Monsoon fascinates everyone who is found of wild watching. So was I, along with my botanist friend Ugam Govari, who lives much close to Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. Pre-decided to meet at vasai Rd. railway station, he was waiting for me at 06.30 AM of 23rd June, 09. Journey from my town started two hours before the scheduled time which is 60 kms away from Vasai. Having Idli and garma garam tea, at vasai station, we started our one day expedition to the holy world of WILDLIFE.
Thanks to welcome call of racket tailed drongo, just near the entrance gate of the WLS, ensured and guaranteed that this dense forest would be more rewarding in terms of sightings of flora and fauna of this less travelled PROTECTED FOREST near Mumbai. A rat snake criss-crossed our way and went into a burrow. Scarlet minivet gave us good pose to photograph it, but the lighting was other way round, which we given up. The flora of this pristine forest was at its bloom, as the monsoon had just started.
Wild Turmeric, Yellow ground Star and Forest lilies were seen on the forest floor, throughout the trail. Few activities of butterflies and birds, since it was sporadically drizzling on the day. But insect world was at its peak. Beetles, Bugs and flies were all around on every another step of the sanctuary. We ventured into a stream bed, where we saw red spurfowl last time, expecting similar sighting as well this day. But we were disappointed, when we saw that this stream bed seems to be lusting place for those who thinks this forest to be place for different enjoyment of teenage life. Packet of used condoms, cigarettes and broken bottles of beer were everywhere on the bed of this stream. The sanctuary was named after the Temple of Lord Shiva known as Tungareshwar in 2003, and at such holy sanctuary, these thing are never expected.
Blaming on the attitude of people, we headed towards the temple. A Local tribal woman, searching for jungle suran, gave few abusive words to us. I don’t know for what reason. Ignore her, was the only way out, to let her go ahead, on her way. Anyways, my tea addiction was not allowing me to focus on flora or fauna, but to search for tea stall. Having tea at stall near temple, we thought of taking water fall trail, which is just behind the temple, gushing down to the entrance gate. Here a local wished to guide us till the gate through this unknown waterfall trail. Which we agreed and with due respect, we offered him snacks and tea, which we had at temple. This local seemed to be a factory worker, a regular to the forest. Narrating his brief background and his attraction to the WLS, he spoke about his regular sightings in the sanctuary. He took us through the rocky terrain, where an Indian Spectacled Cobra was waiting for its feast. Slight movement and this reptile rushed away to the nearing burrow. But, its feast was really around, a garden lizard and forest calottes, on the branch of next tree to each other.
In a little time, our cameras came in deep trouble. Unequipped with proper rain gears, we welcomed or unwelcomed I should say the heavy rains. This is when I took my first WILD SHOWER on the stream of the season. But, how long I could have taken shower, concerned about my camera. I took a shelter in chakmak baba temple, nearing the gate. This temple is on the left hand side of the WLS, just after the main gate. A female land crab, carrying her next generation in her womb, given us good pose and so did a cicada, perhaps last of the season.
Sightings of the day
Gallus sonneratii (heard)
Megalaima zeylanica (heard)