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Zubbie15

India 2019 – Christmas in March

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Zubbie15
7 hours ago, janzin said:

wow that's an incredible shot of the "posing" tiger. Rare to see something like that I'd think, much less get a photo!

 

Thanks Janet - that one pose more than made up for the dozens of butt photos we have of him.  :)

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Zubbie15

So that was the end of our time in Ranthambhore.  Our overall tiger haul was 9 tigers, most of which (except, unfortunately Arrowhead's cubs) showed well, if only briefly.  We were certainly satisfied, even if the consensus was that the park had been fairly quiet during our time there.  I'll throw in, here, a few last pictures that I didn't post before.

 

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Day 6 afternoon and Day 7 morning.

The next 24 hours were all about travel – we left our Sawai Madhopur hotel at 11:30 for a 12:30 train to Delhi, arriving in Delhi just before 7PM.  From there we crossed the city to the airport, and had 7 hours in our hotel to catch a bit of sleep.  A 3AM wake-up call and 3:30 departure got us to the airport just in time to catch a 5:55 flight to Nagpur.  Interestingly, I normally do all I can to avoid talking to people on airplanes, but the man beside me was very chatty.  It turned out he was the nephew of the owner of the Tuli hotels, and we’d be staying at the Tuli Tiger Corridor in Kanha.  Small world! He gave me his phone number, and his uncle's, in case we had any issues there, which was nice.  Arriving in Nagpur we met Rajan, which was great after having read so much about him on ST.  The drive to Tadoba was spent getting to know him, with the biggest “excitement” being when he convinced us to have breakfast at a road-side restaurant, and us being worried about how our intestines would react. Thankfully no issues!  As an aside, our travel clinic recommended we try a product called Travelan (https://www.travelan.com/us/), a pill you take at every meal and which is supposed to help with digestive issues when you’re travelling.  Obviously we can’t prove a negative, but we never had any issues during our 2 weeks in India, so maybe it works.  It’s available on Amazon in the US for anyone that might want to try it.  

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Zubbie15

Day 7, afternoon.

One thing becomes readily apparent at our hotel – it’s going to be much hotter here in Tadoba.  According to my phone, the forecast high for our three days here was between 38-40C. It was so hot in the afternoons that we would have our cameras freeze up from the heat if we forgot and left them in the sun; thankfully a simple off/on would work to get them going again. While waiting for our room to be ready, we get introduced to another couple who are traveling with WWI – SafariTalk’s own @jmharack and her husband. We had a nice chat with them, which continued that evening at dinner, and then while waiting at the gates of Tadoba and, later on, Kanha.  My first STer in person, how exciting, and with Rajan there too. It was very hot, especially since only a few days earlier we left home in a snowstorm, and by the time we entered the gate I was already sweating like crazy.  We quickly got into the groove of the park, where in the afternoon you pretty much go from waterhole to waterhole, hoping to find the tigers bathing.  If you saw a car coming back from a waterhole, you’d do your best to turn around before they got to you, as the dust in this park was absolutely crazy.  After checking what were probably most of the waterholes in this region, our last attempt found a young male tiger (Chhota Matka).  This was perhaps our least “natural” sighting, as not only were there ~20 (well-behaved) gypsies and canters there, but he is one of two collared tigers, and he was resting in a small man-made waterhole right beside some solar panels.  Not long after we arrived some Sambar tried to come to drink, and they couldn’t see him due to a small hill between them.  He made a half-hearted attempt at a hunt, but gave up pretty easily and went back to the water.  The Sambar tried to return from a different direction, where they could see better, but he clearly wasn’t interested and they ended up leaving.  Time was getting short, and many of the cars left because he seemed to be napping.  However, as the sun went down, he got up and started walking along the road, with just us and a couple of other cars there.  Once he veered off into the forest we needed to rush back to the gate.  It was quite nice here that the park closed at 6:30 rather than 6 like at Ranthambhore; we ended up having good sightings all three afternoons in that extra half hour.

 

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Collared tiger in man-made waterhole 

 

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Sambar trying to decide if the tiger was still at the water.  Eventually, she decided she wasn't that thirsty and moved on.

 

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The sun's down - time to get up and go for a walk.  Thankfully, most of the vehicles had left, otherwise it would have been a zoo.

 

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Once more, a tiger on the road.  

 

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Not sure why this one ended up double-bordered, oh well!

 

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Edited by Zubbie15

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Zubbie15

Day 8, morning.

Because the nights and early mornings are much cooler in Tadoba, morning drives started in a familiar way – scanning the roads for pugmarks, and listening for alarm calls.  We’d still check waterholes, but there was more intuition required at this time.  We had no luck with tigers, but came across a sloth bear.  The bear pretty quickly moved off into the forest – in fact, we felt the animals in Tadoba were much more skittish than in Ranthambhore (with the exception of the tigers), and they would often turn away and move off the second we stopped to try to take a picture.  We could follow the bear for 5-10 minutes, but never really see it clearly.  We continued scanning all morning, and at one point heard a lot of alarm calls, but whatever was causing them never came out.  Chotta Matka had been sighted at Tadoba Lake, but Rajan thought by the time we got there it would be a zoo and suggested we didn’t go (we agreed).  Not long after that time was up, and a quiet morning was over.  Really only a couple of photos worth showing...

 

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Typical Tadoba scenery - very red dust that got everywhere.  The hotel would take our bags when we arrived back, and hit them to remove all the dust that had accumulated

 

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Chital in the road.  

 

If the morning was really quiet, the afternoon would more than make up for it... ;)

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Zubbie15

Day 8, afternoon.

The heat did a number on my wife, and she developed a migraine and vomiting so she stayed at the hotel this afternoon.  I think Rajan could tell how much the heat affected us (even before my wife had her issues), as he suggested at the end of the morning that we only enter the park around 3 (even though the gate opened at 2:30).  Even though there were a lot of clouds, which helped with the sun, this increased the humidity and made this afternoon especially hot.  On our way into the core zone, we came across a lot of vehicles, parked and watching a leopard in a tree.  He showed nicely for a while, before turning around and ignoring us.  This was to be a cat afternoon – in fact, at one point Rajan said to me that there were tigers “everywhere.”  We first went to a waterhole in Maya’s territory, where she and one of her 13-month old cubs (the female) were lounging by the water.  Both took a dip to cool off, and then wandered into the forest.  This was a nice sighting, even though at its peak I counted 25 gypsies and 2 canters.  Everyone was well-behaved though, and I had no issues.  Once they headed off into the forest, we all moved along...

 

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Lazy leopard in a tree.  We were hoping he'd still be around on our way out, but he'd disappeared when we passed by on our way out.

 

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Tiger tiger tiger!

 

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Maya's cub, she was struggling to stay awake.

 

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Maya heading down for a dip.  Did I mention it was hot?

 

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That feels good!

 

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Heading off into the forest.

 

Edited by Zubbie15

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Zubbie15

Day 8, afternoon (continued) 

…and found the dominant male in the area, Matkasur also lounging in a waterhole.  Not only were all the cars there, but there were also tractors and men working on the road.  He was quite distant, and I almost suggested that we leave, but we decided to stay.  After he finished bathing, he got up and wandered into the forest.  At least half the cars left, but Rajan and our forest guide thought he might come out again so we positioned ourselves a little down the road.  We were pretty much in the right spot, and he came out, did some territory marking, and then crossed the road and headed off in the forest.  Everyone but us and one other gypsy left at this point, but Rajan thought that if we waited he might come back out with things having quieted down.  Well, after a few minutes, we started to hear footsteps in the forest, and out stepped Matkosur, who proceeded to walk along the road for us for an extended period of time.  At one point, he even gave us a few roars, which was amazing.  It’s interesting how safaris can make you feel kinship with someone you don’t know – the other gypsy also had a single man in it, and we kept looking at each other and grinning.  Eventually a park official came along and told the drivers they needed to start heading out of the park, but it was a great sighting. On our way out, we found Chhota Matka lying in Tadoba Lake, looking very content. 

 

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After Matkasur got up from the waterhole, a lot of vehicles left.  Those that remained staked out the road - he eventually came out around here, sniffed the culvert you can see, and then crossed the road.  At that point, all but one of these gypsies left.

 

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Coming back out of the forest - is it quieter?

 

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Yes, it is. 

 

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Seems like a good time to come out on the road.

 

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Big boy!

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Zubbie15

Some more pictures to finish Day 8.

 

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Like I said earlier, we had lots of photos of tigers walking along roads!

 

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Last photo before we had to head off.

 

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Chhota Matka lounging in the lake.  The light was beautiful, but the view rather restricted.  This was the best we could get. 

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janzin

So nice to see Matkasur doing so well...such a magnificent animal! That's him in my avatar  <---- :)

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Zubbie15
10 hours ago, janzin said:

So nice to see Matkasur doing so well...such a magnificent animal! That's him in my avatar  <---- :)

 

Definitely a magnificent beast @janzin although I didn't realize at the time (and only did when I googled to confirm how to spell his name) that he's actually killed a person (in 2017).  But he's still the dominant male in the area, as he's the father of Maya's cubs and of Chhota Matka, who recently separated from his mother.  

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Treepol

@Zubbie15 what a fabulous tigerfest, I'm really enjoying your photos of the wildlife and the landscapes of Tadoba and Ranthambhore.

Edited by Treepol

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janzin
4 hours ago, Zubbie15 said:

 

Definitely a magnificent beast @janzin although I didn't realize at the time (and only did when I googled to confirm how to spell his name) that he's actually killed a person (in 2017).  

wow, I hadn't heard that! I just googled the story too. Thank goodness they didn't take action against him.

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Zubbie15
9 hours ago, Treepol said:

@Zubbie15 what a fabulous tigerfest, I'm really enjoying your photos of the wildlife and the landscapes of Tadoba and Ranthambhore.

 

 

Thanks @Treepol

 

7 hours ago, janzin said:

wow, I hadn't heard that! I just googled the story too. Thank goodness they didn't take action against him.

 

I gather tigers are "allowed" to kill 3 people with no repercussions, based on the story I saw - it's only the fourth where action is taken.  Certainly not something you'd see in North America!

 

 

 

 

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Soukous
18 minutes ago, Zubbie15 said:

 

I gather tigers are "allowed" to kill 3 people with no repercussions, based on the story I saw - it's only the fourth where action is taken.  Certainly not something you'd see in North America!

 

Seems pretty reasonable. :rolleyes: Although I am sure it would depend to a great extent on who the people were. 

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Soukous

A tigerfest indeed @Zubbie15. Some terrific sightings. Certainly more than enough to make Mrs Zubbie wish she'd been able to come along.

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Zubbie15
5 hours ago, Soukous said:

A tigerfest indeed @Zubbie15. Some terrific sightings. Certainly more than enough to make Mrs Zubbie wish she'd been able to come along.

 

Oh yes, at first she thought I was joking. She wasn’t too happy she’d missed that drive!

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Alexander33

Just getting caught up, and really enjoying the report. 

 

Fantastic tiger sightings. Arrowhead is certainly photogenic. Like all the others have said, the  female sloth bear with her two cubs was truly special. What a great experience!

 

You mentioned that the time of year you were there wasn’t the best time to see displaying peacocks. Did your guides mention what time of year would be optimum for that?

 

Looking forward to the rest of this!

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Zubbie15

Thanks @Alexander33, I had 15 notifications when i just signed in so figured someone was catching up.  For the peacocks, we were told, and if I remember  I believe the best time was more April and May.  We did see a few displaying, especially in Kanha, but they were either very distant or would stop when we tried to get close enough for pictures.  

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Zim Girl

Finally found time to start this and so glad I did!  Lots of simply beautiful tiger pictures so far and I love the leopard hanging in the tree.

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Zubbie15

Thanks @Zim Girl!

 

Day 9, morning.

Up early – the park also opens earlier than Ranthambhore (6AM), so you start by driving in fairly dark conditions.  Our first Gaur appeared out of the gloom.  We start with the standard tiger scanning, finding some pugmarks but not the tiger that left them.  Heading along the road, Rajan is standing in the back, when I sense him come alert.  Looking forward, there’s a head peaking over the top of the road ahead of us.  Rajan tells the driver to stop, then says to us “wild dogs.”  Awesome, I was really hoping to see dhole on this trip.  There are two of them, a male and female, and we spend most of the next hour with them and one other gypsy.  Funnily enough, in that vehicle is the man who shared the Matkasur sighting with me the night before.  I notice this, and say to my wife that he was the one that shared the sighting. Then a couple of minutes later, I hear him saying the same thing to his wife.  It’s funny how sharing a good sighting with someone can lead to an instant bond.  In any case, we watch the dogs travel along the road, occasionally weaving into the forest.  A few cars arrive at one point, which spooks them for a bit, but once it’s back to our two cars they come back out.  We even get to hear them flush some Chittal, but no luck on the hunt.  Eventually they head off down a fire line, where we can’t follow.  We spend the rest of the morning staking out a couple of spots where alarm calls are heard, but no luck.  

 

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Early morning, Tadoba.

 

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The langurs were still waking up.

 

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Rajan's sharp eyes picked up this dog in the road when he was pretty much just a speck in the distance.

 

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This was a nice, easy sighting in that they just came to us. 

 

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I was surprised at how small they were, for some reason I'd pictured them as being larger.

 

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Time for some bonding.  It would've been awesome to see a whole pack of them, but not sure how common that is anymore. 

 

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Zubbie15

More from that morning...

 

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After a while we got some really nice, soft, side-light.

 

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The chital really knew they were around, and they kept flushing them from the forest.  They didn't, as far as we could tell, succeed in catching anything.

 

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Zubbie15

Day 9, afternoon.

Again, we enter the park around 2:45 to minimize our heat exposure.  We end up by a waterhole where a tiger was very briefly seen just before.  We actually park a little while off to the side, on the hope that the tiger will get up and walk that way.  This places us in a perfect, although distant, position to watch a sloth bear come down to the waterhole for a drink – the people closer to the waterhole are blocked by an island, and for the longest time don’t see it.  It’s too far for photos, but fun to watch – and we vaguely hope for some tiger-bear interaction (no luck).  Once he’s had a drink he wanders back to the forest, and not long after Chhota Matka gets up, drinks and goes in a similar direction.  This is the third time we’ve seen him, and each time at a different waterhole.  He definitely gets around.  We try to find where either animal will come out of the forest, but never could find them.  Then it was quiet for a while, but as the sun got lower in the sky we found our wild dog pair, returning along the same fire line they left on that morning.  Once they had headed off, we continued, eventually finding a sloth bear deep in the forest. It was moving along looking for food, but a good 30 meters into the forest and hard to see any details.  This would have been a nice finish to the day, but we had one more sighting in store...

 

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This chital didn't seem too concerned that there was a tiger around.

 

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These gaur, however, seemed to know someone was around.

 

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Dogs coming back from their day of wandering.

 

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Unlike African buffalo, the gaur were generally tolerant of our presence.  

 

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Sun setting over Tadoba Lake. Unfortunately this sambar wasn't in a particularly clear spot!

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TonyQ

The dogs are beautiful- a great sighting 

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Zubbie15

Day 9, afternoon, continued

We needed to leave, and started heading toward the gate.  After a while, we came across a couple of stopped cars – Choti Tara, one of the female tigers in the region, was walking along the road and marking her territory.  We followed her quite a while, until the light was almost gone and we really had to go.  Photos were tough – we first saw her at 1816 (based on my camera), with official sunset having been a minute earlier, and, we were fairly deep in forest most of the time. Even if the photos aren't great, the sighting was a great experience.  Having her walk just a couple of meters away from me really reinforced the power of the tigers.  We then rushed full-speed to the gate; unfortunately the other remaining car at the sighting was ahead of us, and we got a nice dust bath.  It was bad enough that the company I rented a few photographic items from charged me $99 to clean up the "red dust" that was found in the cracks.  

 

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india (211).jpg

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Zubbie15

Day 10.

Last morning at Tadoba for us, and the weather was drastically different.  It was much cooler, and with the occasional rain drop.  This must have affected the animals, as we didn’t have any predators this morning, despite many alarm calls, and in fact there weren't too many animals around. After our quiet morning was done, we quickly packed up and hit the road to Kanha, which took 7 hours including a couple of stops.  We could definitely feel the difference in weather when we got there, as it was substantially cooler, and the difference was further reinforced by a massive thunderstorm that hit during dinner.

 

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Baby gaur.

 

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Good-bye Tadoba!

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Zubbie15

Day 11, morning.

Very excited to be in Kanha, Rajan’s home territory, to see what we can find.  The gate seems like it’s crazy, with lots of cars, but they quickly dissipated once they have a chance to spread out.  We see our first jackals in the pre-dawn light.  Heading into the Mukki zone, we gradually start to hear alarm calls.  While there are several cars searching for the tiger, Rajan eventually positions us in a spot and says to wait.  Gradually we begin to hear roars coming from the jungle, and then the tiger appears.  She crosses right in front of us, but rather quickly, and then heads up along a ridge to check her territory.  The cars then attempt to re-find her; we get positioned, and again she crosses the road right by our vehicle.  Shortly after we can hear, but not see, a failed hunt.  We realize that the forest is beautiful, but the dense undergrowth in this part of the park makes seeing anything that isn’t right at the road a challenge.  Because the rules state that food can only be eaten in the designated areas of the park, we gradually make our way to one of the picnic spots.  Unfortunately we just miss a male tiger on the way.  After eating and some brief scanning, we need to leave.  Nicely, the morning drive here ends at 11 at this time of year, so you get a fairly long drive.

 

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Good morning Kanha!  As seems to always be the case, we were 5 minutes leaving, so there were some vehicles in front of us at first.

Good morning Kanha.  

 

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Our first jackal of the trip. 

 

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First view of the tigress, as she crossed the road.  It was very narrow, most people missed her. 

 

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Where's the tiger?

 

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Coming back out of the forest.

 

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And heading off again - we lost her after this.

 

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