Friday, January 15, 2016

Sleepy Tigress and Low Speed Elephant Ride

Sat Tal - Uttrakhand

Nainital District - India

Jungle life is always exciting but it has many facets. Recently on visit to Sattal and Corbett with guest from Auckland I had an amazing experience of wilderness in the foothills of Himalayas.   

Sat Tal or Sattal is a geological formation of seven fresh water lakes that are incredibly clean. The periphery of the lakes and adjacent areas are much preferred for searching the avian wonders that abound.Situated at  height of 1400 MSL the township in Uttarakhand is more of a holiday resort. Hence majority of the visitors arrive here for fun and frolic in the cool confines of Himalayan foothills. 

The destination is also visited by birders like us. Albeit the construction is rampant resulting in damage to many natural places there are still hot spots for birding present. Sattal is home to many species along with altitude migrants that arrive here depending upon the cold in upper reaches of the mountains.    


Chir Pheasant


Grey Faced Woodpecker

Koklass Pheasant

Wild Elephants

Wedge Tailed Green Pigeon

Green Munia

Photo Credit: Hari Lamba 

On a good day one can see many species of bulbuls, woodpeckers, barbets, shrikes, thrushes, warblers, laughing thrushes, sunbirds, drongos, flycatchers, forktails, dipper, pheasants, passerines and raptors.   

In the cold climes the hands and feet become numb and it challenges your sensory apparatus.  But the amazing bird watching experience puts paid to the cold. 

After a fabulous bird tour we descended to Corbett Tiger Reserve. The safaris were arranged by our host a guide who owns a small guest house called Sparrow's Nest.   

Our first tiger safari took place in Bijarani Zone. This is a densely forested zone with long stretches of river and grasslands that are home to many wild animals.  It was in this area that we managed to locate a tigress that had crossed over from the mountain to the river bed  and eventually lay down to rest in the grass. It was after some time that we realized that the big cat was quiet near to us. With lot of efforts we could have a glimpse of it lying down asleep
Tigress by Teerath Singh
. But before we left the tigress came out in the open and then quietly melted away in the dense grasses.

Next day our game ride was in Jhirna a picturesque zone with lot of tiger activity. Here we were able to see elephants, notably a mother with calf crossing the road. The rest of the trip was spent on searching for the tiger without any results.   

The evening was slated for a search for the forktail at Kumeria and then a ride on an elephant back. We saw a spotted forktail as well as many birds like long billed thrush, brown dipper, redstarts and yellow bellied fantail.

The birding over we left for Ramnangar and on to the pachyderms back. The ride was anything but exciting as we crossed over the Kosi River and unto the forests on the banks. For my guest this was his first ride on the elephant back. Not too pleasing an experience as the pace was slow and there was no signs of the tiger. However hard the mahout tried but the elephant was in no mood to budge at a greater pace.  

After an hours ride we departed for the guest house where we spent the night. The next day we left for New Delhi. 

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