Corbett National Park Trip Report / Photologue 2014

#1 Sep 17th, 2014, 04:16
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This was our third trip to Corbett. We had spent the first week travelling in Kumaon visiting Kausani, Chaukori and Mukteshwar. See the report here. Uttarakhand- Kumaon and Corbett Trip Report
DHIKALA
We enjoyed an early breakfast and at 7.00am we were collected by or guide Kim and driver Kaili, a local lad who lives in the village inside the core area of the forest at Bijrani. We headed off to Dhikala, checked in at the gate and headed towards the forest lodge. It was so good to be back in a Maruti jeep heading off into the jungle. On the way we saw a Sambar deer lying by the river and many birds including a grey wagtail, robin, blue throated barbet


and we watched a crested kingfisher fishing, so quick and efficient! We paused at the ‘Croc Pool’ and saw 2 gharial and a crocodile basking on the opposite bank.


We watched a collared falconette (orange and black) and a muntjac and saw the nest of a Pallas’s fish eagle perched high in a tree. Oh it was so good to be back! We watched some monkeys playing and then realised that they were making alarm calls when they saw the ‘Tigers in Corbett’ magnetic jeep sign, the photo of the tiger cub was clearly too realistic!!

We moved on and stopped to watch by the water where we saw Cormorants, more Crocs and a blue throated Barbet and another kingfisher at work fishing.

At the next crock pool site we saw a Pallas’s fish eagle and more Cormorants and an eagle flew past.

Further on there was a lesser fish eagle sitting in a tree and then we watched an Indian Hornbill in a tree for some time before it flew off, my favourite bird, a great sighting.

Moving on there were many spotted deer and we listened to deer alarm calls, was there a tiger about? Unfortunately it was a false alarm! An Ofsprey flew past carrying it’s catch

and we watched 3 great slaty woodpeckers, the largest woodpeckers in the area, hammering at a tree and then a young brown fronted woodpecker.
We drove down a track to the water’s edge and watched a range of birds; lapwings, stonechat, crested kingfisher, collared falconette, a lesser fish eagle fishing and an Osprey carrying a fish. A white throated kingfisher flew across in front of us and 3 woolly necked storks flew in to settle in a tree near us.

A Rufous Treepie and a Lesser Yellownape and an Egret wading in the lake were added to the sightings. It had been a very full day with lots of wildlife, as we were travelling into the forest lodge we did not need to stop for lunch so had all day in the forest. We arrived pretty tired and hungry at the forest lodge where we enjoyed the chai on offer, they really do make good chai here! We had a pleasant room at the far end of the site with a good view, and a good supply of hot water.

After a good meal we settled for an early night.
The next morning we were up early, chai arrived at the room at 5.30 and we were on our way at 6.00. As we drove away from the rest hose a Jackall trotted along the track, the first we had seen in India.

It was very cold and misty this morning and a very cold heavy mist hung over the lake. An impressive Sambar stag with a large scar on its flank watched us pass by.

We listened for alarm calls but the forest was very quiet. As we slowly moved around the jungle we saw plenty of bird life including: Scaly thrush, grey winged blackbird, a lesser fish eagle sitting on a dead treetop and we watched another crested kingfisher fishing. We saw a long tailed shrike, Scaly thrush, and then moved to the water’s edge where we watched a greenshank feeding amongst the rocks, dipping in and out between the rocks, it was so well camouflaged.

A black necked stork flew by and a flock of cormorants followed by an Egret in flight.



Woolly necked storks landed by the waters edge on the opposite side of the water. We waited here for some time as the birdlife was so active, waiting and listening for signs of tigers but all was quiet! We enjoyed watching a group of monkeys playing, they have so much fun!

Another Pied Kingfisher gave us a fishing lesson. Another Sambar deer wandered across the river bed and we watched two changeable hawk eagles sitting in a tree. A dragonfly fluttered by to settle near us.

We returned to the rest house for lunch, a cheeky monkey jumped in to our room through the window and escaped with a banana, they are so quick! We admired the views across the lake and watched a crocodile lowly make its way across the lake. On leaving the rest house we saw the Jackal again and went down to the waters edge where we watched and waited. A lesser fish eagle stood in the water at the edge of the lake in front of us.

Beside and behind us hundreds of tiny butterflies settled to bask in the sun.

We had been so hopeful of a tiger sighting as Kim had said there is a tigress with 3 cubs in the area but it was not to be today, we had still has a brilliant day with plenty of wildlife sightings.
Day 3 we set off and once again the Jackal was about! We went towards the lake and listened for a while, all was quiet. A changeable hawk eagle was roosting in a tree near us. We spotted fresh tiger tracks in the sand on the track and off we went up the track and around to the other side where we parked under a tree watching and waiting at the track crossing. The monkeys in the tree above us caused a shower of water every time they jumped around, no alarm calls though ...and no sign of Mr stripes! We did watch a black rumped flameback , hammering at a tree and a long tailed Minuet.

We moved on and watched deer in the river bed, Sambar, Spotted and Muntjack all made an appearance.

Several storks flew past and landed on the waters edge. A pair of Jackal wandered in the river bed and a white throated kingfisher settled in the reeds.
We started to make our way back to the gate, we passed a jeep coming in who’s occupants had seen a tigress on the road a few minutes earlier, we went on to look for her but tracks was all we saw. A pair of tawny fish owls watched us watching them and a group of wild boar ran cross in front of us.

We returned to the Hideaway hotel tired and hungry.
After a relaxing evening and a lovely meal we had a few beers in the bar. Ramesh came to see us and we chatted about the plans, he had been very worried as his son had had a very bad fall and had been in hospital, fortunately he was recovering well and Ramesh would be able to join us at Malani. We settled for an early night.

BIJRANI
We set off early with a packed breakfast from the hotel. Once in the Bijrani zone we headed into the forest checked in at the lodge, filled in yet more registration forms, and went off in the jeep. We heard monkey alarm calls and stopped to listen. More calls, yes there was definitely something about! We watched and waited, other jeeps joined us. Was this our time for a sighting, excitement rose! Kim thought the tiger had gone the other way so we hurried around the track, we saw fresh tracks of a tiger. We went past 2 other jeeps then stopped and waited. We just missed out, the jeep behind us had a sighting. Kim’s instincts were correct, we were just unlucky. Kim was so unhappy as he was so keen to find us a tiger! We went back to the lodge for chai at lunchtime and after a short break headed back into the forest. We headed back to the same area as Kim was sure the tiger was resting up somewhere. Much watching and waiting followed, we moved to the river bed and waited, and waited, watching a group of monkeys playing in the trees and the river bed. Clearly they were not concerned. Time passed and Kim decided to drive round the track again as he was still sure a tiger was resting up in the area. As we slowly moved round a corner we saw several jeeps parked up, they had spotted a tigress and were waiting for her to come into view. We turned round and stopped, watching hard into the undergrowth....and there she was, a first glimpse of stripes mostly hidden moving through the undergrowth.

She walked along about 5 metres from us and then disappeared for a few minutes. We drove along and stopped, a couple of other jeeps overtook us and pulled in front of us. They were day jeeps and full of noisy Indians, I just never understand why so many Indians go on safari wearing the brightest clothes and have to shout, especially when there is a tiger about! Kim spotted her again and she was standing still in the undergrowth, then she moved towards the track behind us slowly. She calmly came out onto the track and made to come in our direction however the jeeps behind us were blocking her path, and they were still noisy! She seemed frustrated and moved back into the bushes to move round the jeeps, she was coming in our direction and we watched the bushes moving , would she show herself? I had camera at the ready as she calmly walked out from the undergrowth right beside our jeep, as she passed by she was so close that I believe I could have touched her ....not that I would want to try!

I certainly did not need my zoom lens! What a beauty!

She moved down a bank a couple of metres away and walked into the bushes again moving alongside the track. The other jeeps all passed us, we waited for them to settle, all passengers straining to see her and then we drove past them all and continued to wait on a bridge some way in front. Kim was sure this was where she would reappear. He was right and we heard and then saw her slowly moving alongside us at a few metres distance. She came out onto the track in front of us and crossed the track to a tree where she rubbed her head on the trunk before walking up the track.
We had the most amazing view. We stayed on the bridge and gave her space much to the annoyance of the others in jeeps behind us. We then followed her at a discrete distance for 20 minutes or more, how time flies when watching a totally wild tiger going about its business.

She scent marked several trees and seemed to be walking her territory.
Kim told us that she has 2 cubs that she will have hidden nearby. At one point she turned across the track and turned to look at us, I was ready with the camera! I have so many photos of her back view it was good to get a face shot!

She went into some long grass and we lost sight of her. By this time all the other jeeps had left to exit the park and we were alone with her. Would she show herself again? We moved on and waited again, and there she was, she walked along the track in front of us

and then crossed into the grassland, it was so hard to keep sight of her, the camouflage is so good. Through the grass we saw her stopped, the white ear patches visible, motionless.

Then the slow movements....she was talking a spotted deer in the grass ahead. All was quiet for a few minutes, so quiet. Then she pounced, it was all so quick, with a roar and a scuffle grass was flying, then a final death cry from the prey as she strangled it. It was the most incredible experience and I cannot describe the intensity of the sounds and electric feeling! We were stunned; we had just watched a tigress make a kill! She stayed with her prize for a while then we lost sight of her. She had taken the kill away from us. We had to leave to get back to the lodge, we were already late! We left knowing she would be bringing her cubs for a feast. One day I will see tiger cubs!!
The excitement was amazing, we were all buzzing. After no sightings for so long we had experienced the best and closest sighting we have ever seen, and watched a kill. How many people ever do that? Such elation, I think Kim and Kaili were as excited as we were.
Back at the forest lodge we had an evening meal, usual Bijrani simple but good fare, we chatted to an elderly man who was obviously a regular visitor who told us he had been visiting Corbett since the 1960’s.
The next morning we headed straight back to where she had made the kill. There were plenty of fresh tracks of the mother and her cubs but they seemed to have moved on. Some vultures had moved in. We drove round the area for some time to no avail. We returned to the lodge for Chai and to take a punctured tyre for repair. We went back out and spotted really fresh tracks but they went out over the edge of the track into the deep jungle, we had just missed out.
We met up with Ramesh who had brought a spare tyre for us and was going to be our guide for the rest of the trip. We said our goodbyes to Kim who had been a great guide, so knowledgeable and so enthusiastic. After lunch we went off with Ramesh , headed back to the same area as before and watched and waited. Somehow when Ramesh is with you your expectation is always raised!

Suddenly we heard a load roar and a loud elephant trumpeting, the sound was really incredible, we drove round towards the sound to discover that 2 elephants on safari had disturbed the tigress with her cubs which had charged at one of the elephants. It had been a scary experience for the people on the elephants. Now we knew where the tigress and her cubs were and we waited quietly to see if she would take her cubs away. Unfortunately there was a jeep full of noisy day visitors who made too much noise. When they left we did hear the mother calling to her cubs but she was not for moving while there was anyone around. We headed back to the lodge, during the night there was a real commotion with Jackal alarm calls, there was clearly a tiger close!
The next day we returned to where the tigress was the evening before, we checked for tracks and saw tracks of the tigress and cubs going across the track into the grass. We set off to check the waterhole nearby in case they had gone for water but no luck. We did see some fresh tracks from a small tigress, we waited patiently and heard her ‘rumbling’ across the grass but there was no sighting. Soon we spotted a large tusker with a single tusk.

We watched him wander across and down to the river bed.

Back to Bijrani for breakfast and then we set off for Malani. On the way we watched spotted deer and heard alarm calls but no sightings, we spotted a pair of hornbills in a tree they are so beautiful!.



We left our bags at Malani, a lovely 2 bed roomed old hunting lodge, close to the core area.

Heading off again we saw a stag licking salt from the river cliff and we had a lovely sighting of a Pine Marten as it climbed a tree and hopped along the branch and across to the next tree and away.

But no signs of tigers. On our return to Malani at dusk we heard barking deer alarm calls, Ramesh was convinced there was a leopard about. We all sat outside the lodge in total quiet listening for ages, there is a leopard regularly seen in the area but we were not lucky. Later we heard more alarm calls but it was too dark to see anything. Ramesh had arranged for a cook to prepare an evening meal for us which was lovely.
The following morning we departed for the final safari, sad to leave. As we made our way back towards Bijrani we saw a group of female elephants with youngsters, we reversed round the corner as they were coming towards us and they crossed the track behind us. (Always best to have the jeep facing away from elephants...just in case!)


One of the adults was with a calf and other adolescents. Another ‘auntie’ adult took exception to us being there, trumpeted and decided to charge.... we set off quickly and she gave up. Quite scary!


They proceeded round the corner but the ‘auntie’ heard another jeep approaching and set off at a full charge around the corner, the people in the jeep must have had such a shock to see a fully grown elephant charging straight for them! They found reverse gear very quickly. So funny!! The rest of the herd went on their way and we reversed to follow them

then a different junior female decided to prove a point and started to charge at us, not a good time for the jeep gears to stick! Just in time Kaili engaged first gear and we were off. A close escape! As we made our way through the forest to leave the park we watched more deer and birds.
We returned to Ramesh’s lovely home stay ‘Sparrows Nest’ near Ramnagar where we had a chance to shower and rest. After a beautiful evening meal and a chance to chat to the family we set off to catch the train to Delhi. It had been another excellent trip and as always Ramesh and his team had looked after us expertly.
We just love India, and Corbett especially
#2 Sep 17th, 2014, 04:20
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#2
Thank you for sharing your experiences and your photos, tripsammy!

Wonderful pictures!
#3 Sep 17th, 2014, 04:30
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#3
Ooooooh! You are making me cry! I love Corbett more than any other place in India too! What a marvellous report and such super pictures! The best so far, I was almost there!
#4 Sep 18th, 2014, 22:07
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#4
Thanks for the lovely comments, I am just planning our next trip for January.
#5 Sep 25th, 2014, 02:39
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#5
Great photos and lovely report, I love the pics of the tigers, especially the big feet photo and the birds in flight!
#6 Sep 28th, 2014, 10:06
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wow.... what a trip, truly refreshing. I am also planning to visit Corbett next month and waiting for a positive response from ramesh, the one for all. I have gone thru all your Corbett expeditions and really loved them. Would love to hear from you more in future, keep the great work in progress.
#7 Sep 28th, 2014, 10:13
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Great...
#8 Sep 28th, 2014, 11:45
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#8
Wow!! great pictures, you were so fortunate to spot all the beauty and birds/animals.
#9 Oct 10th, 2014, 21:47
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Thank you all for the lovely comments. Wildlife and wildlife photography are my passions and i am never happier than sitting quietly in the jungle just waiting for something special to appear! In Corbett it usually does!!
#10 Jan 2nd, 2015, 02:56
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#10
I'm planning a trip in late-January to Corbett, and since I read so much about Ramesh, I decided to write him a message on his website. But since it is high tourist season, I am doubtful he will be available.
Is there any other way to contact him?
Are there other guides you could recommend?
#11 Jan 2nd, 2015, 14:33
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Meanwhile, when I try to book accommodation on the corbettonlice.UK.gov.inI get the message: "sorry, accommodation booking will be opened after 15th November for the selected zone". I'm trying to book for 27 Jan and there are rooms and huts available.

Anyone else seen this problem ?
#12 Jan 16th, 2015, 21:33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electro View Post I'm planning a trip in late-January to Corbett, and since I read so much about Ramesh, I decided to write him a message on his website. But since it is high tourist season, I am doubtful he will be available.
Is there any other way to contact him?
Are there other guides you could recommend?
Did you manage to sort anything with Ramesh? He does get very busy well in advance. The website is really the best way to contact him.
#13 Feb 21st, 2015, 21:33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tripsammy View Post Did you manage to sort anything with Ramesh? He does get very busy well in advance. The website is really the best way to contact him.
Yes I did manage to get in touch with Ramesh later on. But by then I had already made other arrangements and decided to stick with the original plan. We stayed in Dhikala zone for 2 nights and took the Jeep safari from Ramnagar CTR office.

I was very disappointed with the unprofessional-ism of the guides and Jeep drivers. We had two tiger sightings, but each time we only saw the tiger crossing the road from grasslands and into the forest for about 10 seconds. The guide then started the engine and wanted to take the jeep closer to the tiger in the hope that it will come out again. Of course this meant that all other 7 jeeps with us also started their engines and drove behind the tiger full speed. Poor tiger growled and went deep into the forest. It had made a kill in the grasslands and would have come out again if only we had enough patience to sit silently and wait. Next time I will go with Ramesh as a guide to see tigers with minimum interference. I am just not sure if Ramesh does safaris inside Dhikala.

Also, the Jeep drivers and CRT office did not really give us a choice on which Jeep we may take inside and were just allotted a driver+Jeep without being asked.
Having grown up on a good dose of the Jungle Book cartoon series and idolizing Mowgli, the forest left me really enchanted and I will definitely plan another trip again.
#14 Apr 29th, 2015, 22:40
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#14
That is such a shame, I know there are problems with Jeep drivers and guides, that is why Ramesh often stays well away. We were there in February with Ramesh and saw 5 tigers. In all but one occasion it was our guide who found the tiger and no other Jeeps were involved.
#15 Apr 30th, 2015, 20:31
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#15
We were there in February too, I will post my photologue soon! Managed to see 8 different tigers in 3 days at Bijrani with Ramesh's team!!

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