As we drove along on the mud-paths inside the forest, we noticed Langurs on the sides. There are very few stops for them. Only those who are new to the forests get excited about them. The only time we stop is when they sit on the road and stage a rasta roko. The cameras then come out and a few snaps are shot. They make for good photos when they are like that. Other times they tend to jump up trees and you only see silhouettes.
This time, I noticed something strange. There were no Langur kids. There were only adults and sub-adults clinging to trees. Any langur group usually has a kid or two clinging to its mother. We passed group after group, with no sign of a recent birth. Was it the drought? Or was it timing? Did Langurs not have children during the Winter? The driver had no clue, but he felt it was less to do with the drought than the Winter.
The first morning though, as we drove through empty forest roads, on what was the most eventless safari of the four, we finally came across a group which had a young one. The sun had just come out and it was warming the air and dispensing the fog. The child was sitting by itself, saw the jeep standing below and ran up to its mother’s outstretched arms.
One young one decided to jump onto an adult, not sure if father or mother, or unrelated. The adult wasn’t keen. They shrieked and screeched at each other for a while. Was it just play? Was the young one scared of us, and wanted refuge from a nearby adult, who shunned it? We left them in peace.
The same evening, there was one Langur sitting in a sombre position. We stopped just for him so that the group behind could finally shoot some pics of a Langur. They had been bored by deers within 30 minutes, their excitement starting on a high pitch, and dropping exponentially with each sighting of deer herds.
We saw a Crested Serpent Eagle(CSE) first up, before the driver decided there are more important things ahead, which turned out to be the sleeping tiger.They are usually the first sighting, sitting on low branches, posing for photographers without a twitch. The CSE seemed to have been offended by our ignoring of it. We did not see another until the last morning, that too perched way up a tree.
There was another bird the first evening, smaller than an eagle, larger than a hawk, with longer legs and a white body. It was skittish and flew away before a better sighting or ID. Oh well.
The regulars were missing from the forests this time. People had seen a Crested Hawk Eagle (CHE), but we did not manage to see even one. The last time we had a good sighting was in Feb 2015 in Kabini. Will be 2 years without sighting one. There were no Indian Rollers either. These are fairly regular, but there was no sighting one this time.
Grey-headed shrikes were seen though, these are becoming fairly common sighting now. Small, beautiful birds that sit steady and aren’t skittish. They even pose on top of small poles, which makes focusing a dream.
The lake inside the forest was overrun by painted storks. They were walking steadily through the lake, keeping their beaks inside the water, and suddenly emerging with a fish in their beaks.
A couple of woolly necked storks were feeding on the sidelines. Different food?
The best birding though was inside the resort. The second day, after breakfast, we strolled down to the big Peepul tree in the property and sat watching the birds there. There were Asian Koels, black males, and pleated females. They were chasing away the mynahs in the tree. Maybe to lay eggs in their nests?
The bigger draw though was the Asian Paradise Flycatcher, male. This isn’t an easy bird to sight as it tends to be skittish. But this fellow was hunting by the water peacefully. They are usually white/silver, but this one was Reddish in colour, what is known as rufous plumage. Some populations apparently have white plumage, and some rufous. The females look similar, but the tail isn’t as long. It’s much shorter.
All in all, a good trip for birding too! Hope to spot a CHE next time, and also figure out what that white bird that we saw, was.