The wake up call was at 4.45 a.m and then we were off in the dark to the river crossing into Satpura in the hope of more sightings of Sloth bear. As we drove along a Field Mouse scurried across the road dazzled by the jeeps headlights. Arriving at the river once again we left the lodges jeeps and crossed the floating bridge by torchlight. The parks jeeps were waiting on the other side and quickly took us to the park entrance.
As the sun rose we entered the park. In the meadow area quite near to the park gates a Spotted Deer was giving an alarm call. Our jeep stopped and we sat and watched. The Spotted Deer had its tail raised showing the white underside and its front leg was poised bent for running. It was facing a area where there was long grass and continued barking the alarm call. In a solitary dead tree Crows were perched and calling. One of them flew down into the long grass area and then back up into the air. Another Crow flew down into the same area and then back into the tree. All the time there was raucous crowing and the barking alarm calls of the Spotted Deer. As the Crows continued to harass whatever was in the long grass.
Suddenly there was vigorous movement in the grass and a Leopard shot out and started to run. Not towards the Spotted Deer but in the opposite direction into the forest. Obviously his stealthy hunt had not worked. We tried to track the Leopard. Although we heard Langur alarm calls and the Leopard growling we did not see him.
Leaving the Leopard we climbed the track through the forest above a ravine. At the bottom we could see water. A Grey-headed Fish Eagle sat perched in a tree high above us.
In the water we could see ducks. A closer look through the binoculars revealed them to be Comb-headed, Spot-billed and Ruddy Shelduck. Further up the track two Mottled Wood Owls were roosting in a tree.
Female Sloth Bear and her Cub
Suddenly the jeep came to a halt and all eyes turned to the other side of the water. Emerging from the reeds was a female Sloth Bear and her small cub. We watched entranced as the cub clung to her back as she walked down towards the water. The cub fell off on to the grass and followed his mother. Its mother was using her long curved claws to dig for food the cub tried to copy her. Tiring of this the cub started running around, clambering over fallen branches and rolling over on the grass. The mother turned the cub over onto its back with her long snout. Eventually it climbed back onto her back and they disappeared back into the reeds.
Driving further up the trail we tracked them and saw them emerging from the forest. Unfortunately by this time there were a number of jeeps jostling for position. Luckily for us as we watched the mother and her cub walked along the track towards our jeep. Giving us a good opportunity to take photographs and observe their behaviour. Eventually we left them and carried on with our game drive.
Gaur with young
Along the track was a family of Gaur with their young calves. The Gaur is the largest mammal of the Central Indian jungle. They are brownish-black in colour with prominent white socks. Their horns are grey with traces of blue, yellow and orange. The herds are led by a dominant female and can be up to fifty in number. Males are larger and on the outside of the herd or are solitary.
Further along the track a family of Sambar grazed and a wild boar rooted in the mud. Langurs jumped from branch to branch, some clutching babies.
Above us on a tree a Brown-capped pygmy woodpecker hammered on a tree trunk. As the track swung around we had beautiful views of the water below us. At the crest of the track a Brown Fish Owl glanced down at us from its perch high in a tree. River terns flew along the length of the water, whilst Common, White Bellied and Pied Kingfishers perched along the edge. A Bronze-winged Jacana waded among the vegetation as Pond and Grey Heron searched the water for fish. Barn Swallows flew around catching insects and on the shore a Common Greenshank pecked in the mud. Egrets stood watching. An Indian Cormorant stretched out its wings to dry in the sun. In a clearing a male Peacock raised its tail in a mating display. Above us in thick foliage a Crested Serpent Eagle raised its crest and gazed down at us.
India Rollers flew across the track and a Rufous Treepie landed on a nearby branch.Plum-headed Parakeets noisily flew into a tree in front of the jeep. A Tickells Blue Flycatcher attracted our attention as it searched for insects in a low bush. On the ground was a Rufous-rumped Skylark and a Honey Buzzard flew above us and landed in a tree.
We’d had a great morning but it was time to return to the lodge for lunch and then we were scheduled for an afternoon game drive.