Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Uncountable tree

I’ll let you into a secret: I’ve never seen a tiger in Pench. I’ve been here numerous times and my clients have repeatedly had superb striped encounters. I’ve seen leopards here, and wild dogs, and chowsingha, and many beautiful birds besides, but somehow the tigers of Pench have evaded me. They did again this morning. In the light of our excellent trip to Tadoba, it was inevitable that things would slow down a little here and no-one from our tour saw a tiger this morning. Indeed only one was seen by one jeep in the whole park and the hathi walle didn’t find any on their elephants either.

But the forest of Pench is dreamily beautiful. Here are rocky hills, loved by leopards, dotted like parkland with deciduous trees. Here are great vistas across edgeless grasslands and lakes. Here too are all the cast of the great drama of central Indian wildlife. Peacocks fan their tails at discerning peahens, who generally look unimpressed; baby langurs ping through the trees under the long-suffering eyes of their aunts and mothers; vultures, red-headed and white-rumped, sit out the soaring heat of the day in the grassland; and light-footed jackals trot through the landscape, looking for a chance to pinch, pilfer or pester. Such is the life of Pench.

On our return to the lodge butterflies with names as wonderful as their wings flitted through the handsome gardens here: great eggfly, crimson rose, common emigrant, common mormon, baronet. Nearby a thick-billed flowerpecker scolded in alarm as a jungle owlet swooped past our rooms. As the last of our jeeps returned, our friendly, broadly-smiling lodge naturalist Omveer expressed surprise that often groups come back from the park saying they have seen nothing when all the forest twitches and mutters with living things. This morning, in his words, we saw ‘six jackal, one thousand deer, five-hundred monkey, one-hundred bird, uncountable tree.’

That’s plenty for me.

The wild, overgrown garden was full of the whisper and scurry of small lives.

Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things

New this morning


red-headed vulture
Sarcogyps calvus
thick-billed flowerpecker
Dicaeum agile

2012 Totals 
Mammals: 53
Birds: 420
Reptiles: 11
Amphibians: 3
Fish: 2

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