Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer 2013

This looks like one of the hottest summer ever I have witnessed in my life. Day temperature in Bandhavgarh is constantly around 107 degrees or more since last ten days. 
Indian Pitta comes here to breed in summer and so the Paradise Flycatcher. When summer starts we await patiently to hear the call of Indian Pitta and then Peacock display and then that white streak diving on water surface.
When we are witnessing these in the jungle, at the same time we see jungle suffering with heat.  Ground cover gets dry and over grazed, in sandy meadows most of the new shoots dies of heat and even some shallow rhizome also dies. This makes meadows more barren for deer. Major concentration of deer for feeding now a days is under fruit trees. This year Tendu, Diospyros melanoxylon,  crop is very good in the jungle. Langur monkey drop lots of fruit for deer so most of the ground under Tendu trees looks ploughed by deer hooves. Summer don't comes here unexpectedly. It's a slow process after frosty days of January. February shows the colour on trees. Whole forest slowly slowly turns in to turmeric yellow. Sal drops their leaves from the top and by the time leaves in the middle of the tree turns yellow top is already getting new leaves. Flame of the forest buds start opening and within few days whole forest turns orange red. This is a feast time for monkeys. By the time the flame of the forest flowers dries out the new juicy flowers of Mahua , Madhuca indica, start dropping. This attracts birds, deer, Monkey and sloth beer. Often deer and Sloth Bear get drunk by the fermentation of these flowers in their stomach. Yellow hanging bells of Amaltas is the sign of peak of heat and by the time the Amaltas flowers are finished the Monsoon has arrived some where in the country and not so long to touch the grounds of Central India.
Wind drops grass seeds in earth cracks ready to germinate with first shower. Every evening Crows, Bee eaters and Drongo start gathering in our garden for water. They are notorious for killing butterflies. Rain is still few weeks away. Any sign of cloud in the sky gives us a false hope of Temp going down soon but by the morning sun comes as strong as ever above blue sky. Tigers sit in the water to cool off their body and all other animal that comes to drink move away, informing others about his presence by giving alarm call. 
We were in jungle this morning. Park opens at 0530, sun is  up and I am already wiping sweat drops from my forehead. No deer in meadow. Jungle looks very quite until we reach Bathan junction. Langur monkey's has seen some predator. Some people standing in a jeep holding camera towards jungle is a sure sign that they have spotted a Tiger or Leopard. Excitement of seeing a Tiger make them stand up in the jeep and forgetting photography rules and ethics. We just glimpsed the Tigress sitting in Nallah and kept on moving. It's still early to get our allocated elephant so we decided to look for him and inform him about tiger location. 
By the time we came back we saw her on other side of the road.
A lone Sambar doe, standing frozen on hillock watching Jaya, exposed her movements. She came out of the jungle walked few meters on road, turned right, walked along the hill sniffing ground, pick up an old kill and moved away. This was a Sambar kill. We tried to look for her off the elephant back but she disappeared in thick forest. A smelly meat piece was lying on ground covered with maggots. Was the other piece she took was also covered in maggots? Must be.

This is normal for predators in the wild to eat maggot filled meal. We have seen it many times.
J1 and J2 were chasing deer. Looks like sometime they may have got a spotted deer fawn hiding in the grass and they want to repeat that luck. They vanished much before we could set our eyes on them. 
Saving grace for today's visit was J3 who was sitting on top of a rock. She was very relaxed, feeling cool on rock.
   And at last a fleeting glimpse of Rufous Naped Hare.


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