Friday, 19 February 2016

Wednesday 10th February – Pangot to Corbett Tiger Reserve

Last night at supper Lokesh informed us we were making another attempt for Cheer Pheasant and that he had heard “a Plain Pipit” today whilst we were searching. Back in our room we scoured the field guides for Plain Pipit but couldn’t find one. This is not unusual as many of the birds have more than one name which adds to the confusion. I asked Lokesh what was the other name for Plain Pipit, he looked a little puzzled and said “No just a Plain Pipit”.

Anyway, we were on-site but unfortunately we again drew a blank with Cheer Pheasant even though everyone was looking hard. The Captain, sharp-eyed as usual announced he had a Pipit on a large rock behind us. A Plain Pipit Lokesh exclaimed. We got the scope on it and it was anything but Plain for a Pipit anyway. We were all enjoying this bird and Keith and I assumed it must have a Plain song. Jack looked at us strangely and informed us the bird was a Upland Pipit (try it with an Indian accent and it will make sense).
Upland Pipit or a Plain Pipit
By 10.00am and minus Cheer Pheasant we were packed and ready to head to our last venue, the one I had always wanted to visit  – Corbett Tiger Reserve. I had grown up reading Jim Corbett’s books on the man-eaters of India I’ve never tired of reading them. Tonight, we were spending the night in the Reserve in an enclosure surrounded by electrified fences, scary! On the drive to Corbett we passed another viewpoint were we couldn’t resist stopping for a last look at the Himalayas. Not far from  Corbett we saw a couple of lads on a motor bike carrying several panes of glass it wasn’t the first time we had seen this, but I had to grab a “Record Shot”.
The wife and I with the Himalayas as a backdrop
The wife the twin June and I with the Himalayas as a backdrop,

Glass transportation Indian Style. At least he can see danger coming!

After lunch at the Tiger Camp hotel Lokesh announced that we were going to meet the Gypsies in the car park, brilliant thought Joy and June, were going to get our Palms read, Fortunes told and there might be a cup of tea and a quick reading of the leaves afterwards. More than one person giggled when we met the Jeepses. Now in his defence they had Gypsies written on the side!

Statue of the great man
We eventually got into the Reserve after I was nominated to fill in the details of all the group members at the security on the front gate, I think I got most of the names right, I wasn’t the natural choice for getting names correct!

What followed was three of the most magical hours I have ever spent. The Reserve is massive it took all the time we had to get to the centre albeit we were birding some of the time. First up and completely unexpected we found not one but three Collared Falconets a small bird of prey. We saw loads of birds, then we pulled up at a spot where we could get out of the Jeeps called High Van, I assume it means High Vantage Point. There was a Grey-headed Fish Eagle sat in a tree and although we were ready to leave Lokesh went back the Jeep to fetch his Scope, this delay would prove vital.

We made our way back to the Jeeps five minutes later than planned when a young lad came running towards us nearly wetting himself with excitement – “Tiger, Tiger”. I ran the first ten yards spun around and went back for my camera, I wasn’t going to miss this. There were about 20 of us looking down over the River when we saw the Tiger making his way over the shingle beds towards the trees, all you could hear was cameras and excitement, I have never seen so many people so happy I felt close to tears it was really moving. Then as the Tiger reached the the trees, he must have heard us even though we were 200 yards away he looked back over his shoulder right at us. There was a lot of shaking of hands and looking at the back of cameras, they really were cracking lads and later Jack spoke to them in the restaurant and got their emails so as to send them pictures.

The Tiger
The Tiger
He walked right to left across this scene which I had taken earlier, I have blown it up but there was no tiger then.

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