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Old 19th February 2017, 11:43   #1
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Default Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

No wonder it is said #KabiniNeverDisappoints. It would be an understatement in my case, especially after last weekend's visit. We did four safaris and we had a sighting in every one of them. Two safaris had multiple sightings. What more can one ask for? The forest is dry, dry, dry...which may be why the cats are so visible. The sightings notice board at the reception of Jungle Lodges listed a tiger or a leopard in almost every safari for the whole of last week. I heard that it has been more or less the same this week too.

The cats and all the other denizens of the forest are moving around in search of water, crossing territories, getting into fights with each other, even coming out of the forest in one case where the tigress was shot with multiple tranquilizer darts by an over zealous forest official, leading to its death. The saddest part of that incident is that the tigress had three six month old cubs who would not be able to fend for themselves and would have subsequently died. So the incident has actually killed four tigers and not just one. The forest department has made arrangements inside the forest with bore wells supplying water to some ponds, to cope with the severe drought. Let's all hope and pray that the April showers are on time and as regular as usual.

Anyway, on to the photos. Along with my trusted Nikon D7200, this time I was carrying the superlative Nikkor 200-400 f/4 lens. This baby is sharp. No wonder it costs more than 5,50,000! Yes, that is Five Lakhs Fifty Thousand! One can buy a car or a superbike instead. Obviously I had hired it for the weekend. It is very heavy and not easy to handhold for any length of time. A beanbag or some other form of lens rest is definitely advised.

Let me start with a mundane Bonnet Macaque (the common monkey) outside my room in JLR. You can see what I mean by the lens being sharp. Each hair on this lady is distinct and the reflection in her eyes are crystal clear.
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17003.jpg

First safari, first sighting. A tigress was well hidden behind the dry twigs of lantana, when our driver stopped and pointed. Out came the cameras.
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17004.jpg

First safari, second sighting. Its mate was sitting on the other side of the tracks, wanting to cross the road. Probably got disturbed by the vehicles and decided to stay put. We waited for a long time but he didn't want to come out in the open.
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17005.jpg

A tusker decides to cross the winding road instead. Of course, this was not in the same spot, it was actually the next day morning.
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17006.jpg

Second safari, first sighting. There were a lot of alarm calls from Spotted Deer and Langurs, which meant a cat was on the move. We tracked the calls and were rewarded with this guy walking across us. He never turned his face to look at us, just kept going.
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17007.jpg
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17008.jpg
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17009.jpg
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17010.jpg
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17011.jpg

Second safari, second sighting. Actually the same leopard but about half an hour later. Our driver and naturalist both decided to drive around to the river bank where they were sure he was going to come out. You should have heard the alarm calls going off! He finally decided to appear and we were perfectly positioned.
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17012.jpg
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17013.jpg
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17014.jpg
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17015.jpg
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17016.jpg

We went back a satisfied lot, high fiving each other. We had no idea that our luck would continue in the evening too!

Third safari, only sighting. Look at that, I said "only" sighting! We are never satisfied, are we? About half way into the safari, we spotted a sub-adult tigress lazily stretching in the open, just beside the tracks. The only problem was that the background was full of distractions, with dry lantana twigs. The foreground too was dry grass. It would have been awesome if this same scene had happened post monsoon, when the forest is almost eye hurtingly green. An orange body against a green background is about the most photogenic it can get. As I said, we are never a satisfied lot!

Sighting my foot! Her left rear foot actually.
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17030.jpg

A lazy look that says "Who goes there?"
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17031.jpg

An unusual angle, she seems to be saying "Go away, leave me alone..."
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17032.jpg

Look at the mighty forepaw! And she is not even full grown. A teenager in tiger terms. A swipe from those paws can easily crush the skull of a cow, let alone a human being.
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17033.jpg

A classic relaxed profile shot. Looking away in the distance, where a couple of langurs were frolicking.
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17034.jpg

"You guys still here?" Ain't she a beauty?
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17035.jpg

"OK, I've had enough. See you some other time..." she says and disappears into the bushes.
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17036.jpg
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17037.jpg

We returned to JLR sated and grateful. We still had another safari to go and there were bets over beer later in the evening as to whether we would see anything in the final jaunt. I was one of those who said "Nobody can be that lucky" but I was proved wrong!

Fourth safari, first sighting A tigress behind the bushes, probably the same one as the previous day, but this one was only a fleeting glimpse. She saw us and quickly vanished. I had major problems getting the lens to focus on her in the very short time I had available, mere seconds. By the time I switched to manual, she was gone. So this is just a record shot. Also distracting me were a group a very PYTs in another van next to us, scantily clad and showing a lot of leg. I was not able to make a rational decision about where to look.
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17038.jpg

We had a good opportunity to shoot an Indian Roller (Karnataka's state bird). Usually these birds sit still for a long time, but this one was very active, flying down to the ground and returning to the same perch again and again. It caught a giant spider for breakfast and gave us some good opportunities to capture it in flight. This is where the slower FPS of the D7200 limits me. I wasn't able to capture the wings stretched out fully, as I wanted to.
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17039.jpg
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17040.jpg
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17041.jpg

Fourth safari, second sighting Someone in another van had spotted a leopard on a tree and called our driver. The connectivity inside the forest is a bit of hit and miss, but this time the call came through and we rushed to the spot. He was still there and not very active. Feeling too lazy to get up, probably, it was a Sunday after all!
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17042.jpg
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnfeb17043.jpg

Thus ended one of the most amazing weekends in Kabini that I've ever had in all my visits there. I don't think I'll have this many sightings over one visit again, but who knows? Sometimes we return without seeing anything, sometimes like this.

#KabiniNeverDisappoints. Until next time, ciao and take care!
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Old 19th February 2017, 12:33   #2
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Default re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

Amazing snaps Stryker!
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Old 19th February 2017, 15:35   #3
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Default re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

The cats and all the other denizens of the forest are moving around in search of water, crossing territories, getting into fights with each other, even coming out of the forest in one case where the tigress was shot with multiple tranquilizer darts by an over zealous forest official, leading to its death. The saddest part of that incident is that the tigress had three six month old cubs who would not be able to fend for themselves and would have subsequently died.

Amazing Pictures Stryker !

Its heartening to see the growth in the population of the felines, but it has its drawback too as stated above with rise in cases of human-animal conflict.

Kabini is in my must visit list . Can I cover the safari in a day or need to stay in one of the lodges over there. Do you know any budget accommodation nearby?
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Old 19th February 2017, 16:09   #4
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Default re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

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Originally Posted by snaseer View Post
Can I cover the safari in a day or need to stay in one of the lodges over there. Do you know any budget accommodation nearby?
There are two safaris per day, one at 6:30 am and another at 4:00 pm. The vehicles usually start about half an hour earlier from JLR. No other resort is allowed to run safari vehicles. There are many resorts in Kabini, from five star to no star. I'm sure you can find one to suit your budget.
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Old 19th February 2017, 16:14   #5
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Default re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

Awesome, so many sightings in one trip and wonderfully captured pictures. Thanks for sharing
JLR, though a bit expensive (of course some of the other star resorts are much more expensive!), surely has it's advantages when it comes to the Safaris.
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Old 20th February 2017, 10:17   #6
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Default re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

Awesome pictures and brief but gripping narrations @Stryker! As promised here comes your Kabini trip log! Loved it. And like you said, we are never content with cat sightings - you have more?
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Old 20th February 2017, 11:11   #7
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Default re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

I am seriously jealous of you! Not only did you see so many majestic creatures, you also managed to shoot them at sight . Excellent photography. You have a very keen eye that is capable of finding poetry in motion. (a ₹5.5lakh camera too helps a bit )

Disappointed on seeing the almost dried up forest. With temperatures rising steadily, this could be a perfect recipe for disaster. Just the other day, a Karnataka Forest Department official lost his life trying to douse a forest fire in the Bandipur range.
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Old 20th February 2017, 11:35   #8
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Default Re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stryker View Post

Thus ended one of the most amazing weekends in Kabini that I've ever had in all my visits there. I don't think I'll have this many sightings over one visit again, but who knows? Sometimes we return without seeing anything, sometimes like this.

#KabiniNeverDisappoints. Until next time, ciao and take care!
Excellent pics and narration. True to your handle, You have really struck it rich (pun intended)

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Disappointed on seeing the almost dried up forest. With temperatures rising steadily, this could be a perfect recipe for disaster. Just the other day, a Karnataka Forest Department official lost his life trying to douse a forest fire in the Bandipur range.
While the hazards of fire increase, on a positive note (at least for folks who are going for safaris) there is a good chance of wildlife sighting as close to 75% of waterholes have dried up. This is going to get worse in the next 2 or 3 months.
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Old 20th February 2017, 15:20   #9
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Default Re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

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Awesome, so many sightings in one trip and wonderfully captured pictures. Thanks for sharing
JLR, though a bit expensive (of course some of the other star resorts are much more expensive!), surely has it's advantages when it comes to the Safaris.
Thanks, NPV. Yes, staying in JLR, the biggest advantage is that you tend to get preference in vehicle assignments. Usually, tourists from other resorts are put in the big Canter vehicles, whereas the JLR people usually get the 6 seater vehicles. For serious photographers, this is always a good thing. The preferential assignment is not always true, though. It depends on how big the crowd is. Only 11 vehicles are allowed into the forest for each safari so they have to manage within that.

Quote:
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Awesome pictures and brief but gripping narrations @Stryker! As promised here comes your Kabini trip log! Loved it. And like you said, we are never content with cat sightings - you have more?
Thanks, abirnale. LOL, yeah, it is never enough is it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dailydriver View Post
I am seriously jealous of you! Not only did you see so many majestic creatures, you also managed to shoot them at sight . Excellent photography. You have a very keen eye that is capable of finding poetry in motion. (a ₹5.5lakh camera too helps a bit)
Thanks, dailydriver. I wish just having good equipment could guarantee good pictures. In any case, I had hired that lens so I didn't spend that much on it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by haria View Post
Excellent pics and narration. True to your handle, You have really struck it rich (pun intended)
Thanks, haria.


Quote:
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While the hazards of fire increase, on a positive note (at least for folks who are going for safaris) there is a good chance of wildlife sighting as close to 75% of waterholes have dried up. This is going to get worse in the next 2 or 3 months.
I agree. The wildlife is being drawn to the waterholes that are few and far between. While it is good for us photogs, there will be some serious decline in wildlife population if this continues for much longer.
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Old 20th February 2017, 18:31   #10
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Default Re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

Awesome images, great sightings, crisp & lovely narration. I would call this as one heck of a successful trip. The powerline sub adult cubs are indeed becoming bolder day by day. You have now tempted me to try the 200-400 mm
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Old 20th February 2017, 18:42   #11
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Default Re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

I thought Kabini was best visited in May, when most waterholes are dry and wildlife is concentrated near the few that are not - is that not the case? Is February also a good time, perhaps better for humans because it must be cooler than May?
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Old 20th February 2017, 21:00   #12
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Default Re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

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You have now tempted me to try the 200-400 mm
Thanks, Torque123. You should indeed try the 200-400, if you haven't before. Very heavy, but worth the arm pain at the end of the day!

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Is February also a good time, perhaps better for humans because it must be cooler than May?
My experience of Kabini is that you do get sightings all year round. Yes, it is better in May because the forest is very dry, but I always liked it post monsoon best. Say September/October. Orange on a green background is a sight to behold! Like this, for example:
Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings-kbnjun16043.jpg
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Old 17th May 2017, 15:58   #13
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Default Re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

Beautiful pictures and how lucky are you, 7 sightings in 4 safaris

I haven't had such luck at Kabini yet, was there two weeks ago and will be there again this weekend.

You got me thinking on the 200-400, I am renting a Nikon D500 with 200-500 this time in addition to my D7000 and 70-200.

Best Regards
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Old 18th May 2017, 09:24   #14
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Default Re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

I hear the sightings are good right now. Haven't been there myself for over a couple of months now and the itch is becoming hard to ignore. Soon.

The D500 with the 200-500 is probably the best combo for wildlife photography right now, bar none. Canon users will have their own preferences, of course. But I don't see any reason to carry the D7000 when you have a D500. If you are planning to upgrade and want to try the D500 out in real life situations before handing over the money, then this is the way to go. The auto focus and tracking system alone is way beyond the D7000, let alone the other improvements.
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Old 18th May 2017, 10:33   #15
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Default Re: Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings

Let me congratulate you Stryker, for the wonderful images as they are. Thanks for sharing.

Indeed, the 200-400 F4 lens is unmatched in terms of image quality. I do, however, get a feel that the photographer’s ability to 'reach' up to their subjects is limited by the small 400 mm range (600mm equivalent) that this lens offers. A 600mm lens would have provided an equivalent reach of 900mm on the D7200, which would meet most of the requirements for wildlife and birding. Nonetheless, your composition, smartly masks off this shortfall and demonstrate eye-catching imagery.

Last edited by King_pin09 : 18th May 2017 at 10:34.
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