On the third day we head out to Burra Pahar (must be Buda Pahad in Hindi, means Old Mountain), a mountainous terrain with some dense forest habitat.
But for our bad luck, our Gypsy broke down on the way and we had to wait for about 30min until Kunwar got back with another Gypsy. But on the other side, for our good luck it had broken down in a nice place! Just beside the road there was Tea garden and a small village. As the Sun was just rising and the mist was still in the air the ambiance was excellent for some photo shoot.
All three of us enjoyed the morning Sun and the ambiance there. The people around were quite curious especially the children!
As our new Gypsy arrived, we continued on our path. On the way Kunwar amazingly sighted a Malayan Giant Squirrel. It was in quite a thick foliage but his remarkable ability to sight didn't fail to nail down the spot and we got some good images of this Near Threatened (according to IUCN) species of giant squirrels.
Burra Pahar is a thick forest range and the jeep trail runs on its almost the edge of the forest range. Its a place where not many tourists will enter due to relatively low sighting of Rhinos, for which Kazi is famous for. But this is the place to get a glimpse of the North Eastern forest and to feel its might. Many of the trees are broad leaved and tall. We saw plenty of bird activities on the canopy as well as under the canopy. I thoroughly enjoyed the feel of the forest. The mammal sighting was zero and after about 30min we reached a forest check post a watch tower, on the banks of the mighty river Brahmaputra.
After having out packed breakfast there, Kunwar took us along the bank of the river where the thick forest meets the river. Just as we were heading towards the river, the forest guard who had gone ahead came rushed and told us that he saw river dolphins! Wow! We all got excited and just ran to have a glimpse. River Dolphins are very active and its very difficult to track them, let alone photographing. I could see a river dolphin coming out over the water surface but only for a fraction of second and I will never know from where it will come out again! No photographers to attach to the story! But it was a great experience!
We headed along the river bank. There were River Lapwings and couple of Pied Kingfishers. On the far end there were good number of Great Thick-knees. The forest trail was buzzing with lots of verities of butterflies. Me, ignorant of their names always asking Anush if he could name few. Adithya was quite busy photographing them. Just as we moved ahead there was a clearance which was leading the river. There were elephant foot marks all around and Kunwar pointed to one area among the wet mud and held his finger steady.
It was a tiger pug mark! A huge pug mark! I was astonished to see the sheer size of it. Looking at it, he told that tiger had come there just last night or in the early morning. I was thrilled!
As we head further, we got some good photographic opportunities to shoot river lapwing and pied kingfishers.
We headed back to the point where we had our Gypsy by 10:30 and headed towards the grassland on the periphery of the forest region.
A part of the grassland was put under controlled fire to clear off the elephant grass and the weeds. Every year the grass of Kazi were burnt so that each year fresh grass can grow using the richer content left because of the burnt grass. the process had slowly started for the season from that part of the Sanctuary.
As we ventured into the grassland, within 10min we saw our first Rhino of the day. It was grazing in the dry grass. The sound of Gypsy alerted it and as Rhinos have poor sighting it just stood alerted in the direction from where the sound was coming.
After spending about 15min with it we moved on and near a water body we saw another Rhino grazing alongside of the pond standing in knee deep water. There were lesser whistling ducks in the pond and some Lesser Adjutant Storks were flying far away.
The day started getting hotter and we slowly started heading back. We needed to go back 30km to reach our hotel and should get prepared for the afternoon shoot as well. So we started our journey back.
Afternoon was planned in Western Region but the sad part for us was Kunwar was not with us. He had to go to repair his Gypsy if we want him for the rest of days. So he arranged another driver for us. the other driver was 'just a driver'. The sad part for all the three was that he was a typical 'tourist driver'. He was working in binary mode - stop or keep moving. He looked as if he didnot know something called 'slow approach or slow driving' which is very essential if you are taking photographers with you. We struggled quite a bit to get the Gypsy in place on many of the occasions to get our shots. We were missing Kunwar a lot. "Kunwar the incredible" (this is how Steve Winters has addressed him in his blog).
Finally after having a round in the Western Range we stopped at the Sunset point. But the Sun had already set by the time we reached there and there were couple of Black Necked Storks, some Egrets and few Herons standing in the red water.
There was a Rhino which came quite close to our vehicle and the forest guard made sure that it stayed a safe distance before it went on to do its business - grazing!
Overall the day was quite good. Burra Pahar certainly is a great place to enjoy. If you happen to sight wild animals its a bonus. But otherwise also its a wonderful place to visit. If you are a butterfly lover then there are plenty on the banks of the river, along the forest fringe.
At night there was another performance by the local people. The music and the dance were very nice. I enjoyed the whole time.
The plan for the next day was set - to visit Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary, the place where you see the only ape of India - Hoolock Gibbons!
Watch out for my next post...