Thursday, 18 February 2016

1 & 2nd February – Ranthamphur

An early start saw us meet the truck from Ranthambhore which was waiting for us in the darkness outside the compound of the hotel. With a chill in the air we made our way to the park entrance. As we waiting for the paperwork to be completed the sense of excitement was tangible.

Indian Scops Owl
As we made our way into the park we passed through a 700 year old fortified entrance which blocked the pass we were travelling along. Then, ahead of us the fortress on the top of the hill came into view, it was impressive. The trees overhead were full of roosting Indian Peafowl and as bird activity got underway we were greeted with bird after bird.

Painted Scrubfowl was an impressive bird and the number of Rufous Treepies was staggering. The bird were really coming thick and fast. There are several trails through the Reserve and each truck is allocated a route at random. Our route had some stunning scenery and we heard the alarm calls of Spotted Deer a sure sign that there was probably a tiger around, but we didn’t see one. We stopped at a rest area where Rufous Treepies and Jungle Babblers awaited our arrival, it was ridiculous there were birds all over us, eating out of our hands and off our heads!

Lokesh, complete with Rufous Treepie

Before long the Safari was over but we were due another trip in the afternoon, plus early the next day. The area outside the hotel was semi-desert with scattered bushes so we spent the pre-lunch hours exploring this area between the hotel and the road.  It looked great for Larks and Pipits and so it proved with Indian Bushlark, Greater Short-toed and Ashy-headed Sparrow-lark. We also had Isabelle Wheatear, Long-billed Pipit and Painted Sandgrouse plus a rather showy Bay-backed Shrike.

Bay-backed Shrike
Painted Spurfowl
The male Tiger D72.
Soon it was time to go return to Ranthamphur, this time on another of the routes. At a waterhole we heard alarm calls of deer then a tiger roar! There were three other vehicles and we were all jostling to find the best position. Suddenly the beast appeared and the Tiger remained on view for the next ten minutes as it made its way through the vegetation across a stream and slowly out of view. We were all really excited – birds didn’t seem to matter quite so much now.

White-breasted Waterhen
The next morning we were off again, this time on a route that was supposedly the best for Tiger, but it wasn’t to be. Apparently the last group had failed to see Tiger and although there is a good chance it is by no means guaranteed. However, this trail was good for birds with a large lake in the centre and we added a few species to the holiday list. After our evening meal we visited an area not too far away where dead animal carcasses are dumped where we saw a Striped Hyena.

After lunch we packed, boarded the minibus and headed north towards Baratphur arriving in the early evening. We birded on the way and we were lucky enough to catch up with one of the trips target species Indian Courser, there saw two, although they were a little distant we got reasonable views.

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