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Old 3rd July 2016, 22:40   #1
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Default A Tigress in Kabini

The bug bit again and I was off to Kabini. This time I was armed with Nikon's new Nikkor 200-500 mm beauty, which seems to form a perfect pairing with my Nikon D7200.

This lens is quite a bit heavier than my usual Tamron 150-600 and 100 mm shorter at the long end. But having a constant f/5.6 throughout the range, it is slightly more effective in low light conditions although it will never compare with an f/4 or an f/2.8 monster. I also found that this lens acquired focus much faster than the Tamron and the photos were also generally sharper. I'd recommend this lens over the Tamron 150-600 and it will be my go to lens from now on, until something better comes up. But this is not a lens review post, so I will not go on about this lens!

On the first morning safari, we were wandering in Zone B when our driver got a call from his colleague about strong alarm calls at a particular place. We rushed there and I found that this "particular place" was the main Highway that runs through the forest, divides Zone A and Zone B, leads to Kerala and usually sees almost continuous traffic of vehicles! But at that moment there were only two other safari vehicles (I don't know why there weren't more, maybe their drivers couldn't be reached or something, the cell phone coverage in the area is notoriously bad) and the alarm calls continued. We knew either a tiger or a leopard was somewhere in the area and waited with bated breath and crossed fingers.

Lo and Behold! Within minutes out walked this majestic animal. This was my very first sighting of a tigress (or a tiger, for that matter) in Kabini. I've always been lucky with leopards but the stripes had eluded me so far. So this is all the more precious to me.

Now, this is not a good quality photo, as such things go. A "blah" shot as some in my group would call it. But hey, it is my first tigress in Kabini and my first photo of it.

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16016s.jpg

OK, once I got over the excitement and the heart rate was under control, I was able to shoot some better images.

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16025s.jpg

"Hmmm, is my scent from my previous marking still there?" You see, in the monsoon, the scent marks disappear quickly so they need to be renewed much more often than in summer.

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16035s.jpg

"Oho, the last rain seems to have washed away my mark. Well, time to refresh it"

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16038s.jpg

And thar she blows!

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16043s.jpg

Job done, mark made, let's go to the next tree...

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16045s.jpg

Is this one OK?

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16047s.jpg

And so the sighting ends...

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16049s.jpg

For a few minutes, there was absolutely no noise from the three vans on the road, except for the soft click-click-click of several cameras taking photos as fast as they could. What was even more surprising to me was that not even a single private vehicle came down the usually busy highway. Otherwsie we would have had a traffic jam there as the passers by usually stop even for spotted deer and peacocks by the road side. A tiger would have had most of them hanging out the window making enough noise to scare the animal away. We were lucky that way.

We did sight another tigress on a later safari but she was well hidden in the dense monsoon growth and was too shy to come out and pose for us. We are a greedy lot aren't we? Anyway here are some more photos from the other safaris into this beautiful jungle. Let me tell you, monsoon is the absolute best time to be here in Kabini.

A pair of Yellow Footed Green Pigeons, with one just taking off as I clicked:

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16061s.jpg

A wet Crested Serpent Eagle hangs its wings out to dry and glares at me:

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16072s.jpg

Ah, the beauty of a peacock amidst this green background:

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16075s.jpg

This is my personal favourite. A lone Spotted Deer stag crosses the road in front of us. I just love the rich brown of its coat and the lush green background. The contrast is simply amazing.

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16084s.jpg

A tusker browses behind a tree. I thought the two split tree trunks made a nice frame for it:

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16096s.jpg

A female Gaur stretches her neck as far as it can go to get at the more succulent leaves above her:

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16117s.jpg

A Changeable Hawk Eagle sits quite close by, allowing me this close up portrait:

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16120s.jpg

A mother's love. A spotted deer fawn suckles its mother. I was fortunate to get these two separated from the madding crowd!

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16129s.jpg

And finally, a peacock dances away in joy at the falling rain and the sheer sensation of being alive in this magical forest:

A Tigress in Kabini-kbnjun16160s.jpg

As always, I hope you like these pictures as much as I loved being there and clicking away to my heart's content. As I said earlier, Kabini in the monsoon is a completely different place and has an almost magical quality to it. No wonder people who've been here keep coming back for more and more and more...I will be back too, without a doubt. Until then, ciao.
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