Another early start began with coffee and a biscuit and a drive in the dark to the river crossing for a morning safari in Satpura. As we reached the crossing a flock of Red Wattled Lapwings flew across in front of us, heading down to the rivers edge. Entering the park we saw a large herd of Spotted Deer waking up from their night’s sleep. Further in to the park were a herd of Gaur females with their young calves. Nearby groups of Sambar stood and watched us pass. As we drove along we could see tiger pug marks on the sandy track. We followed them, meeting up with other jeeps along the track. In the thick forest we got tantalising glimpses of a Tiger and cub. As they moved through the foliage we could see catch glimpses of their ears, tails and occasionally a face.
The drivers anticipated that the Tiger was heading for a nearby waterhole. All of the jeeps headed there and lined the banks of the waterhole and waited. Unfortunately after a long wait the tiger had decided to lie low until it cooled down. Instead we sat in silence and watched the antics of two Rock Lizards climbing over the boulders and sunning themselves.
We then headed towards the river breakfast stop, sharing the site with one of the domesticated Elephants and her calf that are used in the park. As we passed waterholes Grey and Pond Heron searched for food. Above us a Long Billed Vulture flew overhead. Painted Spur Fowl scurried through the dried leaves. A Tickells Blue flycatcher flew among the bushes and Green Bee Eaters sat together on low trees. Egrets stalked among the grazing Gaur.
At the river Terns flew to and fro and an Oriental Honey Buzzard stared down from a high branch. On the ground Chiff Chaff pecked at seed heads. A Green Shank and a Little Stint walked along the muddy shoreline. A Purple Sunbird sat high in a tree and a Kingfisher flew into a hole in the bank.
Saw Scaled Viper
When we arrived at the breakfast stop, our attention was drawn to a crowd of people. It appeared that a Saw Scaled Viper had been captured in one of the rooms. It had bitten a 20 year old man who had been evacuated to hospital. Apparently the vipers come into the rooms to eat mice and rats. Their bite can be deadly. It’s the smallest member of ‘the Big Four’ snakes – the four species of snake that cause the most deaths annually in this part of the world. When cornered they assume a striking pose, rubbing their scales together and rapidly vibrate their tails.
Leaving the river we headed back along the trail. A group of Langurs amused us with their antics jumping from branch to branch. A Spotted Owlet sat on a branch well hidden in the foliage and a woodpecker flew through the trees.
We headed back to the river and crossed over to our jeeps. Lunch was at 1.00 p.m. and there was to be an evening safari in the East Buffer Zone.