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kittykat23uk

A Herd of Wild Asses couldn't keep me away from the Lions, Tigers and Wolves

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kittykat23uk

13th March – Chasing Butterflies

 

Arrived into Nagpur around 1PM having met Hari in Mumbai. We were collected and, following a quick stop for lunch and a search for an open bank for Hari, drove on mainly rough roads to Svasara Lodge, arriving there at about 16.50. We passed a lot of the commoner Indian birds en route, along with Hanuman Langaurs. We didn’t have a drive booked for today due to our scheduled arrival time. So after checking in to our well-appointed lodge, I spent the last hour or so chasing butterflies around the lodge and chatting to the staff and guests. They showed films in the evening, one was on Dholes. An unseasonal thunderstorm rumbled away in the distance.

 

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P3138650 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3138687 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3138689 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

14th March- I can bearly believe my eyes!

 

I awoke to cool and overcast skies. After a quick cup of tea and some snacks we were driven the few 100 yards to the gate. Rishin was our lodge naturalist and we had the same driver and guide throughout our stay at the lodge. We counted up to ten vehicles entering through Kolhara gate. A mix of gypsies and self-drivers.

 

We entered just before sunrise and a large party of wild boar crossed the road in front of us. Common sightings in the park were Sambar and Chital deer, and Hanuman Langaurs. Barking monkeys and deer announced the presence of hidden predators, but there was no sign of any of our targets. A few good birds were spotted, Grey Junglefowl, new for me, but a common sighting here, Black-headed Oriole, Sirkeer Malkoha, Indian Stone Curlew, Black-shouldered Kite and Indian Roller all put in an appearance but it was pretty quiet on the mammal front, a morning trend that seemed set to continue throughout the majority of our stay in Tadoba. We left the park at 10.00 and returned to the lodge for breakfast. Only one group had seen anything of note that morning, this being a Sloth Bear.

 

 

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P3148696 Oriental Magpie Robin by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3148716 Chestnut Throated Bee-eater by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3148750 Red-wattled Lapwing by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3148787 Indian Roller by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon at the lodge. Lunch was served at 13.00 and I utilised some of the down time to catch up on sleep. In the afternoon, Rishin had a plan to get to Telia Lake as a priority, as Tiger had been sighted there recently. In addition to the common game animals (Langaur, Sambar, Chital), we stopped to photograph a Grey Junglefowl. Then as we descended down a track into a fairly hilly part of the park we stopped to see what some other cars had parked up for. There was a small pond and they said they were watching a Fish Eagle. Sadly the road was too jammed to really stop and have a look ourselves so, thinking there would probably be other opportunities to see this bird (as it happened there weren’t!), we carried on, noting a Common Kingfisher in the same area.

 

The queue for the gate is substantially smaller than at Bandhavgarh!

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P3143933 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3143935 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3148797 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3148805 Sambar Deer by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3148819 Grey Jungle Fowl by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

Then, ahead of us on the track we saw a dark hairy shape amble across the road, “Sloth Bear!” I cried, as we rushed to see it. It had already entered the dense bamboo as we arrived and all we managed to capture was its hairy behind as it snuffled away. We noted a Crested Serpent Eagle, perched in a tree as we drove on and then we arrived at Telia Lake.

 

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P3148825 Sloth Bear backside by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

 

 

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kittykat23uk

The lake has a one way system, so unless you are lucky and are only one of a very few vehicles at the time, you have to drive the circuit again to get to a sighting if it happens behind you. This is exactly what happened to us, so we drove at some pace back to the beginning of the circuit! Our reward for this was a beautiful 18 month old tigress, one of four siblings who have been hanging around the lake. We initially could barely make her out as she sat in the long grass, but thankfully she soon saw fit to emerge into the open in front of the water. At Telia, the long grass ends abruptly a few feet from the water’s edge, making viewing much easier. Typically, our sighting was right towards the end of our drive and we didn’t have long with her, but she sat for a while on the shore and, as we drove on, she got up and started to roll on the ground just like a domestic tabby cat! Then she ambled along the shoreline as we stopped briefly to watch her from the opposite shore.

 

 

 

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P3148859 Tigress by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3148885 Tigress by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

The drive back was swift and uneventful, aside from some sambar deer. Rishin organised a short night walk back towards the park after dinner, where a Jungle Cat was sighted in the torchlight.

Edited by kittykat23uk

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Guest kuduuu

More more more!

 

Would you recommend Tadoba as a staple to an Indian Safari experience? How does Tadoba compare to lets say Kanha in terms of Tiger sightings?

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kittykat23uk

At the moment I would rank Tadoba as one of the best places to see Tigers! But then I have not gone to Kanha since 2009 or Bandhagarh since 2007. But to provide a comparison, I had 6 drives in Kanha and saw tiger 3 times, twice were from elephant back which is no longer available (other sightings, very obscured view of sloth bear, others in my group saw Dhole and had better tiger sightings than me, I saw more birds though). In Bandhavgarh I had the same, 6 drives, 3 tigers, one from elephant back, two from the jeeps (again tiger shows from elephant no longer allowed there). In Ranthambhore, only one tiger, my first tigress, from the back of a cantor in 1995. also Sloth bear and 2 cubs (but i think we only had a couple of days there). In Corbett no tigers, but we were not really looking as we'd had our tiger fix in Bandhavgarh, lots of lovely birds and a bull asian elephant there. In Pench, nothing of note other than a couple of jackals. :)

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kittykat23uk

This is a little frog we saw at the lodge in the evening:

 

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kitefarrago

Looking forward to seeing more of in particular the Tadoba part of the trip! What were temperatures like in late March? I did enjoy staying at Svasara a lot, and I thought the food was excellent. Hope it was the same for you.

 

If you'd like any help with id-ing butterflies - I did a lot of legwork on those after coming home. There's an excellent site, http://ifoundbutterflies.org/, which has pictures of almost all species found in India. So far you've got blue pansy and tawny coaster.

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kittykat23uk

Many thanks for the ID's! :) Temperatures were cool in the mornings, especially after the thunder storms, but not so cold that you needed more than a windbreaker or soft shell jacket really. By mid morning it was shorts and T-shirt weather, then I usually changed back to long sleeved shirt and long trousers (those ones that zip off into shorts come in very handy) for the afternoon drive. Gujarat was hotter.

 

In Tadoba, game drives are shorter than in Kanha, so that is a bit of a negative.

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kittykat23uk

15th March - Great Scott! Can this get any better??

 

As we entered the park for our morning drive we spotted an Indian Hare. Later on we also came across an Indian Muntjac deer. We stopped at the Pander Pauni Waterhole where we could see Openbill Storks, Intermediate and Little Egret, Brahminy Starling, Black Drongo, Black-headed Ibis and Indian Stone Curlews in their usual spot just before the turning to the waterhole. After photographing some drinking Chital, we carried on. We passed a rather familiar looking gentleman in a private vehicle as we did so, and I had to do a bit of a double take, nah, it couldnt be, could it? I thought to myself. Rishin also mentioned that he thought the guy looked familiar so I confided in him that I thought he certainly did have an uncanny resemblance to Jonathan Scott..

 

 

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P3148922 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

Edited by kittykat23uk

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kittykat23uk

Two Brown Fish Owls were flying around but landed such that their backs were towards us in a tall tree. A black-naped Monarch was seen briefly in a stand of bamboo but again was not within reach of the camera.

 

We scoured the area for tiger, following pugmarks and listening out for alarm calls, but no sign. We also tried the area around the massive Tadoba Lake, to try for dhole. But sadly they were nowhere to be found. They were seen around 06.30 we later found out. An Oriental Honey Buzzard was having a drink at the shore.

 

 

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P3158938 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

Then we drove back towards the entrance but we soon got word of a male tiger. As we arrived, there was already a small entourage of jeeps following him. He posed well though and we were able to follow him along the road for around an hour, pulling in front of him and watching him saunter along, scent marking as he went. This Tiger is in his prime at around 6 to 7 years old. He is known by a few names including “Leopard Face” and the “Thick Striped Male” on account of his markings. There are some who also know him as Sher Khan!

 

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P3158993 Tiger by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3159045 Tiger by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3159049 Tiger by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3159082 Tiger by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3159086 Tiger by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3159090 Tiger by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

 

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P3159105 Tiger by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3159113 Tiger by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3159131 Tiger by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3159148 Tiger by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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P3159173 Tiger by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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ovenbird

Great shots of that tiger...but I love the video!

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PT123

Absolutely awesome.

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Rainbirder

Very impressive!!!

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks for this!!! Very impressive, indeed!! Enjoyed your video too of the big male on Patrol.

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Geoff

Awesome indeed! What a majestic creature.

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michael-ibk

Stunning pics and video! Sher Khan indeed! It seems he got as close as only a few metres to you, didn´t he?

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kittykat23uk

Yes he did get pretty close! :D

 

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P3159028 Tiger by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

He seemed very confident around the vehicles.

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Pennyanne

He's beautiful. What a sighting! Thanks so much for sharing.

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madaboutcheetah

I know some people who were at Tadoba in March. Apparently, there were upto 30 jeeps at a sighting (can't really complain about that when Ndutu has upto 20 jeeps sometimes) ...... but, apparently a kid jumped off a jeep to try to get a better visual of the Tiger and then mayhem as everyone was focussed on getting him back into a vehicle.

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madaboutcheetah

In India, you could be lucky enough to have private Tiger sightings in many of the parks. Last year in Tadoba, I had the 4 Tiger cubs to myself for about 45 minutes.

 

Bear in mind, some of the sightings are just fleeting glimpses as you can't off road - don't forget the route system in many parks.

 

I highly recommend Kabini down in Karnataka for few tourists in total. Not too many vehicles out and about. Reasonably good Tiger sightings in recent years, although nothing like Tadoba. I hope to make a long weekend there before the end of the summer.

Edited by madaboutcheetah

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madaboutcheetah

 Doubt you can get the private sightings anywhere like in Africa ala Kwando or Lemuta Hills or Deception Valley etc etc., No chance at all!!!

 

Haha. Main problem - we have too many people here.

Edited by madaboutcheetah

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kittykat23uk

I didn't see any bad behaviour in Tadoba, the likes of which Hari mentions. You do get the usual scrums when word has got out about a tiger on the road. I suppose you can avoid the crowds by specifically instructing your driver not to follow the crowds to a sighting and go in a different direction, but then, chances of actually seeing tiger would be reduced. but there are no private reserves like Hari says.

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