We awoke after a restless night to the song of the jungle fowl- the primordial chicken, whose call sounds like the theme from "The Good the Bad and the Ugly".
By 6:30 we were on a jeep heading into the national park. It became apparent that Spotted deer would be the animal of the day- hundreds of them would be seen.
The road is heavily rutted and on one of the slow crawls over some bottomless rut we spied a langur in the tree above our heads. By 7:30 we had our first elephants- 3 females and two infants. The ruling female shooed the others into the brush and then backed in to face us.
The wonderful guide became aware of my interest in birds and pulled out all the stops for me. Standing on the outside of the jeep he scanned the canopy and quickly showed me Greater Racket-tailed drongo, Crested serpent eagle, and many others. On the way out we ran into a happy bunch of kids who lined up to wave and smile. Our guide told us that they were children of migrant workers from the Punjab in Northern India who had come down to work in the sugar cane fields.
When we returned at 9:30 am, I told our naturalist that he was wonderful and he said, meet me here in an hour and we'll go for a walk. Sally and I were prompt as was he. The highlight of what he showed us was a roost of giant fruit eating bats- Flying foxes! Amazing to see two dozen monstrous bats above our heads. They hung from one foot while preening. If they bumped each other, a raucous argument would break out with lots of screeching and growling. Sally and I returned after our naturalist led walk and got pretty near to underneath, which caused them all to look at us with wide eyes- upside down!
The first jeep safari was so successful we decide to have another at 3:30 PM. The driver was both driver and naturalist and the jeep had an unfortunate canopy, blocking some views that we had in the morning but I jumped in the first seat, which was behind a cracked and dirty windshield. It did not seem as though this naturalist knew many birds but he quickly identified two new ones- Yellow wagtail and Streak-throated woodpecker.
Then , WHAM! A huge male wild boar sauntered out and the driver made some pig noise and he looked right at us- I am sure considering whether he could push the jeep over and have us for brunch.
Not long after we ran into another jeep safari which had located a family of elephants- two cows, one young male with tusks and an infant. They were about half a mile away and between trees so my photos are pretty grainy, still, a TUSKER! The hits just kept coming when a gigantic Guar came sauntering across the jungle clearing in front of us. It too, was too far away so the photo is poor. It was the gloaming and my hand held shot was at 1/30 sec.
Now, to bed, to bed.