Massive , Large , Generous , Awe-Inspiring , Humbling, Wise , Ageing, Giving , Secure , at Peace
The trees were too large for me to hug and so much in awe of them i was that I didn't even contemplate trying as I will not attempt either to string a passage together of the words that come to mind when I recall what I felt. I decide to just give you some words and this image instead of forcibly trying to compose a psalm.
At the edge of Khawmawi (Dist Lawngtlai) on the banks of the river Ngengpui, snuggled and comfortable between these mammoth trees is the Ngengpui Wildlife Sanctuary's Rest House. Multiple calls of birds reach out as you enter its gates and i squinted against the golden sun to catch a glimpse of the plenty frolicking around. Like these trees, the birdlife around seems to know that its safe within these boundaries , for while the village settlement offered only few well hidden treasures, trees in the campus I understand played host to a large flock of oriental pied hornbills! These trees were unfortunately not in fruit currently and the Hornbills had moved on to some other haunt. I’m left constructing for myself the feel of what would have been the case had I actually seen them. Of course, I’m sure I’m not in even close.
Left largely un tampered, the space lends the feel of being well within the sanctuary, while you aren't even half a kilometer away from the Khawmawi bazaar.An office building and a few staff quarters is all that is concrete apart from the rest house itself. The highlight of the space is of course the balcony of sorts , just the kind of place you'd want to return to after a walk in the sanctuary or a dug out ride like us.
We seem to be pre -destined to see Ngengpui from the river itself. On our last trip to the Bungtlang beat , we found ourselves camping on the river bed and walking on it through the day. We got caught up in a storm of sorts last time and couldn't explore at leisure but this trip seemed to have the blessings of the rain gods! A long monsoon spell ensured that there was just enough water left in Ngengpui for us to venture out with the dugout.
Through the trip , this convoy duty was taken over by a Great Bittern, a Black Crowned Night Heron , a Spotted Forktail and some more. What startled us out of our silence was the noisy scramble and flight of Jungle Fowls. So startled were we as they raised alarm and flew across the river , i feared that we would manage to topple the dugout!
Watching quite peacefully from the sidelines were White Throated Kingfishers and we did catch sight of the Brown Winged Kingfisher too. On the sidelines again was the activity of a lone Malayan Giant Squirrel , guided by Niam i could spot it scuttle around its tree. For more on what we saw , wait for Nimesh to update his blog.
We got off for a bit and walked along a smaller river meeting Ngengpui inside the forest. Wild banana growing along the banks and most of us bent over looking for tracks. We didn't venture out too far in as our growling stomachs were scaring of much of the life around. But the Greater Racket Tail Drongo would not have us leave till we had seen it. It called till we were able to spot it, danced around on the pretext on grabbing insects and having got our attention and its ego satiated it left just as we were pleading for more! Tease.I found my self muttering.
Lunch was lavish- some resourcefully wrapped beans, eggs, rice and chicken. We ate silently against the sounds of the river. Post lunch we crouched around the field guides to confirm what we had seen. A bit thrilled about this part cause I seemed to be getting a little better with my observations. That just means that I'm able tell the difference between a woodpecker and a Kingfisher, well maybe a little better than that :)
Thanks Pu Tlana for helping us do this!
Listing what Nimesh and I saw on this trip
Black Crowned Night Heron , Black Drongo, Blue Bearded Bea Eater, Brown Winged Kingfisher, Emrald Dove , Great Bittern , Greater Racket Tailed Drongo , Red Jungle Fowl , Rose Ringed Parakeet, Shikra ,Spotted Forktail, White Throated Kingfisher , White Wagtail , Yellow Wagtail
Common Palm Civet and Malayan Giant Squirrel
P.S Kestrels we've seen gliding above our home in Saiha and finally we got some time to see them perched in Peace. our drives through this trip were filled with such sightings of these and we Finally saw the Lesser Kestrel nice and proper instead of just hearing its calls!! I'm more than content. For more on Kestrel Sightings visit Nimesh's Post http://mizoram-samrakshan.blogspot.com/2010/11/kestrels.html