Sunday, May 31, 2009

The birds of Kanha - Part 2 of Kanha series

The sounds of the jungle are enchanting. I guess they bring back the nostalgia still embedded in our genes. For, not very long ago, we were an integral (and rapidly evolving) part of these very jungles that we've now run over to create civilization...

Turn off the engine of the safari vehicle at Kanha and listen to the sounds around. You would definitely not miss the frantic song of the Common Hawk Cuckoo. The song that sounds like "Brain-Fe-ver" rings all over the place. Not too far behind, another cuckoo - this time the Indian cuckoo - wants "One more bottle". Puff-throated babblers render their wonderful song hidden in the undergrowth. Barbets call from the tree tops. An Indian Peafowl gives out an alarm call from far away. A shrill whistle shows the Crested Serpent Eagle gliding overhead. The orchestra is truly wonderful!

One more bottle - Indian Cuckoo

Kanha plays host to around 280 species of birds. At least 52 of the 77 families of birds found in India are represented here (source).

Cattle egrets were hitching rides on patient gaurs. In breeding plumage, these common birds look really beautiful. Rollers seemed to not mind the people around and flashed a brilliant blue when they flew. Racket-tailed drongos were a sight to watch, with their long streamers floating behind them as they flew from tree to tree. The very shy Red Junglefowl ran from the safari path into the jungle at the sound of an approaching vehicle. Jungle babblers flew from one place to another in flocks.

Free Ride - Cattle Egret on Gaur

Our national bird, the Indian Peafowl, was at its majestic best. The very famous display of this colorful bird was a treat to watch, despite seeing at least a couple of them on every safari. I saw the Indian Pitta, another very colorful bird, atop trees for the very first time (I've always seen them in the undergrowth in Bangalore).

The area around Bahmni Dadar was a particularly different habitat. A Peregrine Falcon (wish I could've got a photograph) was looking for prey. White-rumped Shamas were singing at their melodious best. An Emerald Dove posed for the cameras, before disappearing.

Among raptors (I somehow like them a lot), Spotted Owlets, Crested Serpent Eagles and Oriental Honey Buzzards were most often spotted. A resident Black-winged Kite made its appearance close to the Kisli gate on all safaris. I also saw a lot of firsts - Peregrine Falcon, White-eyed Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and White-rumped Vultures. A personal favorite from the trip was a late evening sighting of a Changeable Hawk Eagle with a catch. A Racket-tailed Drongo (another very common, yet shy bird at Kanha) was unsuccessfully trying to mob it. The eagle chased away the drongo and went about the dinner routine.

Dinner time - Changeable Hawk Eagle with prey

The complete list of birds seen can be found here.

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