Wanderlust Chronicles III – The Grand Finale

Wanderlust Chronicles III – The Grand Finale

Here is the grand finale of our Wanderlust Chronicles. Please bear with me. This is a long post, as I’d rather do a wrap, than keep you hanging. These pictures are from our family escapades in the wilderness and we all have a lot to share with you. 🙂

A golden river, an oxbow lake, dense, mystical forests, and a jaunt in the Himalayas.

November 2023

A short road trip with mi familia and Daddy dearest in tow, in the wee-hours of a misty November morning from our ancestral home; proved to be a brilliant prequel to our pre-Diwali celebrations.

We were visiting the Purbasthali Bird Sanctuary, on the Chupi Char lake, in the Eastern Burdwan district, of West Bengal.

Our boat languorously floated amongst the invasive, yet enticing Water Hyacinths that dot the oxbow lake with their delicate, pinkish-purple blooms. The multiple isles of this lake lie on the meandering course of Bhagirathi – Hooghly rivers. This still water lake is known to attract over 70 species of local and migratory birds.

Bird Watching at Purbasthali Wildlife Sanctuary

purple swamp hen-water hyacinth-flowers
A Common Moorhen saunters around the invasive yet so pretty water hyacinth blooms, looking for its morning catch.

Bronze-Winged Jacana -Feeding
A Bronze-Winged Jacana foraged around for tiny crustaceans. This gorgeous beauty was a lifer (a first) for me. I’ve wanted to see one forever. We also saw the Pheasant-Tailed Jacana (another lifer), but we didn’t manage a decent image.
Jacana-Bronze Winged jacana-lake
Another angle. All these images I am sharing were taken by my 15-year old, unless I mention otherwise.

Bronze Winged Jacana-Chupi Char lake-Oxbow lake
Finally it posed for a partially frontal shot.

Boat-Girl-Oxbow-Lake
My older one was lulled into a meditative trance by the surreality of this wondrous lake. Shot on my iPhone by yours truly.

Thinking-Thinker-Girl-lake-View-Chupi Char lake
Another contemplative moment.

Kingfisher-Common Kingfisher
The Common Kingfisher was also regaling and inhaling the crisp morning breeze. Named Common Kingfisher, but not seen as commonly, especially in our cities. I find this little bird delightfully endearing.
Kingfishers-two-Common Kingfishers
Two’s a company.

Water Bird-Reeds-Snipe
A lone Snipe, chills amidst the reeds on one leg. #DidYouKnow: Birds will often stand on one foot to minimise heat loss.
Egret-Greater Egret-Hycinths
A Greater Egret soaks in the morning bliss. Correct me, if this is an Intermediate Egret. I still get mixed up between the two different species of Egrets, except the Little Egret.

Dove-Spotted Dove
A calm, collected Spotted Dove looks on. By this time, we were all relaxed with the morning sights and sounds. We also spotted multiple flocks of Lesser Whistling Ducks, and many others.

Here’s the complete list of 27 species of birds that showed up for us at Chupi-Char lake.

1. Bronze winged Jacanas

2.  Pheasant tailed Jacanas

3. Lesser Whistling ducks 

4. Snipes

5. Wood Sandpipers

6. Garganeys

7. Purple swamphen/Grey headed Moorhen

8. Eurasian Moorhen 

9. Common kingfisher 

10. White throated Kingfisher 

11. Cotton Pygmy Goose

12. Purple Heron

13. Pond heron 

14. Glossy ibis

15. Black Winged kite

16. Little cormorant

17. Greater Egret

18. Little Egret 

19. Intermediate Egret 

20. Yellow bittern

21. Pond herons

22. Common hawk cuckoo(heard)

23. Greater Coucal 

24. Black winged Stilt

25. Grey headed lapwing

26. Citrine Wagtail

27. Rock Martin

Kaali-Goddess-Divine Feminine
Bringing The Goddess Kaali, from the artisans. This is a beautiful puja and festival we have during Diwali, and has been part of my ancestral culture for over 300 years. She resides in my grandfather’s home temple. The divine feminine, an integral part of all that I share from Mother Gaia.

December 2023

A road trip with just the DH and moi, proved to be quite the adventure.

Exploring Kalagarh Tiger Reserve

On a chilly, foggy Christmas Day we drove to the serene forests of Kalagarh Tiger Reserve. Kalagarh is the Northern part of Corbett National park, in Uttarakhand, North India. We stayed three nights in the FRHs (Forest Rest Houses). The quaint Mundiapani FRH lay nestled by a hillock and a gurgling stream that was mostly bustling with activity. The local species that could be sighted here were barking deer (one shyly greeted us upon our arrival, only to bolt away at lightening speed), loads of birds including Red starts, some otters which we missed seeing, and a tiger that visited regularly, but eluded us. Though we were woken up to screechy alarm calls in the middle of the night. Wonder which apex predator was on the prowl that night- a leopard or a tiger!

After spending the first night in the lush lap of nature, in Mundiapani FRH, we moved into Halipadao FRH located in the heart of the forests, in the Sona Nadi Wildlife sanctuary. We would go for our morning and evening safaris into these dense forests that were adorned by an undulating, lush, hilly landscape.

The king of the forests , the tiger; is one of the key highlights of the Corbett forests, but this thick forest gave us no peak, of the king. All we saw were big, freshly minted pug marks. But we weren’t really chasing tigers and were happy to let the forest unfold for us, what was meant to be.

Red Car-Trees-Forest Rest House-Mundiapaani
The Mundipaani Forest Rest House, near Vatanvasa gate and close to the Sona Nadi Wildlife Sanctuary was as picturesque as could be. This FRH just has two rooms, that reverberated to the bird songs, and a lone barking deer some were across the hillock. We carried all our groceries and vegetables and the cook there would rustle up a nice, wholesome, home-style meal.

Redstart-Pulmbeous Water Redstart- Bird
Greeted by a Plumbeous Water Red Start. More showed up on our safari the next morning too, including the White Capped Red Start.


Thrush-bird-Himalayan Whistling Thrush
A Himalayan Whistling Thrush enjoys a quiet moment, amidst the frenzy of the river bed.

FRH-forest rest house-tree
On Day 2, we checked into the Haldipadao Forest Rest House, established over 130 years ago, in the 1890s; 10 kms into the Vatanvasa Forest Gate, of Kalagarh Tiger reserve. The picturesque stream, Sona Nadi (Golden River) runs just below this quaint, understated FRH that had ample number of resident avian wonders, including mammals like golden jackals and boars that surreptitiously appeared mostly at night time.

Watch Tower-River view
A birds eye view of the forest, and Sona Nadi river below, from the watch tower in the FRH.

Scarlett Miniver-bird-female
The Scarlet Minivets would come in flocks every morning around 8 A.M. with their pretty partners who are a shade different – yellow. These gorgeous, passerine birds are the hardest to photograph, as they are constantly flitting between the branches like coloured jewels, savouring their morning breakfast at jet-setting pace. I managed this peek-a-boo shot of a male Scarlet Minivet, on our final day at the Haldipadao FRH.

Scarlet Minivet-Female-red bird
Yes, this is the only frontal shot I managed. I know, I know; it’s such a blurry one, but something was better than nothing. Made my day. and I was as smug as I could be.

Sona-nadi-river-forest-hills
A view of the Sona Nadi river also known as Palain river, from the watch tower at Haldipadao.

River-hills-forest
One could spend the entire day sitting here, in this watch tower, listening to the forest sounds – an alarm call here and there, while a predator would be on the prowl. Or, the echoing screeches of the Greater Hornbills. Swarms of fish gently navigating the river below, or a lone sandpiper feasting on a fish or more, before they even sensed its presence. A Chital or Spotted Deer would stealthily appear for a sip of water. We couldn’t spend all our day here, simply because we were out for our morning and afternoon-evening safaris. But this watch tower lent a special charm, especially on the full moon night, as the silvery moon bounced its reflection on the still river bed.

Kingfisher-Pied Kingfisher
A Pied Kingfisher made for a pretty picture. Spotted on our morning safari the next day. It took turns to hover and dip its beak into the river bed for little insects and crustaceans.

Black Hooded Oriole-Oriole- Yellow Bird
A Black Hooded Oriole gives a quick, blurry pose for my camera. Another winged wonder that continued to be elusive amidst the leaves and branches. Though it kept calling out eagerly for a mate across the other tree.

Dead snake- wolf snake-snake
We found a dead wolf snake in the FRH premises. 🙁 “Was it the frost, or a predator that got it, but left it injured, to die?” We wondered.

River-forest-hills-Corbett- Ramganga river
The Ram Ganga river where we spotted a Gharial and crocodile, at a distance And not to forget the Fish Eagle Owl and multiple birds like Francolins and Bee Eaters.

Tiger pugmarks-pumark
Tiger pug marks, on another morning, by the river bed. It proved to be a miss and go with the King of the Jungle, as the landscape is pretty dense, and it’s easy for the predator to just slink away. Moreover, tigers in this location aren’t as comfortable with humans as those in Bandhavgarh or Central India, where we met the Queen Tara.

Spotted Deer-two-deer-chital
A herd of spotted deers, causally grazing by the river bed. A sign that the tiger had moved out sometime ago.

Common Kingfisher-Kingfisher-on-a-rock
Such a beautiful bird, this. And not as common, so what were they thinking when they named it so? Common Kingfisher, grabbing an evening meal before dusk.

A little something about the patrolling elephant in the forest, on my Interspecies communication page, Nature’s Voice.

Adventures in the Mountains

Thereafter, we drove down to the hills of Uttarakhand, where we brought in the New Year 2024. Sharing a few snippets of the glorious Blue Cottage we stayed at, and the adjoining hills.

Cottage-Plants-Trees
Perks of solitude in the Blue Cottage, that looked out to the majestic snow capped Himalayas.

Himalayas-snow peaks
Our room looked out to this scenic view of the Himalayas.

Sit-out=Chairs-garden
The sit-out at the Blue cottage, where we spent most of our mornings, soaking in the dappled, misty morning sun, drinking tea, eating breakfast and yes, most importantly bird watching. There were a whole lot of birds that visited, this green, floral haven. Of which, I managed to capture a few.

Jay-Black Headed Jay
A flock of Black headed Jays were our constant visitors/residents- rather. They loved feasting not just on the worms and but were a huge fan of human meals like breads, rice, chapattis.

These literally looked like angry birds, their expressions more so. Though this one looks far more complacent than they actually appear. The White-throated Laughing Thrush are the suspicious residents of the Blue Cottage who look at visiting guests, as though they were judging us. 😉 Though they would have a field day, gorging on the food we left for them.

Nuthatch-Chestnut-Bellied-Nuthatch
On one of our trails, we spotted this Chestnut-Bellied Nuthatch grabbing forty winks on a Pine tree. Such a cutie-patootie.

two-men-dog-hilly-road
This one’s the last image from my Wanderlust Chronicles 2023. Immense gratitude if you have managed to scroll down and read this super long post. 🙂
This picture is my favourite one; from a walk we took through the meandering hills. Seen here is Tara, the four-legged queen of Katpatiya, which is a sleepy little village, tucked in the small corner of Uttarakhand hills. Also seen here is my DH, along with a very enterprising and enthusiastic local, Nandu who whole-heartedly took care of us with his warmth and hospitality.

It’s wrap up now for my Wanderlust Chronicles from 2023. I hope you enjoyed reading them, as much as I did, putting them all together.

You can catch the other two parts here, if you haven’t, or would like a re-read:

Wanderlust Chronicles I

Wanderlust Chronicles II

So long!

Have a cheery summer going forward and I’ll see you real soon.

Love, light and laughter,

Natasha

22 thoughts on “Wanderlust Chronicles III – The Grand Finale

  1. What a pleasure to read of your adventures.
    The photographs provide an incredible visual accent to a marvelous journey.

    Thank you for allowing us to accompany you on such an intimate trip.
    Wally Jones recently posted…A Joyful DayMy Profile

  2. Loved the bird pictures. It’s interesting, when I look at the birds you have and we don’t (which is almost all of those) I can still see familiar features – the crest of your kingfisher, the tail coloration of your jay. I wouldn’t be able to tell your three white egrets apart, either, although we also have a couple here in the Northeast United States. Many of our spring and summer birds aren’t resident; they migrate south and west for the winter, so it’s so wonderful when they are all here summering. Alana ramblinwitham

  3. What a wonderful adventure. What wonderful photography. You look at one with nature.

    Love the quote about elephants. We never forget them indeed.

    Thank you for joining the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.

    Have a fabulous Wordless Wednesday. Love and hugs, Sweet Natasha. ♥
    Comedy Plus recently posted…Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  4. Hey Natasha. Not really. Busy with other things. But always a delight to read your posts. Yes, it is Common Moorhen. Thank you again for transporting me back to those idle and peaceful bird-watching days 🙂

  5. Your vivid descriptions and beautiful photos make me feel like I was there with you, Natasha.
    The diverse bird sightings, especially the Jacanas and Scarlet Minivet, are a nature lover’s dream.
    The Blue Cottage sounds like the perfect New Year retreat.
    I can almost feel the mountain air and hear the birds.
    Thank you for sharing these wonderful moments.

    Hugs and blessings, dearest friend

  6. Your travel pics are excellent. I l9ve the bird photos and the kingfisher photos are great. Listen to all the music…just nice to listen to

  7. I enjoyed every moment of your journey.
    Spectacular, beautiful, inspiring and I may say serene!
    I love the photos with birds. Excellent shots!
    I hope you’ll make new interesting journeys and share them with us…
    All the best, dear Natasha!
    Love, light and joy in your life!❤️

  8. What a wonderful post! I loved all the birds, beautifully captured.
    The outings look wonderful I love the water views of the lake and river.
    Thank you for linking up and sharing your post.
    Have a great day!

  9. Wonderful reading here, Natasha and the birdies…they had our special attention today 😀 We only knew a few of them, but of course they’re all beautiful. We have little redstarts here too, not like the water redstart, but just baby redstarts. They talk like a Stork 😀 We loved your pictures and they look all purrfect! Double Pawkisses for a Happy Weekend my furriend 🙂 ♥♥

  10. Such beautiful pictures Natasha. Took me back to birdwatching days with my dad in Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary. And is that a Purple Moor Hen in the initial click?

    1. Lovely to see you here, it’s been a while! Are you back to blogging?

      It is now known as Grey Headed Swamp hen dear Meha; like I mentioned in the post.

    2. I again fact checked and it’s neither Meha. It’s a Common Moorhen. glad you pointed out as it helped me open my Birds of India book and check with fellow birders too.

  11. What a fantastic vacation Natasha. I was really fascinated by all the birds you spotted and photographed. You do know a lot about the wildlife. Thanks for sharing.
    Sadje recently posted…Precious HopeMy Profile

  12. Natasha, what a lovely post! I am packing my bags inspired by you! ❤️
    Hope all is good.

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