Day 15 -
February 08, Tuesday: Chambal Sanctuary, Kuchesar
We went first thing in the morning
the Chambal River for bird and mammal watching. This river is the
only major river flowing from the Himalayas through India that is NOT
considered holy and, ironically, the corresponding lack of attention it
receives means it is one of the most natural rivers in the
country. It is superb for nature watching.
We were scheduled for a morning boat outing, with hopes of seeing a
good variety of local bird specialities, most particularly Indian
Skimmer. And several special mammals were potentially on offer on
our river ride as well. We thoroughly enjoyed our boat trip
even though we failed to see Indian Skimmer, though lodge guests on the
afternoon boat outing sighted two. But our sighting of a Jungle
Cat was considerably more rare.
A short video showing a portion of an immense flock of Bar-headed
Geese floating on the Chambal River.
We returned to the lodge for a late lunch, then spent the rest of the
afternoon exploring the well-wooded lodge grounds, as well as the
surrounding agricultural fields, which were productive for pipits.
A short video showing a Black-rumped Flameback woodpecker
It should be noted that it rained this day, and any rain in February in
northern India has heretofore been considered exceptional, as the first
few rains are not expected until late March. But, with climate
change, all bets are now off, and we experienced three different days
with rain on our trip. This did not impact our activities, but
did make the driving even more onerous that it would otherwise have
been, especially on the subsequent two days.
A series of linked short videos illustrating the frustrating rate
of travel along major highways in India.
On this trip we were driving from Chambal to Kuchesar, via
Delhi. Our average speed was s-l-o-w. . . .
Day List Bird Highlights
(of 112 species), along the Chambal River, unless otherwise noted:
Oriental Honey-buzzard (at Lodge)
Great Black-headed Gull
Red Collared-Dove (at Lodge)
Rufous-tailed Shrike (at Lodge)
Greater Short-toed Lark
Tickell’s Thrush (at Lodge)
Oriental Pipit (at Lodge)
Tawny Pipit (at Lodge)
Tree Pipit (at Lodge)
Baya Weaver (at Lodge)
Day 16 -
February 09, Tuesday: Chambal Sanctuary to Kuchesar
Once upon a time there was direct train service between Delhi and
Corbett National Park, but the line is currently closed while it is
being upgraded. In the absence of the preferable train option it
is necessary for now to drive, and so, after an early breakfast we were
faced with a l-o-n-g bus trip to Kuchesar, occupying all our available
hours of daylight. No birding highlights today, but there were
many photogenic moments as we drove through Indian countryside,
villages, and cities. We spent the night at the heritage hotel of
Mud Fort Kuchesar.
February 10, Wednesday: Kuchesar to Ramnagar & Corbett N.P.
We spent all morning on the bus on
(at times) interminable drive to Ramnagar, just outside Corbett
National Park. The rains had turned road construction areas to
large expanses of mud but, despite the delays, we did arrive at our
lodge, and in the afternoon we birded in the Ramnagar area (though
outside the park), including the Ramganger River.
This was to be our first full day
in Corbett National Park.
After breakfast we stopped to try for Ibisbill at a couple of spots
along the river, but without success. We then entered the
park and drove to Dhikala Forest Lodge, where the
park headquarters is
located, along the Ramganger River. All went well until after
lunch, when we experienced the incident described in the introduction
to this trip report. I accompanied our injured participant back
to Dehli (by ambulance), and neither of us participated in the rest of
the trip (though somewhat ironically those of us in the front seat of
the ambulance saw a tiger on the drive out of Corbett, which was missed
by all but one of the group in the following vehicles).
The rest of the group "re-grouped" and left Corbett, staying in
alternative accommodations in Ramnagar. They were still
accompanied by Abhi and Rataan, so were in good hands.
The original planned itinerary, a morning in the heart of Corbett NP,
had to be altered in light of the events of the previous day.
Instead the group scoured the banks of the Ramganger River looking for
Ibisbill, as well as spending time in good adjacent forest
habitat. The group's diligence, and the perserverance of Rataan,
paid off, with wonderful looks at two Ibisbill, plus other exciting
Day 20 -
February 13, Saturday: Bijrani Range Forest
With Ibisbill securely on the list the group switched their
to forest birds, and also investigated streams. There were plenty
of new trip birds, many of which would have been lifers for me, had I
not been in Delhi.
Day List Bird Highlights
(of 65 species)
Day 21 -
February 14, Sunday: Jhirna Range Forest, & drive to Pangot
The morning was spent visiting a different forested area, the
Range Forest, and after lunch the group embarked on the long, somewhat
rough drive to Pangot, at higher elevations. The unexpected risk
of snowfall made the venture a bit unnerving, because if the road were
to be closed due to snow the group would be stranded, and would miss
their flights on the 17th. But some of the highlights of the
morning's birding helped reduce the tension somewhat.
Overnight at theJungle
Lore Birding Lodge. Another birding guide, Nick,
joined the group for the birding in Pangot, and the group said good-bye
to Rataan, who had been a superb guide throughout his stay with us, in
all locations, and in all habitats.
A full day's birding at Pangot confirmed two facts -- it was a
wonderful birding area (as it was much higher in the foothills), and
the trip's itinerary should have allowed a longer stay.
Many new trip birds were found, and I missed, once again, many
potential lifers. The group was very pleased with the day's list,
but were concerned regarding threatening weather.