All aboard!
The jeeps picked us up well before dawn and it was still dark when we arrived at the pick up point for the elephant safari. As we waited to 'board', a baby elephant wandered amongst us and I was surprised how sharp the bristles on it's forehead were as I gave it a good stroke. Soon, we were boarding our elephant and sat two on each side, we headed out into the grasslands. As the light grew we began to see good numbers of deer and then rhino! They allowed a really close approach, seemingly oblivious to our presence.

One of the rhinos had a calf and another had bloody teeth marks in an ear, which our mahout said were from tiger! A few birds were seen on the safari including loads of stonechat but not the hoped for bengal florican. We had wondered if we would enjoy the safari but we all agreed it had been an experience not to be missed.

We met Abid and our two jeeps and set off into the remoter areas of the park to do some proper birding. You are not allowed to get out of the jeeps (apart from designated look-outs) at Kaziranga because of the danger from wild animals but even so it was a refreshing change to bird more open habitats compared to the almost continual forest we had been in for the last two weeks.

Red-collared dove
Birds came thick and dove, Daurian redstart, black-necked stork, Pallas's fish eagle, bristled grassbird and woolly-necked stork before we had travelled even two hundred metres. At a couple of places there were lookouts over wetlands and from these we saw lots of wildfowl. Teal, gadwall, shoveler, pintail .... it was almost like being back home, that is except for bronze-winged jacanas, Asian openbills and citrine wagtails wandering among them!

As the sun tried to penetrate the haze, a few raptors began to put in an appearance in the shape of short-toed, steppe and greater spotted eagles while a couple of Himalayan griffon and two slender-billed vultures drifted through.

Mid afternoon, we were atop a large observation platform, still looking for Bengal florican. Rachael piped up 'P-a-u-l, I think I've got one, here in your scope!' Paul looked but couldn't see it and then he spotted it....the bird was at least eight hundred metres away! What a spot...well done Rachael!

As we left the park and in growing gloom we jammed in on three swamp francolin, with the last birds of the day being a flock of ring-necked parakeets going to roost.

Image gallery for today here

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