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Old 18th June 2012, 18:30   #31
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

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Originally Posted by raghunandanj View Post
Fantastic ! Your photos are to die for ! Keep up the good work ! I was amazed to see the mother and cubs maintain so much proximity to the safari vehicles !

Not just an overdose of the tiger, you've had your luck on the other two apex predators, the leopard and dhole as well ! Great !

When is the best time to visit this place ?
Thanks - but I didn't see any leopard this time, unfortunately - did you mistake a tiger for a leopard?

Summer would be the best time for sightings - May, early June. But will be hot. Tradeoff is there - sightings vs. comfort.
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Old 18th June 2012, 19:57   #32
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

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Thanks Sudev, Driving_Nomad! You should try and do a trip this year before June 30th, like I did - next year the sightings might not be so good.
Your write up made me change my plans. From Ahmedabad I was initially thinking of getting to Vizag via Hyderabad. After reading and seeing your stuff have changed plans and so tomorrow I do Saputara - Tadoba and plan to do safari on Wednesday morning. Where do I send the bills??!!!

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What brings you down South, Sudev? If you were coming to Bangalore, and were free for a day, perhaps we could have done a quick trip to + some offroading in the Nilgiris.
Sorry not coming that deep south. Would love to take you up on your offer but another time. Going to Vizag to help conduct an autocross event - but really just taking a week off and driving alone across the country.
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Old 18th June 2012, 20:54   #33
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

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Your write up made me change my plans. From Ahmedabad I was initially thinking of getting to Vizag via Hyderabad. After reading and seeing your stuff have changed plans and so tomorrow I do Saputara - Tadoba and plan to do safari on Wednesday morning. Where do I send the bills??!!!
Here's wishing that your luck is good. I hope you have booked your place and confirmed that you will get a safari spot. Alternatively, you can take your Vitara inside the forest with a guide if you don't get any safari seat.

-------
2nd Safari, 5.45 - 9.45 AM

The alarm rang at 4.30am. Got ready in 45 minutes, and was sipping tea outside at 5.15am. Expectations were low on my side, because the previous afternoon's sightings and photos had made the entire trip worthwhile.

A sambhar doe steps gingerly into a waterhole usually frequented by tigers.
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Red-wattled Lapwing
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The vehicle came soon after, and we entered the gate around 5.45am. Same driver and guide combination. It wasn't very warm in the morning. Could hear peacock calls which were absent in the afternoon. We passed Jamunbadi tank, which has been famous in the recent past for the Panderpauni cub sightings. There were a few vehicles parked there, but we wanted to explore some of the lesser visited areas in Tadoba. So off we went. Mistake. The tigers came out 10 minutes later, and entertained the visitors for quite a while I hear.

Purple Sunbird
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Indian Pitta
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The tracks we took in the morning were better in terms of birdlife. We saw quite a few peafowl, Lapwings, Sunbirds, Honey Buzzards and the Indian Pitta. Folks were pretty excited to see the Pitta - I am not a birder, so couldn't figure out why e.g. whether it was that rare. But the bird was quite beautiful.

In Tadoba, Cattle Egrets always tag team with any large herbivore
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Jungle trail
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Pitta, back view
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Honey Buzzard
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The ever present Indian Roller Bird
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Our trail took us to Tadoba lake. It was nice to the see the evergreen trees dotting the shore, making a nice contrast to the blue water and the burnt brown/orange surroundings. A few herbivores and birds were hanging around in the rising heat. We saw a Honey Buzzard (? not sure) drinking water, or perhaps trying to read the small waves. We saw the same bird or its cousin at the same place everytime we visited the lake. Same thing happened with a crocodile. Maybe they meditate there?

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After sometime we went on the tar road that leads to Moharli, and then took a detour offroad. After some 100 metres we saw a few Gypsys parked. When we went close, we heard that a tiger was resting in the stream below. After some peering and stretching at convoluted angles to look through the openings in the brush, I managed to spot the beast. Seemed big. We waited for 15 mins, hoping that it would get up. It did - it crossed thw water, and went inside the brush. The guide and my fellow backseater - Amit Kilam from the Indian Ocean band (an avid wildlifer, with plenty of experience in tiger tracking) - felt that it would try to climb the rocky hill and we would get a view if we reversed. They were right. While all the other vehicles were still waiting at the same spot, we reversed for 20-30 yards and waited. After a while we saw a powerful beast climbing the rocks. It was pretty far away, but when I looked through the camera at full zoom, I could see the rippling forearm muscles. By this time the other vehicles had joined us. Some folks said that it was Yera Anna, the largest male in that area. Some others disputed that. In any case, it was a well built male.

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Seems he takes gymming seriously
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We came back hot, tired and dusty and after passing through some beautiful but dry Tadoba landscape. Had breakfast, and decided among our group that next day we should wait for the Panderpauni cubs everyone else seem to be seeing except us.

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The atmosphere was friendly in the dining room, with people sharing stories and pictures. I ran into a guy from my B. School, another passionate wildlife fan and photographer. He had brought a 200-400mm f/4 Nikkor to the party! It looked like a RPG 7 rocket launcher. A fantastic lens (Google it - those who don't know what it can do), but a heavy one. And me with my 'getting long in the tooth' (but trusty and familiar) D90 and 70-300mm. Well, I have decided to wait for the Nikon D400 to upgrade my current body. Not sure what lenses I will upgrade to, because I like the flexibility of carrying a smaller, lighter lens that allows me to shoot quickly and in any direction. Heavier lenses will mean reliance on beanbags/tripods, more potential camera shake, lots more space (e.g. perhaps just 2 folks to a vehicle) etc. But if the photos come out properly in spite of all that, you can end up with some pro quality shots.

Took a shower and then had a blissful nap for 2 hours in the AC. Was up at 2 pm. One more hot shower to clear the cobwebs. Grabbed lunch in 15 mins and was ready for the afternoon safari by 2.30 PM.

Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_6081.jpg

Last edited by nilanjanray : 18th June 2012 at 21:02.
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Old 19th June 2012, 10:57   #34
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

More tigers have been spoted and reported in todays news paper, and will remain partially closed from July 1, All other gates other than Moharli will be closed for tourists during monsoon, so who all are plannig to visit Tadoba - Plan accordingly.
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Old 19th June 2012, 13:45   #35
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

Loved this travelogue and the beautiful pictures. Every time, I see such pictures, they stir the soul. And loved your jumping jack trick. During one of my trips, I knew I was feeling a bit sleepy in the afternoon (had never happened to me before). And a couple of times I caught myself closing my eyes. And finally during one of those "closed eye" moments crashed into the divider and luckily for me and for my family we only lost a wheel cap. I immediately stopped and splashed some water on my face before continuing the journey.

Are there other good places to stay at Tadoba? I looked up the place you stayed at and it seemed to be pricey.

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Old 19th June 2012, 14:43   #36
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

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Are there other good places to stay at Tadoba? I looked up the place you stayed at and it seemed to be pricey.
Yes, some blood circulation helps in keeping awake.

There are a few places around Mohali, Google or check in Tridadvisor you will get details. There is also Chhaba resort near Kolara. Regular visitors such as AbheekG etc. have posted travelogues that have details of acco especially around Moharli.

Edit: search the forum for Tadoba, and go back 10, 20, 25 pages - you will get travelogues/ first hand accounts of folks staying in different places in Tadoba.

Last edited by nilanjanray : 19th June 2012 at 14:57.
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Old 21st June 2012, 16:16   #37
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

3rd Safari, 2.45 pm- 6.45 pm

We had the same guide but a different driver this time, and one of the resort Gypsys - covered at the top. Was a welcome respite from the hot sun.

The somewhat dated signboard outside Kolara gate
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We decided to visit some of the less frequented areas, but also cover the #2 Tanka on the Moharli Road.

No interesting sightings till we reached the tar road leading to Moharli. After a few kms, we noticed a few Gypsys parked near a waterhole. It was the Wagdow tiger, Vicky Donor, resting in the waterhole. He kept shifting around and yawning. We were lucky to see his formidable jaws.

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Colgate yawn
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Lade luck was with us that evening. After we left the stud and had gone a few more kms, we saw some Gypsys parked on the main road, and a couple of vehicles flashing their lights at us. This meant that tigers were about to cross the road. There were a couple of vehicle waiting in front, but somehow we managed to squeeze in behind one of the vehicles. Which meant that the view was partially blocked.

Still, I managed to spot the tigress coming out of the bushes to the right before she was blocked from view. Camera was ready, focused on the spot where she would emerge. To our delight, she was accompanied by her 4 cubs! I was prepared, and got some shots in a matter of few seconds before they went into the brush. Had to lean out and balance precariously to get the shots - this is where a lighter, handheld kit helps. This was my first sighting of tigers crossing the road, and it was more impressive than seeing a tiger sitting beside a waterhole. The tarmac, the sunlight and the royal colours of the tigers made a nice contrast.

Grace, dignity, power, affection and magnetism!
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All 5 in a frame...just about
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First the tigress came out with two of her cubs. If you look closely, you will see 3 sets of paws. Then a single cub strolled across. Finally, the last cub confidently crossed the road alone with lots of attitude.

Tigress with two cubs
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The 3rd cub
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4th cub
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Feeling delighted, we then went near Katezari hoping to see the resident tigress with her small cubs. The zone was closed, but we wanted to take a chance in case she decides to take an evening walk near the gate/barrier.

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Waiting in the forest with the engine off is always special. The rustling of leaves, song of birds, calls of animals, the scent and the breeze....

A few Sambhars kept on giving alarm calls as we waited there for almost 30 mins. They could see the tigers, and we could see the Sambhars. But the waterhole - where the tigers were parked - was blocked from view due to intervening trees and bushes.

Then after a while the alarm calls ceased, and a magnificent male Sambhar came walking down the road (beyond the barrier). Sunlight was falling on him from the right side, and he looked regal.

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On our way back we took the lake road. Saw a Black Ibis doing Yoga, and a mongoose hunting for lapwing eggs or chicks while the parents desperately fluttered around, trying to lead the mongoose astray.The ever present croc was there, as was the raptor waiting on the shore.

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Chatted with Ranjit, the resort manager and his wife for a while over evening tea. They are fellow Bengalis, but from Assam. They were in Chail and then in Corbett before coming to Tadoba. Interesting life, spent in the midst of nature! Got to know about a tiger visiting the resort in the night when the resort was getting built. About herbivores damaging the vegetable garden, and the profusion of snakes during the rainy season.

We had decided that we wanted to see the Panderpauni cubs next day, by hook or crook. Even if it meant baking in the sun for hours, waiting in the open.

Well, we got lucky next morning. Coming up: a gorgeous cub, about to grow into a beautiful tigress...

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Last edited by nilanjanray : 21st June 2012 at 16:21.
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Old 21st June 2012, 17:44   #38
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

beautiful pics! especially the last 2 ones!
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Old 21st June 2012, 18:24   #39
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

WOW, WOW, WOW!!! These are the only words that I could mumble when I was reading your TL Nilanjan. A great travelogue and amazing pics. 14 Sightings, you are lucky, truly lucky. Jungle during monsoons have their own beauty and Abheek's pics show what you can expect during monsoons. Keep hitting us with more pics of the flora and fauna of the Jungles of Tadoba.
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Old 21st June 2012, 19:50   #40
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

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beautiful pics! especially the last 2 ones!
Thanks Sach. This is the tigress I was thinking of at when I wondered whether your tigress is the same as the one I saw.

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WOW, WOW, WOW!!! These are the only words that I could mumble when I was reading your TL Nilanjan. A great travelogue and amazing pics. 14 Sightings, you are lucky, truly lucky. Jungle during monsoons have their own beauty and Abheek's pics show what you can expect during monsoons. Keep hitting us with more pics of the flora and fauna of the Jungles of Tadoba.
Thanks. Some more pictures to come. In fact I shot an entire portfolio of the tigress above as she modeled for me
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Old 21st June 2012, 19:56   #41
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I have no comments to make; enjoying the show and the narrative. It is indeed raining Tigers everywhere..
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Old 21st June 2012, 20:34   #42
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

Its tough to believe that the species is facing such a huge survival crunch in India given the abundance with which you went around spotting them. Thanks a lot for sharing such wonderful photographs. The picture on the first page with 2 cubs took me close to 5 minutes to figure out if it wasn't some sort of a computer trick.
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Old 21st June 2012, 20:43   #43
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ROTFL. Almost look like identical twins. Same gait, same expression and same way the right front paw lifted and curled. It could have fooled anyone. But it is one helluva classic shot.

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The picture on the first page with 2 cubs took me close to 5 minutes to figure out if it wasn't some sort of a computer trick.
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Old 21st June 2012, 22:14   #44
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Default Re: Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison

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The picture on the first page with 2 cubs took me close to 5 minutes to figure out if it wasn't some sort of a computer trick.
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ROTFL. Almost look like identical twins. Same gait, same expression and same way the right front paw lifted and curled. It could have fooled anyone. But it is one helluva classic shot.
Thanks folks. But just to remove all doubts on my integrity (just joking), here are a few shots taken before and after the 'mirror image cubs' shot: Some cropping is there...excuse the image quality post cropping, since I am using a few years old D90 + 70-300mm kit.

Before that shot:
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Tadoba: 14 Tigers and a Bison-dsc_4422001.jpg

After that shot:
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Edit: @ Mohit - late me take off my photographer hat and put on my analytical hat. The stakes were stacked in Tadoba this year. Many cubs, little water, high probability of sightings near certain waterholes. Tadoba has 50-60 tigers in the core area and 50-60 tigers in the buffer region. There are human killings happening in the buffer zone but not in the core area, for obvious reasons of prey density. Within the core zone, tigers are forces to hang around certain sources of water if they want to avoid clashes with other males/ families.

I feel that Tadoba will have such great sightings every few years when the conditions are favourable in terms of litters, weather etc. Till the dynamics change. Difficult to predict, since many factors are at work. Read Jurassic Park/Chaos Theory principles to appreciate how tiny factors can have a disproportionate impact.

Last edited by nilanjanray : 21st June 2012 at 22:31.
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Old 22nd June 2012, 13:05   #45
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Whats better on a saturday afternoon than such wonderful pictures ?? nothing. Seriously ! The pics have again made be to start planning a visit
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