We've stayed in Hotel Sunbird. Our guide for 4 days was Randhira Singh. I've met him on my first trip to India, in 2004. It was great to meet again, and he showed us some really good birds and other wildlife.
On the first 2 days my friend, Phunchok Tsering from Ladakh joined us. He organized my Snow Leopard trips. It was great to have him along.
The national park is increadible. There's so much water, much more than in 2004. It was a real paradise for wildlife.
Blue Bull with White-headed Ibises and Painted Storks.
Black-headed Ibises and Painted Stork.
Painted Storks and Intermediate Egrets.
Siberian Rubythroat. One of the few wintering here.
Juvenile Greater Spotted Eagle.
Greater Painted Snipes with Moorhen.
Jungle Nightjar, one of the few lifers for me.
A few other animals:
Five-striped Palm Squirrels.
Blue Bulls (Nilgai).
Indian Rock Python.
I had chance for sketching only for a few hours on our last day. Here a Jungle Babbler examines my Greater Spotted Eagle watercolour.
We had a one-day trip to the Chambal-river. We took a 3 hours long boat ride.
Local kids had no problem floating on tractor tires on the river rich in crocodiles.
Marsh Mugger Crocodiles and Ganghetic Gharial.
Marsh Mugger Crocodile, and the target of the trip: Indian Skimmer.
We have seen a flock of 27 Skimmers, an endangered species.
The rarest bird of the trip: Black-necked Stork.
Shorebird galore: Great Thick-knee, Black-winged Stilt and River Lapwing.
The endangered Black-bellied Tern.
After the boat ride, we made a detour to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.
After 4 days, we moved to our next destination, Ranthambhore. Our hotel was the Ranthambhore Bagh, a place where I stayed in 2004. It was great to meet the owners, Poonam and Aditya Singh again, after 12 years. We stayed in these luxury tents.
On our first morning safari, we bumped into our first Tiger within 30 minutes. The forest in the morning fog had an increadible atmosphere.
From the stripe pattern and territory it was easy to identify the Tiger, she is an adult female, called Krishna (T19).
Breakfast break with some very tame Rufous Treepies.
Returning in the afternoon, we entered the best zone in the national park. Within 30 mins this scene awaited us on the shores of Rajbagh lake.
The 2 years old daughters of our morning Tigress, Arrowhead and Lightning were argueing over a freshly killed Wild Boar.
Arrowhead was clearly wet and muddy, so probably it was her who killed the Boar.
But Lightning is the dominant, and she didn't let her sister eat from the prey. Their mood was quite tense.
After a while Lightning pulled the Boar into the high grass nearby, to continue eating in peace.
It was quite interesting to see a Great Thick-knee joining the Large-billed Crows at the site of the kill. You can see the blood of the Boar on the ground.
The girls' brother, Pacman showed up on the opposite side of the lake, with no interest in joining the feast.
On the next 2 days we had no luck seeing Tigers. We had very fresh pugmarks all the time, but no actual meeting.
A few birds seen during the jeep safaris:
Peacocks were everywhere.
Painted Spurfowl male, a common 'chicken' of the forest.
Black-rumped Flameback, the commonest woodpecker.
Brown Fish Owl. Actually there are 2 birds on this photo.
Ungulates are in huge numbers in the national park. Sambar Deers in one of the lakes.
A very delicate antelope species: the Indian Gazelle.
Each day we had a bonus for not seeing a Tiger. One morning we bumped into a Jungle Cat. When I got my camera ready, it was already gone into the mist:
The other day we met 2 Sloth Bears, my first ever bear species seen in the wild.
Hanuman Langur flock.
Dinner by the fire at the Bagh.
Group photo with Langurs.
Looking into the eyes of a wild Tiger from 6 meters was a chilling experience.
We've followed her on her morning routine.
Our guide picked up the noise of 2 fighting Tigers in the distance, so we left Arrowhead and rushed to that direction. We missed the fight itself, but met Lightning, with some scars below her right eye. Most probably she had a territorial fight with her own mother.
Soon after finding her, she left the road, and went into the forest. Our guide made a huge circle, and parked our car in front of a beautiful hillside. It was a scenic scene, with the sun breaking the morning mist. As he predicted, Lightning turned up in the rocky valley below us after some 20 mins wait. We had no idea how did he predict this. This scene was our farewell from Ranthambhore.
The young Tigress spend some 30 mins in front of us, preening, resting. I put my scope on her, she filled the whole view.
A last group photo in front of our hotel. In the middle is our guide, Rajkumar Gurjar, the best Tiger spotter in Ranthambhore! We can thank all our excellent sightings to him!