As we continued our walk inside the property, we came across plenty of bird species. It is quite impressive that the property itself is home to more than 55 speciesof birds both resident and migratory that are found in and around the lodge itself. Beautiful tall grass and flora within the lodge attracts a lot of birds' as well as small mammals such as rare Jungle Cats and Palm Civets and I did see a Palm Civet eating his dinner at night. Nevertheless, during our walk I realized a tiny bird was our constant companion. Our naturalist told us the bird was Pale-billed Flowerpecker or Tickell's Flowerpecker ( erythrorhynchos ). The bird is only 8 cm long and is the smallest bird in India.
Bhringraaj or Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus) and Babblers were continuously hovering above us making noisy sounds. The distinctive twirled racket tail of the Drongo looked beautiful when the bird was flying. It is quite common to find these Drongos near the Babblers. The reason being Racket-tailed Drongos are good mimics and they mimic the sounds of the bird of prey in order to acquire or snatch food from the Jungle Babblers and this is the reason they are generally found near the clattering Babblers.
We watched for Bushchats and Shrikes as we walked our way to the Kitchen Garden. Quite anticipated we did spot some of them. While passing through the organic garden we saw a Oriental Honey-buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus) on a distant tree and while we moved a few steps further a Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) hovered above us for some time and suddenly disappeared somewhere in the dense green of the tree. Rakesh Ji walked us out of the main gate and now the bird walk was to be continued near and around the lodge. As soon as we stepped out of the main gate we saw a pair of Indian Robin, Pipits, Indian Roller and Green Bee-eater partying outside.
One bird that I eagerly wished to see was the Wire-tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithii) as I have always seen it in the pictures and found it very beautiful. As soon as I said that, my wish was granted. We saw a couple of distant Wire-tailed and Red-rumped Swallows hanging on a wire but fortunately I could see them properly with the help of the binoculars. Another bird that was there on my list of 'must see birds' was Indian Silverbill (Euodice malabarica). Luckily I saw a couple of them. Honestly, if I had plenty of time I could have watched them doing activities the entire day as I was so engrossed in watching them.
There was a small pond near the lodge itself. We saw a lot of water birds basking in the sun and searching for food. The main attractions were the Common Sandpiper, Cattle Egret, Open-billed Stork, Cormorants and White Wagtail.
As the sun gradually started hitting the sky we decided to head back to the lodge since I had an evening train to catch up. On our way back to lodge some small birds attracted us and they were the Black-headed Buntings and Chestunt-shouldered Pitonia. I was quite fascinated as they were absolutely new birds to me. As we worked our way to the lodge, I watched for a close sighting of any of the bird of prey but missed it. We got skunked on owls for the day but never mind as I was so happy to become a part of the bird walk and did see some spectacular birds that I will never forget.
As we were about to conclude our bird walk, a rare bird pulled all our attention towards it and watching it was adding a feather to the cap. It was Tickell's Thrush ( Turdus unicolor), a passerine bird in the Thrush family. I had been hearing a lot from Rakesh Ji about this migratory bird that had recently started visiting the lodge. And watching it at the end was no less than a treat to me.
All in all this has been my best bird walk till date and I am certain that a lot more are yet to come. Bird watching is something that makes me forget everything and gives me strength. It wasn't required to go anywhere far as the lodge itself inhabits plethora of birds and flora species. All in all, the walk turned out to be a fruitful one. Not only I got to learn so much about birds but I also learnt from them the true meaning of being free.
I roughly recorded some 50 species of birds during the walk. Some of the left ones are Plain Prinia, Red Dove, Large Grey Babbler, Green Sandpiper, Thick-billed Crow, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Yellow-eyed Babbler, Oriental Turtle Dove, and Bank Myna. Pench Tree Lodge is a wonderful experience for all the nature lovers. From food to hospitality, the lodge excels in every aspect. But for me, the Bird Walk inside the lodge is something that I would like to do every time I get a chance to visit there.
This post was originally published on The Colourful Ocean.