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3 April 2016

Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary

Hey everyone,

I had been planning to visit a new wildlife sanctuary in Odisha since a long time but it never happened because of fear of remote places, no company and expenses. But finally got some guts, Google-d stuff online, made few calls and settled everything ! And I went to Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary, Balasore! The place is well connected from Bhubaneswar which is the capital of Odisha.

Day 1 - I took a morning train from 'Bhubaneswar' to 'Soro' station, and from there took the already reserved auto-rickshaw and reached 'Panchlingeswar'. It's a nice view on the way; fields on the side, little shops, curious people, children going to school and the urbanism coming to view.

I reached and met Mr. Manaranjan Das, my tour guide for the trip. I had contacted him via phone and he was ready to go birding with me along with his wife. He had an excellent guest house made. Panchlingeswar is quite a popular place for tourists and other staying places are also available. But for bird watchers and nature lovers Manoj bhai is the best guide. I hope to come back again to see more of the place but for now I'm only for birding here!

I freshened up, had some good lunch and we were off with his driver in their SUV. It was around two hours till we entered Kuldiha and starting exploring the places. The forest feeling inside was divine. Very raw and beautiful. It was getting hot and humid and not much bird activity was there. We moved on to another place called 'Jodachua', where a forest guard base is there. We had some tea and strolled around and found some bush birds. We kept moving around in the vehicle, keeping and eye on bird activity. More than twice my dream bird 'Malabar Trogan' crossed us swiftly and I couldn't take it's picture. Too swift, too shy! Malabar Trogan is the bird that attracted me to this place. I have risked so much  to come here and I'd love to take a good picture of it.

Anyways it was getting evening and while returning, we paused at the main Kuldiha FRH for some snacks and tea. There was a lone pet peacock wandering. Such a beauty! On our way back we stopped near a lake and I saw a cow Elephant drinking water
with it's calf. Manoj bhai tells me that Elephants are intelligent creatures; they drink first and then bath in the water because then it gets muddy. The view was beautiful in a way and it was my first time watching an elephant in wild.

It got dark and we started to the city area called Nilgiri, near Panchlingeswar and then back to the hotel. Had dinner and I dozed off.

Day 2 - Next day morning by 6 we were off to birding. Today I had more hopes for bird sightings. We stopped at Kuldiha check post for some permission stuff and then to the forests. We directly reached the main stop at Kuldiha FRH. It was a good morning and we had some good sightings like Lesser Yellownape, Green-billed Malkoha, Crimson Sunbird, Yellow-footed green pigeon,
Thick-billed Green Pigeon etc. After some breakfast, we continued birding and saw Trogans flying around on our way. One can hear plenty of chirpy bird calls on your driving route and see many birds to0; like you'll come across Forest wagtails, Emerald doves, White-rumped shamas and Junglefowls. Unluckily no good picture this time too. We reached 'Jodachua' around 11.40am and I saw a pair of Golden Orioles feeding their chicks. I waited there long not disturbing them so as to take some pics. It was an amazing sight. Afterwards we had a good hefty local lunch there and did birding. Weather changed to windy and rainy. And somewhere on top of the trees I saw Vernal Hanging Parrots. :)

We started off to Kuldiha FRH as our night stay was there. All including Manoj bhai,  his wife, driver, the forest guard gathered and gossiped and time passed in listening various jungle stories. There was an artificial salt bed created nearby where the mammals, birds, butterflies etc come to get some
mineral nutrients. Hoping some good sighting tomorrow morning. I wanted to rest and I was given a 'tent' to stay! How exciting! Very basic but sturdy with the toilet being outside. It was around 6.10 pm. It started raining and thundering. We were given nice black tea and yummy Pakoras (fritters). The feeling of this distant land, forest around, heavy pittar patter of rain, tea and pakora was soulful. Before some delicious dinner I did my bird listings and identification. I think the food at forest staying places are always yummy. With the rain sounds as a lullaby, I slept well. After rains, there is always good chance of birding. With a positive note calling it a day off ~

Day 3 - I woke up early morning to the sound of chirpy birds! So many!! It was still dark so waited a little more to be out. It was a bad light for bird photography but excellent for bird watching. By 5.45 am I was out for the hunt! Manoj bhai joined in a while and we roamed around the place. We saw lots of species like Minivets, Parakeets, Sunbirds, Pigeons etc. The forest was waking up and was busy in its daily chores. It was a pleasant experience to witness this. This was heaven for a bird watcher. Picture or no picture the feeling alone could put you in a good mood. If you are coming to Kuldiha, one night stay inside Kuldiha is recommended. Amidst the dense forest you would rather think of settling down here. This isolation from the outer world could be scary yet calming. If you hear a loud noise, it's nothing but Giant Squirrels over you. They are so beautiful. This morning I even saw around 40 Spotted deers feeding on the nearby salt bed plus many birds. What a sighting! 

 ~ Sometimes you may not see anything but only hear; a movement here, a rustle there, a call from somewhere else. Enjoy and feel everything of it. That's the pleasure of being in nature. Let all your senses work. ~

While all this was going on, a Trogan suddenly flew over my head and settled at a nearby branch. I took two shots and it was off. OMG! It was thrilling. So at least I got a good picture for me to carry back home! And then after sometime Manoj bhai showed me a 'Pale-capped pigeon' on the salt bed. I couldn't believe I saw the bird. It was far far away, yet I saw. It's a very special bird and a Vulnerable species. The bird is a regular to this place but I wasn't expecting to see it.

After the bird activity lessened I went close to the salt bed area and I caught some lizards and butterflies. By 10.00am it was hot and time for us to leave. All packed up and went off towards the 'Tenda' Gate and then to the 'Nilgiri', so that I could take a vehicle back to my destination. It was an overall good and satisfactory trip. Manoj bhai and team waited till I took an auto back to Balasore. They had been a good company and I'll try my best to be back to Kuldiha to explore more with a group.

"I was little scared to do this solo trip in a wildlife sanctuary but with Manoj bhai's help and hospitality all my fear turned into joy. Bird watching went good and all other amenities were taken care off. You don't need to worry about food or stay. It's a good place and a lot of things like water-falls and hills are nearby to see. I'll come again for that and of course birding too. Hoping to see more Elephants and Bisons as well"

You can reach Mr. Manoranjan Das at: 9937332552

Selfie and view from the vehicle

Crested Serpent Eagle

Indian Giant Squirrel

White-rumped Shama
Doggy love and the nice guest house at Panchlingeswar, Balasore

Jhaal-mudi (spiced puffed rice) our local evening snack! Yum

Elephant and it's calf going for a drink

The blessed morning ~

Indian Peafowl (male)

The evening! Rain, tea and pakora!

My tent! How adventurous :) 

Black-hooded oriole feeding its chicks.

Common woodshirke

Spotted deers
Common bluebottle

Crimson Sunbird

The beautiful forest ~

Brahminy starling

Peninsular rock agama

Yellow-footed green pigeon

Kuldiha Check gate

Malabar Trogan

Malabar Trogan clicked at another place

Oriental turtle dove

Me with Mr. Manaranjan Das and his wife who also had great interest in birds!


If you are a nature lover then do visit for a memorable trip.

Note: I truly respect the local people who have explored and moreover sustained the place in the right balance. The forest guards who are working deep inside the forests with almost no communication with the outside world, with basic amenities and not-so-good conditions are doing their best to protect the forest and wildlife. They are cordial and put foremost to the coming guests! :)

10 April 2015

Birds of Sikkim

Sharing some bird photographs from my East-Sikkim birding tour with the wildlife tour organizers called Goingwild
 It was in April 2015, a good memorable time!

Read my personal account of the journey here > Zuluk and Nathang Valley
The region comes under the 'Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary'

It's a paradise for birders we well as nature lovers. If you're lucky you could spot various mammals as well. These Himalayan birds are such beauties and capturing them was a real treat. A guided tour helped us locate and learn about the species of birds found here specially when we come from the non-hilly regions. 

Here I am sharing the beauties whose pictures somehow came good from my Nikon 55-300mm lens. But otherwise I saw plenty of other birds, few mammals and got lots of lifers (almost all). It was awesome!!


Do not forget to leave your precious comments ~

Love and Regards