This morning seemed a little cooler and more windy than the previous day, with the same plethora of jeeps waiting to enter the park. We were towards the rear of the group this time, which seems to have little significance, since they all thin out along allotted routes once in the park. Our own session remained Tigerless, although we did pass one of the mahouts who had located the mother with 2 cubs, and were touting the ride to see them at close quarters. If we hadnít seen Tigers so well, this would have been a tempting prospect, but we decided to leave this to others, and continue on a lone search. Mammals were fairly quiet up to the break at the Central Point, apart from 2 small separate groups of Wild Boar, and sparse Spotted Deer. Even the birds seemed to be thinly scattered early on, with fewer collections of Jungle Babbler, and no Rufous Treepies Ė a single Orange-headed Thrush was the only bird of note.
This changed as soon as we left the tea stop, when we startled a Crested Serpent Eagle from the floor, which then landed on an open branch not far from us. It sat watching us for some time before landing directly over our jeep. A little further into the journey, we stopped at a dry stream crossing, where a pair of Wire-tailed Swallows helped us to locate a feeding Ultramarine Flycatcher. Spotted Deer and Langurs were also starting to pick up in numbers, with a large group of the latter showing all types of interesting social behaviour. A Tigress had been spotted briefly earlier in the morning, but was nowhere to be seen when we tried a stakeout at the site. We did have decent views of Grey-breasted Prinia here, which had a red front to their forehead from the pollen in the red flowers they were feeding on. A pair of Jungle Owlets were perched separately close to the track, with Plum-headed Parakeets, Indian Roller, and Spotted Dove preceding a Small Minivet just beyond the wall of the adjoining village. In one of the clearings, a feeding chat on a small mound proved to be female Grey Bushchat, showing the red in its rump and outer tail clearly. Brown Shrike was a little way along from this. Across the open area from these birds was a pair of Ruddy Mongooses, one appearing as if on castors as it trundled along the forest edge. As we almost completed the morning session at the park gate exit, we were shown some Tiger pug marks next to the gate itself!
This session started fairly quietly on the mammal front. The main interest throughout the afternoon was the birdlife, although even here they didnít seem too numerous. Another Lesser Adjutant was passed, this time fairly close to (in the same clearing as the earlier Rufous-tailed Flycatcher), and an even closer Indian Roller was a little further along, resplendent in its log top position. Green Bee-eaters were perched overhead at one point. Mammalian activity continued to be almost non-existent, with only a few Spotted Deer for our troubles. We did pick up some female Tiger pug marks heading in the opposite direction, so we doubled back in pursuit of the owner. This turned out to be a wild Tiger chase, but it did lead us back to the opening where we had seen the male Tiger yesterday, and proffered more Indian Vultures overhead. We were told that studies, including ones in this park, may be indicating that they are making something of a recovery. There was news of one of the cubs by the dry river bed being seen, so we staked this spot out for some time, but again to no avail. Despite us actually seeing no Tigers throughout the day, we did experience the roars within the forest Ė apparently one of the males proclaiming territory. As we sat and listened, the sound seemed to be approaching, whereby the guide became more excited (camera now at the ready!) and we sat alongside a possible exit route. However, with time, the roars once again retreated. Time was now pressing, resulting in a rather faster exit along the tracks towards the main gate than we were used to. After flashing past small groups of Sambar Deer and Wild Boar, as well as a large collection of Rhesus Macaques on the open grassland, we made it back to the gate with only 3 minutes to spare. This is important for the driver and guide, since they may be fined or suspended if they reach the exit after closing time (5.45pm today).