Many many nice things on the Dehra trip. Not many birds species wise but fun all around – great company, great sights.
My first tactile experience of snow, and my first snow fight.
My first sighting of the leopard (Panthera pardus). At Chilla, Rajaji National Park. Arjun spotted it as it crossed the road just ahead of our convoy and sprang away. About 20 yards from us, the panther stopped. Seemed as interested in us as we were in him, turned round to stare at us, and then disappeared into the yellow grass. Shweta’s binocs give her 16x and she got a good look at the rosettes. We couldn’t stop grinning for hours.
Four mongooses, huddled in one big mass, trundling away.
My first niltava, yellow bellied prinia, and plumbeous water redstart. Four vultures in all and Pallas’ fishing eagle.
My first view of the Ganga at Haridwar. Ganga is so much in our lore, so many stories, so much music, so much reverence. I’d heard so many versions of the Gangavatarana, so many composers interpreting the story of her appearance on earth, her descent from the mountains. On the other hand, reports of pollution, corpses and water that could make you sick as a dog.
It helped perhaps that I saw her in Haridwar, closer to the source than further down in Allahabad or Varanasi. She’s clean here, sparkling, vast and energetic, and my heart expanded at the sight of her. You can see at once why they call her Mother; there is a strong sense of giving, nourishing. We rushed to see the Ganga aarti in the evening – I can’t do justice, so I won’t try – but we were lucky, very blessed to have caught it.
Three fabulous bonfires, some really nice people, dumb charades non stop on the train journeys, and lots of food.
Downside: couldn’t meet Nishu in Delhi, but the Okhla sanctuary added greatly to our bird list, so that makes it somewhat ok. Next time, Nish, promise.