Wilderness of Pench National Park

Pench National Park has been the latest addition to list of wildlife excursions across India at Wild India Eco Tours. This was our 1st tour to Pench and it turned out to be a fantastic trip as the group witnessed some lovely sightings along with good photographic opportunities to capture variety of birds and mammals, including the majestic Bengal Tiger, Wild Dogs (Dholes) and Golden Jackals. We also managed to sight and identify over 50 species of birds – key sightings included 3 species of Vultures, Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Indian Scops Owl and more…

Trip dates – 3rd June 2016 to 5th June 2016 (2N/3D)
Total no. of Safaris – 4 (Touria Zone)
Morning Safari entry/exit time – 5:15 AM to 10:00 AM
Afternoon Safari entry/exit time – 4:00 PM to 6:45 PM

Day 1

As we arrived at the resort by 12:30 PM, we had a lovely welcome – as we were greeted by an Asian Brown Flycatcher, a pair of Black-naped Monarchs, huge flocks of Brahminy and Common Mynas. Looking at the chirping all around even in midst of hot sun, we decided to do a quick check on birds around property and were pleasantly surprised to get good views of Great Racket-tailed Drongos, Tickell’s Blue Flycatchers and Jacobin Cuckoo.

After a good lunch and some rest, it was time for the afternoon safari. The sun was its scorching best as we made our way through route 2 in Touria zone. White-eyed Buzzard was the 1st bird we came across, followed by Lesser Flamebacks, Indian Thick-knees, Jungle Owlet and the Indian Roller. Highlights of this session were a pair of  Golden Jackals, unfortunately could not capture as there were pretty far away.

Day 2

Day 2 started with the morning safari, as early as 5:15 AM. We were on route 2 again this time and just as we entered we were greeted by couple of Wild Dogs (Dholes). The light was too low, though we managed few clicks. The forest was pretty much buzzing and chirping with bird calls; as we sighted the Jungle Owlets, Lesser Flamebacks and a majestic Crested Hawk Eagle. Around 3 hours had passed and we decided to have a our breakfast at Center Point. Highlights of this session were 2 species of vultures that were flying low – the Indian Vulture and the White-rumped Vulture. While returning we came across a Golden Jackal resting in shade of tree as well as a pack of Wild Dogs. We also saw a pair of Red-headed Vultures circling high up in the sky as we exited the park.

After a delicious lunch, some rest and some birding around the resort (Sighted Large Cuckoo-shrike, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Indian Grey Hornbill & Lesser flamebacks), it was time for the afternoon safari again. This time we were on route 1 and immediately came across a pair of Golden Jackals walking towards our gypsy. Next was a bold Wild Dog who was happy to pose for few seconds as we were able to make some portrait images. There was still no sight of the big cat and we were almost at the end of our 3rd safari when we saw few gypsies lined up. We got into the line as well but the sighting was very faint. As it was time to leave, we had to start back but we did manage to get a faint sighting of the Bengal Tiger.

Day 3

It was the final day and we were on route 2 again. The safari started on a very good note as our driver was sharp to spot a well camouflaged Indian Scops Owl. We reached a point were we heard few alarm calls, however there was no sight of the big cat. As we drove ahead, we managed to sighted the Indian Pitta, Red Junglefowl pair and Yellow-footed Green Pigeons.

What followed next was probably one of our best moments in all safaris till date. It was a scene similar to the previous evening with multiple gypsies lined up. Suddenly few of them drove ahead. We were following them when there was a very strong alarm call. As I turned back, I saw one of the gypsies going in reverse… our driver immediately reversed as well and there it was…! The Royal Bengal Tiger at around a distance of 30 feet. The entire setting was just perfect with diffused morning light. It was the legendary tigress of Pench – Collarwali. We couldn’t believe our luck as we got to sight this majestic cat up-close.

There is something different about this tigress – She is beautiful, huge, and even her coat is very unlike other tigers.. more whitish. We couldn’t help but discuss about this tigress all along the way. Oh but wait.. the safari wasn’t over. We had our breakfast at Center point and as we were on our return journey, we came across a juvenile Crested Hawk Eagle, a Monitor Lizard on lookout for food and a pair of beautiful Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers.

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– Team Wild India