Monday, 13 April 2015

India - Part 1 - Chambal

We are now back from India and an amazing time was had, lots of culture, which much to our surprise we really enjoyed, although we were 'templed' out by the end, but the main objective of finding Tigers was well and truly achieved, but that will come in a later post.

This being a wildlife blog I won't include all the other great stuff that we have seen, so I'll start with our two nights at Chambal Safari Lodge. We only had one full day here, but we arrived at lunch time on day one so had some time to explore the grounds and do our first bit of birding, there were quite a variety of birds and other things in our lodge grounds:
Jungle Babbler (By far one of the most common birds around)
 Rose-ringed Parakeet
 Common Myna
 Flying Fox
 Long Billed Crow
 Coppersmith Barbet

 Painted Stork
 Common Hawk Cuckoo
 Indian Peafowl
 Cattle Egret
 Red-wattled Lapwing
 Spotted Owlet
 Indian Hare
Not bad for a wander around the gardens! That afternoon we went to Bateshwar to look at the Hindu Temples on the Yamuna River, it was really spectacular, I know it's not wildlife but what the heck!
There was abundant bird life around the river, so I suppose you could actually call it Urban Birding of sorts:
White-throated Kingfisher
 Green Bee-eater
 House Swift
 Rose-ringed Parakeet
This male Parakeet was really showing off to the Ladies, "look at me, no feet" and it worked! Moments later he was making out with a Young Lady Parakeet. In addition to the above we saw Indian Pond Heron, Grey Heron, Great Cormorant, distant Spoonbill, Ruddy Shelduck, Black-winged Stilt and quite a few unidentified waders, too far way for a positive id.

The next day we went in search of the elusive Blackbuck and Antelope native to the Indian Sub-continent. It's difficult to find as it's not a large animal and lives in the tall grasses and mustard fields in this part of Central India. Our guide tried very hard to find it, but of course along the way, there was always a couple of birds to find as well:
Collared Dove
 Laughing Dove
 Great Grey Shrike
So did we find the Blackbuck, eventually! We had a few brief sightings as a couple of males bounded through the crops:
Then a bit later we came across a male with his Harem:

As you can see getting a good sighting of these Antelope can be really difficult, but it was a good if rather hot morning. (35c+)

After lunch a cruise on the Chambal River was planned. I could go into a long story about why the Chambal River is so good for wildlife, but...... oh go then, if you insist I will!

Unlike rivers like the Ganges and the Yamuna, the Chambal is an 'unholy' river, I won't go into why, you can google that if you really want to. But to cut a long story short, everyone in India wants to live by a Holy River and being India that means the river is full of 'crap' literally! as well as plastic bottles bags and anything else that the residents don't want. Whereas nobody lives on the Chambal it is pristine and beautiful and the area where we went is a protected nature reserve. The bird life was fantastic, plus we saw Marsh Crocodiles, Gharial (Alligator) and River Dolphin, sadly no Dolphin photos as they proved extremely difficult to photograph although we do have a few seconds video.
Marsh Crocodile
So to the birds:
Little Cormorant
 Intermediate Egret
Grey Francolin
 White-browed Wagtail
 Cattle Egret
Brown Crake
Egyptian Vulture
Bar-headed Geese
Ruddy Shelduck
Great Thicknee
Black-bellied Tern
River Lapwing
Pied Kingfisher
Chesnut-bellied Sandgrouse
Blue Rock Thrush
Lesser Whistling Duck

So a great afternoon. We totaled 42 species at the river. Including the Indian Skimmer, both little & Temminick's Stint, although I'm not sure which one that is in the previous photo!

So next Wildlife post will be for Bandvargarh National Park

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