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Old 24th May 2024, 12:22   #1
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Kabini | After a long gap

The last time I was here was in August 2023, an unprecedented gap of nine months! I've never gone this long without a visit to my favourite wildlife park. Circumstances were such that I couldn't travel anywhere during this period, not even for a day. Not work related, which has rarely held me back from my usual bi-monthly trip to Kabini. Not personal health related too, by God's grace I'm fine thank you! Anyway, the itch was always there, just that it couldn't be scratched. Finally, the said circumstances has allowed me to go wherever I want, so the first place we went was Kabini. Like there was even a question :-) My family has come to accept that when it comes to me, the phrase "weekend holiday" automatically means "visit to Kabini". Sometimes, like this time, both my wife and daughter accompany me. Most of the times I'm either alone or with one or two equally crazy friends. Right, enough preamble, you aren't here to read about my proclivities. On to the photos.

I'll start with a Malabar Giant Squirrel, stretching to get at the tender bits.

Kabini | After a long gap-001.jpg

Contrast this scene with a very similar one taken in August, after the rains. Who knows? It may be the same individual!

Kabini | After a long gap-002.jpg

Another one, in another place, poses for us. I love photographing this animal, they are so cute and very photogenic.

Kabini | After a long gap-003.jpg

Late in the evening, on the backwaters, we come across this lovely scene of a mother and calf enjoying the calm waters.

Kabini | After a long gap-004.jpg

The calf goes close to the water, I never imagined what would follow.

Kabini | After a long gap-005.jpg

He sets off! That was unexpected! He swims quite easily, little trunk raised out of the water like a snorkel. Which is exactly where the idea for the snorkel came.

Kabini | After a long gap-006.jpg

The little fellow is completely submerged now, only the tip of its trunk is seen. The mom, right behind the calf, is making no fuss about how its baby is swimming. She is very confident that this one is made from the right stuff.

Kabini | After a long gap-007.jpg

And finally they get to water shallow enough to stand, instead of wading.

Kabini | After a long gap-008.jpg

Swimming is thirsty business, in case you didn't know!

Kabini | After a long gap-009.jpg

Mission accomplished, they get back onto solid ground. The whole episode lasted only two minutes. These huge animals are wonderful swimmers, you'd think they would sink immediately given their bulk.

Kabini | After a long gap-010.jpg

They rejoin their herd, where aunts and cousins are waiting for them.

Kabini | After a long gap-011.jpg

While we are entranced by the elephants attempting Olympic qualification, a Smooth Coated Otter wanders on to the river bank. I click and a Little Egret photobombs me!

Kabini | After a long gap-012.jpg

A Darter (or a Snake Bird, so called because of its snake like neck, not because it eats snakes) relaxes on a nearby stump.

Kabini | After a long gap-013.jpg

And the sun sets amid a tangle of dry, dry trees. No rains for nearly six months and just before we visited, a couple of days of heavy rains have graced the forest. The resulting explosion of greenery is yet to happen, it'll take a few more weeks of rain.

Kabini | After a long gap-014.jpg

An Orange Headed Thrush is on the ground looking for some tasty worms to snack on.

Kabini | After a long gap-015.jpg

A lovely Racquet Tailed Drongo (most people call it the Rocket Tail, which is incorrect) poses for me. These beauties rarely sit still and all you'll get is a blurry photo of it moving this way or that or flying off. This guy sat still for three seconds, which is an eternity for them. I was happy. Look at how beautiful he is, with the long double tail!

Kabini | After a long gap-016.jpg

A blurry, for the record, shot of a male Brown Indian Paradise Flycatcher. Oh, the length of this one's tail feathers! Seeing them fly in a sine wave like motion is a joy to watch.

Kabini | After a long gap-017.jpg

There is another pure white variant of the same bird. He was also close by but behind too much clutter to get a good image. I thought I will post this one, although it is from a different time altogether.

Kabini | After a long gap-018.jpg

A rare White Bellied Woodpecker plays hide and seek with us.

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Our national bird is perched on a marker stone, on a misty morning.

Kabini | After a long gap-020.jpg

A doe and her fawn drink water from one of the nearly dry ponds, notice how she is keeping one eye firmly on me which quickly gulping the murky water.

Kabini | After a long gap-021.jpg
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Old 24th May 2024, 12:27   #2
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Re: Kabini - After a long gap

I usually don't go on boat safaris, preferring the forest and the drive among the beautiful trees. This time though, my nephews who are with us want to do a boat safari to see if they can spot some water birds in the evening. I reluctantly agree, it has been several years since I have gone on the river itself.

Just a few minutes on the water, we have barely settled ourselves when I spot a whole family of Smooth Coated River Otters hurry on to small island in the water. See how close we still are to the river bank.

Kabini | After a long gap-022.jpg

I have never, ever, seen this many Otters at once. We usually see two or three of them on the river bank, hiding half in the water. There are more than twenty of them here! Some are moving around, out of the frame. Did you know a group of Otters is called a "Romp"?

Kabini | After a long gap-023.jpg

I can't get enough of this, we are quite close to them. And the boat is moving closer and closer. I tell the driver to switch off the engine so that we can observe these magnificent creatures in silence. These photos are at 200mm, I can't go below that with my lens.

Kabini | After a long gap-024.jpg

Some of them are repeatedly getting up on the hind legs to ensure we are keeping our distance and not coming too close to them. Mostly the men folk I guess, always suspicious of strangers around their family.

Kabini | After a long gap-025.jpg

Portrait of a Smooth Coated River Otter. Again, I have never, ever, been this close to one. Whew, this is a wonderful experience for me and everyone in the boat. Most of them don't realize how lucky they are to get so close to these elusive creatures.

Kabini | After a long gap-026.jpg

The Otters slip back into the river one by one and are quickly gone. Several high fives later, we move off. Not knowing what is waiting for us.

A Darter is drying its feathers off after a plunge in the river.

Kabini | After a long gap-027.jpg

Another mom and calf graze on the river bank. I must say that being on the river looking inwards gives a completely different perspective on the forest. I think I'll do more boat safaris from now on.

Kabini | After a long gap-028.jpg

We spot a gigantic Mugger Crocodile just waiting for prey to walk down to the water. We notice him when we are really close and he is startled by us, immediately slipping down into the water.

Kabini | After a long gap-029.jpg

A different pair of elephants are refershing themselves with an evening drink. This is some distance away from the croc, in case you are wondering.

Kabini | After a long gap-030.jpg

There is an old Ganesha idol carved in stone on the river bank. The local tribals worship this idol regularly, hence the Arishina and Kumkuma (Haldi and Kumkum) on the idol. A few Spotted Deer are also paying their obeisance to the Lord.

Kabini | After a long gap-031.jpg

A few minutes later, our boat driver frantically gestures towards the river bank. A tiger! Relaxing just inside the tree line, mostly after a good meal and a hearty drink of water. Oh, this is a very different angle to see him indeed!

Kabini | After a long gap-032.jpg

This bank is actually in Bandipur Forest, not Nagarhole. So we are having an "illicit" sighting Apparently, this part of the Bandipur forest is not accessible for jeep safaris, so they wouldn't be able to spot this at all.

We spend a few minutes jockeying the boat for a better angle, we dare not drift any closer for fear that he will get up and walk inside, not to be seen again. He is watching something inside the forest, maybe a herd of deer close by. He is not interested in them, just keeping an eye in case. See those white spots behind his ears? No one knows why tigers have them. There are a hundred theories of course.

Kabini | After a long gap-033.jpg

He sits there for quite a while, not too bothered by our silent presence behind him. We are not in any way close to him, my lens is stretched to its full 500mm. And this is cropped a bit to get even closer.

Kabini | After a long gap-034.jpg

Not a very good place to sit down, photographically speaking. A few metres closer or backwards and he could have given us a great darshan. But I'm still thankful.

Kabini | After a long gap-035.jpg

After about twenty minutes, during which I have nearly filled my memory card with photos, he gets up and walks into the forest.

Kabini | After a long gap-036.jpg

A final swish of his tail and His Royal Highness vanishes into the dark forest. Oh, did I mention that this is very late in the evening, darkness is almost upon us and I am shooting at 6400 ISO?

Kabini | After a long gap-037.jpg

We return back to Gol Ghar, extremely satisfied and you know how a good sighting brings out the laughter. Not to mention serious bragging rights while showing off the tiger images to envious tourists back in the restaurant. Especially on a boat safari!

And thus ends another visit to this home away from home. As always, my equipment is the Nikon D500 and the Nikkor 200-500mm lens and as ever, I hope you people enjoy these photos as much as I enjoy taking them. Until next time then, bye and drive safe.
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Old 24th May 2024, 14:45   #3
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Re: Kabini | After a long gap

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 24th May 2024, 15:54   #4
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Re: Kabini | After a long gap

A quick & productive Kabini trip you have had there . Enjoyed reading the travelogue & good images too (especially of the otters). It is indeed rare to see so many of them. It’s always a great feeling seeing a tiger during the boat safari, especially on the Bandipur side of the Kabini backwaters. He does look huge.

Your travelogue has made me impatient now . A trip to the forest is planned for next month. Have to decide if it’s going to be Kabini or Nagarahole based on the sightings closer to the trip. Was in Bangalore last month & decided to join a couple of my friends on a long drive to Nagarahole. Was fortunate to see a tigress cross the main road & entire sequence got captured in the dashcam. First time ever I felt the usefulness of a dashcam.

Last edited by Torque123 : 24th May 2024 at 15:59.
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Old 24th May 2024, 22:04   #5
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Re: Kabini | After a long gap

Originally Posted by Torque123 View Post
Have to decide if itís going to be Kabini or Nagarahole based on the sightings closer to the trip.
Blackie seems to be camping near the Nanchi gate area, so if you want a chance to see him, Nagarhole would be a better bet. He looks quite aged now, but is giving some good darshans. Too many tigers in Kabini may have pushed himto that side of the forest.

Originally Posted by Torque123 View Post
First time ever I felt the usefulness of a dashcam.
A very different use for a dashcam!
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Old 25th May 2024, 17:27   #6
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Re: Kabini | After a long gap

Originally Posted by Stryker View Post
I'll start with a Malabar Giant Squirrel, stretching to get at the tender bits.
Hello Stryker,

It's always great to read your trip reports to Kabini (as always, amazingly good-quality shots!).
I'm a fellow Kabini fan as well. I visited Kabini a few weeks ago with my usual group. After several years, the water levels in the Kabini backwaters were very low, which allowed us to see many elephants, aquatic mammals, and birds during the boat safari.

I posted a few pictures from the trip today! (Bluejay | My Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Review | Ownership & Travels @ 3500 KM)

Last edited by graaja : 28th May 2024 at 09:29. Reason: Fixing broken quotes. Adding a line inside quotes
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Old 28th May 2024, 08:23   #7
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Re: Kabini | After a long gap

Thanks, sknair! Yes the water levels were pretty low a few weeks back, they are slowly regaining due to rain in the surrounding areas. Nice travelogue you've put up in your tread too.
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Old 8th June 2024, 11:47   #8
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Re: Kabini | After a long gap

Beautifully captured. Your photos specially the composition is really amazing. I love your Masai mara travelogue too.

I also went to kabini few years back, you can check my travelogue (A road-trip to Kabini | The jungle never disappoints)
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Old 11th June 2024, 08:49   #9
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Re: Kabini | After a long gap

Originally Posted by karsouvik View Post
Beautifully captured. Your photos specially the composition is really amazing.
Thanks, karsouvik. I read your Kabini travelogue too. Very nice.
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