Thursday, March 31, 2016

Northeast India Trip - Kaziranga

Kaziranga National Park.   I expected this to be the highlight location of our stay.   No pressure then....

From our porch at the back of our room we saw Yellow-footed Green Pigeon:


I think this may be a Capped Langur but not sure about primate species:


In the grounds of the Iora Resort a flowering Azalea had a Purple Sunbird:


We were really looking forward to entering the park and the first ride was scheduled for Saturday morning, as it opened at 7:30 am, so we left the hotel at 6:30 to be sure of being there as it opened.  An earlier start would have been appreciated but the gate wasn't going to be opened early.   We went for the central area first, the Eastern section that afternoon, the Western on Sunday morning and then back to the central section for our last trip on Sunday afternoon.

The sun hadn't got very far up when we headed out:



There are numerous areas of river within the park, which draws in a number of birds associated with water such as Black-headed Ibis and various species of Egret:


We were delighted to see a number of large birds of prey in the early morning light including this Grey-headed Fish Eagle:


As the sun got higher the light colour changed as you can see here from this Asian Pied Starling image:


 The reflection from the Black-necked Stork caught the eye:


A local speciality is the Blossom-headed Parakeet:


I have no idea how our driver saw this bird from the road but he did and we were grateful, a Brown Fish Owl was sheltering from the road and sun in a small wooden copse:



We couldn't hang around as this area had a number of armed patrols, apparently a poacher had been shot dead the previous evening but his two accomplices were unaccounted for.

Back on the road, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater:


Common Hoopoe:


Crested Serpent Eagle, getting warm:


Kaziranga is mostly grasslands with some fragments of forest.   The park has strictly defined tracks for the vehicles and really no other facilities.   What toilets that were there were more hazardous than all the wildlife put together!

It is a fantastic place to visit and indeed to be:


As well as the slave elephants (we saw then dragging and trying to chew through their heavy metal chains) there are wild Indian Elephants in the park too:


We felt so sorry for the captive animals and declined to ride one when it was suggested.  This is another free one:


We saw lots and lots of birds on our various visits to the park.   Often we were stopped to look at a bird and other cars would stop to try and see what we were seeing only to realise 'it was just a bird' and then head off again, covering us in clouds of dry river sand from the track as they did so.

A magnificent species, and probably my favourite of the whole trip is the Great Hornbill:


I hoped it was going to fly and I wasn't disappointed:



I had no idea but the yellow colouring in the plumage and on the head is a secretion from a gland that the bird uses to decorate itself (thanks to Celia for sharing this with us when we got home):


What a cracking bird.   They make a fabulous wooshing noise when they fly too :)

Another cracking species and finally seen clearly is the Green-billed Malkoha:


Another Grey-headed Fish Eagle: 


Grey-headed Lapwing


I snapped this Lesser Adjutant Stork eating prey:


A Red-wattled Lapwing:


A menagerie of waders:


 Indian Roller:


Jungle Myna:


 Long-tailed Minivet:


Oriental White-eye:


 Oriental Pied Hornbill:




Red-breasted Parakeet:


The park is famous for the single-horn Rhino, it holds the majority of the remnants of this species now:



We continued to encounter many species of bird as we drove around the various parts of the park including White-throated Kingfisher:


Striated Grassbird:


There are lots of varieties of wildlife in Kaziranga:


A small flock of Baya Weavers was moving through the long grasses:



A mother Rhino and baby as we headed for the exit:


A Swamp Francolin one of the target bird species and quite elusive.   They scuttle for cover at the first sign of human activity.   We heard them calling, parked-up quietly and watched them feeding in amongst a small herd of deer:



 A small deer browsed in the fading light:


Egrets settling to roost as the sun set:


Kaziranga met our expectations in terms of wildlife however the river sand roads combined with open vehicles made getting around it unpleasant, especially when it's busy.  Ideally avoid weekends and take a scarf or mask for when you get passed or stuck behind someone.  And expect to get totally covered in the stuff.   It's still worth the visit.

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