K Gudi – In the wilderness

We had been slightly disappointed with the last Kabini trip. Only slightly, mind you. One naturalist was only concerned with tigers and leopards. There wasn’t any interest shown on birds or even elephants. It didn’t help that they seemed to be catering to a largely bazooka wielding crowd. At that time, there was some thought of trying out K-Gudi. This is another one managed by Jungle Lodges, and is in the Eastern Ghats, in the Biligiri Ranga Temple Tiger Reserve. Tiger spotting is pretty minimal, but it was supposed to have a lot more birdlife. The topography was also said to be more up and down – hilly – encouraging better viewing.

The first thing we noticed was that we had to drive into the forest to the camp. Unlike Kabini or Bandipur, it is not surrounded by hordes of private resorts or lodgings. There is just this one camp, which is also temporary. Apparently, they’ve been given some land outside the reserve, closer to Sathyamangalam, and will have to move out by 2018. After that the journey will be by jeeps that drive in from outside the forest, like they do with all the other forests.

The safari as such is in only one zone. Only one zone is opened up for tourism purposes, so all four safaris were about beating around the same bush in a way. Since we were inside the forest, their staff asked us to go driving on the road and do some spotting ourselves. A pack of dholes(asiatic wild dogs) had gone that side, so you might see them by the waterholes they said. There are waterholes on the road sides, but we could not see any dholes. But we did spot a pair of Oriental honey-buzzards and came close to one massive cobra which we couldn’t stop in time for.

The topography is a lot greener. While Bandipur and Nagarhole’s dry deciduous forests throw up a lot of dead dry trees, BRT was a lot greener. It had a more “forest” feel to it. The rains added to the charm and it looked like we were driving through the Western Ghats in the Monsoons.

Birding:

After we drove off from Kollegal towards the reserve, outside one of the villages was this huge congregation of kites. And a massive stench too! Apparently, this is where some kind of ropes are made from leftovers from sericulture. And the birds like to feed on them. We thought there might be a few eagles here, but there weren’t. They are all black kites or brahminy kites. The fancier ones are black kite juveniles.

Bunch of kites and a few eagles feeding on sericulture leftovers Continue reading “K Gudi – In the wilderness”

Leopard crossing (Kabini Stories – 2)

The morning of Feb 29th we were to report at the common area at around 6:15 AM. When we left our tent it was around 6.20 AM and none of the other tents had any lights on. Naturally, we felt that we were going to be the first to be there. Turns out it was the other way around and we were the last to turn up. IST did not apply here. This meant that we got split up in the jeep, with Anand having to sit in the back with 2 others who were clearly not happy to share, and me and Sharad having to split the couple in the front row and move the wife to the shotgun seat. We chugged along, but with split up parties and parties with strangers next to them, conversation was generally subdued.

There wasn’t much to sight, as we were in Zone ‘A’. There are two zones there – ‘A’ and ‘B’ split by the highway in the middle. You go to the right of the highway and it’s ‘A’ where there is no river or backwaters. ‘B’ is mostly along the river backwaters side and the sightings are higher. ‘A’ generally gets boring, but you can be surprised by a big one at times. Most people with big bazooka lenses like ‘A’.

Continue reading “Leopard crossing (Kabini Stories – 2)”

The Big Cat

We had almost decided not to do the morning Safari after the evening one failed to yield anything. The mini-bus had been crammed with people and almost everyone barring me and Anand was part of a family that included little kids who just wouldn’t keep quiet. There were grandmas and grandpas and we couldn’t understand what they’d be doing in the safari. It is usually a bumpy ride, not easy on the bones, and out of two hours, you just drive around amidst the trees for more than 75% of the time. Kids meant that every monkey and deer needed some stopping.

And then, out of nowhere there was the sighting of a herd of elephants. 15 minutes of beauty as they first went and hid in some bushes, keeping a wary eye out on us and then slowly came out and went back to grazing. This was preceded by a herd of Gaurs or socks-wearing Buffaloes. A lone shikra fluttered above, staying in one place by flapping its wings. The Sun looked ready to set. We figured we might have more luck the next morning and decided to take the morning safari. At least we did enjoy the experience of being driven through the forest.
Elephant herd
Continue reading “The Big Cat”