Bird watching – Pench National Park

I posted recently about my visit to Pench National Park. Here is the full list of birds that I observed during my visit (all names as per ‘The Book of Indian Birds – Salim Ali’):

  1. Indian Cormorant
  2. Grey Heron
  3. Indian Pond-Heron
  4. Cattle Egret
  5. Median Egret
  6. Little Egret
  7. Painted Stork
  8. White-Necked Stork
  9. Black Stork
  10. Oriental White Ibis
  11. Black Ibis
  12. Brahminy Shelduck
  13. Northern Pintail
  14. Spot-Billed Duck
  15. Eurasian Wigeon
  16. Black-Shouldered Kite
  17. Oriental Honey-Buzzard
  18. Shikra
  19. White-Eyed Buzzard
  20. Changeable Hawk-Eagle
  21. Crested Serpent Eagle
  22. Greater Grey-Headed Fish-Eagle
  23. Indian White-Backed Vulture
  24. Painted Spurfowl
  25. Red Junglefowl
  26. Indian Peafowl
  27. Pheasant-Tailed Jacana
  28. Black-Winged Stilt
  29. Stone-Curlew
  30. Red-Wattled Lapwing
  31. Yellow-Wattled Lapwing
  32. Marsh Sandpiper
  33. Common Sandpiper
  34. Little Ringed Plover
  35. River Tern
  36. Yellow-Legged Green-Pigeon
  37. Blue Rock Pigeon
  38. Eurasian Collared-Dove
  39. Spotted Dove
  40. Little Brown Dove
  41. Rose-Ringed Parakeet
  42. Alexandrine Parakeet
  43. Plum-Headed Parakeet
  44. Brainfever Bird (heard)
  45. Asian Koel
  46. Greater Coucal
  47. Mottled Wood-Owl
  48. Eurasian Scops-Owl
  49. Jungle Owlet
  50. Crested Tree-Swift
  51. White-Breasted Kingfisher
  52. Small Bee-Eater
  53. Indian Roller
  54. IndianĀ  Grey Hornbill
  55. Black-Shouldered Woodpecker
  56. Lesser Golden-Backed Woodpecker
  57. Red-Rumped Swallow
  58. Rufous-Backed Shrike
  59. Eurasian Golden Oriole
  60. Black-Headed Oriole
  61. Black Drongo
  62. Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo
  63. White-Bellied Drongo
  64. Brahminy Starling
  65. Grey-Headed Starling
  66. Common Myna
  67. Indian Treepie
  68. House Crow
  69. Jungle Crow
  70. Common Woodshrike
  71. Large Cuckoo-Shrike
  72. Red-Vented Bulbul
  73. Common Babbler
  74. Jungle Babbler
  75. Asian Paradise Flycatcher
  76. White-Browed Fantail-Flycatcher
  77. Streaked Fantail-Warbler
  78. Jungle Prinia
  79. Oriental Magpie-Robin
  80. Pied Bushchat
  81. Indian Robin
  82. Great Tit
  83. Chestnut-Bellied Nuthatch
  84. Brown Rock Pipit (?)
  85. Tickell’s Flowerpecker
  86. Yellow Wagtail
  87. White Wagtail
  88. Large Pied Wagtail
  89. Purple Sunbird
  90. Yellow-Throated Sparrow
  91. House Sparrow

A visit to Pench National Park

I visited Pench National Park a couple of weekends ago along with a few friends. It was my first pure National Park trip after 10 years and something I was eagerly looking forward to.

My first impressions of Nagpur were positive – clean, peaceful airport, good roads, metro construction happening apace.

Pench straddles Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. And on the absolutely wonderful road from Nagpur, we were at our resort in about a couple of hours. The National Highway has regular elevated stretches so wildlife can cross underneath, avoiding unfortunate accidents. I wonder if any studies have been done to understand the impact of this on wildlife – do they use the tunnels or still attempt to cross the road?

The resort was small, with A/C tented accommodation. It is located a few minutes away from Kharsapar, the entrance to Pench National Park from the Maharashtra side. We left for our first safari immediately after lunch.

We quickly settled into a routine – wake up early (around 4:30), leave for the morning safari that starts at 6:15, end the safari by 10:30, come back to the resort to rest and refresh, have lunch, leave for the afternoon safari around 2 pm, come back around 7 pm, refresh, relax and have dinner.

We did 8 safaris in total, which in the end, proved one too many for me. The hectic itinerary, heat and cold, oily food meant that I fell ill by the last day and took a couple of days to recover after reaching home.

But it was a very fulfilling trip. I spotted over 75 species of birds (full list in the next post), a tigress, two one year old tiger cubs, a jungle cat, mongooses, sambar and chital deer, herds of gaur and some nilgai.

It was interesting to view the difference in landscape between the Maharastra and Madhya Pradesh sides of Pench. While the Maharashtra side is dryer and rockier, the Madhya Pradesh side is visibly greener. The wide open patches along the Pench river were especially scenic.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The other interesting thing for me was to see that most of the guides were locals who were earlier living in or near the National Park. It was also heartening to see many women guides. I would definitely recommend Pench for anyone wanting to visit a typical Central Indian jungle – the setting of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’

Teaching

One of the things I have always wanted to do was teach. And I was fortunate to get the experience recently.

Why teaching? I guess a key aspect for me was the necessity to be a subject matter expert. No matter how much time one has spent working in this domain, when it comes to a field that is so dynamic such as Digital Marketing, I believe that no one can rest on their experience and claim to be an expert. One has to constantly relearn as things keep evolving at a rapid rate. When I started my career in digital marketing, users only had a single screen, social media was unheard of, and we were measuring ‘hits’! Thankfully, my work has helped me keep abreast of all the latest developments, but having to teach helped me focus on the learning aspect even more.

I have also been fortunate in having the freedom to design my own course content, within the given framework. The experience of having created and presented multiple presentations to different audiences helped here.

Of course, as with any new venture, there is continuous scope to learn and improve further. And this is something I intend to do.

If any readers have any tips on what they enjoyed most while teaching, or indeed while being taught, please do comment. Thanks!

Bird watching – Wayanad

I had written previously about my trip to Wayanad. One of the things I was looking forward to in the trip was to do some bird-watching and hopefully see some of the birds that are primarily found only in the Western Ghats region.

I am delighted to say that I had a very enjoyable few days of bird-watching where I got to so a few birds that have been on my ‘to see’ list for a while now! These include the Vernal Hanging Parrot and Malabar Barbet.

 

The full list below (all names as per Salim Ali’s ‘The Book of Indian Birds’):

  1. Little Cormorant
  2. White-necked (Woolly necked) Stork
  3. Brahminy Kite
  4. Unidentified Sparrowhawk
  5. Changeable Hawk-Eagle
  6. Falcon
  7. Grey Junglefowl
  8. Indian Peafowl
  9. River Tern
  10. Spotted Dove
  11. Blue-Winged (Malabar) Parakeet
  12. Indian (Vernal) Hanging Parrot
  13. Unidentified Swift
  14. Malabar Grey Hornbill
  15. Crimson-Throated (Malabar) Barbet
  16. Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
  17. Common Golden-backed Woodpecker
  18. White-Cheeked Barbet
  19. Black Drongo
  20. Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo
  21. Ashy Drongo
  22. Bronzed Drongo
  23. Grey-Headed (Malabar) Starling
  24. Common Myna
  25. Jungle Crow
  26. Scarlet (Orange) Minivet
  27. Gold-fronted Chloropsis
  28. Red-Vented Bulbul
  29. Red-Whiskered Bulbul
  30. Black (Square-tailed) Bulbul
  31. Verditer Flycatcher
  32. Blyth’s Reed Warbler
  33. Indian Blue Robin
  34. Oriental Magpie Robin
  35. Indian Blackbird
  36. Great Tit
  37. Oriental Tree Pipit
  38. Grey Wagtail
  39. Large Pied Wagtail
  40. Purple-Rumped Sunbird
  41. Small (Maroon backed) Sunbird
  42. Loten’s Sunbird
  43. Purple Sunbird
  44. Oriental White-Eye

 

Wayanad

Wayanad is a hilly region in the north of Kerala, bordering Karnataka. It is about two hours from Kozhikode (Calicut) and six hours by road from Bangalore. It is here that we went for a end of year holiday with family.

We stayed at the wonderful Annapara Home Stay, a boutique home stay located amidst coffee plantations with fantastic views of the tall mountains all around. It was a wonderful experience, with amazing home cooked food and awesome service from Pravin and Shibu – the two caretakers.

In addition to spending time at the beautiful property, we also went on a hike to a couple of waterfalls nearby, visited the Banasura Sagar dam, ziplined over tea plantations, visited Pookode lake and the Muthanga or Wayanad Wild Life Sanctuary. Except for the last, which we all felt was frankly not worth the effort, everything else was fun and relaxed.

Definitely a place worth visiting more than once!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.