Debrigarh Wildlife sanctuary on the banks of Hirakud reservoir near Sambalpur is known for its wide range of flora and fauna.The sanctuary is home to a large species of wild animals, reptiles, butterfly and birds.Due to its proximity to the huge water body of Hirakud, the sanctuary also attract a large number of migratory birds to it’s banks.The pristine beauty and wilderness of nature at this sanctuary is frequentented by tourists from every corner of Odisha and neighboring states also.The cottages inside the sanctuary offers a peaceful and memorable sojorn in the lap of nature for the tourists. The best time to visit the sanctuary is from June to October.We the members of “Chadhei Club” decided to visit for documenting the Small Pratincole which normally nests during March every year.The place of our interest was the Chiurasimal area where on the banks of reservoir the Small Pratincole nests on ground.On 14th of Mar2021, being Sunday, we decided to go into the sanctuary as most members are free from office on Sunday.All agreed to start after lunch as weekly marketing of vegetables can not be escaped….Home-office-hubby-hobby- balance.
The Dbrigarh Santuary is 15 Kms far from Sambalpur and we were 8 members.At 1PM the temperature in Sambalpur was not that bad but I preferred some PAKHALA( water rice) with curd and small fish fry, to avoid dehydration.We five drove in my Nexon car and 3 others of the group in another car from Sambalpur at 1.30/PM.We had hired a 8 seater safari for Rs 3200/- provided by the Santuary from Dodokusum entry gate.On the way Ashis dada, the ace photographer and Javannath Bag had their lunch on the wayside dhaba.Finnaly we reached at the Dodokusum entrygate at 2.15PM and were welcomed by our friend and guide Sri Bhubaneswar Patra.Patra is an employee of the forest department , photographer and birder.The escort and guide normally are done by the trained volunteers of the nearby village.The entire tourism package is managed by these volunteers but Patra being a bird enthusiast escorted us.After a brief description about the sanctuary and it’s wilderness and habitats at the briefing hall we started for the journey into the Santuary on our hired safari vehicle.Our cameras ready to click for any birds on the way till we reach Chourasimal where we will see the nesting grounds of Small Pratincole.
Our 8 seater safari vehicle started rolling on the surpentine narrow dusty forest road flanked by trees on both sides and crossed by water streams running down from the mountains.We were entering into the Barapahada mountain range.I was told that once the dense forest and barapahada(12 mountains range) was the place of guerrilla war by Veer Surendra Sai against the British authority here in Sambalpur.Also there are Rock art sites inside the forest, Ashish dada told which he had documented earlier.But we were now for another goal, to find the SmallnPratincole.The beauty of nature was mesmerising with the music of bird calls.Occasionaly Ashish data scolding Biswanath to keep quite…else the wild animals and birds will not be visible..and suddenly the vehicle brakes screamed and the driver warned…shhhhhh…there is something..all silent..what may be …a Samber…spotted dear….hyena…or leopard…heartbeat rose….camera ready and clicked the first encounter with the wilderness…a herd of bison led by the muscular, huge male, eyes locked on us, the unwanted intruders in his territory and our lenses locked on his eye…first click…second..third….camera was on continuous mode clicking as much we could gather the beautiful encounter with wilderness…
Not disturbing further we moved ahead. Langoors playing on the trees and some sitting on the road blocking our way ahead.Feeding them is strictly prohibited and we were empty of any eatables except water bottle.
Another group of tourist were behind us and we were taking time clicking.We allowed them to overtake us.
On the way Sambar, Wildbore, Spotted deer, Black-headed Ibis , Pecock, and many others…some looked astonishingly at us…some panicked..
Most interesting finding which brought a big smile on the face of Ashis data and Patra babu was the Shama..a shy bird very rarely visible around this area.Sitting at a fair distance, the sight obstructed by twigs and branches , the backside was only visible.We kept on waiting till it turn around to pose for us…the beauty of it’s chestnut coloured frontside.
It took us around one hour to reach the place we were headed to find Small Pratincole.the Chaurasimal .After getting down from the vehicle and at small walking distance we found our golden destination…the place where the small pratincole have been sitting as if welcoming us for the photo shoot.Yet to start nesting but started gathering in flocks and we did not took much time to click before the sun slips down behind the barapahada…It will take a week or so before they nest and lay eggs.In groups they have started choosing the best possible site and mates.
After taking some here and there snaps we decided to get back with the hope to see the leopard which Patra babu said are 15 in numbers and may be sighted during dawn on our way back.
Sun God has already on the other side of mountains..giving the nucturals to come out from there hides.Langoors had started to move up the trees.Sambars & Bisons have started gathering closely. Ready to protect themselves and the calves from the leopards.Birds had stopped singing.We could not see the leopard but the preparedness to fight it and survive among the animals was evident.
On our return we reached to the cottage area where Patra babu had arrange tea.Already we were late and the Pakhala(wter rice) during lunch was not sufficient to keep me energetic till now.Biswanath had brought some snacks like MUDHI AND MIXTURE which were left in the car.All of us sat to finish the snacks , sat on the dyke , the boundary of dam and road to sanctuary.
The pratincole will be nesting within a week.We need to stay in contact with Mr. Patra for the latest.We will be back again to record the Pratincoles….their nestings.
A place of weekend trips by #Odisha tourism.