An offbeat Birder's Utopia

Tripoto
17th Nov 2017

An Offbeat Birder's Utopia

Photo of An offbeat Birder's Utopia by Rimjhim Mukherjee
Day 1

On the banks of the River Denva.

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee

Madhya Pradesh's best sequestered wilderness, Satpura National Park together with the Bori and Panchmari wildlife sanctuaries formed the Satpura Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger in 1981.

True to its nomenclature, the national park is nestled in the lap of the ancient Satpuras with the serene Denwa flowing by.

Location: Hoshangabad district, Madhya Pradesh.

Nearest Railway station: Piparia (55 kms)

You will get many rental cars from the railway station itself.

Best Time to Visit: Winter months

I was gradually slipping into slumber with the wind caressing my face through the rolled down windows as the Scorpio advanced towards Madhai from Pipariya. The tarmac stretch, bordered by vast stretches of farming lands on either side seemed never ending. I was gradually settling down into a pensive languorous mood when a sudden shrill call pierced the air. Flying alongside the car, a Red-wattled lapwing landed smoothly on a patch of green by the roadside. Marveling at the winged biped, I soon arrived at our pre-booked accomodation near the National park.

Recommended Stay: Bison Resort, M.P. Tourism

Book a little ahead of your visit as rooms are limited. Try for a 1st floor room with the river view. Variety in food is limited but the courteous service and the beautiful location makes up for it.

Bison Resort garden- "Have your evening tea here in the glow of the garden lanterns as you enjoy the sounds and smells of Nature."

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee

Reception and dining area.

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee

And, it is time for the first safari inside the forest. Here, the exciting part is that before you hop onto a jeep, you have to sail across the Denwa river to reach the park gate. If you are fond of bird photography, keep your lens ready. The river or rather backwater is the culinary heaven for many a water bird, ranging from Sandpipers, Cormorants, River Lapwings, River Terns, Blacked winged Stilts to Little Ringed Plover and the migratory Rudy-shelled duck .

A Little Ringed Plover and a group of River terns in flight .

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee

Paddy field Pippit -"Camouflaged"

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee

"Focussed: Spot-Billed Duck, Cormorant. Defoccused: Little ringed Plovers."

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee

Excited with the ongoing conversation of the forest guards about leopard and sloth bear sightings, I entered the park. The topography is a mixture of the Madhai plains as low as 300 meters to the Dhoopgarh peak standing tall at 1400 meters. Throw in some ravines, undergrowth, a large population of Sal and Teak with little water bodies and the landscape is complete.

As we went deeper, the silence of the forest was interspersed with an orchestra of rustling leaves, varied bird calls with the woodpeckers drumming at intervals. The drummer soon obliged. Always a photographer's delight because of its riot of colours, a Flameback emerged to perch on a nearby branch.

Lesser Flameback

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee

Our eyes were trained on the trees trying to identify and trace the different bird songs when the gypsy slowed to a halt. As we started asking about the cause, our forest guide shushed us. Straining his ears for some movement nearby, he whispered to us that it might be a sloth bear passing by. We were waiting with bated breath for our first big mammal encounter here but it was not until a good fifteen minutes and circling the area twice that we saw the bear trotting out of a bush. Shutters were closing and opening at a remarkable speed as half a dozen SLRs clicked away.

Sloth Bear in search of termites.

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee

Over-whelmed with our bear sighting, we exited the park to marvel at the liquid gold of the Denwa at sunset.

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee
Day 2

The safaris in Day 2 promised more sloth bears but no sight of a leopard. However, a surprise was in store. Being mainly interested in mammals and birds, I did not pay much attention to arachnids. But this time, I could not help being awe-struck at Nature's workmanship of even the smallest creatures. I came across three rare species of spiders, the rarest and most interesting being the 'Signature spider' the other two being 'Jointwood Spider' and 'Venal Web spider'

Invisible to the naked eye not because of its size but its capability of blending into the backdrop, the spider as its name suggests weaves a signature into its web. The web when seen looks as if an original signature has been embedded into it.

Signature Spider- "The forest guard holding a book behind the spider so it could be seen."

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee

Jointwood spider builts its web connecting 2 trees hence the name jointwood.

Jointwood Spider

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee

Third comes the Venal web spider. This one builds its nest inside a tree hollow. While the spider stays inside the hollow, the web spreads over the opening of the hollow. When a probable prey is caught in its net, it feels the vibration of the tangled struggling prey and rushes out to devour it.

Web of the Venalweb Spider

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee

Apart from these, Spotted deer, Sambar deer, Indian Bison, Nilgai are found in abundance.

Indian Bison

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee

As the gypsy neared the exit gate, an eagle appeared from somewhere striking a beautiful pose. A farewell gift from the jungle.

Crested Eagle

Photo of Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhai, Madai, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rimjhim Mukherjee

If you are a Nature lover who loves the wild thrill of the jungle, Satpura Tiger reserve in Madhai is your destination. The introspective soul will most definitely experience timelessness in the stand still serenity of this secluded forest.

P.S. Do not miss the sunset at Dhoopgarh peak.

If you have time, club your trip with Panchmari nearby.

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