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Old 24th July 2017, 10:12   #1
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Default Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains

The last leg of the last safari of four. We haven't had a sighting in the previous three safaris over the weekend. We are resigned to returning without a single glimpse of a tiger or a leopard. This will be a first for me in so many visits to Kabini, but I'm consoling myself that the law of averages has caught with me at last and it is too much to expect this unbeaten run to continue. We are on the justifiably famous 5 KM road in Zone B, the old highway that used to connect Kerala to Karnataka. We have gone up to Dammanakatte gate without hearing even a single alarm call. Now we have turned back and we are slowly coasting along the road, all thoughts turned towards breakfast and the drive back home. Someone in the vehicle says he'd like a Flame Backed Woodpecker sitting on a nearby tree. Ten metres later, one lands on a tree right next to us.

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17009s.jpg

We are now exhorting him to have higher ambitions. He is kind of bashful, saying "C'mon guys, it won't work again". We are relentless. He gives in and says "Wouldn't it be nice to have a tiger walking down the road towards us right now"? We all have a good laugh and tell him that is not ambition, that is greed. One minute later, a tigress crests the rise ahead of us and majestically walks down towards us. It is enough to give you religion.

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17003s.jpg

No alarm calls, no tracking, no waiting, no nothing. Just pure, dumb, luck. We just happen to be in the right place, at the bottom of a small dip in the road with a gentle incline ahead, at the right time. She walks down the road, looking at us like the trespassers we are. She turns back into the Parthenium by the side.

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17000s.jpg

Obviously, we haven't had enough. We implore her to come back out. She is too haughty, she wants to play a little hide and seek.

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul170001s.jpg

But then she decides to come back out onto the road again. Maybe she feels pity for us and doesn't want to disappoint, letting me capture these moments of glory.

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17001s.jpg

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17002s.jpg

She continues to walk towards us for a couple of minutes, allowing ample opportunity for everyone in the vehicle to get good images.

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17004s.jpg

She turns back into the bushes again and is gone in seconds, leaving us trembling with excitement. We want more, but we are out of time. We rush back to make sure that we exit the gate within the stipulated time. We are just over the time limit, but the guard doesn't question us too much. We high five each other and return, feeling awe at the sheer magic of sighting a tigress in the wild.

Kabini has always been a magical place for me. During the monsoon however, the forest transforms itself into a place of ethereal beauty and glorious greenery. The only major drawback during this season is the over abundant growth of Parthenium and Lantana, which covers view lines and makes sighting difficult. But when a sighting does happen in this season, it leaves you spell bound and keeps you clicking like crazy. Of course, there are other denizens of the forest, many of whom are worth photographing. Here are some of them.

An elephantine road block. This lady refuses to move from the road, making us wait until she is good and ready. We are happy to oblige. See what I mean by Monsoon Magic? The sheer beauty of the location, the greenery and the chance to photograph an animal in front of it is worth going 250 kms for, right? At least that is the distance for me from BLR, but what is distance when you get to see sights like this?

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17007s.jpg

A Mynah takes a ride on a young female elephant, who seems to be saluting us but is actually brushing mud from tufts of grass she is plucking off the ground. The road deteriorates further in the background, becoming a regular track.

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17006s.jpg

She comes so close that the only image I can make is a close up of her huge eye.

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17008s.jpg

This deer runs up a small mound for a better view of us, allowing me to capture this moment. Many people don't bother photographing such mundane animals, heck, they don't even bother lifting their cameras with big heavy lenses attached and wait only for the cats, but I feel each and every animal in the forest is beautiful in its own right.

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17010s.jpg

A delicate spider web, glistening from the morning's rain, lies unregarded by the roadside. There is great beauty in things like these too, don't you think?

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17005s.jpg

A Crested Hawk Eagle (I believe they are no longer called Changeable Hawk Eagles due to a recent re-classification by those who do such things) sits patiently on a perch, giving us much time to photograph it from all angles and in a variety of poses.

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17011s.jpg

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17012s.jpg

Ah, the magic. People on a boat safari are fortunate to spot a herd of elephants grazing on the far bank. Look closely and you will find at least seven elephants there, maybe an eighth and a ninth mostly hidden in the trees. You don't get to see those big herds very often these days. Time was when you could spot a herd of at least twenty gentle giants, but such congregations haven't been seen for some years now. No one knows why.

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17013s.jpg

And finally, back at the JLR grounds, this guy looks at me like "You want my photo too? You loco?". But I go down on the ground and get this. After all, these common and raucous birds are wild life too, hey?

Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains-kbnjul17014s.jpg

Thus ends another fruitful visit. How I wish I could go there more often, escaping the concrete jungle for the real one. But for now, it is bye bye and as ever, I hope you enjoyed seeing these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. For the technically inclined, all these images were made on a Nikon D7200 with a Nikkor 200-500 mm f/5 lens. All of them are taken handheld, I find it much more comfortable that way.

Until next time then, ciao.

Last edited by Stryker : 24th July 2017 at 15:25. Reason: Monsoon Magic - Kabini in the rains
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Old 24th July 2017, 20:07   #2
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Note from Support: Post moved to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 25th July 2017, 10:24   #3
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Default Re: Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains

Simply amazing pictures and very well depicted.
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Old 25th July 2017, 10:49   #4
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Default Re: Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains

Stunning images of the tigress, Stryker ! Should have been a heart-pounding moment, How far was it actually from your vehicle ?
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Old 25th July 2017, 10:58   #5
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Default Re: Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains

Amazin pictures Stryker. The eye level shot of the Tigress is superb. Where did you stay? and did you take the Bus safari at Dhammankatte?
I have been to Nagarhole side safari multiple times this summer without any luck :(
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Old 25th July 2017, 11:39   #6
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Default Re: Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains

As always, amazing pictures! The monsoon makes them more enjoyable with greenery thriving all around
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Old 25th July 2017, 12:10   #7
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Default Re: Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains

Stunning pictures Stryker! The greenery along with the birds and animals make a superb contrast. Please post more pictures if possible.
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Old 25th July 2017, 13:24   #8
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Default Re: Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stryker View Post


Attachment 1659962

No alarm calls, no tracking, no waiting, no nothing. Just pure, dumb, luck. We just happen to be in the right place, at the bottom of a small dip in the road with a gentle incline ahead, at the right time. She walks down the road, looking at us like the trespassers we are. She turns back into the Parthenium by the side.

Attachment 1659993

Obviously, we haven't had enough. We implore her to come back out. She is too haughty, she wants to play a little hide and seek.
Holy Cow!!! How lucky is that! Here we spend several hours and lots of money to catch a glimpse of this majestic beast in a hot summer afternoon, crowded on a gypsy ... and you get a "glimpse" of him just out of the blue. That too during the monsoon season, in a forest not known for too many sightings.

Awesome photos, sir!! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 25th July 2017, 14:20   #9
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Default Re: Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains

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Originally Posted by venkatt1800 View Post
How far was it actually from your vehicle ?
The tigress was approximately 100 metres from the vehicle when we first spotted it. We pulled back along the road as it came down towards us, trying to maintain the same distance. If we had stayed in the same place when we first spotted it, maybe it would have walked right past us, but they are generally very shy so it might have walked into the bushes earlier.

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Originally Posted by C300 View Post
Where did you stay? and did you take the Bus safari at Dhammankatte? I have been to Nagarhole side safari multiple times this summer without any luck :(
We always stay at JLR, being a group. It is convenient and the organizers, Toehold, make sure we get a separate vehicle for the group so we are always together. There are usually 12 people in the group, so there are usually two vehicles for us.

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Originally Posted by sukhoi30 View Post
That too during the monsoon season, in a forest not known for too many sightings.
Kabini is always well known for sightings, especially of leopards, since there is a high leopard population there. The tiger population has gone up too with two tigresses having had litters last year. These cubs are now sub-adults, one of which is what we spotted. Kabini has a hashtag #KabiniNeverDisappoints for a very good reason! I'm surprised that you say that the forest is not known for too many sightings.
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Old 25th July 2017, 19:06   #10
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Default Re: Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains

WOW - Super pictures, very lucky you have been. I have been to tiger reserves in TN and KA, but never saw one :-(
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Old 25th July 2017, 19:57   #11
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Default Re: Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains

Splendid photographs and lovely narrative Stryker. More photographs please.

Warm regards,

Siddhartha.
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Old 26th July 2017, 08:05   #12
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Default Re: Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains

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I have been to tiger reserves in TN and KA, but never saw one :-(
That's really unlucky! Have you been to Kabini as well?
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Old 26th July 2017, 18:54   #13
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Default Re: Monsoon magic - Kabini in the rains

Absolute stunning pictures, again from you Stryker. As you are in love with Kabini and I think living creatures of Kabini are also in love with you as they come forward to give you perfect pose. Nice to see a forest in Karanataka in green cover, impact of better rain compared to last few years.
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Old 27th July 2017, 09:27   #14
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As you are in love with Kabini and I think living creatures of Kabini are also in love with you as they come forward to give you perfect pose.
LOL, how I wish that were true! Yes, I love the Kabini forest more than any other in India. But I think it is an equal opportunity zone

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Originally Posted by dghosh80 View Post
Nice to see a forest in Karanataka in green cover, impact of better rain compared to last few years.
Absolutely. The rains this year have been pretty good so far, I hope it continues for a few more months and over the next few years. There have been almost continuous drought over the last three or four years, so this comes as a welcome respite.
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Old 27th July 2017, 10:36   #15
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Awesome pics! Some info the photo gear used please.
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