Friday, 19 February 2016

Friday 5th February – Chambal River to Delhi

After spending a comfortable night at the Safari Lodge in Chambal for todays river cruise we were up extra early today. Last night Lokesh explained that the target species on the River Cruise was no longer present, it appears the Indian Skimmer had moved. Two of the local guides had spent a week scouring the river banks on motor bikes and had found the birds about an hour upstream from our location and we were given the option of an early start which we all agreed with.

Crested Bunting
We were driving before the sunrise and it took more than an hour before we arrived at a small village which looked like it was out of the Middle Ages. We still had a walk of more than two miles to access the river bank which was reached by following a dried up stream bed which had gouged its way through the soft earth. It was an interesting walk with Camels carrying raw materials from the river and an elderly gentleman on his morning constitutional who was not expecting to be interrupted. I’ve never seen anyone pull up their strides quite so quickly!

Indian Skimmer
Black-bellied Tern
On reaching the river there was a surprising lack of water, it was also foggy, the sun was out and it was slowly starting to burn away the mist. Through the gloom we could hear the birds calling, it was really quite magical. Eventually the fog lifted and the Indian Skimmers were seen flying to and fro but unfortunately they relocated to a sand bar on the other far side. We saw some other good birds here with Black-bellied Tern, Pallas’s Gull and River Lapwing.

We then made our way back to the minibus were we enjoyed a relaxing River Cruise on a rather small boat. The birds were a little overshadowed by the strange looking Gharial and Marsh Mugger Crocodiles. We were soon heading back to the Safari Camp for lunch. We had a quick bird around the grounds seeing amongst other species Brown Hawk Owl. We now had a long eight hour drive to Delhi ahead of us.

River Lapwing
The drive went well considering the Indian Government is upgrading the road between Agra and Delhi, what good it will do remains to be seen. In one village a Tractor and trailer came through driven by a young boy of about ten years old, I don’t know how he reached the pedals! Another tractor was so overloaded its front wheels were up in the air above the drivers head! Only in India!!!

Brown Hawk Owl
We made good progress until we reach the outskirts of Delhi where it was complete gridlock. We were sitting in traffic when I noticed the car alongside containing about eight youths out for a good time were trying to attract my attention. The lad sharing the front passenger seat started to make obscene gestures towards me, I tried to ignore him but he wasn’t giving up. His teeth were all over the place “like a horse laughing through a letter box” and I don’t know what he was trying to communicate. I assume the gesture meant: (a) what he would be doing tonight; (b) what he thought I would be doing tonight or the least popular outcome (c) what he wanted to do to me!

I eventually got a bit fed up and the next time we made eye contact I mouthed to him “Can’t help you mate, I’m not a Dentist”. Whether he understood or not I could’t say!

We eventually arrived at our hotel a little before 11pm and after filling in more forms Lokesh informed us we would have to be up at 5.30am the next morning as we had a long drive ahead of us!!!!!! It was a comfortable bed for all the time I was in it. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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