We gratefully acknowledge the help and cooperation received from Project Tiger authorities at Corbett Tiger Reserve particularly the Field Director, Mr. R. C. Gautam, the Deputy Director, Mr. Rajiv Bhartari, and the DFO, Kalagarh Tiger Reserve Division, Mr. Samir Sinha.
The Ramganga was dammed at Kalagarh at the south-western end of the reserve in 1974. The reservoir created submerged 40 sq. km. of prime grassland. The area on the western side of the reservoir now constitutes the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary.
Our encounter with the cat family was restricted to a chance spotting of a leopard at Halduparao. We found tiger pugmarks, scat and parts of a sambar kill by a tiger near Halduparao. We found no evidence of any other member belonging to the cat family.
The Deer family representatives at Corbett gave us many pleasurable sightings. Barking Deer were seen at Lohachaur, Gairal and at Halduparao. Sambar were sighted at Lohachaur, Kanda and Halduparao. Chital were spotted all over the Reserve.
Wild Pig were spotted by us at Lohachaur, Gairal, and Halduparao. Corbett's wild pigs are huge, probably due to the abundant food supply. Boars have been known to tip the scales at an imposing 100 kg.
At Lohachaur, we frequently spotted troops of langurs around the Mandal river. Rhesus macaques were also spotted by us in this region. Langurs were seen everywhere, but Rhesus macaques were not very common.
Gharial were seen by those who went to Crocodile Bank near Gairal. Jackals were spotted near the Halduparao Guest House. Elephants (always lone tuskers) were seen at Halduparao and at Hathikund.
|L, R, H||Seen at Lohachaur, Rathuadhab and Halduparao respectively|
|1||Extremely Common: seen on almost every outing|
|2||Common: seen about 5 times a day|
|3||Seen more than once but not common|
|4||Seen only once|
|38||Little Green Heron||Ardeola striatus||R3|
|42||Pond Heron||Ardeota grayii||R1 H2|
|161||Crested Hawk Eagle||Spizaetus cirrhatus||H4|
|164||Booted Hawk Eagle||Hieraaetus pennatus||H4|
|174||Pallas Fishing Eagle||Haliaeetus albicilla||H3|
|177||Himalayan Greyheaded Fishing Eagle||Ichthyophaga nana||H4|
|179||Cinerous Vulture||Aegypius monachus||L4|
|196||Crested Serpent Eagle||Spilornis cheela cheela||L2 R4|
|238||Black Partridge||Francolinus francolinus||L3 R2|
|293||Kaleej Pheasant||Lophura leucomelana||R3 H3|
|299||Red Junglefowl||Gallus gallus||L1 R2 H1|
|311||Common Peafowl||Pavo cristatus||L1 R1 H1|
|366||Redwattled Lapwing||Vanellus indicus||R1 H2|
|369||Spurwinged Lapwing||Vanellus spinosus||L1 H1|
|493||Pintailed Green Pigeon||Treron apicauda||H2|
|516||Blue Rock Pigeon||Columba livia||L1 R2|
|529||Turtle Dove||Streptopelia turtur||R1 H1|
|531||Rufous Turtle Dove||Streptopelia orientalis||L2|
|534||Indian Ring Dove||Streptopelia decaocto||R2|
|537||Spotted Dove||Streptopelia chinensis||L1 H1|
|542||Emerald Dove||Chalcophaps indica||R3|
|545||Alexandrine Parakeet||Psittacula eupatria||H2|
|549||Roseringed Parakeet||Psittacula krameri||H3|
|557||Blossomheaded Parakeet||Psittacula cyanocephala||L1 R1 H1|
|573||Common Hawk Cuckoo||Cuculus varius||L1 R1 H1|
|717||Himalayan Pied Kingfisher||Ceryle lugubris||L2 R3 H2|
|719||Lesser Pied Kingfisher||Ceryle rudis||H2|
|722||Common Kingfisher||Alcedo atthis||R1 H2|
|722||Storkbilled Kingfisher||Peragopis capensis||H2|
|736||Whitebreasted Kingfisher||Halcyon smyrnensis||L2 R1 H1|
|744||Chestnutheaded Beeater||Merops leschenaulti||L2 H2|
|748||Bluetailed Beeater||Merops philippinus||H2|
|750||Green Beeater||Merops orientalis||R1 H2|
|755||Indian Roller||Coricias benghalensis||L2 R2 H2|
|758||Broadbilled Roller||Eurystomus orientalis||L3 H2|
|767||Common Grey Hornbill||Tockus birostris||H1|
|774||Indian Pied Hornbill||Anthracoceros malabaricus||H2|
|776||Great Pied Hornbill||Buceros bicornis||L3 H3|
|777||Great Hill Barbet||Megalaima virens||L3 H3|
|783||Lineated Barbet||Megalaima lineata||L1 H1|
|788||Bluethroated Barbet||Megalaima asiatica||L1 R1|
|792||Crimsonbreasted Barbet||Megalaima haemacephala||H3|
|809||Blacknaped Green Woodpecker||Picus canus||H3|
|819||Lesser Goldenbacked Woodpecker||Dinopium benghalense||L2|
|865||Longtailed Broadbill||Psarisomus dalhousiae||R4|
|953||Golden Oriole||Oriolus oriolus||L3|
|958||Blackheaded Oriole||Oriolus xanthornus||L2 H3|
|962||Black Drongo||Dicrurus adsimilis||L1 R1 H1|
|965||Ashy Drongo||Dicrurus leucophaeus||L2|
|971||Bronzed Drongo||Dicrurus aeneus||L3|
|987||Greyheaded Myna||Sturnus malabaricus||H1|
|996||Rosy Pastor||Sturnus roseus||R3|
|1006||Common Myna||Acridotheres tristis||L1 R1 H1|
|1009||Jungle Myna||Acridotheres fuscus||L1 R1 H2|
|1027||Redbilled Blue Magpie||Cissa erythrorhyncha||L3 R2|
|1037||Himalayan Tree Pie||Dendrocitta formosae||L2 R2 H2|
|1054||Jungle Crow||Corvus macrohynchos||L1 R1 H1|
|1080||Scarlet Minivet||Pericrocotus flammeus||L3 H3|
|1090||Small Minivet||Pericrocotus cinnamomeus||L3 R3|
|1115||Blackcrested Yellow Bulbul||Pycnonotus melanicterus||L3 H3|
|1118||Redwhiskered Bulbul||Pycnonotus jocusus||L2|
|1125||Whitecheeked Bulbul||Pycnonotus leucogenys||L1 R1 H1|
|1131||Redvented Bulbul||Pycnonotus cafer||L3 R3 H3|
|1147||Browneared Bulbul||Hypispetes flavalus||L1 R1|
|1148||Black Bulbul||Hypispetes madasgacariensis||L1 R1|
|1265||Jungle Babbler||Turdoides striatus||R3 H3|
|1283||Whitecrested Laughing Thrush||Garrulax leucolophus||L2 R2 H2|
|1374||Blackchinned Yuhina||Yuhina nigrimenta||L4|
|1421||Whitebrowed Blue Flycatcher||Muscicapa superciliaris||L4|
|1451||Whitebrowed Fantail Flycatcher||Rhipidura aureola||R3 H3|
|1460||Paradise Flycather||Terpsiphone paradisi||L2 R2|
|1465||Blacknaped Flycatcher||Hypothymis azurea||H4|
|1661||Magpie Robin||Copsychus saularis||L1 R1 H1|
|1700||Pied Bush Chat||Saxicola caprata||R3|
|1729||Blue Whistling Thrush||Myiophonus caeruleus||L3 H2|
|1793||Grey Tit||Parus major||R2 H2|
|1884||Grey Wagtail||Motacilla cinerea||L4|
|1891||Large Pied Wagtail||Motacilla maderaspatensis||L1 R1 H1|
|1917||Purple Sunbird||Nectarinia asiatica||R4|
|1927||Yellowbacked Sunbird||Aethopyga siparaja||L4|
|1938||House Sparrow||Passer domesticus||R1|
7 May: Some of us went for tiger census with the Forest guards. Rest of us went on short trails around the guest house. Spent the afternoon doing photography on Lohachaur Maidavan road. At night barking deer heard just behind rest house. Tried to enter the forest to find it. Unsuccessful.
8 May: Almost everyone walked to Gairal. Hari and Bahl walked all the way to Maidavan to buy biscuits. Those who went to Gairal saw chital, sambar, wild pig, barking deer, gharial (at Crocodile Bank). Tambe and myself walked to Domunda and back. Lots of birds on return journey. Great Hill Barbet, Scarlet Minivet, Broadbilled Roller, Lesser Goldenbacked Woodpecker to name a few.
9 May: Left for Maidavan by bus. Bus was quite crowded. On the way, the last crossing of the river Mandal before Maidavan looked tense. All of us got of the bus and did some shramdaan, putting in logs and stones into the river so that that the bus would not plunge into the river. After 30 minutes of hard bridge building the job was done. Had lunch at Maidavan. While getting onto the Maidavan Kothdwar bus, we discovered that our utensils had been left behind in the previous bus, which had already departed for Panaas. Left a message at a shop in Maidavan to offload our sack when the bus returned the next day. Reached Rathuadhab at about 3 p.m. Beautiful Rest House not far from the river, which did not have much water. Rathuadhab is a fair sized village. No electricity except for some scattered solar panels. Went birdwatching near the river. 3 species of Kingfisher and Little Green Heron. Turtle doves seen everywhere. I saw Redbilled Blue Magpie clearly for the first time on this trip. Sooty flycatchers are extremely common and very bold. Amazingly beautiful cloud formations after sunset. Ate dinner at an old woman's shop who had sort of adopted Hari. Skies very clear.
10 May: All of us except Bahl and Dangi left for a trek to Kanda. To walk one has to walk for 3 kms along the Rathuadhab Maidavan road and then climb uphill for 7 km. Jeepable road right to the top. Kanda Rest House is located right at the top of the ridge. Scenic views of the Dhikala chaur, Ramganga river and Reservoir, the Paterpani ridge as well as a few snow covered peaks at the extreme western end of the Nanda Devi Trishul range. Walking up took about 2 hours. Rest house is the best maintianed amongst those seen by us. Ate Milkmaid and groundnuts for lunch. On a hill near the Rest house a Sardarji from Delhi has constructed an imposing bungalow. Started walking back at about 4 p.m. Lots of birds on the way. Longtailed Broadbill was the major attraction. Whitebrowed Flycatcher, Large Yellowcrested Woodpecker, Paradise Flycatcher, Kaleej Pheasant. Saw Comet Hale-Bopp near the western horizon at sunset. Reached Rathuadhab at 2015. The vessels had arrived. Dangi and Bahl had gone to Maidavan to get them. Shruti had arrived from Delhi via Ramnagar and Maidavan. Dinner at the same place.
11 May Birdwatching trip in the morning. Bluethroated Barbet, Purple sunbird. Breakfast of tea, omelettes and biscuits. Bought some rice, biscuits and sweets for the stay at Halduparao. Bus to Vatanvasa at 0830. Reached Vatanvasa at 0920. Left for Halduparao with Forest guard. 9 km. of easy trekking. Plain river is crossed three times on the route. Halduparao Guest House is located on a ridge just above the Plain river. The river is hardly a foot deep here. Ideal for bathing. Mr. Samir Sinha, the DFO came in the afternoon. Some of us set out with him on a tiger trail after he heard the alarm call of a sambar. Tiger growl heard but tiger was not seen. On 8 May when walking near Halduparao, for some tiger census work, he had spotted a tigress with 3 cubs all at one place. Did birdwatching just sitting on the machan nearby in the evening. 21 species seen in about 1 hour. Pintailed Green Pigeon, Lineated Barbet, Alexandrine Parakeet, Greyheaded Myna, Himalayan Greyheaded Fishing Eagle and more. Saw about 50 Grey Hornbills crossing the river at dusk. Chital calls close by after dark.
12 May: Walked with forest Guard in Tiger country, west and north- west of the Guest House. Extensive grasslands covered with Cannabis sativa. Saw Crested Hawk Eagle, Darter, Crested Serpent Eagle and a nest of a Redwattled Lapwing with three eggs. Lots of tiger pugmarks. Near a sot saw some tiger scat. A little ahead was a broken leg of a sambar lying beside its thigh bone. The leg was very fresh. The bone marrow inside had not even dried yet. The kill must have been made the previous night. The forest guards made some effort to track down the tiger but were not successful. Further ahead saw a sambar carcass rotting on the stream bed. This was an old kill, probably more than a month old. Further ahead saw pugmarks of the tigress with the 3 cubs. While returning saw Blackheaded Oriole, Chestnutheaded Beeeater, Blackcrested Yellow Bulbul. I slept on the machan at night along with Anup. Lots of calls. Nightjars flying on the river bed could be tracked with our torches. Night calls included chital, longtailed nightjar, an unidentified nightjar like call and occasionally Brainfever Bird. Also heard some very strange calls which were probably langur. Milky Way in Scorpius and Sagittarius was magnificent in the early morning.
13 May: We split into smaller groups. Tambe led one group on a tiger chase. They spotted two tuskers up close. No tiger though. Myself and Anup saw all the kingfisher species and a Booted Hawk Eagle. Also an unidentified Harrier. Hari and Shruti were sitting on the river bed a short distance upstream from the Rest House. Hari was busy watching a herd of chital grazing on the hillside on one of the banks. He pointed out the chital to Shruti. After looking at the chital for a few seconds, Shruti hearda rustle behind her. She turned around and there about 50 feet away on the river bed was a full grown leopard. It got up and walked away up the slope on the other side of the river. She saw the leopard for about 30 seconds but she was too scared to draw Hari's attention to it. Hari was still looking at the chital. After it disappeared she found voice and told Hari about it. Hari wanted to know where it was but by then it had climbed up the hill on the opposite bank and he was unable too see it. That evening we went on a trail in the same area, but saw nothing interesting except for a Blue Whistling Thrush. Slept on the machan again. It rained at night so we had to rush back to the Rest House.
14 May: We decided to go and visit a Gujjar settlement called Hathikund about 10 km from Halduparao. Steep climb followed by a flat walk and another steep climb. There is a small Shiv temple here with a a great view of the chaur at Hathikund. Water available at a small waterhole nearby. An hour's descent followed by a short flat walk brought us to the Gujjar settlement. There are only three houses here where three related families live. There are a few more houses on the other side of the Sonanadi river. These people's sole source of income is from the milk and milk products they sell. They own large numbers of buffaloes which graze all day in the surrounding grassland. Lots of Bluetailed Beeaters and Scavenger vultures nearby. Drank Lassi and slept. 5 of us Srini, Hari, Tambe, Shruti and I stayed back for the night with the Gujjars, while the others returned to Halduparao. In the evening, suddenly someone spotted an elephant about 150 m away in a small ravine near the Gujjar's hut. Tambe, myself and Hari and one of the Gujjars chased the elephant for about a kilometre and tracked it to a sot. Tambe took some close up photographs. It was a lone tusker, not very big. The Gujjars say that this particular elephant visits them often. Saw some chital. Ssw the same elephant from a great distance on the Hathikund chaur a little after sunset. Many interesting ideas came up while talking with the Gujjars. Good dinner of dal, roti and milk. Slept under the stars on a wooden platform outside the Gujjars hut.
15 May: Took some photographs of the Gujjars in the morning. Left for Haldu at 0800. It was really hot on the way back. Srini and Hari saw a heard of sambar including a male with antlers. Reached Halduparao at 1200. Slept in the afternoon. In the evening, Awasthi and Dangi went on a trail across the river. The were standing at the junction of the road to Cheeta Nala and the Haldu Vatanvasa Road. Suddenly they heard a rustle on the Cheeta Nala road and saw a big cat advancing along the road towards them. They were too scared to move. The cat looked like a leopard but it was light brown in color and had no spots. It stopped when it was about 100 m. away, because it saw them standing on the road. It then slunk off into the forest. They picked up a couple of sticks and some courage and walked down the road. They heard a rustle and a leopard like growl very close. They ran back. I did some photography in a river bed behind the Rest House. Ate our last dinner in the wild. Fantastic pithla and khichadi made by Anup.
16 May: Started trekking to Vatanvasa at 0630. Reached at 0830.
Left by bus at 0930. Almost all of us were on the roof as it was too crowded
below. Reached Kothdwar at 1200. Went on to Haridwar and Rishikesh to reach
Delhi the next morning.
Last modified on: Tue Feb 26 20:05:26 2002