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Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam, India

posted Nov 4, 2013, 8:37 PM by sandip mishra   [ updated Mar 3, 2015, 1:41 AM by Sandip Mishra ]


As Assam Govt. opened up it's two famous wildlife sanctuaries(Kaziranga and Pobitora) last week, we were tempted to report about our trip report to Pobitora which we did last year.
 
A very short drive from Guwahati i.e. ~45 Kms, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary holds the distinction of having the highest density of One horned Rhinoceros in the world. Located in the plains of river Brahmaputra, it is situated in the Morigaon District of Assam. Roughly 40 sq Kms in size it is house to almost 90 Rhinos and the ones that we saw were infact quite large. During the monsoon season, the flood waters of the Brahmputra flood this park and the animals move to nearby regions.
 
Apart from the one horned Rhinoceros, Pobitora hosts a lot of migratory birds during the winter season and in the last count in 2012 approximately 5000 migratory birds of ~30 different types were seen.
 
Jeep rides are available though limited (due to the necessity of an armed guard accompanying you - like in most of the Rhinoceros National parks in the NE India), and so also you can have the pleasure of an elephant ride through the sanctuary. Incase you are interested in bird life then you can access the vicinity of the park for some photography...however there is always the threat of one being approached by a Rhino(exercise adequate caution please). For the children there is a Hadook Hanging bridge...which one can experience during a short 2-3 mins walk.
 
One can get there through multiple routes and we used the one through Chandrapur....you can look at alternate routes here
 
The visit was a short one and good one.
      One Horned Rhinoceros
 
      Migratory birds
 
      Adjutant Stork...

Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India

posted Jan 3, 2013, 7:15 PM by sandip mishra   [ updated Mar 3, 2015, 1:56 AM by Sandip Mishra ]


We have wanted to visit Kaziranga National Park a UNESCO World Heritage site since a long time and finally it materialized in 2012.

 

The National Park which is locate in Assam, India(districts of Nagaon and Golaghat) boasts of the Great One-horned Rhinoceros apart from a good population of Tiger, the rare Gibbon, Otters, Wild Water Buffaloes and herds of Elephants. Kaziranga also attracts a lot of migratory birds during the winter season and it is a bird watcher’s paradise. The Park has a very diverse land conditions of alluvial soils, swamps/wetlands, grass lands(elephant grass) and it criss crossed by many rivers including the mighty Brahmaputra and the lesser know Diphlu. The park has three ranges – Central range(most popular) called the Kohora, Eastern Range called Agartoli, Western Ranges – Burra Pahad and Baghori. 

We checked into the Diphlu River Lodge, which lies near the Baghori gate and on the banks of the river Diphlu. You can make both Elephant and Jeep Safaris, however the elephant safaris are operated in the Central Range by the Forest department and in the Western (Baghori) by Private operators. 

We made trips to all the four ranges and each one of them was quite diverse –

a. Central Range(Kohora) most popular, has most resorts close to the gate boasts of the elephant safari which is majestic. You can take an one hour ride on elephant back into the tall grasslands and bound to see Rhinos, Swamp and Hog Deer, water buffalo and other animals. The only drawback of this range is that due to its popularity, lots of vehicles are inside and the day we went there were 100+ gypsies inside. The popular Iora Retreat Resort is in this range.

b. Eastern Range(Agartoli) – quite far from the Central spot and has an Assam Tourism resort at the entrance of the gate. We enjoyed this range a lot as it has a 30 + kms drive and if you are bird watcher it is definitely a paradise. Huge expanse of water bodies dot the landscape and it was enjoyable.

c. Western Range(Baghori) – similar to the central range in all aspects and the jeep safari drive is a smaller one. Resorts like United 21 Grasslands, Wild Grass and Diphlu river lodge are closer to this.

d. Western Range(Burra Pahad) – We enjoyed this quite a lot with the landscape changing to tall trees in addition to other grass lands etc. You can get a chance to see the Gibbon and also the Malayan Giant Squirrel in this range apart from other things. Resorts like the GL resorts, Grasslands etc are near this range.

One interesting this compared to any other national parks we visited was that you needed a gunman as escort in your vehicle to help ward of the dangerous herbivores….Rhino, Elephants and Wild Water Buffaloes.

Overall, it was worth spending three days at Kaziranga
      Rhinoceros, mother & Calf
 
      Elephant, Mother and Calf
 
     Hog Deer
 
      Animal Paradise, Central Range
 
     Otter, Eastern Range

Bharatpur(Keoladeo) Bird Sanctuary

posted Dec 3, 2012, 9:05 AM by sandip mishra   [ updated Mar 3, 2015, 2:27 AM by Sandip Mishra ]


We have been to the Keoladeo National Park(Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary - popularly known) twice once in peak summer and the other during peak winter.
  
During peak summer(sorching heat of May), there were hardly any visitors and the holiday season particularly winter vacations there's like zillion people both tourists and visitors from nearby places. You can take handpulled rickshaws to experience the bird life. While we felt very bad to sit on these hand pulled vehicles, these were the only ones allowed inside by the forest department.
 
You can get guides(government) to help you in your journey. This is a small park of around 30 sq kms comprising mostly of grasslands, wetlands, swamps and scrublands. While there is one straight and long road there are multiple perpendicular paths one can venture into. Our guide took us into many such paths.
  
As you start your journey one can spot Collared Scoops owl and jungle owlet. This was followed by munias, bulbuls, patridges, jungle fowls, quails, parakeets, grey hornbills, serpeant eagles etc as the area was mostly scrub and dry lands.
 
Slowly we started seeing both wetland, waterbodies and swamps on both sides of the road. We saw spotted deer, jackals, water birds like cormorants, purple moorhen, white breasted water hen darter birds, ducks, water fowl and sandpipers during the summer. The winter season brings in a whole host of migratory birds Northern pintails, Northern Shovlers, Greylag goose, Gadwals etc.
  
This place is also famous for the Sarus Crane. Had seen and heard about the bird and eagerly wanted to see it. During the summer time visit(it was pouring) while we were at temple, the guide suddenly pointed towards a location.."a Pair of Sarus Crane"...In the pouring rain, I approached the birds and from behind a tree savoured the moments for almost 20 mins.

There are a many resorts around and the Ashok ITDC hotel is the only one inside the sanctuary where you can book yourself.
 
We enjoyed this experience both times.
     Grey Heron
      Sarus Crane
 
      Nilgai
     Collared Scoops Owl

Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh

posted Feb 12, 2012, 6:26 AM by sandip mishra

Pench National Park(Tiger Reserve) always has a special place in our hearts as we started our wildlife love and quest back in 2007 visiting the Pench Tiger Reserve. It was a good trip then when we had spotted a leopard and a variety of birds.

This park can be approach through both Maharashtra (Silari) and Madhya Pradesh (Seoni dist). From Hyderabad it is a 8 hour drive i.e. close to 560 Kms. We have visited the Madhya Pradesh side of the park all the eight times, as tourist facilities are better. Our normal place of stay is
MP Tourism’s Kipling's court at Pench, which has good facilities, courteous staff and also recently upgraded the facility with a swimming pool.

The park boasts of a good tiger population, few leopards, angulates ( spotted deer, Sambhar, NilGai, barking deer), herds of bison(though seen mostly during summer), jackals, jungle cat  wild boars, bear, mongoose.  The bird variety is amazing with close to 250+ species noted by bird enthusiasts. We have managed to spot and identify close to 90 of them  like the Eurasian Thicknee(a family resides and easily seen during the trips), Wagtails(Citrine, Yellow, Grey), Chestnut Sparrowlark, Malabar and Grey Hornbills, Lapwing(Yellow and red wattled), Petronia, Yellow footed Green Pigeon(the state bird of Maharashtra), Woodpeckers(flameback, pygmy), Oriole(black headed, and Golden), Raptors(crested Serpeant Eagle, Buzzards, Red headed Vulture, Shikra, Changeable hawk eagle), Owls(Fishing and jungle owl), Pied Cuckoo(spotted in the MP tourism guesthouse), Flycatchers, Bee-eaters and lots of other resident and migratory birds.

One should try and spend at-least three rounds of the park to see the length and breadth of the flora and fauna. We have been very lucky to have spotted the tiger in all our visits and some of the moments really wonderful and frightening.

The entry to the park is now restricted (vehicles per trip) and the bookings can be done online through MPOnline. This is a change we have seen over the years, wherein unlimited no. of vehicles was allowed inside.  The Park administration has become stricter and vehicles flouting norms have been acted against.

It is worthwhile visiting this park –however be prepared for very high temperatures during the summer season and chilly winters.

Bison
 
Collared Scoops Owl
 
Tigress
 
Eurasian Thicknee
 
Sambhar(F) and Pond Heron
 
Nilgai(Blue bull)

Bandhavgarh National Park

posted Dec 17, 2011, 9:26 PM by sandip mishra   [ updated Dec 17, 2011, 9:27 PM ]

Trip to the Bandhavgarh National Park was in the offing since a very long time.However, the long and tedious train journey of almost 20+ hours was the show stopper. This time around, Shreya insisted that we should make the trip come what may. MP Tourism as usual was our default choice as travel partner and got our booking done from Nagpur to Bandhavgarh and back.

The trip from Nagpur to Bandhavgarh by road is a very tiring one and at the time of writing this, it not advisable to follow the NH 7 route through Jabalpur,  Katni , Umariya and then Tala.- for almost 30-40 kms patch, the National Highway did not exist. What a state of affair!!! A better route to follow is Seoni to Mandla , Umariya ,Shahpura and directly to Tala (Bandhavgarh) through State Highways 11 and 40.

We reached the White Tiger Safari Lodge(MP Tourism) late in the night 11 p.m. and were greeted by Manager Alok Verma who was full of energy & enthusiasm to receive us. We had three safari trips and he promised us one in the premium Tala Zone and two in the Umariya. The hotel has a few rooms set-up in machaan design,  with the rooms elevated from the ground amongst the trees.

Bandhavgarh probably has one of the highest Bengal tiger densities in the country and recently had attracted a lot of negative attention due to a few tiger deaths. The park is divided into three zones - 1. Tala which is the premium zone and a lot of sightings happen during the summer season, 2. Umariya and 3.Khitauli zone........The total number of vehicles allowed in each zone is 65, 40 and 30 respectively. Rules are quite strict and vehicles are assigned a path and not allowed to deviate.

Sunday morning...we made two trips to the Tala and Umariya zone. With lot of activity around...animal sightings were very less. The usual sightings of Sambhar, Nilgai, Deer, jackals, wild boar, mongoose and a variety of birds added to the tally. It was breath-taking to see the mountain range and the Bandhavgarh fort. Some good bird photography was the highlight of the day and at the end of the day realized that of the 100+ vehicles none did sight the majestic Tiger.

Next day morning, I was the lone survivor from the family and with resolute decide to carry on with the third trip to Umariya zone. The early morning chillness was nice and we decided to go slow with the safari. At one spot in the distant I heard a faint alarm call of chital and alerted my driver and guide. We stopped to track the call...and then there was a rush of alarm calls (Sambhar, Monkey, Chital, peafowl) from all directions within a 50-60 meters distance.

Excitement was high and we were the only ones around this small patch of jungle. The guide figured out that probably the action was happening on the other side of the patch and the tiger (ress) will definitely cross our path. A lo and behold, there in front was a majestic female...(may be the Umariya female) walking parallel to the road. We moved along with it for 3-4 minutes by which time 3 more jeeps joined us...What a sight of this beautiful animal.

As she disappeared into the thicket we decided to move on and we encountered a rare scene of a pack of jackals, five of them, the guide was surprised too. Normally jackals  do not hunt in packs...We continued to watch them for 10 minutes and after taking some more bird photos returned to the hotel.

On, the return trip near Mandla we saw a signage reading "Fossil Park" and Shreya being very enthusiastic about Dinosaur fossils pleaded us to visit this park located in Ghughus. Run by the MP Tourism department, the place has plant fossils dating back to 5000 years and a nice museum houses the seeds, bark, eucalytpus trees and to our wonder a Dinosaur egg also. It was quite interesting to see these fossils and Shreya kept on taking snaps.

Overall an exciting journey...

Bandhavgarh National Park
 
 
 
 Tigress @ Umariya zone
 
 
 
Temple @Fort
 
 


Changeable Hawkeagle 

 


Jackal pack

 

 

The mountain ranges
 
 

Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve (TATR), Maharashtra

posted Sep 17, 2011, 11:37 PM by sandip mishra   [ updated Sep 17, 2011, 11:57 PM ]

Maharashtra's Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve (TATR), part of the Project Tiger initiative, located in the Chandrapur district has a very special place in our hearts. We have been visiting this place since 2007 and made 12 trips from Hyderabad. It is around 420 Kms from Hyderabad and 140 kms from Nagpur.

The drive from Hyderabad can be made through NH7 (which links to Nagpur) and crisscrossing Warora, Wani and reaching Chandrapur. Or the internal route of SH1 through Karimnagar, Ramagundam, Medcherla, Asifabad, Ballapur to Chandrapur is an alternate route.

TATR has three ranges Moharli, Tadoba and Kolsa – we have visited the earlier two and Kosla is still pending on the list. The accommodation in the little village of Moharli was primarily MTDC (Maharastra Tourism) in the 2007 and now has mushroomed to have a lot many like Saras, Royal Tiger, Tiger Trails etc.

This is the only Tiger Reserve that is open throughout the year i.e. Monsoon season only when the beauty of the forest comes through its lush greenery and the glowing skin of the animals.  The tiger is quite easy to be located during the summer season when they frequent the man-made waterholes. In all my trips I have never missed seeing this beautiful animal, though the leopard has eluded us till date

We have spotted the following animals/reptiles/birds – Tiger(with cubs), Angulates(spotted Deer, sambhar, barking deer, chowsingha, Neel gai), bison, langoors  Jackal, black beer, Monitor lizard, Wild dogs(packs and singles),  wild boar, wide variety of brids (OBS, Lesser adjutant), whistling ducks, lapwings, cormorants, Ibis,  flycatcher, woodpeckers, owls, changeable hawk eagle, serpent eagles, tree pies and finally the Marsh Crocodile found in both the Teliya Dam and Tadoba Lake.

We have always found it fascinating to visit Tadoba Tiger Reserve.

 
Tigress at Waterhole
 
Black Bear
 
Ungulate Family at Tadoba Lake
 
Indian Roller
 
Brown Fishing Owl

Flamingos at Sewri Bay, Mumbai

posted Jun 21, 2011, 9:06 AM by Jayashree Mishra   [ updated Sep 17, 2011, 11:58 PM by sandip mishra ]


I have lived in Mumbai for over 10 years. Last December when Sandip came over to Mumbai he mentioned that he wanted to visit this place in Sewri, where flamingos are seen in plenty. For a moment I did not believe him, I had never heard about it. I found it hard to believe that the dull, dreary and polluted bay surrounded by refineries, slums and dumping gounds was host to such colourful and beautiful birds. We made our first trip in December which was a disappointment, the birds had not yet arrived. All that we managed to see were some waders.After that I have had 3 trips to Sewri and I just cant get enough of it. In the various trips we have sighted flamingos, terns, gulls, herons, stilts, godwits, common redshanks, sandpiper, plover and egrets.

 

Every year thousands of greater and lesser flamingos travel from the Rann of Kutch to the  mudflats of Sewri. The wetlands here attract various kinds of birds of which the pink flamingos are the most prominent.

 

The best time of the year to visit is December to March. Bird lovers and the port authorities have tried to maintain the place by planting mangroves and controlling pollution. The closest station is the Sewri station and by road you need to reach the Sewri station and then take the Sewri Koliwada road to the bay.

Numerous waders, gulls and hoards of pink flamingos definitely make it one of the best birding spots of Western India. So head out with your cameras, binoculars, check out times of low tide (you wont be able to view the waders otherwise) and some food and drinks and enjoy an early morning bird watching session.


 








Chilika Bird Sanctuary(Mangalajodi), Orissa

posted Feb 12, 2011, 9:12 PM by sandip mishra   [ updated Mar 3, 2015, 2:33 AM by Sandip Mishra ]

 
Chilka Lake in Orissa is the largest inland salt water lagoon in Asia, and measures around 1000 sq Kms. We have visited Chilka Lake quite a number of times since our childhood days. Our trips were always very typical with the traditional boat ride to the Kalijai Islands, looking out for the Irrawaddy dolphins, enjoying the lake and savouring the coastal food – fish, crabs, prawns etc. 

Since we took up to wildlife, our focus changed towards the migratory birds that come to Chilka Lake (during the winter) from all over the world especially the cold northern countries. They make Nalabana(which is a designated Bird sanctuary) their home for a few months before moving homeward. 

During my last visit to Bhubaneshwar, I came across a flier in the newspaper about a place called Mangalajodi, 75 Kms from Bhubaneshwar, which was promoting Ecotourism and birding activities. This area is a notified Wetland and the same migratory birds that visit Nalabana also make this place their nesting ground. 

Early in the morning we travelled to a place called Sunderpada and got a glimpse of the huge tracts of land being used for fishery activities. Also, we walked about the channel to get a view of the Open Billed Storks, Black Tailed Godwitt, Nothern pintails, Shovelers, Painted Storks, Shelduck etc. 

Then we quickly moved to Mangalajodi where we met with the birding guides promoted by the village eco-tourism. This place was once infamous for bird poachers who earned their living by killing, catching and selling these beautiful birds and their eggs. The local village committee and a wildlife NGO, WildOrissa have converted these poachers to protectors of the birds.

As we navigated along the various channels in the wetland we got a glimpse of the wide variety of migratory birds never seen before. The 2 &1/2 hours of boat ride was very enriching and definitely a bird watcher’s paradise.
        Black Tailed Godwit    
      Brahminy Kite 
         Black winged Stilt

Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Sambalpur Orissa

posted Jan 15, 2011, 2:18 AM by sandip mishra   [ updated Jan 24, 2011, 1:52 AM ]

Last year during our annual visit to Orissa, we decided to explore lesser known places. Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary situated in Sambalpur, Orissa caught our attention. Located 40 Kms from Sambalpur  adjacent to the waters of the Hirakud Reservoir, this Sanctuary has two reserve forests i.e. Lohara and Debrigarh Reserve Forests.
 

We reached Sambalpur and next day morning drove down to the sanctuary. The early morning drive along the Hirakud reservoir was very nice. After taking permissions from at the forest check-post we started our journey…Being the summer season the forest wore a dry look with dry bamboos clumps dotting the forest line. Soon we spotted the Chital, Indian Peafowl and a herd of Indian Bison (Gaurs). You should plan to go in a Jeep or SUV as the roads are not motorable enough for cars.

 

We went to the watch tower along the banks of the Hirakud Reservoir and as we were moving back, we saw two sloth bears crossing the road behind us. We stopped to click some snaps, however they soon disappeared into the thickets.

 

It was getting hot and after exploring a bit more we decided to move to the Eco-tourism complex developed by the Forest Deptt. The place was impressive and while we waited for the food, we did some birding activities to capture flower peckers, Oriental white eye, tree pie, red vented bulbul, drongo etc. It was getting hot and after having our lunch we moved back to Sambalpur.

 

You can visit the official website at http://debrigarh.org/

Hirakud Reservoir
 
Oriental White Eye

Bhitarkanika National Park, Orissa

posted Dec 29, 2010, 8:11 PM by sandip mishra   [ updated Mar 3, 2015, 2:29 AM by Sandip Mishra ]


A trip to Bhitarkanika National Park was long pending and we decided to visit it in October 2010.

Situated in Odisha, Bhitarkanika National Park is a hotspot of diversity – home to the second largest area of mangrove forests only next to the Sunderbans, the estuarine or Salt water crocodile and the Olive Ridley Turtles. Lying on the estuarine region of the Brahmani & Baitarani rivers this can be accessed from Gupti by boat (provided by the Forest department) and also Rajnagar. You can find the details about Bhitarkanika from the following site http://www.bhitarkanika.org.

The best time to visit is between Nov and March, however we decided to go ahead with our trip, knowing that the weather could play truant(with an impeding cyclone). Our journey began from Gupti by boat(there is a fair weather road also to Dangamal from Rajnagar, which was closed due to heavy rains) and the journey through the Patsala and Bhitarkanika river was exciting.

We started to see mud-flats which seem to be the lifeline in such an eco-system. The crocodiles, the birds, the mangrove seed and everything around seem to survive. The ecosystem is quite cyclic in nature with high and low tides, each occurring alternately in 6 hrs i.e. 2 high tides and 2 low tides in a 24 hr cycle. The whole flora and fauna had adjusted to this web of life.

To read more about our experiences please click here
To view more photographs please click here
          Estuarine Crocodile
 
        Forest Rest House, Dangamal

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