Water birds (Kabini stories – 3)

The thing about Kabini is the presence of the backwaters all over the place. This throws up interesting vistas and also behaviours.  Like the first evening, where there were herds and herds of spotted deer along the backwaters threading different points. And an imminent sunset.

Sunset, Kabini

Three years back I saw a line of Gaurs leading to the backwaters. The water level had shrunk as this was following a very dry year – 2012.

Gaur line – Jan 2013
Away from the water, there are a lot of dead trees. This is also the season where trees have generally shed their leaves and about to welcome new ones. We haven’t seen these forests during the monsoons, we stay away because of the rains. It might be worth checking them out just to see fuller canopies unlike the bony ones we saw.

Canopy

There is a starkness about the forest, with rows and rows of dead trees lining up everywhere. But you still feel some greenness, some freshness through this all. When you spot an elephant or a sleeping leopard, you see them around trees that are alive. Birds, however, perch wherever they feel like, and woodpeckers peck where they can find food.

Even within this, there is beauty, like the sun rising through and peaking through the bare branches.

***

The last morning we decided to do a boat safari. We hadn’t done one since the first time where we thought it was mandatory. This time we were there with just a couple of other groups. We started before the Sun was out, and were treated to colourful skies.

Sometime into the boat safari, the Sun came out, all bright pink and yellow(pardon my colourblindness if I got the colour below wrong). All I wanted was a line of spotted deer in the foreground to complete the picture.

Our goal was to spot Ospreys and Fish-eagles this morning. We had done big mammals the past 3 ones and this was a welcome change. The boat safari guy seemed pleased to have people interested in specific birds instead of just sitting and being shown whatever he had to show. We saw one Osprey sitting on a dead tree on the river, ready to fly.

Osprey

And fly it did, spreading its glorious wings. The Sun was on its back lighting up the inner side a golden red.

Osprey

As it soared, the wings were spread even further. What a gigantic bird this is!

Osprey

Next in the list was a fish-eagle. We weren’t sure whether we’d run into a lesser fish eagle or a grey-headed fish eagle. Turns out if was the grey-headed one. We saw one sitting solemnly on a tree stump. But the lighting was on its back.

Grey headed fish eagle

Pretty soon however, we saw another land on another stump nearby.

Grey headed fish eagle

This river eagle was much easier to shoot as the light was just perfect. Doesn’t look like someone you want to mess with, no? We waited for it to fly and give us a shot of the widespread wings, but it didn’t. We moved away only to see it glide our way within seconds. Aah! Maybe next time?

Grey headed fish eagle

In case you’re wondering where all these tree stumps came from, this was a forest that got submerged when the Kabini dam was built in 1974 and formed the backwaters. There are a lot of tree stumps that still jut out. A submerged highway with a broken bridge also can be seen during drier seasons.

IMG_0649

As we were on the way back, two peacocks put up a show unfurling their tails, and trying to prove which one’s is better. Or maybe they were just practising. They were too far for good shots though, and I could only get a low-res after cropping from a bigger one. Some things are for the eyes only, eh?

I guess that’s all I had. There is one more on squirrels that I might or might not write. Maybe I will in a few days, after giving some time for people to digest these posts so far.

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