We did a quick trip to Sariska Rajasthan over the extended weekend. This was the first time in 2014 that all three of us traveled together! I took Chhavi out and Seshadri took Chhavi out, I went out and Seshadri went out but somehow the dates never coincided for the three of us. And more often than not I was the guilty party! But we finally managed to go to Sariska for a peaceful vacation.
In all our visits to Sariska we have stayed at the RTDC’s Tiger Den. It is a simple hotel but right at the edge of the forest. The best part of the deal is their huge lawn from where I do my armchair birding. Sometimes I manage to catch butterflies too, on my cell phone!
It goes like this. I usually sit in a chair in the lawn, basking in the sun. Then a bird will come close by and I click a picture, usually without getting up from the chair. Sometimes they do force me to move a bit to get a better angle. By the way, did you notice the blue sky?
The best part of this vacation was the sunshine. There was no fog at Sariska. Chhavi could sit in the lawn and play with mud and other kids, while Seshadri and I were just too happy to laze around reading books.
All the pictures up to now have been clicked in the hotel premises. Now what a luxury it was to click so many birds simply by sitting in a hotel lawn!
And it is not that the birds come for a fleeting second and then go away. They keep coming back, looking for food. Having said that, no one can sit in the lawn and eat anything because of the monkeys. There are just too many monkeys around. They don’t come nearby unless you have something to eat. So all the food items have to be consumed indoors, unless you wish to share it with the monkeys.
Then I took a short walk out of the premises of the hotel and found this Shrike in a tree close to the road. It gave me only one opportunity to click the pictures! And then it vanished protesting further inside the overgrowth.
There were a great many yellow toed green pigeons by the road but they took a thorough dislike to my presence. They flew in droves to far away trees. So, managed to get this one picture on my puny 75-300 mm zoom by cropping ruthlessly.
Chhavi and I did a safari in the national park. This was the send visit to the jungle for Chhavi. She was having a conversation with other girls (working professionals) in the canter and in some context she told them, “I know because I have been here before!” Seshadri refused to budge from the hotel. He anyway has seen a tiger in Sariska on his first attempt, a trip he did solo. We didn’t see any tigers on this trip. But there was this group of painted storks with rudy shelducks for company!
Then there was this lonely black winged stilt going around in the lake in search of food. The lake is a very scenic spot in the middle of the forest.
And I sign off the travels of 2014 (only theoretically because some of the tales are going to spill in 2015 as well) with Chhavi trying to feed a jungle babbler at Sariska.
I get to see a lot of birds without even leaving my home. I put a bowl of water for them in the balcony throughout the year. On weekends I give them a further incentive to visit my balcony. I will put something to eat as well. From my experience I know that the birds like oranges! They are happy with any other fruit but oranges give a certainty to attract birds.
Jungle Babbler- Don’t Mess with my Food!
I then click the pictures standing inside the room. This time the oranges attracted the jungle babblers. This bird kept giving me a stern eye as if to say bugger off let me have my food in peace! I was not obliging.
After a few pecks the birds were interested in the water and posing for me! It is great fun to do bird watching in the backyard. However jungle babblers are not my most favorite birds. They are loud, they are pushy and small birds have no chance to drink water or nibble at the fruits if they are in the vicinity. But they are fun to photograph as they seem to have mastered a wide variety of expressions! They often quarrel with each-other which adds to the photo opportunities.
They are also called seven sisters probably because they often move in a group, whether it is strictly seven, I am not too sure tough. They often invade my front yard as well, always noisy even when I do not keep any fruits for the birds. They are actually quite regular in my area! I think they look for insects on the ground.
Bath Time for the Jungle Babbler
Finally it was bath time before the bird flew away! If you like bird watching consider participating in the The Great Backyard Bird Count.
I got my Canon 75-300 quite sometime back but somehow didn’t try it properly till today. Either I have learned to focus better or the Canon lens is better than Sigma. I think it is a bit of both. Also the weather is much less cold in Delhi/Gurgaon these days so squirrels are out in numbers and I was out too!
Next came this Laughing Dove and it posed for me for quite sometime. In fact after I had taken all the shots that I wanted it was still there not moving an inch for the sunny spot.
Then Chhavi threw some bread crumbs in the porch and pat came the Jungle Babblers and started eating them. It has been ages since I went on my bird round but I think I will go today and see what I get in the neighborhood. I usually get more birds neighborhood than I get in the backyard.