Corbett National Park – The Land of the Roar, Trumpet & Song
Small incidences stick to our memories and make you smile. Here is one of them during a Corbett film shoot with dear friends – Gautam & Doel and ofcourse Kahini.
A strategy was laid to track the tiger behind Khinnauli Forest Rest House (FRH) of Corbett National Park but in a forest instincts are given the first preference. We had decided to do a round of the Dhikala chaur before crossing the Ramganga for checking the area where the tiger movement has been at an all time high during this season. As our vehicle started from Gairal FRH, little did we know that a few amazing birding moments awaited us that morning.
Our vehicle moved slowly uphill from Gairal towards the main road that leads towards Dhikala amidst swooshing forest comets (paradise flycatchers) and spangled drongos, sambhars and cheetals gearing up for their early morning graze in open river beds, great Indian hornbills and dollar birds adding a glitter to the forest with their vivid colors and whistling pittas, our eyes split wide open when we saw an avionic wild spectacle. A pair of male scarlet minivets playing midair in perfect morning light splashing their bright red coats that made the normally deciduous Haldu tree look colorful and beautiful.
We were nearing Khinnauli now and our plan to cover the Dhikala grassland was still intact and suddenly Kahini wanted the vehicle to be diverted towards the bridge to cross the Ramganga. “Why are we diverting and not sticking to the plan?” the initial thoughts running through me and Gautam which we did not express since forest instincts are something that are beyond human imagination and you can’t question them sometimes. But still from a photography and filming perspective I presume we had made up our minds to shoot some elephants in the chaur and had already started visualizing the shots.
Crossing a couple of wooden bridges, our vehicle passed through the patch of a grassland buzzing with green bee-eaters… some of them relishing dragonflies as their breakfast. We parked on the banks of the Ramganga and the waiting game was on.
Sambhars in the middle of the river were their to guide us with the tiger movement so we were observing some finer moments. A full grown common kingfisher that was resting on the opposite bank took off for a deadly plunge in the glittering river and as it successfully emerged with a fish flapping its wings and shredding diamond-like water droplets, I was glad it chose a rock near me to settle itself and gave a final blow to the fish by banging it on the rock. A few meters ahead a river lapwing chic followed her mother’s instructions and kept following her hopping from one rock to the other.
As the action was happening towards the left of our vehicle, langurs far away in the tree gave frantic alarm calls. The wait was over and the tiger had given away the cover. Vehicles started queuing up and all eyes were glued to the langurs. The stripes were moving behind the bushes and had been spotted. It was quite evident that the tiger wanted to beat the morning heat and rest in the cozy comforts of the river and was looking for a spot.
A Terai tiger walking on the thickly wooded and steep Himalayas slopes is a treat to the eyes as it is here one can see the true power and persona of a Royal Bengal Tiger even when it is simply walking. Displaying true character traits of a Terai tiger, our full grown male easily walked on the rocky and tough Himalayan terrain and from my view finder I could see the muscular shoulder cuts that were shining brightly as he walked out in the open. The cuts became more prominent and visible as the male started his descend towards the nullah where it was planning to rest.
As we were admiring the beauty of the striped wonder, Gautam spotted a pied kingfisher that was constantly hovering a few meters away from our vehicle trying to analyze the fish movement in the river. As the kingfisher hovered for some time and inched closer to check the section of the river near our bank, she went out of focus in my viewfinder and my camera automatically zoomed into a patch of grassland where I saw a movement.
A pair of shining ivory was moving in the bushes and within moments strong ripples disturbed the calm river water as the second ruler of the park emerged into the river. A mighty tusker walked passed the river making it a perfect Corbett setting – a tiger resting towards the right, a kingfisher hovering inches ahead and a tusker quenching his thirst in the middle of the river.
We say it’s the land of the roar, the trumpet and the song and the 10 odd vehicles witnessed it in true Corbett style.