Just as the last tourist moved out of the tiger reserve announcing the end of the maddening year-end rush, I excused myself from mundane city life and was back at my workstation in the wilderness. Fog played spoilsport for the initial few days with almost less than 20 meters of visibility till 9 in the morning, this is the cold wave of north India at its peak with temperatures dropping down to 2 degrees. The weather took a toll on the sightings as well and it was hard to see even animals in the park, especially in the morning.
A week into 2015 already and was getting restless for my first safari (read first sighting) of the year. The first family of the park including father T28 were back at lakes & I was all geared up to exchange season greetings. As we headed toward Rajbagh, commotion towards the platform indicated a sighting already, it was T28 aka star male sitting on the edge of grass drinking water, first tiger aha so what if at a distance in harsh light after all this is the first tiger of 2015.
While all were busy trying to get a clear view of this handsome male who had by now settled himself under the shade of tall grass, T19 the current queen showed up very close to our jeep & caught everyone by surprise. She was on the lookout for the hunt, after all, it is not easy to keep up with the ever-growing demands of her young ones. She manoeuvred her way out of the tall grass without even moving a blade only to have eye contact with a grazing spotted deer. They figured out each other's presence, tigress knew there was no point in even trying so she decided to return back to her cubs who were waiting for her nearby.
She called for the cubs & to utter surprise they started appearing one by one from the same patch of grass where there were no signs of their presence till now. No movement of grass blades, no peacock calls nothing & here they are now rushing towards the mother. Mother decided to sit in an open patch of grass and all the cubs settled close. As the family was relaxed and enjoying this bright sunny day on the bank of Rajbagh, it was now the turn of the babies to steal the limelight from their mother and oblige waiting visitors including us. They indeed were in a mood too; it was 2 hours of visual treatment as they played with each other & occasionally their mother. Have seen tiger cubs playing on several occasions but this is undoubtedly the best so far. It only came to a halt when Mother decided to call it a day & summoned the cubs to follow her.
While I can go on & on describing this sighting, and sharing some of the images from this sighting, hope you enjoy them.