Jackdaw

Looks like a good place to loose ourselves.

Waterhen

The best things in life aren't things.

Jungles of Tadoba

Fear exists in the one place you can never escape... Your mind.

Chariot - Hampi

Let go of the past and the past will let go of you.

Tigress

Style is a simple way of saying complicated things.

Little Ringed Plover

Clear conscience never fears midnight knocking.

Malabar Pied Hornbill

The reason birds can fly is because they take themselves lightly.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Birding in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR)

10th June 2012
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (Maharashtra) India

Bird Photographer at heart is what I knew I was... Two months back in a casual discussion, my fellow birder friend suggested, we visit a national park for our May – June holiday session, Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), is what we decided on. TATR is located in the Indian State of Maharashtra.

Personally had never been into the wild earlier and the place had been in discussions as a number of tiger cubs had been born there in the past 12 months. The best part was that we were to cover the place over a weekend! While we knew that temperatures in this part of the country could touch 48 degrees Celsius in May – June. Deciding to look no further, the trip was planned and put to action...
Land of The Tiger
Tadoba - Andhari Tiger Reserve is Maharashtra's oldest National Park located in the Chandrapur district, about 155 KM from the Nagpur International Airport. TATR is home to about 43 Royal Bengal Tigers (Panthera Tigris - India's National Animal), some 80 species of other mammals and 280 species of birds.

A Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest, it is largely a flatland with 40 per cent of its area covered with bamboo trees, which gives it a unique appearance. Compared to other popular tiger reserves in India, TATR is relatively under-explored and under-photographed. The place has only of late been attracting tourists and is slowly coming up on the Indian wildlife circuit...
We board the train from CST Mumbai to Chandrapur station, where we reached after an overnight journey. We reached the MTDC Moharli Tourist Complex at around lunch. Our guide Mr. Sanjay was there, who suggested that we be ready by 2 PM

Tadoba, a birder's paradise! ... Was in our mind, for the first day the guide said we need to take the evening safari inside the Tadoba range of the forest to see the Tiger... that is time we realised, coming here the prime motive would be tigers...
Axis axis
Chital (Spotted Deer)
Rusa unicolo
Sambar
We wore our scarf and hats and drove through the bamboo lined tracks of Tadoba, we spotted Sambar Deer’s, Chitals (Spotted Deer), Gaur (Indian Bison), Indian Wild Boars, Barking Deer (Muntjac), , Indian Peafowl (Peacock - National Bird of India), Common Langur, Crested Serpent-Eagle
Owing to the bamboo thickets, animal sightings were fewer. Every now and then I would feel the urge to climb down from the vehicle, which was not allowed as per the rules of the park.
Telia Tigress - Lila
As we were passing the scenic area, where we had stopped to see some birds and our fellow team had moved ahead  on the track. To our surprise, we found her (Lila) sitting majestically near the water hole. It was 6.30 in the morning and our day was already made. We moved deeper into the park, sighting birds, Deer’s, Wild Boars, Bison’s and Langoors!!

We returned to the park, after a filling lunch, which we had ordered in the morning itself, in the MTDC resort.
Oriental Honey-buzzard ( Pernis ptilorhyncus)
Enroute to the Kolsa region, we sighted this thirsty Oriental Honey Buzzard, which was brave enough, and wouldn't fly off. We had to stop and wait till it quenched its thirst. 

As per the park rules, it’s a rule to wait till the animal/bird has moved from the track!!
After spending some time here we drove straight to region.

The forest guide Sanjay Mondhe told us that the tiger would surely appear here as apart from Telia Lake this was the only other source of water for him and of late he had been sighting them quiet regularly here.
 

Tiger Cub - Kolsa
We had just about reached the spot and we saw two cubs, busy playing in the heat. We could hear the rustling of leaves behind the bamboo thickets. Suddenly one could see some movement through the thick vegetation (perfectly camouflaged) and finally, stealthily a gorgeous eighteen months old cubs appeared before us.

Their golden coat, glistening through the bamboo thickets was the best I have ever seen. Though, our view was obstructed by trees, shrubs and the bamboo thickets could see their movements very clearly.


Tiger Cub - Kolsa
They then got up, glanced around and disappeared into the bamboo thicket and rested at a spot about 10-15 meters closer to us!

Tiger Cub - Kolsa

Though pleased with the distance, it was enough scary when they would look into the lens!!!!
Tiger Cubs - Kolsa
Tigers, and more!... it was just the second day, and we had already sighted three tigers. There was just another water hole left and were told, that it was a week, that sighting was regular at those spots as well.
Gaur (Indian bison)
We then took a different route on the way back, which was through even denser forest. Dry grasslands on one side...  
 
Summer Habitat
...and scenic river on the other, inspite of being peak summer and temperature touching 48Deg, there was vegetation and the shades were mesmerising, had never seen anything like this before !!!

The place is a veritable hotspot for birds!

Indian Pitta (Pitta brachyura)
The Indian Pitta was a medium-sized passerine bird, which we wanted to see for a long time, it was one of the most colourful birds we had photographed. The habitat was thick with  undergrowth, but we could sight it more easily detected by its calls.

All in all I would say Tadoba - Andhari Tiger Reserve is a good place for people who have loads of patience and want to enjoy the jungle in its entirety. 

 
We reached the main track again and found a long line of vehicles. The four telia cubs were posing and playing in glory. Soon they decided to rest near the water hole, to beat the summer heat.
Telia Cubs 
Following is the complete list of birds we sighted at TATR


Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela)
Spotted Owlet, Spotted Dove, Brahminy Starling, Black Shouldered Kite, Common Kingfisher, Common Hawk Cuckoo, Oriental Magpie Robin, Common Myna, Rock Pigeon, Indian Roller, Pied Myna, 
Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)
Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris)
Common Hawk-Cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius)
Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)
Southern  Coucal (Centropus sinensis)
Spotted Owlet (Athene brama)
Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda)
Jungle Owlet (Glaucidium radiatum)
The tiger was not just the only attraction. If one is willing to accept this fact then TATR is an excellent virgin destination for serious wildlife enthusiasts and a birder's paradise!

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” - Albert Einstein

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