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Can you find me a Tiger if we go to India?


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@@Galana Maybe I should bring you along on my trip, as it will be my birthday. Perhaps you could get me a birthday tiger? I can't think of a better gift! :lol:

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I am open to offers. Birthdays, Anniversaries even Valentines all catered to.


Maybe you should wait to see what I got for my Christmas day treat. Not a Tiger or a bird! :unsure:

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Just while I prepare the next instalment I thought a small puzzle would help the budding birders.

I cannot promise a Tiger as a prize.


Q. Which one of these is a Long-tailed Shrike? Lanius schach




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>>Which one of these is a Long-tailed Shrike?


This must be a trick question (I know you too well :rolleyes: ) So I am going to say "all of them." My Grimmett shows a very variable plumage!

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Hmmm, I will ask my bird guru mfuwe to help me woith this one :-))

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My money is on the top Right hand one ! Now what's the prize ?

Or is that a Stone Chat ? Having second thoughts !

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Part Four. Days 11b – Day 15.

Kanha-Pench and the only hiatus of the trip.

At the Lodge everyone was keyed up with this morning's second Tiger and more or less happy that we had achieved our prime objective. It would be nice to see more but then again we could hold up our heads for what we had. There was always more birds to find and we had not seen Gaur or Dhole. The afternoon drive set off in high spirits but low expectations as both our tigers had been sighted on morning drives so far:-

On entering the gate Sanjay made an immediate turn to a track we had not used before. As we chugged along in lovely sunshine I noticed a Cheetal ahead looking at us intently. Now Cheetal are plentiful and pay scant regard to cars so I was very surprised when this one gave a warning call and leapt into the bush. What followed is fixed in my mind forever.

As the Cheetal vanished I became aware of movement in my peripheral vision to my right and a large Orange shape materialising alongside me somewhat like the Cheshire Cat or Startrek's. Transporter room. Only this was for real and the shape firmed up into a huge Tiger right alongside my seat.


Sanjay had by now seen it and slowed the car so the cat got slightly ahead of us and took up position on the track.



OK. I will settle for a “bum shot!”.

Very obviously a big male as he marked his territory several times along our route.


Do only Bears actually do it IN the woods?


Then he turned left and marked a tree just off on to our left.

Sanjay took advantage of this and quietly moved passed him so that when His Majesty returned to the track we were now ahead of him which bothered him not at all.


Indeed he took quite an interest in us but in a relaxed attitude. However whenever he closed in Sanjay took care to ensure he got “close but not too close!”




By now we could see who was gracing us with his presence. H.M “The Kingfisher!” So named because of the marking on his right eye patch which to some eyes resembles a Kingfisher in flight.


Well Kingfisher happily dogged our trail for over 20 minutes and probably two kilometres and we had him all to ourselves.





Was this selfish of us? Maybe but it made up for the circus we had endured only this morning. Indeed as another car zoomed up Kingfisher showed his disdain by again marking the trail before turning and entering the bush with one last glance in our direction.


Was he seeking our thanks for his performance? If so he can have them many times over. That has to be a top sighting to rival the one we had enjoyed on our earlier visit some years back.

We moved on to a small lake/dam that Sanjay felt Kingfisher was heading for as part of his routine in the territory. Sadly he did not show up but it was a nice lake with birds to watch as we waited.


Sanjay told us he knew The Kingfisher was in the area and felt he could show up this afternoon as this was his regular patrol route. A great guide who knows his wildlife and their habits. And it was still only 15.30. with more to see before dark.

Has he gone?


Blyth's Pipit.


Red-naped Ibis (sorry about the lighting.


Long-tailed Shrike. (S.Sp. caniceps)


Our final morning was much the same and we were due to leave Kanha for Pench after lunch.

No tigers (well that would be asking a bit much) but several birds and more butterflies.


Alexandrine Parakeets.


Breakfast in the Bush. Cliff Chat and Sanjay prepare the morning chai.

Breakfast boxes from Chitvan were excellent. We adored the Deep fried bread sandwich that began with a "P".


Greater Coucal.




A Rose and Crimson. Looking a bit the worse for wear.


Brown Shrike


Blue Jay I think but stand to be corrected.

Our only kill was a small snake taking one of the Lily pond Frogs by the Lodge restaurant at Chitvan.


A survivor.

Our drive to Pench took around four hours with time to see more of the Indian countryside and as we turned off the main road I could see the changes that had taken place since our last visit. More buildings, a long tar approach road and many more 'improvements' as we came to our lodge. Some parts I remembered well and others I scarcely recognised.

Even our Lodge of fond memory had been 'upgraded' and had increased capacity. Our tent was very nice inside and out but the isolated atmosphere had gone.



Even a walk outside for birds took us to other properties that had not existed before.

Our drives into the park were excellent and brought back many memories such as “this was where we saw that lovely tiger sleeping in the road” and “this was where we saw the Leopard.” Sadly history did not repeat itself and no cats showed during our drives. Our drives were strange with some familiar sights but perhaps too much chasing other cars?



Ruddy Shelducks.


A poor attempt to capture the common but elusive Greater Raquet-tailed Drongo.


Another Baronet.


Yellow-footed Green Pigeon.

Pench is a lovely park with its Kipling associations and we love it but we did not enjoy it as much this time as we had on our earlier visit. We are not sure if this was our memory playing tricks or a guide who seemed bent on doing his own thing. We did not visit some of our favourite birding places like the grassy riverside having been told it was not allowed. Well it was last time!


Painted Storks do a fly past.


Indian Grey Hornbill.


Roosting Fruit Bats.


Tickell's Blue Flycatcher.

We did see our first Gaur, some roosting Fruit Bats as well as a family of Jackals and several new birds but missed a Mongoose as the driver did not stop when asked (or yelled at by our Wildlife guide.)

Our car was a bit more upmarket than our friendly Gypsy, quite comfortable, but lacking something.


A “Stop now” button would be nice!!

Or perhaps a Lathi to persuade him to do as his guests required?.

From howls of annoyance to Owls of a different nature?


Jungle Owlet.


And the ubiquitous Collared Scops Owl.

Or a howling Jackal?


Matters came to a head when, as we returned to the Lodge, our driver suggested that the booked Night drive would be a waste of time as the most we could hope for would be a spotted deer. He asked for our thoughts as we would have to leave now! Our printable thoughts were “Heck the sun has not set, How can this be a night drive? Some mistake surely?”

Not according to him. Night drives start at 5pm. (We enquired later and were told this was incorrect but by then we had decided not to bother.) We have done lots of real 'Night drives' in Africa and love them and were very disappointed not to try one in India.

The hiatus. We had been booked to fly from Nagpur to our next venue, Guwahati (for Kaziranga) via Kolkata but “Go Air” decided not to live up to their name and it was "we don't goAir!" So our flights were changed to be via Delhi with an original margin to connect of two hours. However between booking this and arriving in India that margin had eroded to exactly one hour. We considered this too tight and suggested that we skip our last night in Pench and take an overnight in Delhi instead, before catching the planned fight to Guwahati the next day. A couple of calls to our very capable man in Delhi, Vinod, and it was done. So we exchanged an afternoon game drive and early morning start for a more leisurely afternoon ride to Nagpur and a night's sleep and lovely lie in bed. And so it came to pass.


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That's a fantastic Tiger sighting, and yes, I see the Kingfisher. Sorry to hear Pench was not what you were hoping for. Surprised you didn't see Gaur in these two parks.

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Thanks. Yes it was a real thrill from start to finish and really the icing on the cake. I think the problem with Pench was that we had really loved it last time around and so much had changed.

We did see Gaur in Pench near where the breakfast stops are taken. We had enquired why we never found them in Kanha and Sanjay said they migrate out of the park to higher ground at that time of year. There was only a few in Pench too.

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That tiger sighting!! Be still my heart!! And to have it all to yourselves. That would make my whole trip!!


Love that Tickell's Blue Flycatcher. Hope we see that one.


What lodge did you stay at in Pench? I don't recall it mentioned. It sounds like you were not lucky with the guide there.


And you never responded with the answer to the shrike quiz...! Did I get the non-prize?

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The tiger sighting was awesome :D ! And I found owls to have such photogenic eyes :) .



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Thanks Janzin and xelas.

Kingfisher was a real thrill and heartstopper. The odd thing was even when really 'up close' I never had a moment's concern that he was 'too close'. Several times I felt I could almost touch him. And the eye contact really let you know he was fully aware of us. Such a gentleman in every sense. I really hope you have a similar experience when you visit. The memory lives on in my mind!

Tickell's BF is fairly common in bushy shrub. That one was right outside the restaurant at Pench Jungle Lodge. Indeed there was a good mix of flycatchers in most locales. Just be patient and keep still. They have their preferred branches as look out posts. At Chitvan there is a circular path around the property perimeter that we found rewarding. Just keep an eye out for Tigers.

And yes. You won the non prize for all four Long-tailed shrikes. Winner collects.


Owls have to be some of the most interesting subjects. (more to follow) Plus the fact that they sit still and don't jump about like some subjects.


Folks still with me can expect the next installment with different predators plus some Asian megafauna soon.


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To get a closeup that shows the kingfisher in the eyebrow is special shot!


Night drives in Pench are a mystery, especially since neither of us went.


Despite the need to chop off a night in Pench, you had great sightings. That change in flights was not too disruptive to your safari, fortunately.

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Thanks. I will confess to an element of serendipity over the shot but it was nice to get the confirmation.

The change of flights got us a nice meal in Delhi and a soft bed although I admit I wasted the lie in by touring the Hotel grounds for birds.

Back on schedule as we caught the original plane from Delhi to Gowahati and the adventure went on from there.

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@@Galana i can't recall if you mentioned the dates for your trip (although it has to be in December since you are talking about xmas presents) but you sure had more luck with the striped one than us in Kanha. It is those moments that become more precious when your sighting happens when it is least expected. a greater gift, and the Kingfisher is sure a priceless experience! what a thrill.


oh and that deep fried sandwich from Chitvan? P for Pakora (deep fried sandwich of masala potatoes). we asked for it again on the third morning because it was so good and we didn't have it for the second morning.


Love the birds! we didn't see many birds (i saw more butterflies) at chitvan although H saw the flycatcher but didn't have the camera on hand.


looking forward to Kaziranga!

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Lovely photos and I always like your accompanying dry sense of humour. In fact your words have motivated me to share my experiences from another remote off the beaten path part of Assam: Manas NP, which is a birder's paradise.

Hope you are enjoying a cuppa of the world famous Assam tea.

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Kit. We met the Kingfisher on 18th December, Arrived Chitvan 15th left 19th.

Sorry to hear you dipped on your trip. Not even a glimpse?? and of course His Majesty was a memorable sighting and one that still lasts in my mind.

Pakora indeed. I knew it was not Paneer which we also got hooked on as that is cheese. (I have missed a few shots in my time and now have a camera to hand most places except in the bath or shower. Even in the Restaurant.)


Chakra. Look forward to your report on Manas. One to visit.

Do you know my wife? We were hardly home and she had two boxes of "Assam Superb" sent from Fortnum & Masons. (Sounds snobby but they do a great mail order service and living where we do this is convenient.)


Kaziranga is in course.

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Great report and splendid photographs.

Coming to the long tailed shrike puzzle.

The one on the bottom left is one. So seem all the rest.

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Yup. The top left is one, the top right is one as are the bottom two. An amazing variation in plumage as you move around India..

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Waiting eagerly for Kaziranga. Not to rush you or anything lol. :)


Its interesting to me to hear about the food. Not sure what to expect. We love Indian food here at home and we also had great Indian food in Tanzania, of all places (since many of the lodges we stayed were owned by Indians.) But wondering if we will recognize the food in Indian as what we know here. I am thinking to do mainly vegetarian (even though we are not) as it might be safer for the tummy. I might actually start a thread on this, now that I think about it....

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About food, always subjective. In Lodges it seemed the dreaded Buffet ruled OK. Fine that you could select just what you wanted but not conducive to such things as we see in 'Indian' Restaurants back home such as Tandoori or Tikka or other regional dishes. Soups were lovely but 'mains' were fairly bland and whilst there were several varieties to choose they all had pretty much the same preparation and visual appeal. Dal and rice of course, lots of Naan. Oh, how I did wish they 'carved' their meats and not just appear to have ripped a carcass, Chicken, Lamb etc., to bits and thrown it in the pot. As a buffet it was hard to select what ended up on your plate which was a shame as the actual cuisine deserved a better fate.

The memorable meal was in the restaurant in Agra where they had a menu and a roadside place on the way to Ramnagar called Moga Punjabi Tadka which I think is a chain. Again there was a menu and I think this was the key.

Caveat! I hate buffets per se, whether in Africa, Asia or Europe. Never had one in USA but ......! Food just should not be left unattended to be sneezed over or poked at.

Edited by Galana
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Interesting that you say things were bland. Because of course unlike in Africa there are many locals who stay at these lodges, correct? Soups I tend to avoid. I'm always afraid they will use those cubes with MSG (to which I am highly sensitive. Doubt this is something used much in India but I stay away from soups in any case.)

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@@janzin Food in India is far better and more authentic than what you'll probably get overseas. we have great Indian restaurants in Singapore because of our large Indian population but we still found food in India unbeatable - vegetarian and meat dishes. We didn't have buffet in Chitvan, instead we told the chef we wanted Indian dishes at every meal and he happily cooked dishes to our requests. still savouring those dishes now in my memories...

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Interesting that you say things were bland. Because of course unlike in Africa there are many locals who stay at these lodges, correct? Soups I tend to avoid. I'm always afraid they will use those cubes with MSG (to which I am highly sensitive. Doubt this is something used much in India but I stay away from soups in any case.)

My advice to visitors from abroad has been

- stay away from salads

- avoid seafood in non coastal areas

- drink mineral water

- as far as possible order hot food ( as compared to perennially heated buffet food)


I used to consider myself alergic to MSG since i used to get a migrane on most occasions after chinese food. I am not sure if MSD was the culprit though.


See extract:



Is monosodium glutamate linked to adverse reactions?

Despite a small number of persons reporting sensitivity to monosodium glutamate, scientific studies have not shown any direct link between monosodium glutamate and adverse reactions in humans. Monosodium glutamate used to be blamed for the “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” because the first anecdotal report was made following consumption of a Chinese meal and monosodium glutamate is widely used in Asian cooking. Symptoms said to be experienced included burning sensations along the back of the neck, chest tightness, nausea and sweating. However, a double-blind controlled challenge of individuals claiming to suffer from the “syndrome” failed to confirm monosodium glutamate as the causative agent. Other studies have found that allergic-type reactions after Asian meals are more often due to other ingredients such as shrimp, peanuts, spices and herbs.

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