It had been solid two years since I'd visited Bandipur... and this trip definitely made it up for the two years! :D
Avi, Suma and I started off from Bangalore at around 3 in the morning, and after three and a half hours of a peaceful drive, we reached Bandipur National Park! I had no expectations, no wish lists, no nothing. Thanks to Avi and Suma, I had a brand new Canon 55-250mm IS lens in my hand, and I couldn't wait to experiment with it. This was the best birthday gift ever, thanks loads Avi, Chumi :) As I said, no expectations. As we reached there, we enjoyed the morning safari. Gaurs, Spotted deer and some peafowls. After that, we got back to the car and took a drive down Bandipur main road...
Fifteen minutes after we started, Suma casually looked outside her window and said "Spotted deer... leopard..." Then a second later, realizing what she'd said, "LEOPARD!" she exclaimed :D I was thrilled and super excited. This was my first ever leopard. Looking at where she pointed, I spotted the leopard. WOW.... it was SO CLOSE! It gave me a 5 second eye-to-eye look. Must have been not more than ten feet away... for a moment there I forgot about my Canon 500d and my new 55-250mm lens. I was simply stunned by this super amazing leopard. Coming back to my senses, I pointed my lens at the lovely animal and clicked. Didn't realize that my image stabilizer was in the 'off' position..... seconds later, the leopard darted into the bushes.
I looked at my cam LCD screen "Oh damn! The image is too shaky! :("
We waited there for around 20 minutes, hoping that the leopard would cross the road again. And Avinash's calculations came true (as usual) and the leopard leapt across the road and got to the other side of the road. This was definitely the most glorious leopard sighting I could have had, and it happened to be the first one, which made it all the more glorious! :) A good image would have definitely bettered the overall experience. But nevertheless, it was absolutely enchanting. Here's the shaky early morning image of the awesome leopard:
Later on, I got to photograph and observe some butterflies in the Jungle Lodges campus. Some healthy pictures from my new lens...
Three spot grass yellow:
Common Five Ring: