My Jeep Safari & Bird Watching Experience at Jim Corbett National Park
“Thank You”, these two words brought a smile on his tired face…… I recalled.
“AniiiiiiiiL, utho na yaar subh ho gayi” (Anil, please get up, its morning), I shouted in a low yet irritating pitch. “We are already late for safari”, this sentence from my side worked as a breaking news for my news-addict husband and in the very next moment he was out of the bed. But before the beginning of our usual blame game, he gave me a lovely smile with a memorable quote “Do not worry; this CORBETT TRIP is going to be one of our best expeditions”. But before I reacted, a knock on the door diverted my attention (and of course the topic). Alias! Amit and Neeraj, I murmured and welcomed them. “Kaha hai wo (Where is he)”, Amit asked and I pointed towards the bathroom. “You know we are late”, this very phrase of Neeraj forced the trio of us to look at the watch. It was 20 minutes pass 6 am. What a great start to my first wildlife trip!
A metalled road at Bijrani Zone in Corbett
Now what to do as this miss-out of morning safari left the four of us in dilemma. The next safari at Bijrani Zone would be around 1:30 pm. But very soon some chirps hopping in our private courtyard at Corbett Leela Vilas gave our tour a theme. BIRD WATCHING? Yes, I said. The little beautiful Crested Bunting, a common bird of the region, attracted all four of us. But it was the sight of very rare Red Crossbill, a native of Himalayan Mountains that turned this short and temporary pastime into a lure and forced us to give bird tour in Corbett National Park a serious note.
Time for Spotting Wildlife at Bijrani Zone
Elephant at Corbett National Park
“Dheka mere sath rahoge to sab time par hoga (If you are with me then everything happens on time)”, this sarcastic comment of Anil left three of us red faced. But it was true. We were there at 1 pm while the safari timing was 1:30. At 1:35 the safari jeep took us into the wilderness of the zone. Bijrani Zone is a prominent tourist zone and is endowed with dense vegetation of Sal forests combined with grasslands. The zone also has some streams that are flanked by riparian forests and thick lantana bushes. I recalled this information and found it quite true. There was dense vegetation all over. Our guide told us that the bushes around the streams are considered ideal locations to spot the big wild cat, “TIGER”. Unfortunately we could not see this wild creature but were able to spot elephant, barking deer, spotted deer and sloth bear. Despite all the excitement of wild safaris, we did not put our theme of bird watching in Corbett on back burners. Amit (my brother-in-law) and Anil both were already prepared with their binoculars for having close and clear views of avian species in Bijrani.
After devoting hours of efforts, we finally managed to have few good clicks of some rare species (Black-crowned Night Heron, Asian Openbill, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Common Babbler) and of some common ones (Black necked stork, Rain Quail, Black winged Stilt and Himalayan Bulbul).
We came back from our jeep safari tour at around 5 pm with tiredness clearly visible on our faces. But the jubilation of our Corbett trip managed to eradicate our exertion up to quite a good level. And in the last what I remembered were those two words that brought a smile on Anil’s tired face, i.e. “THANK YOU”.
Sunset view at Corbett
But in this entire episode, I came to realize (after my unintentional mistakes) that like other activities, there are some useful bird watching tips and tricks that every traveler must know prior to their expeditions at a national park. So, here are some useful bird watching tips for beginners like us.
BIRD WATCHING TIPS
Identification: Birds are considered as one of the most energetic creatures of the earth and that’s why a hawk’s eye is needed to identify these lively species. So, keep an eye on the bird and study its movements and other details so that you can identify it clearly. Along with your vision, it is all important to keep your ears open. Listening bird’s vocalization is considered as one of the best tips for bird watching.
Crested Bunting Bird
Binoculars: A major role in bird watching tour is played by binoculars. It is quite common to carry this useful equipment during wildlife expeditions. But the thin line between a good view and a greater one can be felt only through the lens of superior quality of binoculars. So, it is good to spend value on a superior-quality binocular with various worthy features like light weight, waterproof and lifetime warranty.
Experienced Guide: This was the one main thing that we lacked during our birding tour in Corbett National Park. An experienced and intelligent field guide is the demand of every wildlife expedition, especially of bird watching tour.
Camera: How can I miss this handy gazette? It is just because of it that I managed to capture some nice clicks of birds at Corbett. Like binoculars, camera also plays an important role in making your expedition more interesting and memorable. It is genuine that it is hard to identify any bird in a single glimpse but the pictures of that same bird can make the identification an easy task. So, it is good to keep your camera always ready while birding.
Attire: Among the several bird watching tips and tricks, one tip that is must for everyone is dressing sense. Take care of your dress up style and avoid bright colours, accessories and perfumes as these things distract animals and birds a lot. Along with your attire, also try to avoid talking or whispering loudly. The listening and smelling senses of animals and birds are much higher than humans. Even a sudden movement by you cannot go unnoticed in the world of these creatures. So, do take care of your dressing sense and field etiquettes.