Sunday, 7 February 2016

Thrushes and Spots...

The Oriental Scops-Owl I called in just before daybreak was our 14th species of owl on the tour so far and a pretty decent start to proceedings. However, the reported Nilgiri Thrush failed to show so we drove down the road and quickly found Jerdon’s Bushlark and watched it song-flighting in the cool early morning. Driving on we stopped to watch a roving group of Tawny-bellied Babblers feeding beside the road and ended up with a White-eyed Buzzard in the scope. But we were under a time constraint today as it was going to be a 4 hour driver to Kabini River Lodge at Nagarhole National Park, however the birding gods had other ideas. As a phone call revealed that Sudeesh had found the Nilgiri Thrush and we were 35 minutes away, so raced back to the lodge. Without any breakfast so far and it was nearly 10.30am already we raced around and eventually had reasonable views at this shy & retiring bird, although not everyone managed to see it well enough. So we ate a quick breakfast, having been promised it at 7.30am but it had failed to materialise…!

Kabini River

Then we were off on a rally to get to Kabini and our afternoon jeep safari. Drove into Karnataka and through Bandipur Tiger Reserve before arriving at the wonderful Kabini River Lodge at 2.45pm and dashed into the dining room for a really late lunch after dumping our gear into our luxury tents. Then we were off on a jeep safari into the park and drove alongside the water where Gaur, herds of Spotted Deer, Woolly-necked and Painted Storks, Red-naped Ibis, Osprey, and a distant Grey-headed Fish-Eagle were seen. In the forest we drove along quiet tracks, stopping occasionally to listen for alarm calls.

We had an amazing experience with this Leopard

 Sure enough we heard a few alarms and drove in the general direction and unbelievably came across a stunning male Leopard dozing in a tree. Wow! So we stayed with him for over an hour and waited and waited for him to wake up and climb down. Several times he raised his head, twitched his tail and even turned around before waking up and staring balefully down at us, yawning a couple of times before suddenly climbing down to the ground, walking past us and crossing the track behind us and away into the forest. We were all speechless as it was an absolutely fabulous experience and by now it was past 6pm and we had to leave the park, elated…

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