Robin's Adventures

Adventures in the Asian Subcontinent


The Indian Flying Fox is a large social fruit bat that can be found living in colonies with several hundred bats in the same tree. Most of the day is spent roosting upside down hanging by their feet with their wings wrapped around their bodies.

At night the group can fly up to 9 miles in search of food. They eat fruit by taking small bites and then squeezing the fruit against the roof of their mouth to get the juice. The solid fruit material is then spit out.

Other Animal Sightings

Wild boars have thick grayish coats and are covered with bristle-like hair. They have a strong sense of smell and a diverse and varied diet. Boars will eat nuts, berries, roots, and tubers, as well as dead animals, insects, and small reptiles.

Nilgai Antelope, also sometime called Blue Bulls because of their size and coloration, are the largest Asian antelopes. Males can weigh up to 635 pounds and have small 5 to 10 inch long horns.

Mugger Crocodiles live in freshwater lakes, marshes, or swamps. It is interesting to note that these reptiles balance small sticks and branches on their heads to lure birds looking for nesting material. In addition to hunting birds, the crocodile preys on small mammals.

Birds Seen in the Nature Reserve

The peacock is the national bird of India and they are ubiquitous. Peacocks are protected under Indian law and our guide mentioned that penalties were stiffer for killing a peacock than for killing a human, although we could not find documentation to corroborate this story.

During our fruitless search for tigers, we came across many other interesting birds, such as the Crested Serpent Eagle, the Greater Coucal, and the Bank Myna.

More Birds Seen in the Nature Reserve

Ranthambore National Park has several bodies of water and lots of different trees in a woodland environment so it is an excellent location for bird watching. The park has close to 300 different species of birds.

Some of the birds we saw were the Jungle Babbler, the White-browed Wagtail, the Black-rumped Flameback Woodpecker, the Rufous Treepie, and the Rose-ringed Parakeet.

Birds by the Lake

Many birds prefer a water environment. As we traversed around the lake, we saw an Indian darter or snake bird with his wigs spread open to dry, a Woolly-necked Stork, a Purple Heron, an Asian Openbill Stork, and a beautiful white Great Egret.

More Birds by the Lake

Some of the smaller birds hanging out by the lake were the Red-wattled Plover, the Black-Crowned Night Heron, the Black-headed Ibis, the White-throated Kingfisher, and the White-breasted Waterhen.

Ranthambore Train Station

We took an early morning train from Ranthambore to Bharatpur. The train trip was about two and a half hours and the trip from Bharatpur to Agra was about an hour by car.

The train station, like most other places we had been in India, had random cows, pigs, and monkeys. One cow found a trash bin that conveniently tilted so he could stick his head in and sample the contents. What we found to be most unusual about this scene is that this was the first trash bin we had seen anywhere in India.

After spending a day and a half on game drives searching for tigers, we found it ironic that the only tigers we saw were on a beautifully painted mural outside the men's room at the train station.

Cow Pies or Cooking Fuel?

During our drive to Agra, we saw some interesting things. One of the most unusual had to do with cow pies.

Cow pies are commonly used as cooking fuel in India, especially in rural areas. In addition, since cows are considered to be sacred to Hindus, the dung is used in fires for religious rituals such as the purification of a house.

Some people have engaged in the preparation of the pies as a family business. After the dung is collected, it is mixed with a small amount of hay and then rolled into large balls. The balls are then pressed and shaped into flat round patties and left in the sun to dry.

While researching on-line, I found that cow dung cakes could be ordered on the Indian Amazon website: six pieces cost 236 rupees or about $4.

Small Town Scenes

As we traveled by car from Bharatpur to Agra, we passed through some small towns and were able to observe people going about their day-to-day business. Here are some of the slices of life we captured along the way.

City of Victory

Fatehpur Sikri, or the City of Victory, which was built by Mugal Emperor Akbar in 1569, was the capital city from 1571 to 1585. Akbar decided to build the city following some major military victories, but failed to notice that there was not an adequate water supply to make this location viable in the long term.

It was interesting to see a satkona yantra, which looks the same as a Star of David on some of the buildings. This is a Hindu symbol that symbolizes a perfect balance between man (the downward pointing triangle) and god (the upward triangle) that will lead to nirvana or a release from this world at death and ascension to heaven.