Safari-5: Morning 17th May 2011 

The morning safari today was a big success and most rewarding. 

Bablu, our driver, had decided that that we will enter the park first before any other jeep today. So he asked to be ready in our Hotel, Kipling Court, by 4:30am. He said for maximum chance of spotting the Tigers we have to reach their activity area before other jeeps come and force the tigers to retreat to some inner area.

He was proved right! We were the first to enter the park today at 5:20am. We drove straight to Baghini-nala area and as soon as we reached the bank of the Nalla, Sadanand (SK) spotted a tiger sitting on a grassy ridge, an extension of the small check-dam on the nalla. 

It was one of Baghini-Tigress's cubs and was about 150M away from us. At that distance we got excellent view of the cub with the Guide's Binoculars but not very good pictures. Light was also still pretty low. We were the only jeep there for nearly 5 mins before the next jeep arrived. 

The Cub must have got disturbed and so got up and started walking away from us. That is when we saw a 2nd cub also get up, further ahead and together they started walking away. 

One started climbing up a small ridge while the other disappeared below in a gully. As the first cub climbed up, we realized the Tigress (Bhagini) was also on the ridge slope at a higher level! She must have been there all along, watching her cubs. Maybe she called the cubs up, after seeing more jeeps arrive? 

I took some pictures of the mother and cub on my DSLR. Yet to see how clear those shots are taken at a distance 300M or so. Soon two forest guards arrived on their motor-bike and that noise was enough to make the Tigress and her cubs disappear into the forest. 

So as we moved towards Ali-Katta to see if there was any elephant-back safari today.

Typical jeep trail in the park

On the way we entered nice rolling grassy meadow with a water-body and saw lots of Spotted Deer and many birds such as yellow-legged Pigeon, Indian Roller, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Black & Yellow-beak Ibis, Egret, Heron etc. This was an idyllic spot halt and watch all the birds of the park. We stopped here for nearly 30mins watching the scenery in morning glowing light.

The idyllic waterhole bathed morning sunlight
Peacocks, White and Black necked Ibis
Roufus Tree Pie (I was told)

Ali-katta where all the safari jeeps meet to exchange 'sighting' notes and book elephant safaris, if operational

At Alikatta, we came to know elephant rides has started to show Collarwaali and her cubs near the same location as yesterday's Neelgai Kill. So we booked another elephant-ride and arrived at the same spot near the stream (as yesterday). But before our turn came it seems the Tigress and cubs have moved away further. So the Elephant boarding spot was moved further up the stream, about 200M away.

When we started our elephant-ride the Collarwaali Tigress and her 4 cubs were sitting/lying down on a rocky-outcrop mound, partially hidden by brush-grass. When the elephant neared the spot we could see them close, just about 5-10M away, from our cameras and at eye-level from top of elephant! This was an awesome sight as we could see Tigress and her 4 cubs so near us! This was a better sighting than of yesterday.

Another cub was moving around on side of rocky outcrop

Three cubs are here asleep on right

As our jeep moved away from the elephant boarding spot and drove nearly 300M away we were pleasantly surprised to see some 3-4 Tiger-cubs walking towards the water for a swim! Apparently the Tiger-cubs which were resting on the rocky-mound had left that place and now wanted to cool down in the water. One by one they entered the water and started swimming to mid-stream. Soon we saw the Collarwaali Tigress follow them into the stream.

There are 4 cubs and collarwaali tigress in the water now

It was an awesome sight to see all 5 of them playing in the water. However, we were nearly 300-400M away from where they were swimming. While we could see them clearly with our naked eyes, and even more so with the Binocs, I am not sure how good they will appear in the pictures I shot with the 300MM lens. 

Two cubs pull out and climb the bank on other side 

After 10 minutes they left the stream and started climbing out on other side; but then had a rethink and started back into water. At this point we were asked to move away to make space for other jeeps following us. 

A female Sambar

So far in 5 safaris (out of 7 booked) we have seen a total of 10 Tigers i.e. Two cubs of Badi-Mada Tigress, Collarwaali Tigress with her 4 cubs and Baghini-nala Tigress with her two cubs; so a total of 10 tigers ... so our Pench visit is fully 'paisa-vasool'


Safari-6: Evening Tuesday 16th May: 

Nothing new seen on this drive. We tried Bhagini Nalla again, but no luck for any tiger sighting. On the way we did see lots of Deer, Gaurs and Birds. So far all 3 evening drives have not been fruitful, in terms of Tigers for us. Though I did hear some others saw an adult male-tiger cross the trail path near them.


Sarari-7: Wednesday, Morning 18th May:

This was our last Safari. We explored some new areas of Pench which we had not seen so far. We were looking for Leopards or some Male Tigers but no such luck. We did hear some others had seen a male tiger cross the jeep trails in other areas. But we had no such luck. 

We cut short our Safari by 8:45AM and returned to KC by 9AM. Enjoy a nice breakfast of Puri-Aloo and Omelets-Toast  and started off for the airport in a hired KC Taxi (Rs 2000/-). It was hot day and AC car was required. Our flight left on-time and we reached Mumbai on time too.

At 5: 40AM  we saw a cub of  Bhagini-Nalla Tigress ... 
sitting on the ridge straight in front, some 200M away!

As the cub walked away, a 2nd cub too got up!

One of the cubs went up a ridge slope and sat down ... and only then we saw the mother tigress at a higher level!

When a noisy motorcycle came .... that cub got up and walked away and disappeared from sight

Yellow-footed Pigeon ... ready for take off !
Deer, Ibis, Peacok, Parakeets ... all were there 

Pond Ibis 
Rose-ring necked Parakeet

Elephant Safari Rides to the Tiger location
Collarwali Tiger cubs resting on rocky outcrop

Collarwali Cubs

Maybe the 5th club on other side of rock i n lantana bush

Another shot of cubs swimming

Soon the safari elephants too arrive on stream site!

Maybe too hot outside?  so going back into the water!
A Blue Jay

Another Sambar

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