only information to be entered was name of the person, vehicle details & guide details who was already present at the window.
From next day onwards either got used to it got a little faster but it did not take that long :-)

There was a reported sighting of a tigress with 2 cubs from the Telia dam region. So we decided to this region first. Saw some cheetal grazing near the dam.

Cheetal at Telia Dam

Then we heard a alarm call from within the forest and so we decided to wait there for sometime but no sign of the tiger.

We left Telia dam and again on the main road. Here we saw a sirkeer malkoha, jungle babblers and a jungle cat.

Jungle Cat

We proceed ahead towards the todoba range and took a diversion at one point to go to one small hillock overlooking a small waterhole (can't remember the name).
There from the top of a hillock we could see a water hole with many birds around and a sambar herd.

Sambar and faun with a kingfisher

We waited there for some time observing the sambar and the birds. Here we could see green beeeaters, white throated kingfisher, White bellied drongos and plum headed parakeets.
An Indian roller sat on a tree very near the road and we had a gala time shooting it.

Indian Roller

Indian Roller

Indian Roller

The evening time when we were returning back was very exciting.
Our driver was excellent not just at driving skills but also spotting skills and instincts, I guess. Because for some reason before leaving he took a diversion from the road while all other jeeps behind us (atleast 3-4) of them just went straight.

It was a narrow road with very nice dense jungle on both sides. At one point our guide that day (Mr. Bhagyawan) who was equally very sharp spotted fresh pugmarks.
We immediately had questions how he knew they were fresh and he explained us well that see the depressions are still very deep with no dust on it.
To confirm this a little ahead we got more proof. There was a small stream besides the road and just ahead that we could we wet pugmarks which would they had to be very recent.
We followed it for a few meters and suddenly the driver stopped the car and we could hear something went inside the jungle just to the right of where were standing. It was a very disappointing but equally exciting to think that just a tiger had went in from here. Immediately the guide said that we go ahead and wait for it at an intersection ahead. We waited for sometime but no movement. Then we decided to take a right angled road and wait a few meters on it just in case the tiger decided to cross the path somewhere ahead. This road was much narrower and now it was starting to get dark too (around 5:25pm). At one point we thought we heard some movement nearby but then nothing. Finally we decided to move and then there was a big shock. Our gypsy would not start. This was a scary moment we were at the middle of the jungle, on a narrow path, it was getting dark and there was a tiger nearby. But fortunately it was just a small battery wire loose and we started our journey back.
We again waited for sometime at the junction on the main road where we again heard a movement but then many gypsies started arriving to return back and the movement was lost.
But it was a wonderful way to end the day even without seeing a tiger.

26th November
Looking at the time taken at the main gate we decided to start on time in the morning but this time it did not take much time we entered the gate exactly at 6am.

The Group - Anushree, Shabri, Mandar, Abhijeet and Rohit

Moharli Gate

It was a nice cool morning, the sun was just rising.

We moved from here and went to another water body on the left side of the main road. No movement there but we saw crested serpent eagle, an egret, pond heron and lot of spotted doves.

Crested Serpent Eagle

Spotted Dove

We went around the same route as last evening which was the Telia dam.
Again at the dam we heard alarm calls and this time they were continuous and pretty loud. Then we also heard a series of something like cries and the guide said "Bagh ne shikar kiya hain lagta hain". We were waiting there in the hope that the tiger might come to the water. But then came the elephant ride tour from opposite side of the lake and directly inside the jungle from where we were hearing the calls. But guess they could not penetrate much in a returned from there but alarm calls stopped and everything went silent.

The Elephant ride which played spoiled sport

Not much activity for rest of the morning except for the regular birds and we were back to MTDC for lunch. Some rest, some photography and we were back in safari by 1:30pm.

Common Mormon on Bougainvillea

With a very dull morning we were not very excited this time but who knew there was something exciting in store.

This time we did not take the Telia dam but went straight to the Tadoba range.
Had some wonderful birding on the way.

Green Beeeater

Green Beeeater

Black Hooded Golden Oriole

BlackHooded Golden Oriole

And also a sighting of a mongoose and




a cheetal very near the road


We went to another water hole this time where there was lot of bird actvitity. Lot of swallows catching flies on the fly. Laughing doves, green beeeaters and wonderful Yellow footed Green Pigeons. Atleast 4-5 on a single tree just on the other side of the water hole. There were also Lesser whistling teals in the water and Red avadavats in the grass just adjoining the lake.

Yellow footed Green Pigeon

Just besides it was a big dry grassland on which a cheetal was grazing and a black drongo flying around. It was already 4:30pm and we started our travel back.


As we were returning we were on the Nagpur-Tadoba road and we saw an ST bus going to Tadoba. We were now completely sure that we were not going to see a Tiger near so much traffic. We took a left from the main road towards Moharli.
And there in our front was a surprise. We saw 2 jeeps in front of us on the road and ahead of it was a Tigeress walking away from us.

Tigress walk in front of us

What an elegant walk it had. Surprisingly it was not at all disturbed by 4-5jeeps following it at a distance of 10-15feet. And luckily we were the first jeep and got good views.

Just then a sambar came from nowhere and was foraging on the leaves of a tree to the left side of our jeep. The tigress stopped and started watching it and the sambar was completely unaware. After around 1min it realized that there is a tigress staring at it. It became very tense and started giving alarm calls very loudly. We were expecting some action but may be looking at the huge size (around 4feet tall and 7feet in length) i think it dropped the idea and continued on the road.

Tigress watching the sambar

Tigress watching the sambar

The huge Sambar

It did territory marking and then climbed up a small hillock, the same one on which we were standing the earlier evening hearing the alarm call from below.
And now from the bottom of the hillock we were seeing the tigress moving up the slope. It was an awesome experience.

We were all very delighted and returned back to the hotel completely satisfied with the sighting.

That night we met Manish at the MTDC and narrated the complete episode of sighting. He told us that another safari jeep had sighted a live hunting by a group of 10-15 wild dogs in the Kolsa region of TATR.

We learnt from him that it is a very thickly vegetated area with some big grasslands to giving a good chance to sight a bison. So we immediately decided to the Kolsa region the next day morning.

27th November
We had decided to be the first to enter the gate as we had to go to the kolsa region which itself take 30-45 minutes from the Moharli range.

On the way we could see wonderful grassland and at one of water crossing a small blue kingfisher and pond heron.

Kosla range

The grassland of Kosla

As soon as we reached the Kolsa lake we could see around 7-8 wild dogs. Some were resting and some were playing. They seemed really very fearful.

Wild dogs at the lake

Wild dogs

The vegetation here was very thick and looked very undisturbed. There were huge webs of Giant Wood spiders every few meters. The road was narrow and very well covered with bamboo jungle.

Web of giant wood spider

Giant wood spider

We could not sight any bison but the overall scenery was very wonderful and worth visiting.

While returning we visited some water holes to search for some activity and got some birds.

White browed Fantail

Black Drongo

Spotted Dove

Return back to MTDC. Had bath, freshened up, had lunch and waited for our vehicle back to Chandrapur. There was some hitch here as our vehicle did not arrive till 3pm and we started looking for alternatives. Got information from the MTDC guys about a bus which we can catch at around 4pm from the village and drop us at Chandrapur before 5:30 just in time for 6pm train to Mumbai.
But at the village bus stop we searched a bit for a private vehicle and luckily got a gypsy who agreed to drop us at chandrapur station. Concidentally it turned out to be Manish's vehicle. It was a very enjoyable drive back again till the forest gate.

Visit the following album for more pics