Monday, 20 October 2014

The Day of the Jackals

We were visiting Cauvery WLS after a long hiatus. Life had got in the way of our weekend-birding routine and we just could not pull ourselves out of the rut. Finally, with a conscious effort, which was something we never had to do earlier, we bundled ourselves into our car one early October morning and started off for Cauvery.  

We stopped by for a few minutes along the way to check up on a few of our hotspots that were frequented by painted storks and pelicans. However, the water pool had quite dried up and there were no one to greet us that morning. Only the pale orange glow of the just-risen sun stared balefully at us through the gloomy clouds. 




We had planned to spend just a few hours at the wildlife sanctuary and hoped that it would be enough to spot a few birds at least, if not many. To our delight, we ended up catching sight of quite a number of them. Cauvery, it seemed, held no grudges against us for having neglected it for so long.

Apart from the usual suspects, like the grey hornbill, bee-eaters, blue-faced malkoha, crested hawk eagle and the brown shrike, we also came across a bird that had managed to elude us previously – the jungle bush quail. A few months back on one of our visits, we had stopped our car at a particular shaded area, noticing some movement in the foliage. While the husband trained his camera on one of the branches, I saw a few flurried birds hastily taking cover. In that instant, I realized that we had missed seeing some kind of quail.

This time, when we reached the same area, the husband reminded me of them.

“Remember this was the place you said that you had seen some quails?”

“Of course, they were quails,” I bristled up. “I had seen them running away just here….”

And then I saw them again. Just at the same place.

Once again, we were too late to take good photographs, my whoop of joy having startled the husband too much to click the camera at the right time. Or so he says.

Here are some of the birds that we managed to capture on our cameras. 


Ashy-crowned Sparrowlark (can you spot the female?)

Plain Prinia 

Black-hooded Oriole 

Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker 

Green Bee-eater 

The skulker peeping at us: Blue-faced Malkoha


The fierce looking Crested Hawk Eagle

We spied the oriole and the woodpecker at an area which we had previously christened ‘No Birds Zone’ owing to our disappointment with birds there. But our enthusiasm at locating these birds was a bit dampened by the huge rush of traffic on the road, perhaps because of Ayudha Puja. Every other vehicle would stop near us and ask us what we had seen. After replying ‘birds’ to the first few queries, at which the people mostly shook their heads uncomprehendingly, it became a bit frustrating for us as the birds would conveniently disappear in the meantime.

In any case, this trip was not exactly about the No Entry Zone suddenly yielding bird sightings or my re-discovery of the bush quails. It’s about the jackals.

We had almost crossed the little village, which lay on the way to Bheemeshwari Fishing Camp, when we came upon a few dogs. Or so we thought, at first glance. 

“Jackals!” 

Both of us called out at the same instant. We had seen one on our previous trip but that was a loner and it was at dusk. This was in the morning at around 9.30 am and there were three of them.

They rambled among the bushes quite nonchalantly and we were able to keep up with them for some distance. I was surprised by the fact that they were so close to human settlement, and in broad daylight, too. Later, a little research on the net told me that:

It typically inhabits lowlands on the outskirts of towns, villages and farms, where they shelter in holes among ruins or dense brush. Except during hot periods, the Indian jackal usually leaves its den at dusk and retires at dawn. Though primarily a scavenger which subsists on garbage and offal, it will supplement its diet with rodents, reptiles, fruit and insects. It will form small packs when hunting small deer and antelopes. Although it will occasionally kill poultry and young kids and lambs, it is largely harmless. When wild prey is scarce, it will usually take to eating vegetable matter, including maize and Jujube fruit. (Wikipedia)

The three fellows seemed to be moving about with some purpose in mind and would stop and sniff the air occasionally. I wish we could have witnessed a hunting scene but that would have been too much to ask for. After we went around a corner, we lost sight of them. By then, we have had our fill of the Indian Jackals. Let me leave you with the images of our jackals. Do look out for them in your next trip to Cauvery WLS.

PS: Drive carefully since the roads have deteriorated a lot since we had visited the area last.










The 'goodbye' face of the Indian Jackal




2 comments:

  1. Interesting sightings..! I missed them during my recent trip to Galibore. Nice report.

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    1. Oh is Galibore open now? I had heard that only those who had bookings in JLR could enter. We got these jackals on the Bheemeshwari side.

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