Formidable search for Ibisbill through a man-eating Tiger’s territory

Tigercamp

The garden of the beautiful Tiger Camp Resort. © Gyorgy Szimuly

We had a wonderful night in the Tiger Camp with some internet connection. OK, it was wonderful by the deep sleep and nothing else… It was time to get in touch with the family. I was simply not able to wake up for some birding before we checked out. Balázs explored the garden of the resort without seeing any exciting birds.

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Balázs is pointing to a fresh pug mark of a Bengal Tiger, possibly the deadly one’s. The mark was just 40 meters away from the fatal event. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Our guides picked us up in the morning and we headed to the Kosi River. We had mixed feelings by this birding as we were informed that prior to our arrival to the Tiger Camp, a Tiger had killed two women on two consecutive day. And what a surprise, our guides planned to walk to the river by crossing the garden where one of the ladies died. I thought it was a joke but when he showed the exact scene I started to feel uncomfortable. The trail to the river was about 200 meters long and was running in a dense vegetation. I felt some relief when we reached the river but I had no idea by what reason.

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Holy bath of local people in the bed of Kosi River. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Some local guy came up to us to see what we looked at through the Swarovski spotting scope. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Anyway I tried to dissociate the previous day’s events and enjoy birding. The low bushes were quite busy and we saw many movements although proper view was hard to get. The reason we wanted to visit this section of the Kosi River is to find the wintering Ibisbill, one of my sought after shorebird species for the trip. Unfortunately our attempt coincided with the holy bathing festival in the river which, we suppose, was the reason of lack of Ibisbill despite there had been records of wintering birds from the previous weeks. In there riverbed activity was very low but we saw some Indian PeafowlsBlack KitesRiver Lapwings, a Common Greenshank, Pied Kingfishers, White-throated Kingfisher, Plumbeous Water-Redstarts, White-capped Water-Redstarts, Barn Swallows, Red-rumped Swallows and White-browed Wagtails. On the bank of the river we found an Oriental Magpie RobinSiberian Rubythroat, a few Ashy Prinia as well as a Grey-sided Bush Warbler.

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Guarding hunter in search of the killer tiger. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Very fresh tiger pug mark alongside the main road next to the Corbett National Park. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Local volunteers also patrolled the main road by traditional way. © Gyorgy Szimuly

After giving up finding the Ibisbill we headed for the Corbett National Park. On our way to the gate we stopped by a hunter who was looking for the killing tiger and we found a very fresh pug mark of a huge tiger. Local employees of the Forest Department were also patrolling the roads to save civilians.

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Corbett landscapes with hills and lovely forests. © Gyorgy Szimuly

After managing some formalities we entered the national park. At that moment in childhood dream came true. I was in one of the last kingdoms of tigers and we were on their track. It is not easy to describe the exact feeling I felt in the open jeep but the adrenalin level was definitely moving up.

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Empty monsoon river beds caught my eyes somehow. © Gyorgy Szimuly

I let the guides work as they knew the area, the forest and smells better than me. All I did, I kept my eyes open and concentrating on birds. We had many nice break as the driver stopped immediately when we requested. We had to reach our next resort, named Dhikala before sunset which seemed to be manageable. On our way we saw some further tiger pug marks, some fresh some older.

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A view to the Ramnganga River from a picnic site where anyone can be off the car. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Birding was very slow in the morning but there was some development in the afternoon. Lifers included was some Pallas’s Fish Eagles and a Grey-headed Fish Eagle, a Crested Hawk-Eagle, Mountain Hawk-EagleCrested Kingfisher along the Ramganga River. Corbett is beautifully mixed by different habitat types which makes bird list quite diverse. To make the complete bird list short I list with some interesting records and the lifers including Red JunglefowlCollared FalconetSlaty-headed ParakeetSpotted OwletWhite-rumped Spinetail, Green-crowned Warbler, Common Green Magpies, Large Cuckooshrike, Scarlet Minivet, Yellow-bellied Fantail, White-throated Fantails, Red-breasted Flycatcher and many Lempon-rumped and Grey-hooded Warblers, Golden-spectacled Warbler as well as a Common Iora.

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Collared Falconet was feeding on a dragonfly on the top of a dead tree. What a lovely little raptor. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Grassland alongside the river. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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This adult Indian Elephant was perfectly hided by the bush. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Indian Elephant portrait. © Gyorgy Szimuly

By closing Dhikala the habitat was completely different to the forested areas. The forest was replaced by Elephant Grass fields and so new species appeared. We found a roosting and a sleepy Brown Fish Owl providing a perfect and close view. On the dirt road a few Oriental Skylarks were disturbed by the car. In the grassy areas many Himalayan Bulbuls, Red-vented Bulbuls were singing and calling. Scaly-breasted Munias were feeding on seeds.

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Brown Fish Owl was bored by our presence. The view was not perfect through the photo lens but was perfect through the SwaroVision binocular. The contrast and sharpness amazed me. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Home of River Lapwings. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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River Lapwings were rather tame . © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Just a record shot of a perching Pied Kingfisher while a Bengal Tiger was calling. © Gyorgy Szimuly

In the riverbed Woolly-necked Storks, two Black Storks, River Lapwings and Pied Kingfishers were seen.

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Indian Elephant along the Ramganga River. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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One of the funny moments during our trip. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Late in the evening we found a family of Indian Elephant what many tourists were watching. When one of the adult moved towards the cars everyone started to silently shout to move away from them.

The night was a bit rustic and disturbed as the Dhikala resort was very basic but there is no way to avoid spending a minimum of one night in this accommodation. Booking is mandatory for those who visit the Corbett National Park.

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