It was the last day at Satpura NP before heading home, on an overnight flight. But before we leave there was just enough time for an early morning bird drive. This will take us slowly through the villages and farmland between Reni Pani and the river. Then along the forest edges, beside a canal and finally down to the river for a picnic breakfast.
Villagers waking up to a new day
This was not only a bird watching drive, it was also an opportunity to get a closer look at village life. People were waking up, cleaning their teeth, washing themselves and milking their cows, before starting their day. The families that guard the crops were waking up in their shelters, stretching and climbing down the ladders into the fields.
Along the canal the workers were waking up inside their bright, yellow, plastic shelters and starting to get water and prepare to start work. In the fields gangs of men and women were already out harvesting chick peas, stooped over in long lines. Apparently they earn 200-300 rupees a day. They cut wheat with a small sickle type knife. Old tractors were being used to power threshing machines. Some people were winnowing the grain from the straw by tossing it into the air from large flat woven baskets.
A small group of young men were washing their motor bikes, using the water from the river. Two women were walking down the road with woven baskets on their heads. As we watched they were picking up the cow dung from the road and flattening it. Then they placed it in the basket on their heads. The mixed these cow-pat cakes with fallen straw and dried them in piles by their houses. They used them for fuel and also as building material.
Wildlife along the road
Along the forest edges Samba and Spotted Deer were waking up and starting to graze. A group of young Southern Plains Grey Langurs played chase through the branches as the adults sat on guard. The Rhesus Macaque monkeys seem to be more timid than the Langurs as they don’t stay around very long before running off into the trees.
We had good opportunity to look at the birds as we were driving slowly. In the Mahua tree a group of Rose Ringed Parakeets were feeding on the fruit. Among them pecking at the fruit were beautiful Golden Fronted Leafbirds. Purple Sunbirds were collecting nectar from the flowers. The Flame of the Forest tree was in full flower and looked beautiful. Almost hidden among the branches was Yellow Throated Sparrow (Chestnut Shouldered Petronia).
Black Rumped flamebacks, White Naped Woodpeckers and Brown-capped Pygmy woodpeckers clung to the trunk of the trees. Wire tailed, Red Rumped and Barn Swallows flew overhead catching insects and then resting on the overhead wires. Nearby Green Bee-Eaters also rested on the wires. A pair of Spotted Owlets sat together on a branch staring at our jeep. Long Tailed Shrikes sat on prominent branches looking for prey.
In the stubble of a harvested field, Red Wattled Lapwings, Brahminy Starlings and Common Myna birds foraged for food. Laughing Doves pecked at the dusty ground. An Indian Robin hid among the branches. Common Babblers and Yellow Eyed Babblers sat on the tangled branches. A Black Winged Kite sat on an overhead wire surveying the ground for prey as a family of Grey Francolin walked through the stubble. Larks pecked in the dust along the canal as the men woke up and started to get ready for work. We had breakfast overlooking the river gazing out at Storks, Spoon-bills, Herons, Terns, Ibises and a solo Garganey. It was a lovely way to end our stay at Satpura.
Goodbye to Satpura
After packing and lunch it was time to say goodbye to the excellent staff at the Reni Pani Lodge and we headed back to Bhopal. We were going via the 10,000 year old rock paintings at Bhimbetka, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This was an interesting site. However because we were delayed due to the traffic chaos we got the feeling that the guide was in a hurry to leave as the site was due to close. Therefore the whole experience was very rushed.