We woke pre-dawn to the calls of Large-tailed and Savanna Nightjars around the Dhikala compound and after breakfast headed out on our jeep safari around the grassland. It was wonderful to listen to the sounds of the jungle coming to life and as we drove around the grassland following the edge of the forest a small herd of Indian Elephants emerged onto the track in front of us.
At least 6 animals with a youngster tagging along were present and as we watched them heard the alarm call of a Sambar from behind us. We spent the next 30 minutes or so chasing the calls and waiting for a Tiger to appear without much luck. But still saw Jungle Owlet, a pair of Black-chinned Babblers, Short-billed, Long-tailed and Scarlet Minivets, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo and Maroon Oriole.
In the grassland a Chestnut-crowned (Large) Bush-warbler only showed briefly, but a female Slaty-blue Flycatcher was a little more obliging nearby. Blyth’s Leaf-warbler and Lemon-rumped Warbler, Hen Harrier and an Eurasian Wryneck was seen well. Moving on we had an Aberrant Bush-warbler that wasn’t so successful at skulking in some tussocks beside the track, and both Zitting and Bright-capped Cisticola showed very well. A Black-throated Thrush perched out in the grassland was a bit out of the ordinary, and we also had both Steppe Eagle and Pallas’s Fish-eagle – oh and we did get another Tiger this morning. Without trying hard at all we were driving through an open grassy area when we could see a guy waving to us from 100m away and sped towards his jeep and there it was, a fine male Tiger striding into the forest.
|Tiger - again!|
We drove along a trail into the same forest and parked up and waited. After a short wait, it reappeared and walked though the forest to our left and eventually crossed the track in front of us giving amazing views. How lucky were we? Upon arrival back at the lodge we spent a very pleasant hour scanning the Ramganga River, lake and grassland below our lookout point. Highlights here included a pair of Black-necked Storks, 8+ Black Storks, a flock of Small Pratincoles, Ruddy Shelduck, an Osprey, 2 Great Black-headed Gulls, plus a few Gharials and Marsh Muggers. In the afternoon we drove along the Sambar Road which meant crossing several little tributaries of the Ramganga River which was a very scenic route and we got off to a great start with a perched Lesser Fish-eagle, which we would also see flying overhead giving its distinctive call later.
A Pygmy Wren-babbler was only glimpsed a while later but a fine male Ultramarine Flycatcher and a Stork-billed Kingfisher were very obliging, as was a Streak-throated Woodpecker. Crossing the streams we found a pair of Crested Kingfishers, White-capped River-chat, River Lapwings, more Elephants, before entering the forest.
Here we had Pied Flycatcher-shrike and a few other common species but it was a little quiet. So on our return we had a perched Mountain Hawk-eagle, as well as Alexandrine Parakeet, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler, our first Ashy Woodswallows and best of all, a pair of Great Hornbills that slowly flew overhead.
Another great way to end a successful day.