In February 2013, I resumed my search for the Pale-capped Pigeon, this time in Odisha. I was in the state to witness the mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles (Arribada) and it gave an opportunity to look for the elusive pigeon. I had seen an image of the pigeon in Sanctuary Magazine taken in the heart of Bhubaneswar city (!) in the Regional Plant Resource Centre (RPRC) campus. This site was top priority for me to visit. There were two other known locations in Odisha — the Satkosia Tiger Reserve and the Simlipal Tiger Reserve. I decided to tackle the sites in that order though I had time for only the first two in this trip.
We (Bhubaneswar local Aditya Panda was kind to accompany me) birded a couple of times in RPRC but found no signs of the bird. It is very possible the pigeons used a much bigger area to include the neighboring vast Chandka Elephant Sanctuary and wildlife reserve. The next destination to look for the bird was Satkosia Tiger Reserve, India’s youngest tiger reserve and Odisha’s second. Once again, Aditya planned logistics and made arrangements for us to stay at the scenic Puranakuteer FRH in the Tikarpada range of Satkosia. We once again dipped on the pigeon but were amply compensated with the stunning landscape of the Satkosia Gorge over the mighty Mahanadi river. Also, a fruiting fig tree next to the FRH offered with sights of many frugivorous birds through the day. I would return later to Simlipal to finally see the bird but that’s another story! On a serious note, Odisha probably is the last stronghold (atleast in India) of the ‘vulnerable’ Pale-capped Pigeon and a thorough survey should be undertaken across the state to ascertain its various populations. On the tiger front, shocking recent reports states Satkosia seems headed the Sariska way with dwindling tiger signs and absence of breeding in the landscape. Recently (May ’13), National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) sent a three-member team to take stock of tiger figures. Their report is awaited.