Peooww…Peooww – The calls of Indian Peafowl were echoing in the valley of Ulhas at Rajmachi ( the proposed Protected Area waiting for its notification as Father Santapau Wildlife sanctuary from last few years). The twin calls of this magnificent pheasant were attracting me and my co-traveler Mane who traveled all the way from distant suburbs of Mumbai – Kalyan to Lonavala. We both were looking forward for a sighting of stripped hyeana at the Ulhas Valley. Re-collecting the sighting of this carnivore just 2 years back made me more optimistic.
This was worth leaving home at 05.30 AM in the early & mist morning of Wednesday 24th September, 09. Through the doors of Indrayani Express, the sightings of Karvi between Lonavala & Karjat were much beautiful. The hill slopes of this Western Ghats zone ( Sahyadri) were painted purple ( Karwi ) Yellow ( Graham's groundsell) and Magenta (Impatiens Balsamania).
We finally reached at Tungarli Village, the base of Rajmachi Platue at 08.30 AM. The shrikes (Long tailed Shrike) The Sunbirds (Purple Sunbird) and Bulbuls (Red Vented & Whiskered) were much vocal near Tungarli dam. The base of dam structure is parallel to the road (tar road) leading to Rajmachi via Upperdeck resorts & Captain's resort.
Before could I give the report of few of the best sightings, here I must share that a new dam is being constructed near these resorts. Possibly, a huge forest land was cleared to create the catchment area for the dam. This is of surprise to me, since I am frequent traveler to this area from last 3 years, but this was something new to me.
Anyways, proceeding ahead was the only option for us. Despite of a single sighting of common flameback woodpecker, we wanted to leave that area dam-m-ing area, because of noise coming out of JCB machine excavating the soil near the dam structure.
After a walk of 10-12 minutes we started hearing calls of an Indian peafowl, infact there were two peafowls, the other was somewhere down the valley. Slowly, gradually we were heading towards the culvert from where the call was coming. And there we saw one. I was fully enchanted with this blue pheasant, when Mane shouted and pointed towards a solitary Scarlet Minivet – Male. Very soon we were disturbed by two fully loaded tourist vehicles full of British, who traveled from Pune for tracking in Rajmachi. These trackers were in much hurry, and were rushing towards the fort situated atop the Platue.
But, we were not in hurry, it was just 11.00 AM, we were waiting for raptors and Butterflies to come out. Before Raptors could come out, what we saw was White Napped Tit, an unspectulated sighting of the bird resident of South – West and North-East India. Nothing else, but I shot an instant SMS to Adesh Shivkar on this sighting.
By now the day was hot, apprx. 12 PM and actually un-sustainable for me in person. We decided to roll back to Lonavala. My decision turned out to be right with sightings of Raptors such as Vulture, Shikra, Eagle and Kestrel.
With a promising commitment to visit Rajmachi again & again and again to document the untamed wilderness of this "CRITICAL WILDLIFE HABITAT". I would come back here.
Compiled list of my sightings…………
White napped Tit
Scarlet Minivet – Male
Common Flameback woodpecker
Brown headed barbet
White rumped vulture
Crested Serpent Eagle
Golden Fronted leaf bird
Long tailed Shrike
Blue tailed bee-eater
Wild Mumbai Nature Conservation
"The tiger cannot be preserved in isolation. It is at the apex of a large and complex biotope. Its habitat, threatened by human intrusion, commercial forestry, and cattle grazing, must first be made inviolate." - Mrs. Indira Gandhi