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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Goa: 7th-22nd February 2002,
This report is based on a two-week birding trip to Goa by Chris Johnson, Des Parkin and Ray Thorneycroft.
The holiday was booked some eight months in advance, so we had plenty of time to research and prepare for the trip which was booked with Lunn Poly travel agents, at a cost of £540 per person for 14 days bed & breakfast at the Beira Mar hotel, Baga.
A visa is required from the Indian High Commission at a cost of £30 and an application form can be downloaded from the Internet, at www.hcilondon.org
There is also a passenger service tax of 250 rupees, which has to be paid to your resort rep. prior to departure. She initials your flight ticket accordingly.
Flights: - These were with Monarch Airlines from Manchester Airport to Goa, with a refueling stop at Bahrain both ways. The scheduled flight times were good, departing Manchester at around 18.00 hrs and returning from Goa at 12.50hrs but thereby hangs a tale.
On the outward leg whilst crossing the North Sea, the pilot reported a red light in the cockpit and we had to return to Manchester. It turned out to be only an indicator light fault but we lost almost two hours. The knock on effect meant that we could not disembark at Bahrain during refueling, as Goa would not accept the aircraft if we did not arrive before a certain time. When we did eventually land at Goa, we had been on the aircraft some 13hrs 30mins, a long and uncomfortable haul.
On the return leg, all was going well till we departed Bahrain. Because of very high westerly winds over Europe, the pilot could not fly at the required altitude. We therefore made another refueling stop at Cyprus and a further slow flight home. So the flights were pretty eventful.
Our opinion of Monarch is to avoid them if possible. Their main aim seems to be to maximise their income throughout the flight by selling drinks, lottery tickets, etc and passenger comforts came low down on their list.
Departing Goa airport is a nightmare, with ten individual bureaucratic checks meaning constant queuing for two hours. The boarding cards were stamped four times. At the final check a woman just in front of us was found to have a Swiss army knife in her hand luggage. This was opened up and examined, then handed back to her. So much for security and all the checks!!
Research: - During the months prior to the trip we gathered as much information as we could. Anyone visualizing a trip to the Indian sub-continent should purchase one of the travel guides on sale. We had the "Lonely Planet Guide to Goa" and this will set you in the frame of mind of what to expect. The advice offered should be adhered to. It also tells you what everyday equipment you might need to make your stay better. You might not have cause to need it, but better to be safe than sorry.
We also had a copy of "Goa, The Independent Birders Guide", by Peter Harris. This was very useful, having line drawings of most of the birding sites and lots of information regarding what equipment to take, what to eat, what not to eat, and lots of do's and don'ts.
Birding information was gleaned from several birding travel brochures. Trip reports were downloaded from the Internet and scrutinised and Birders that had already done the trip were contacted.
Bird guides purchased were: - "Birds of the Indian Subcontinent" by Richard Grimmett and Carol & Tom Inskipp and "A Birdwatchers Guide To India" by Krys Kazmierczak. A video, "Birdwatching in Goa," narrated by Bill Oddie, was also purchased. After the introduction, the video is like a field guide and the birds were set out in the same order of the Grimmett field guide. The Pipit calls were very useful.
Equipment: - We only took one telescope between us and this turned out to be sufficient. We also took a micro-cassette, which would have made it easier for naming the birds seen, and then to write them down back at the hotel - unfortunately, we never remembered to take it with us. Other birders were using them, especially at Backwoods.
A first aid kit is a must. The last thing you want in a hot and humid climate is cuts and grazes. This did happen to me, when I fell off a wall, cutting and grazing my elbow. A "spray-on" antiseptic sorted that out.
A pack of antiseptic wet wipes is also a must. If your are making the trip to Backwoods you will also need a torch.
Accommodation & Food: - We choose the Beira Mar because of its affinity to birding in all the reports we read. Whilst the rooms were large, they were pretty basic - in fact they were grotty - with numerous squashed mozzies decorating the walls and shared with ants and cockroaches. The best things about them were the ceiling fan and the refrigerator. Chris was in a room adjacent to a generator, which was noisy and didn't switch off till after 23.00 hrs. The next morning he changed rooms!
The breakfasts (when we had them) were adequate. Orange juice, rolls, toast, jam, marmalade, coffee or tea. When we ate there in the evenings the food was OK.
The first evening we ate there, I looked up into the night sky, and was surprised to see Orion. We see this throughout the winter back home.
There are plenty of restaurants within a short stride of the Beira Mar and we used these most evenings. Of the three of us, only myself went down with the "Delhi Belly" which lasted four days. I put this down to a little salad which was dressing a meal I had but this was not serious enough to impinge on the holiday. Keep off the salads! The food was plentiful and cheap. Kingfisher beer averaged around 50 rupees for the equivalent of a pint. Everything was cheap.
Taxis: - Because these are so cheap, birding is best done by taxi. It is not advisable to hire a car because of the state of the roads and the standard of driving. It's just not worth the hassle when you can be ferried about quite cheaply. The common aim when driving here is that every driver should continually strive to pass every vehicle in front of him irrespective of oncoming traffic.
Some of the taxi drivers outside the Beira Mar are also birders, and very good ones too. They know all the sites and where the birds are seen. They also drive for the birding travel companies such as Sunbirds and Wildwings. However, care should be taken when choosing, and don't rush in. Ask the other birders who have arrived before you about them. We made the wrong choice initially because this certain driver, named Bruno had a visiting card with recommended by "Barnsley Birders" and "Sunbirds" on it He had been used by for Sunbirds, but only as a driver, and he knew nothing about birds and became very pushy. We soon dropped him and then had a driver named Shaky (Shaking Steven's) who was very good, but after one trip his taxi came off the road.
We then used Santhos. This man's eyesight was unbelievable. He was also very patient and persevering. He had excellent hearing, knew all the birdcalls and he stayed with us to the end of the trip. We considered ourselves very lucky to have obtained his services. He sometimes paired up with a driver named Naresh, who was also good. There was also another driver called Raymond who was getting good reviews. None of them possessed a pair of binoculars - but they didn't need them!
We eventually got into a routine of birding morning and evenings. It was so hot in the afternoons that we returned to the Beira Mar for a swim to cool off most days.
Backwoods: - This is the tented camp set up on the fringe of the Molem Wildlife Sanctuary. We had three days (two nights) there at a cost of 3500 rupees. (£54). It was out of this world. On the way back to the hotel we made a stop at the Ciba-Geigy complex but had to look over the wall as entry to this site is still forbidden.
Feb 8 pm Beira Mar
Feb 9 am Baga Fields, Baga Hill pm Morjim Beach
Feb 10 am Lake Maem, Tikana, Chorao Island pm Baga Fields/Beira Mar
Feb 11 am Arpora (Baga) Forest pm Fort Aguada
Feb 12 Backwoods (inc Tambdi Surla)
Feb 13 Backwoods
Feb 14 Backwoods
Feb 15 am Beira Mar, Baga Fields pm Morjim Beach
Feb 16 am Carambolim Lake, Santa Cruz pm Candolim Marsh, Fort Aguada
Feb 17 am Saligao Zor, Pilerne Lake, Baga Hill pm Arpora Forest
Feb 18 am Velim Lake pm Baga Hill
Feb 19 am Dona Paula, Santa Cruz, Saligao Zor pm Baga Hill
Feb 20 am Bondla all day
Feb 21 am Lake Maem, Tikana, Chorao Island and Ribandar Ferry pm Arpora Forest
Feb 22 am Beira Mar, Airport.
We started picking birds up as soon as we got out of the airport building. Brahminy Kites, Black Kites, Oriental Magpie Robin, Ashy Prinia, lots of Cattle Egrets, Little Egret, Great Egret, House Crows, and as we neared the hotel, White-browed Wagtail.
Because of the long journey, we decided to stay on the hotel complex, and after finding our rooms and unpacking we finally settled down by the swimming pool overlooking the marsh. There were a few small pools off to the right. In front, and to the left, were dried paddyfields and also some fields grazed by cows and water buffalo. There was one small tree to the right, adjacent to the pools, and telegraph lines ran at right angles across the paddies. In the background were palm trees.
From 16.00 - dusk we picked up about 40 species: - White-throated Kingfisher, Green Bee-eaters, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, female Asian Koel, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Spotted Owlet, Rock Doves, 2 Oriental Turtle Doves, White-breasted Waterhen, Common Snipe Wood Sandpipers, Red-wattled Lapwings, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Grey Heron, Great Egret, Cattle Egrets, Indian Pond Herons, Black-crowned Night Heron, Long-tailed Shrike, House Crows, Black Drongos, an Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Bluethroat (White spot), Oriental Magpie Robin, the tree was full of Rosy Starlings along with 3 Chestnut-tailed Starlings, Jungle Mynas, and one Common Myna. On the wires was a Siberian Stonechat. There were Red-rumped Swallows, Asian Palm Swifts and Indian Swiftlets overhead. Below the wall where we were standing were Blyth's Reed Warbler and Ashy Prinia, To the right by the pools, a Clamorous Reed Warbler was singing its head off. There was White-browed Wagtail, and a pair of Red-vented Bulbuls. back on the wires were several White rumped Munia, a Malabar Lark, and a House Sparrow. Black Kites, and Brahminy Kites were in the air all the time.
What we expected to see, but didn't on this first night was Cinnamon Bittern, and Painted Snipe. We were well satisfied with the first day.
Other birds seen at other times at Beira Mar were Little Ringed Plover, Pintail Snipe, 2 male Painted Snipe, House Swift (Little Swift, apus affinis ), Plum-headed Parakeets, Black-capped Kingfisher, a superb male Pallid Harrier which came winging it's way across the fields, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Osprey, Scaly-breasted Munia, Ashy Wood Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Shikra, Crested Goshawk, Ruddy-breasted Crake, Common Kingfisher and Baya Weaver.
One day a Rat Snake occupied one of the pools. When it slithered out, we estimated it to be about 3 metres long. It was yellow with a black pattern along its back. The mongooses saw it, but kept away from it.
Almost all the birdwatchers finished up by the swimming pool on their return from their trips out, each evening, so lots of information was exchanged.
We never did see the Cinnamon Bittern, but neither did anyone else during our time there. It must have shipped out.
We covered these three times. On the left hand boundary wall of Beira Mar there is a gateway which leads out to Baga Fields. From here you can walk in the direction directly out towards the front of the hotel for a couple of hundred metres and to the left as far as the Baga river. On our way in the first bird seen was a White-cheeked Barbet. There were lots of Pipits and Richards, Blyth's and Paddyfield took a little time to sort out. Also seen were Pied Bushchat, Common Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plovers, Asian Palm Swift, White-throated Kingfisher, Spotted Owlet, and Oriental Skylark.
Other days produced a flock of 20 Short-toed Larks, Common Myna, Jungle Mynas, Long Tailed Shrike, Pintail Snipe, White-breasted Water Hen, Brown Shrike, Hoopoe, Tree Pipit, Indian Roller, Common Kestrel, Green Warbler, Osprey carrying a fish, Spotted Doves, Wire-tailed Swallows, Red-rumped Swallows, Ashy Prinia and Little Swift.
We visited this site four times. It's only about a mile away. You can either take a taxi or walk across Baga fields to the concrete bridge, cross over, turn left, walk down the road to the sign of "Hilda's Beauty Parlour" and turn right up the path. The path up is through scrub with a few trees to a small shrine. Once on top it is open scrubland. Take a bearing once you reach the top so you know where you came up.
Starting from the bridge, we picked up male and female Asian Koel, 3 Common Kingfishers, Little Green Bee-eater, Purple-rumped Sunbird, 2 male and 1 female Loten's sunbirds, female Indian Robin, a Crested Goshawk mobbing a Booted Eagle, Bronzed Drongo, a Brown Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Greenish Warbler, Sea Eagle, Spotted Dove, Common Iora, Long tailed Shrike, Greater Coucal, 3 Coppersmith Barbets and a Black Headed Munia feeding young.
We searched for a different route down off the hill and ran out of path so decided to carry on and force our way through scrub. I finished up with a cut elbow whilst Chris and Des managed to flush a couple of Nightjars which they thought could have been Jerdon's.
On the other visits to Baga Hill we had Black-rumped Flameback, Rufous Treepie, Nilgiri Blackbird, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Puff-throated Babbler in the leaf litter, White-browed Bulbul, Ashy Prinia, White-bellied Sea Eagle (on several occasions carrying snakes in their talons which we think maybe were sea snakes), Red-whiskered Bulbul, Western Reef Egret and Indian Bushlark. The air was always full of Black and Brahminy Kites.
Arpora Forest (Baga Forest)
We did this site three times. There are two routes from Beira Mar to this site. Both routes meet up at a crossroads for the final leg.
Cross over the Baga bridge, turn right, and travel about 2 miles to the crossroads, turn left, travel along the road until you come to a sharp left hand bend. Someone has named this cowpat corner, because here a villager turns cowpats into fuel for the open fires. This is where the track into Baga Forest starts. The other route is to turn left out of Beira Mar, take the first left, travel to the main road, turn left again, and when you hit the cross-roads drive straight across for the final leg as above.
The track rises a little, and the ground drops away to the right, where there is semi open scrub with some mature trees. The forest starts proper farther along the track.
Birds seen were White-browed Bulbul, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Jungle Babblers, Black-rumped Flameback, Common Woodshrike, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Purple Sunbird, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, 2 pair of Small Minivets, White-bellied Drongo, Crimson-backed Sunbird, White-throated Fantail, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Spotted Dove, Plum-headed Parakeets, Common Ioras, Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Oriental Scops Owl, White-rumped Munia, and White-bellied Sea Eagle.
We started to walk back to Baga and after turning right at the crossroads, over the road from the Hotel Marinha Dourada were some ponds where we spotted some small waders. Chris went down to investigate and sussed out a Broad-billed Sandpiper. There were also a Temmincks Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, and Little Ringed Plovers. Everyone enjoyed that morning.
The second time we went back to Baga Forest was to look for a Yellow-crowned Woodpecker we had heard about at Beira Mar. We had a female Black-headed Cuckooshrike, 4 Dark-fronted Babblers, Eurasian Golden Oriole, 2 Black-lored Tits, Red Whiskered Bulbuls and Red-vented Bulbuls. No Yellow-crowned Woodpecker. The third time we managed to find it.
Two trips were made here. This is situated on the north bank of the Chapora estuary and is about 8km from Baga. It also entails a ferry crossing which is quite an event. Imagine about 200 pedestrians, some cars, scooters and motorcycles trying to get off the ferry with a similar number trying to get on at the same time. Chaos reigned for about five minutes, but it sorted itself out. At the same time, about five buses that had been waiting for the pedestrians were trying to drive off as more traffic was arriving for the ferry. The fumes from the buses and the two-stroke mixture had me gasping for breath.
At the beach the tide was coming in and all the waders were way-out on one sandbank, with the gulls and terns on another, so it was a scope job. The birds did start to move off as the water rose. Birds seen were Gull-billed Terns, Sandwich Terns, Crested Terns, Lesser Crested Terns, and 4 Common Terns.
There were around 50 Pallas's Gulls, Brown-headed Gulls, Black-headed Gulls, Caspian Gulls (Yellow-legged, Larus Cachinnans ), 4 Slender-billed Gulls. We didn't find the Heuglin's Gull.
Waders seen were Eurasian Curlews, Bar-tailed Godwits, Lesser Sand Plovers, Greater Sand Plovers, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Redshank, Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, 3 Striated Herons, a Western Reef Heron, 3 Common Kingfishers, 3 White Throated Kingfishers, Wire-tailed Swallows and a Painted Snipe.
On the second visit it was high tide and the gulls were a lot closer. This time, we were more successful and scoping through them all produced an adult Heuglin's Gull along with Pallas's, Black-headed, Brown-headed, Caspian and Slender-billed gulls. Terns seen were Gull billed, Sandwich, Crested, and Lesser Crested. We also spent time looking for a Small Pratincole, but without success. Just the Lesser and Greater Sand Plovers.
The taxi was parked in the shade under a stand of tall trees. Across the road from these was open scrubland interspersed with large trees up to the edge of the village and we worked this area looking for a Brahminy Starling roost. During this time we saw Plum-headed Parakeets, Chestnut-tailed Starling (sturnus malabaricus malabaricus), Red-vented Bulbuls, House Sparrows, Long-tailed Shrike, Coppersmith Barbet, Orange-headed Thrush and a flock of Scaly-breasted Munias. We met up with some birders from Beira Mar who had just had a Barred Buttonquail. We walked to the area described to us and in about five minutes we had five. They were shooting off like rockets, flying low above the ground. First Quails I've ever seen. We never did find the Brahminy Starling roost, but we did get just the one on some telephone wires. Probably the best of all the starlings we saw.
On the way back from Morjim beach the second time, we were near the turn off to Baga Forest when Santhos saw a Nightjar in the gathering dusk, flying to wires by the side of the road. Within two minutes two more taxis full of birders had stopped. Unbelievable close views of an Indian Nightjar as it fed over the field and returned to the same place on the wires each time.
We went to this place twice and tied it in with Tikana and Chorao Island Shrimp ponds by the Ribandar Ferry. Maem Lake is about 35k from Baga and takes about one hour. On the way there, we passed some roadworks. It was not yet dawn and workers were digging a trench in the dark. We picked them up in the headlights. We arrived about 07.30.
The premier bird here is the Brown Fish Owl. We walked into the forest with the lake on our left for about 200 metres. On our right was a huge tree full of birds feeding. Some birders were already there. The Fish Owl had not been seen and it turned out that the villagers had been chopping firewood in the vicinity for a couple of days, so it had made itself scarce. Birders who came a few days later were successful.
Birds seen here were Eurasian Golden Oriole, Black-hooded Oriole, Rufous Woodpecker, many Red-vented Bulbuls, Red-whiskered Bulbuls, 2 pair of Asian Koel, Red-wattled Lapwing, Small Minivet, Common Woodshrike, a female Verditer Flycatcher, a female Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Coppersmith Barbet, White-cheeked Barbet, good views of a Crested Serpent Eagle perched up across the lake, Common Iora, Nilgiri Blackbird, Black-lored Tits, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Greenish Warbler, White-throated Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Little Cormorant, 4 Orange-breasted Green Pigeons, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Purple Sunbird and Ashy Drongo.
There were also 4 large Long-tailed Macaques Monkeys sat up in the trees across the lake.
On the second visit, we had Hooded Oriole, both male and female Asian Koel, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Coppersmith Barbet, Nilgiri Blackbird, Red-vented Bulbuls, Ashy Drongo, Ashy Wood Swallow, Stork-billed Kingfisher and Crested Tree Swift. We searched for a Nightjar, and after about 20 minutes Santhos found it sitting on the branch of a Cashew tree. It almost looked part of the branch. Good close views with the scope identified this as a Jerdon's Nightjar. The last bird we saw before coming away was a large raptor landing in a tree. This was identified as a Changeable Hawk Eagle.
We came here twice. The first time was with the driver Bruno, who initially stopped at the wrong place alongside some ploughed fields by a river. However we birded that area and picked up 2 Rufous-tailed Larks, Tawny Pipit, Siberian Stonechat, Plain Prinia, Black Drongo, Oriental Skylark and Greenshank. We later got Bruno to take us to the right place.
This was a nice place and it entailed a walk along a causeway with paddyfields and marsh on the left and an area of water and tidal mangroves on the right. Birds seen were Purple Heron, Lesser Adjutant, Pied Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Spotted Owlet, a pair of Marsh Harriers, Glossy Ibis, Redshank, Red-wattled Lapwings, Little Egrets, Intermediate Egret, Striated Heron, Grey Heron, Wire-tailed Swallows, White-browed Wagtail, Cattle Egret, Little Cormorant, Common Sandpiper, Gull-billed Tern, Red-vented Bulbul, and White rumped Munia.
Other birds seen on the second visit were Wood Sandpiper, Common Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Pacific Golden Plover, Yellow Wagtail, Plain Prinia, Ring-necked Parakeets and Malabar Lark. There was also a Garfish swimming by a sluice.
Shrimp Ponds & Ribandar Ferry.
We did these sites once only, but at different times. The shrimp ponds are about 300 metres from the north bank of the Ribandar Ferry. We walked around these, turning right inside the gate. About 100 metres on the right was a marshy area. We had Temmincks Stint, Little Ringed Plovers, Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank, Wood Sandpipers, Common Sandpiper, Striated Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret and Intermediate Egret. A flock of Lesser Sand Plovers were on the shrimp ponds.
We went there on our last day looking for Black-headed Ibis. Take the left hand path on the north bank of the river. After about 100 metres there are a couple of pools. We were successful in seeing one immature wading in a pool. This quickly flew away. On the sandbanks in the middle of the Mandovi river were a couple of thousand Pintail along with many waders. Unfortunately we were looking directly into the sun making identification difficult but Grey Plover and Redshank were noted and some five Eurasian Curlews flew up river. We then crossed on the ferry and headed back to Baga.
We went to Fort Aguada twice and both were evening visits. It's about 8k south of Baga. The first time we went we had Shaky for the first time and we warmed to him. He took us to the "Pitta site" which doubles as a toilet for the locals but it was a bit too early and the bird failed to show so we went up to the fort. The only birds of note here were a Blue Rock Thrush, 2 female Indian Peafowl, Thick billed Flowerpecker, Greater Coucal and Red breasted Flycatcher.
Shaky then took us back down the road to a place at the bottom of the hill to where it joined the river on the right. Here a white cross stood on the left hand side of the road and behind it was a small clearing with two huts at the back. We passed round the back of the right hand hut and on into the forest. A few yards in, and we were at another Pitta site. This time we were successful and had good views of an Indian Pitta, with the seven different colours in its plumage. He also was pleased when he found an albino White-throated Fantail which then fluttered around overhead. Other birds seen were 2 pairs of Purple-rumped Sunbirds, Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Red-vented Bulbuls, a roosting Indian Peafowl and Puff-throated Babblers in the leaf litter.
The next day we were going to Backwoods, so we arranged to meet Shaky on our return for a trip to Carambolim Lake.
The second time we went to Fort Aguada, Santhos was our regular driver. Birds seen were Indian Robin, 2 pairs of Indian Peafowl. The males were beautiful with their vivid blue necks. House/Little Swift, Puff-throated Babbler, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Blue Rock Thrush and a Tickell's Blue Flycatcher.
We were picked up at the Beira Mar at 05.30 hrs in the morning and there were eleven in the party. Pramod Madkailar introduced himself saying he would be our guide for the next three days.
We made two birding stops en route. The first was at a fruiting Fig tree. Birds seen here were Pompadour Green Pigeons, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Coppersmith Barbet, Brown-headed Barbet, Ashy Wood Swallow, Black-hooded Oriole, Black-rumped Flameback, Vernal Hanging Parrots flying overhead and Grey-breasted Prinia. Five new birds in as many minutes.
The next stop was at Bolcombe Bridge for a magical 30 minutes. Birds seen were Scarlet Minivet, Blue-faced Malkoha - which appeared on cue, Indian Pitta (second for the trip), Blyth's Reed Warbler, Plain Flowerpecker, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Spangled Drongo, Black-crested Bulbul, Little Swift, Dusky Crag Martin, Large-billed Crow, Green Warbler and not very good views of Little Spiderhunter.
We continued on our way to Backwoods seeing Brown Shrike on the way in. After disembarking from the mini-bus we walked into the camp, picking up Forest Wagtail, a very striking bird, Crimson Fronted Barbet, Orange Headed Thrush, and Emerald Dove.
We then had breakfast, which consisted of something akin to spicy potatoes. The tents were allocated. These were all mod con, with toilets and showers, which you had to share with Tree Frogs. Most tents had a couple in them, one had five.
Pramod then outlined the timetable of our itinerary which was: -
Day 1: Walk in the forest after breakfast till lunchtime- afternoon free-16.00 till dusk Temple Mahadeva - Nightjars
Day 2: Walk in the forest - breakfast - Raptor watch - afternoon free - Walk in the forest till dusk - Owls.
Day 3: Walk in the forest - breakfast - out in the van to another nearby site - lunch - return to Baga (via Ciba-Geigy).
We set off on the first walk and, within spitting distance of the camp, Pramod immediately showed us a pair of Sri Lanka Frogmouths. These were huddled together in a dense bush with their tails swinging like pendulums. These were his pride and joy. He encouraged us to come and see them during our stay, but not to get too close. Apparently someone on a previous trip went too close to try and take a photograph and they disappeared for 4 days. While I was looking, one of them yawned and the whole of it's face opened up. Unbelievable.
We walked into the forest which was magnificent, with huge trees, scrub and Bamboo thickets interspersed with open areas. The forest floor was covered with leaf litter, with leaves so big they crackled under your feet. Pramod began picking birds up on call and pointing in their direction. Dark-fronted Babbler, Black-naped Monarch, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Indian Blue Robin, Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, a beautiful male Malabar Trogon, with three females nearby. Pramod was calling them in.
The track we were on led down to a partly dried up river with large rocks inter-spaced with pools of water. One could imagine this place in the monsoon season, with the river in full spate. There was a male Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Racket-tailed Drongos swooping down and picking what looked like insects off the water, Bronzed Drongo, Large Woodshrike, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Grey-headed Bulbul, White-headed Chestnut-tailed Starling (sturnus malabaricus blythii), Oriental Honey Buzzard, Crested Goshawk being mobbed by a Shikra, Booted Eagle, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Changeable Hawk Eagle and a Western Crowned Warbler. This concluded the first session. What a walk
After lunch we were relaxing on the front of Chris's chalet (no tent for him) enjoying the peace and quiet of the forest. We all fell asleep and woke up suddenly with some black-faced monkey's running round about 50 metres away. These were identified as Hanuman Langurs.
Birds flitting about were Red-breasted Flycatcher, a pair of Crimson Backed Sunbirds, Racket-tailed Drongo, black crested Bulbul and Tickell's Blue Flycatcher.
While we had been away from our tent, a chicken had been in and laid an egg on Des's bed. This was to happen on two occasions.
In the late afternoon we went by mini-bus to the Temple Mahadeva. This is a Hindu Shrine set in the forest, with hills on the front and left as you walk in. On the right, through the trees, is a grassy area, where the Grey Nightjar would be seen.
The first bird seen was a White-bellied Woodpecker, which flew across the temple clearing. Other birds were Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Fairy Bluebird, 2 Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrikes, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Magpie Robin, Crested Goshawk, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Black Eagle and a Rufus-bellied Eagle above the hills skyline.
In the dried up river running alongside the temple we had Malabar Whistling Thrush and a Brown-breasted Flycatcher. From back up on the temple site a Blue-bearded Bee-eater was spotted to the front, high on the hillside sitting in a tree. As dusk approached we made our way to the grassy area for the Nightjar. When it was dark, Pramod switched on his spotlight and illuminated a bird and followed it round the field. This was a Grey Nightjar.
On the way back to Backwoods, Pramod took the mini-bus through the forest and along a dried up riverbed, as he approached a bend in the track he turned the headlights off. (He must have done this many times because it was pitch black). Round the corner, he turned the headlights on again and sitting in the track was a Jerdon's Nightjar.
Back at camp we had dinner and relaxed with a few beers savouring the day, before turning in. The beds were very comfortable. During the night, we heard long drawn out shouts. This turned out to be one of the villagers keeping the Wild Boars off his crops. When Chris opened his door in the morning there was one outside his chalet.
On the pre-breakfast walk in the forest we started with Grey-headed Bulbul, then a Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Malabar Parakeet, White-rumped Shama, Forest Wagtail, Fairy Bluebird, Orange-headed Thrush, Large Woodshrike, a pair of Scarlet Minivets, Red-throated Flycatcher and a Rufous Woodpecker.
After breakfast, it was off in the mini-bus for the raptor watch. This was at a grassy area interspersed with trees, with a range of hills in the background. First raptor seen was a Black Eagle. Everything then stopped when Chris spotted what turned out to be a Great Hornbill, alight in a tree halfway up the hills. Everyone zeroed in on the tree with this speck in it. About 20 minutes later, it took off with another one, and flew in a wide arc, down the hills giving everyone good views. The other raptors seen were Black Eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Crested Goshawk, a pale phase Booted Eagle and a Shikra which passed through.
Other birds seen were Little Green Bee-eater, Indian Swiftlet, House Swift, Spotted Dove, 2 Common Rosefinch, Black Bulbul, Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, Malabar Crested Lark, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher and Jungle Babbler.
After lunch, the three of us decided to walk through the forest and down to the river. On the way we picked up Rufous Treepie and Spangled Drongo but we were looking for Grey Junglefowl, without success. At the river, we settled down on some rocks in the shade, with a view over one of the pools. On the approach to this area, Des saw a very large spotted deer by the edge of the pool. This moved off when it saw us. Later identified this as a Chital.
Birds seen were Common Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, a pair of Malabar Grey Hornbills, Black-hooded Oriole, 4 Black-crested Bulbuls, female Red-throated Flycatcher, 3 Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters and a Tickell's Blue Flycatcher. A herd of cattle came wandering through the forest with a couple of Cattle Egrets following them.
On the way back to camp we spotted a dark green snake about 2 metres long, slithering across the track. It was black on the back with a small head but when asked later what it was Pramod said "definitely poisonous" but he didn't know the name of it.
On the second evening walk we again first went into the forest and then out into the fields, through a village and finished up in a riverbed. Birds seen included a White-bellied Blue Flycatcher. Whilst watching this a Malabar Giant Squirrel came leaping through the treetops. Grey Jungle Fowl was seen in the undergrowth and also another Indian Pitta (The third of the trip so far), Dark-fronted Babbler, Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Ashy Wood Swallow and in the village many Chestnut-headed Bee-eater going to roost.
By this time it was getting dark and we clambered into the riverbed to await the coming of a Brown Hawk Owl. We sat silently and then heard it call. When it came it was making directly for it's perch on a branch in an old tree (silhouetted above us against the sky) when someone in the group sneezed, and the owl veered off and disappeared. Fortunately, Pramod knew it's next port of call. We scrambled out of the riverbed and assembled by a fence, the other side of which there was a field. Pramod then used his spotlight and picked the Brown Hawk Owl out sat on a fencepost. It was then back to camp, which happened to only be the other side of the riverbed, for dinner.
On our last walk before breakfast, we went off in the mini-bus, down the road a couple of miles, and parked up by a village school. We walked a sparsely forested area down to a partially dried up river with a few pools of water in it. The birding was excellent. Started off with 3 Yellow-wattled Lapwings in the school playground. 2 Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Black-headed Cuckooshrike, Little Spiderhunter, a white Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Common Iora, Stork-billed Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Plain Flowerpecker, Little Egret, Emerald Dove, Common Woodshrike and Small Minivet. By now, we were at the riverbed, and the best was yet to come. A Brown Fish Owl was flushed, and flew up the riverbed. Pramod and another birder followed up after it and it was eventually found. Good views were had by all. This made up for dipping out at Maem Lake.
Back for breakfast, and then our last walk in the forest. First bird seen was a Jungle Owlet, followed by a pair of Malabar Trogons, a Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Rufous Woodpecker, Black-rumped Flameback, and a Lesser Yellownape, which we followed as it moved through the canopy. We also had Black-headed Cuckoo-shrike, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Black-hooded Oriole, and a pair of Velvet-fronted Nuthatches.
That completed the birding at Backwoods. We had dinner, settled our drinks bill and then boarded the mini-bus for the return to Baga. We did stop at Ciba-Geigy to try for Lesser Adjutant, but it entailed climbing walls to try and see over the fence. Chris found a pair of stepladders, but saw nothing new apart from Alpine Swift.
We returned to Beira Mar about 16.00 hrs and took stock. We had arrived on a Friday. It was now the following Thursday and we had already topped the 200 species mark.
While we were by the swimming pool having a beer, Shaky (the taxi driver we had previously booked to go to Carambolim Lake the next day), turned up with Bruno in tow. He stated that his taxi would be off the road for the next three days and we should let Bruno take us. Bruno was told in no uncertain terms that neither he or his taxi would be required.
So once again we were without a driver. However, a couple from Christchurch who were going to Backwoods the next morning told us that their driver, Santhos, would now be available and that they would contact him for us. We met him later and then arranged a flexible schedule for the rest of our stay.
En route there, as we travelled along by the estuary at Panjim, the tide was going out and on the mud we had Green Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Redshank, Western Reef Egret and Little Egret. On arrival at Carambolim we initially birded alongside the dry fields and around the small wood beyond the village. Birds seen were Pied Kingfisher, Eurasian Golden Oriole, White-browed Bulbul, Common Kingfisher, Red-vented Bulbul, White-throated Kingfisher, Black-rumped Flameback, Woolly-necked Stork, 2 Shikra, Rufous Woodpecker, a pair of Small Minivets, 2 Jungle Babblers, a Spotted Owlet, a Siberian Stonechat, Temmincks Stint and 2 Pintail Snipe.
We then moved round through the bustling village to the causeway of the lake proper to check out the water birds. The surface was heaving with them amongst the reeds and floating vegetation. Lesser Whistling Ducks by the thousand, Coots, Garganey, Purple Gallinules, Moorhen, Bronze-wing Jacanas, Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Cotton Pygmy Geese, Little Grebe, 2 Comb Ducks, Little Cormorant, and 1 Lesser Adjutant.
In the field behind us were about 50 Open-billed Storks, and a pair of Marsh Harriers flying around. Red-rumped and Wire-tailed Swallows were hawking over the lake and a large Crocodile was watched moving slowly as it wound its way through the vegetation.
We then went to the opposite side of the lake where similar species were recorded before deciding to return via Santa Cruz.
The first stop was by the billboards, opposite the shrine by the main road. There were a number of sandy pools interspersed with scrub and we scanned these and picked up a few waders. These turned out to be 3 Terek Sandpipers, Greenshank, Black winged Stilt, Marsh Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Red-wattled Lapwing and a Black tailed Godwit.
We drove down the road, turned right, passed the church and a school and came upon a large expanse of wetlands and marsh on both sides of the road. We stopped on a small bridge. On the right hand side of the bridge we picked up 21 Pacific Golden Plovers, Redshank and a Purple Heron. Far in the shimmering distance we could see a pair of birders with a scope up. There was a path flanked by palm trees running through the side of the marsh, turning left along a causeway. This would bring us much closer. As it was now scorching hot and the area so exposed, we decided to return on another day.
We returned 3 days later on our way back from Dona Paula, and took the path through the palm trees and out along the causeway. Hanging in the palm trees were a number of Baya Weaver nests. Having reached the middle of the lagoons at the end of the path we set the scope up. Birds seen were c30 Small Pratincole, Gull-billed Tern, 2 Little Stints, Red-wattled Lapwing, Pintail Snipe, Purple Heron, Wood Sandpiper, Paddyfield Pipit, Pied Kingfisher, Shikra and a Tawny Eagle circling n the sky. .
The first part of these so called marshes had dried up and the only bird we had was a Common Kingfisher on a small concrete reservoir by the side of the road. We then went to a small lake, and from the road, walked up a path between the lake and a stream alongside a drying out marsh. The first bird was a new trip bird, Black-winged Stilt. We also had Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plovers, White-throated Kingfisher, Striated Heron, Little Egret, Greater Coucal, Hoopoe and a White-bellied Sea Eagle. From there we went on to Fort Aguada for the second time.
This place is only a matter of 20 minutes from Baga. After driving through the village we came to a wooded amphitheatre where the villagers had piped water from the stream to make an area for washing and ablutions. Quite a few women were doing the washing, smashing the garments on the rocks whilst alongside others bathed.
This is the stake out for the Brown Wood Owl, and as usual for us, it wasn't in its regular place. We searched for about 40 minutes before Santhos found it with his naked eyes. It was well worth the effort, a truly magnificent bird, looking directly at us. Other birds seen were Pale-billed Flowerpecker, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Tailorbird, Greenish Warbler, White-cheeked Barbet, and a white Asian Paradise Flycatcher.
The second time we went we also saw the Owl along with Indian Peafowl, a white Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Plain Flowerpecker, Jungle Babblers, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Ashy Tree Swallow, White-throated Fantail and a Common Buzzard.
Santhos took us to this place, which was adjacent to the signposted village of Pilerne, just off the main road and not far from Saligao. Here, a small rectangular lake ran parallel to the road with most of its surface area covered in vegetation.
Birds seen were Red-wattled Lapwing, White-browed Wagtail, Moorhen, Stork-billed Kingfisher, male Painted Snipe, White-breasted Waterhen, Greenshank, male Asian Koel showing his red eye, Intermediate Egret, White-rumped Munia, Crested Goshawk, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Bronze-winged Jacana, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Black-capped Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher and Little Cormorant.
This was about 1.5 hours driving south of Baga so an early start was made. Pramod had told us earlier that apparently this is now the only known site left in Goa where Vultures roost (Vultures having been decimated in India, this being caused by an as yet identified virus) and we had to be there before 10.30hrs when they can use the thermals to take to the air and move off.
Santhos had never been there before, so we had to ask directions as we got near. After travelling through the village, the road forks at right angles and the lake is between the forks. We took the right hand fork and travelled as far as a bridge over the outlet sluice for the lake and set up shop there. In front of us was the lake and behind that was a range of hills.
We first scanned the lake, picking up Common Teal, hundreds of Pintail and Lesser Whistling Duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Garganey, Purple Gallinules, Bronze-winged Jacanas and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas.
Hawking over the water were Barn, Wire tailed and Red-rumped Swallows. Around the lake were Yellow Wagtail, Wood Sandpiper and other common waders. Several flocks of Pacific Golden Plover were seen flying over and 2 Greater Coucal were also seen.
At around 9.00hrs the raptors started to appear over to our left. We decided to move locations and drove back to the fork and turned right. A few hundred metres up this road was a track leading to the lakeside, and nearby some trees which would shade us so we set up there. There was a shrine here dedicated to a Portuguese man who had been killed in an explosion on the SS Dare. This was a British-India Line ship, which had exploded in the Persian Gulf.
The first Vulture seen was a White-rumped, which soon followed by another 3 more and eventually at least 10 were present over the period. A Woolly necked Stork came over next and soon after 2 Indian Vultures and 2 Lesser Adjutants circled in one thermal along with several other raptors.
Here we also had Crested Serpent Eagle, Shikra, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Crested Goshawk, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Common Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Marsh Harrier, Brahminy Kite and Black Kite. A really good morning.
While we were there, a herd of wild pigs were feeding in the lake shallows. We didn't take a lot of notice of them initially but about 30 minutes later 5 dogs came racing into the shallows, scattering wildfowl in all directions. One of the pigs had strayed from the herd and the dogs were after it. We were shouting the pig on as he dashed through the shallows and then turned in our direction. He was going like a bat out of hell. Thankfully he made it up the bank and shot off into the trees. The dogs would have surely killed him.
Dona Paula Plateau:
This was the only part of the Dona Paula area we did. We walked the area looking for Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark and searched for about 20 minutes before picking a couple of males up. They have a very diagnostic display, as though they are riding a big dipper, swooping up and down before landing.
Other birds at this site were female Common Kestrel, Shikra, Red-wattled Lapwing, 2 Yellow-wattled Lapwings, white browed Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, a pair of Indian Robins, Jungle Mynas, Spotted Doves, Blyth's Pipit, Oriental Skylark, and a White-bellied Sea Eagle, again with a snake in its talons.
This was our penultimate day. Bondla is about 1hour 45 minutes from Baga, so we hit the road about 06.00hrs. It is the smallest of Goa's three national reserves. It also has a zoo.
On the way there we suffered a puncture. We all mucked in to change the wheel. When we got the punctured wheel off, there was absolutely no tread on the tyre whatsoever. It was as smooth as a baby's bottom. We got the spare out and that was even worse than the one we had taken off. Anyway it saw us to Bondla and back to Baga.
On arrival, there are two ways you can bird it. From the bottom walk about 3 kilometres uphill, or, as we did it, drive to the top and bird the way down then drive back to the top again. This way it's easier walking and the sun is also behind you. Take in the restaurant, and the zoo, and then bird down again. We had a meal in the restaurant after the first session. 4 Omelettes with 3 slices of bread each, 3 plates of chips, 3 large coffees, and 4 soft drinks. The bill for all that lot came to a staggering 209 rupees (£3).
First birds seen were a flock of Jungle Babblers working through the trees. A female Malabar Trogon, Booted Eagle, Black-crested Bulbul, Yellow browed Bulbul, 4 Black-naped Monarch's, a Bar-winged Flycatcher shrike, 2 Golden-fronted Leafbirds, a superb Blue-capped Rock Thrush, Western Crowned Warbler, a Large-billed Leaf Warbler, both brown and white Asian Paradise Flycatchers, 2 Malabar Whistling Thrush, Brown cheeked Fulvetta, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Oriental Magpie Robin, Red-rumped Swallows, Indian Swiftlets, Asian Palm Swifts, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Emerald Dove, Pompadour Green Pigeon, White breasted Drongo, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Nilgiri Blackbird, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Grey Junglefowl, White-rumped Shama and the best view yet of a pair Vernal Hanging Parrots feeding atop a tree.
Near the bottom of the road was a pump house and across the road was a small ravine with a little water in the bottom. Chris saw a small brown bird flitting about and went down to suss it out. This turned out to be a Rusty-tailed Flycatcher.
We started back to Baga at about 1600 hrs. The return journeys back to the hotel were always eventful and one was able to get a glimpse of life along the road. We were surprised to see women digging trenches and working on the roadworks. Some of them had their children with them, and they lived in shacks made of palm leaves alongside the road. Everything in India is carried on the head; they have yet to discover the wheelbarrow. To see women queuing up at the cement mixer, to have concrete put in their head baskets and then to carry it to the job is unbelievable.
We stopped at a tyre place to have a patch put on the inner tube that was punctured. It turned out that the puncture was on a previous repaired patch, so another was put on top. There were more patches than inner tube. The lad who took the tyre off was treading it round the rim in his bare feet. The whole job cost 25 rupees.
We stopped at the Ciba-Geigy complex on the way back and peered through the fence near the gatehouse. The only thing I saw was a crocodile sunning its' self. Chris and Des got Indian Cormorant, c30 Asian Openbill Stork, 2 Woolly Stork and a Lesser Adjutant.
At Old Goa we stopped to see the cathedral, where the remains of Saint Francis Xavier are interred. A Spanish missionary, he was known as the Apostle of the Indies. He was also a founding member of the Jesuit Society.
The last day's birding, as reported earlier was a grand tour of Maem Lake, Tikana, Chorao Island and back over the Ribandar Ferry and followed in the evening with a last walk in Arpora Forest.
Presents were bought, bags were packed and we had our last meal at Chopsticks, the Chinese restaurant across from Beira Mar.
At breakfast, the next morning, the last bird we clocked was a Scaly-breasted Munia. We were then off to the airport for the start of an eventful journey home.
I arrived home at midnight, got out the taxi, and looked up into the sky. Orion had beaten us home.
We considered we had an excellent birding trip. Altogether, in the fourteen days we had seen a total of 257 birds. My personal total was 252, with 191 new birds. We would have been scratching about for new places to bird if we had stayed any longer. The research and preparation for the trip paid dividends. The line drawings of sites in the Peter Harris book were very useful.
Backwoods was an excellent trip and not to be missed.
The only thing we would change if we went again would be the Beira Mar. The Ronil Beach hotel, just up the road, looked a cut above the Beira Mar. You can walk down anytime for the birding. We never did get the Cinnamon Bittern which must have gone.
Red Spurfowl: Only a poor view of a single as
it ran across a path at Fort Aguada
Grey Junglefowl: 2 seen at Backwoods and 1 at Bondla
Indian Peafowl: 2 males and 5 females at Fort Aguada and 1 at Saligao Zor
Lesser Whistling Duck: Large numbers at Carambolim and Velim Lakes
Comb Duck: 2 at Carambolim
Cotton Pygmy-Goose: Seen only in small numbers at Carambolim, Velim Lake and Pilerne
Pintail: 2000+ on sandbanks in the Mandovi river and also present at Velim Lake
Garganey: Good numbers at Carambolim and Velim Lakes and a few elsewhere.
Teal: Single figures at Velim Lake
Barred Buttonquail: 5 flushed from scrub at Morjim and 2 on Baga Hill
Brown capped Pygmy Woodpecker: A single seen at Backwoods
Yellow crowned Woodpecker: A single seen at Arpora Forest
Rufous Woodpecker: Seen at Maem Lake, Arpora Forest, Carambolim and Backwoods
White bellied Woodpecker: 1flew by at Tambdi Surla
Lesser Yellownape: A single seen well at Backwoods
Black rumped Flameback: Seen regularly at several sites
Heart spotted Woodpecker: A pair at Backwoods and 1 at Bondla
Brown headed Barbet: Seen at Maem, Backwoods and Bondla
White cheeked Barbet: Regular at all suitable sites
Crimson fronted Barbet: Seen at Backwoods and Bondla
Coppersmith Barbet: Seen regularly at many sites throughout
Malabar Grey Hornbill: Several en route to and at Backwoods and also at Bondla
Malabar Pied Hornbill: Seen whilst en route to and at Backwoods
Great Hornbill: A pair seen whilst on the raptor watch at Backwoods
Hoopoe: Seen occasionally at suitable sites
Malabar Trogon: A male and 3 females at Backwoods and a female at Bondla
Indian Roller: Seen regularly, usually on wires whilst travelling
Common Kingfisher: Common by all waters.
Stork billed Kingfisher: Seen regularly by rivers and at wetland sites
White throated Kingfisher: Common and numerous throughout
Black capped Kingfisher: Seen at several locations on the coastal strip
Pied Kingfisher: Seen at Tikana, Carambolim and Santa Cruz
Blue bearded Bee-eater: 1 seen distantly but well at Tambdi Surla
Green Bee-eater: Common and plentiful throughout
Blue tailed Bee-eater: Seen regularly at Beira Mar and occasionally elsewhere
Chestnut headed Bee-eater: 50+ were seen pre-roost at Backwoods
Asian Koel: Seen regularly throughout
Blue faced Malkoha: A single at Bolcombe Bridge
Greater Coucal: Unobtrusive, but a odd birds occasionally seen
Vernal Hanging Parrot: Several flyovers at Backwoods and seen perched at Bondla
Rose ringed Parakeet: Small numbers over Beira Mar and at Tikana
Plum headed Parakeet: Seen regularly both in flight and perched up
Malabar Parakeet: A single seen well at Backwoods
Indian Swiftlet: Seen at Beira Mar, Backwoods, Tambdi Surla and Bondla
Asian Palm Swift: Regularly seen, mainly along the coastal strip
Alpine Swift: Two noted over Ciba Geigy
Common Swift: A single flew over whilst at Tambdi Surla
House Swift: Common and numerous throughout
Crested Treeswift: Seen over Maem Lake and Tambdi Surla
Oriental Scops Owl: One near the entrance to Arpora Forest was found whilst being mobbed by several small birds
Brown Fish Owl: An impressive single was found along the riverbed at Backwoods
Brown Wood Owl: Seen on both visits to Saligao Zor
Jungle Owlet: Two seen at Backwoods
Spotted Owlet: Several, including young, were seen at sites along the coastal strip
Brown Hawk Owl: One was eventually seen well by spotlight at Backwoods
Sri Lanka Frogmouth: A roosting pair at Backwoods gave excellent and close views
Grey Nightjar: 1 seen by spotlight at Tambdi Surla
Jerdon's Nightjar: 2 at Baga Hill and singles on the road at Backwoods and at Maem
Indian Nightjar: One performed well from roadside wires near Arpora
Rock Dove: Common along the coastal strip
Oriental Turtle Dove: Two at the Beira Mar
Spotted Dove: Common and seen regularly at all suitable sites
Emerald Dove: Two seen at both Backwoods and Bondla
Orange breasted Green Pigeon: 4 in the same tree at Maem Lake on each visit
Pompadour Green Pigeon: Small numbers seen at Backwoods and Bondla
Mountain Imperial Pigeon: Good numbers watched going to roost at Tambdi Surla
White breasted Waterhen: Common around most wet areas
Ruddy breasted Crake: An elusive single was eventually seen at Beira Mar
Purple Swamphen: Several hundred at Carambolim, with lesser numbers at Velim
Common Moorhen: A few at Carambolim, Velim and Pilerne
Eurasian Coot: Good numbers at Carambolim
Pintail Snipe: Identified as such at Beira Mar, Carambolim and Santa Cruz
Common Snipe: Only identified as such at Beira Mar
Black tailed Godwit: A single at Santa Cruz
Bar tailed Godwit: Three on a sandbar at Morjim
Eurasian Curlew: 12 at Morjim and a few on sandbanks off Chorao Island
Common Redshank: Many seen regularly at all suitable sites
Marsh Sandpiper: Noted at Marinha Dourada, Chorao Island Shrimp Ponds and Santa Cruz
Common Greenshank: Seen regularly at all suitable sites
Green Sandpiper: Singles at Candolim and at Beira Mar
Wood Sandpiper: Numerous and widespread, being seen regularly at many sites
Terek Sandpiper: Three at Santa Cruz and singles along the Mandovi River and at Chorao Shrimp Ponds
Common Sandpiper: Plentiful and seen regularly at all suitable sites
Little Stint: Two on pools at Santa Cruz
Temmincks Stint: Four at Santa Cruz and others seen by pools at several locations
Broad billed Sandpiper: 1 seen well in a pool outside the Marinha Dourada
Greater Painted Snipe: Two were at Beira Mar throughout and singles seen at Santa Cruz and Pilerne
Pheasant tailed Jacana: Good numbers at Carambolim, Velim Lake and Pilerne
Bronze winged Jacana: Plentiful at Carambolim and also seen at Velim Lake, Santa Cruz and Pilerne Lake
Black winged Stilt: Only seen as singles at Candolim Marsh and Santa Cruz
Pacific Golden Plover: Over twenty were on the mudflats at both Santa Cruz and Tikana and several flocks were seen passing high over Velim Lake
Grey Plover: A few seen at Morjim and on sandbanks off Chorao Island
Little Ringed Plover: Seen regularly at all suitable sites
Kentish Plover: A small number only were present at Morjim
Lesser Sand Plover: 200+ at Morjim and also seen along the coast and adjacent wet areas in good numbers
Greater Sand Plover: Only at Morjim, where far outnumbered by the previous species
Yellow-wattled Lapwing: Three at Backwoods and two at Dona Paula
Red wattled Lapwing: Common and seen regularly at many sites
Small Pratincole: Only seen at Santa Cruz, where there were c30 by the lagoons
Heuglin's Gull: Present at Morjim but only in low single figures.
Caspian Gull: Several hundred (including sub sp. variations) were seen at Morjim
Great Black headed Gull: 50+ at Morjim
Brown headed Gull: Numerous at Morjim and also seen along coast
Black headed Gull: Numerous at Morjim and seen along coast
Slender billed Gull: Present at Morjim in single numbers
Gull billed Tern: Seen regularly at several sites throughout
Lesser Crested Tern: c20 were present at Morjim
Great Crested Tern: Seen at Morjim and in larger numbers than the previous species
Sandwich Tern: A few at Morjim
Common Tern: Four seen at Morjim
Osprey: Seen regularly behind the Beira Mar
Oriental Honey Buzzard: Several seen at many various and widespread sites
Black Kite: Ever present in the lowlands and constantly overhead
Brahminy Kite: Also appeared to be constantly overhead.
White bellied Sea Eagle: A pair regularly seen carrying food at Baga Hill and singles at Velim, Carambolim, Pilerne and Candolim
White rumped Vulture: 10+ were seen at Velim Lake
Indian Vulture: Two at Velim Lake
Crested Serpent Eagle: Two at Backwoods and singles at Maem and Velim Lake
Marsh Harrier: Seen regularly at most suitable sites
Pallid Harrier: A single male seen over Baga Fields, viewed from the Beira Mar
Crested Goshawk: Seen at Baga Hill, Velim Lake, Backwoods, Tambdi Surla and Pilerne Lake
Shikra: Frequently seen throughout the trip
Eurasian Sparrowhawk: A female at Velim Lake
Common Buzzard: Singles at Beira Mar, Velim Lake and Santa Cruz
Black Eagle: Two or more at both Backwoods and Tambdi Surla
Tawny Eagle: A single over the lagoons at Santa Cruz
Booted Eagle: Singles at Baga Hill, Beira Mar, Santa Cruz, Bondla and Backwoods
Rufous-bellied Eagle: Two at Tambdi Surla and one at Backwoods
Changeable Hawk Eagle: Two at Backwoods and singles at Arpora and Maem Lake
Common Kestrel: Singles at Baga Fields and Dona Paula
Peregrine: Singles at Velim Lake and Baga Hill
Little Grebe: Two noted at Carambolim
Little Cormorant: Seen regularly throughout on all waters
Indian Cormorant: 1 seen through the fence at Ciba Geigy
Little Egret: Seen regularly at all suitable sites
Western Reef Heron: Several along the banks of the Mandovi River
Grey Heron: Seen regularly at suitable sites
Purple Heron: Seen regularly at suitable sites
Great White Egret: Seen regularly at suitable sites
Intermediate Egret: Seen regularly, being the most numerous of the Egrets
Cattle Egret: Seen regularly at all suitable sites
Indian Pond Heron: Abundant throughout
Striated Heron: Only seen at Morjim, Candolim and Tikana
Black crowned Night Heron: Regularly seen flying over Beira Mar at dusk
Glossy Ibis: 20+ seen at Tikana
Black headed Ibis: An immature in pools by the ferry crossing on Chorao Island
Asian Openbill Stork: c50 at Carambolim and 30+ at Ciba Geigy
Woolly necked Stork: At least 5 at Carambolim with 2 at Ciba Geigy and singles at Velim Lake and Chorao Island
Lesser Adjutant: 2 at Velim and singles at Tikana, Carambolim and Ciba Geigy
Indian Pitta: Singles seen well at Fort Aguada, Backwoods and Bolcombe Bridge
Asian Fairy Bluebird: A pair at Backwoods and one at Tambdi Surla
Golden fronted Leafbird: Seen at Backwoods, Arpora Forest, Baga Hill and Bondla
Brown Shrike: Singles at Backwoods and Baga Fields
Long tailed Shrike: Common and seen regularly throughout
Rufous Treepie: Singles at Backwoods and Baga Hill
House Crow: Common everywhere
Long billed Crow: Seen in all forested areas
Ashy Woodswallow: Beira Mar, Saligao Zor, Maem, Bondla and Backwoods
Eurasian Golden Oriole: Seen regularly throughout
Black hooded Oriole: Regularly seen at wooded sites
Black headed Cuckooshrike: Two at both Backwoods and Arpora
Small Minivet: Recorded at Maem, Backwoods, Bondla and Arpora
Scarlet Minivet: Seen at Backwoods and Bondla
Bar winged Flycatcher-shrike: Noted at Arpora Forest, Backwoods and Bondla
White throated Fantail: Seen regularly, including a stunning albino at Fort Aguada
Black Drongo: Present all along the coastal strip
Ashy Drongo: Regular in all forest areas
White bellied Drongo: Seen at Arpora Forest, Backwoods and Bondla
Bronzed Drongo: Baga Hill, Maem, Bondla and Backwoods
Spangled Drongo: Singles at Bolcombe Bridge and Backwoods
Greater Racket tailed Drongo: Present at Backwoods and Bondla
Black napped Monarch: Two at Backwoods and four at Bondla
Asian Paradise Flycatcher: Seen at all forest sites (both colour phases being noted).
Common Iora: Seen regularly at many varied sites
Large Woodshrike: A small party seen well at Backwoods
Common Woodshrike: Maem, Arpora Forest and Backwoods
Blue capped Rock Thrush: 2 at Bondla
Blue Rock Thrush: Singles at Baga Hill and Fort Aguada
Malabar Whistling Thrush: A single at Backwoods and 2 at Bondla
Orange headed Thrush: Baga Hill, Maem, Backwoods, Bondla and Fort Aguada
Nilgiri Blackbird: Maem, Baga Hill, Backwoods and Bondla
Asian Brown Flycatcher: Baga Hill, Backwoods, Bondla and Arpora Forest
Rusty tailed Flycatcher: One along a streambed at Bondla
Red throated Flycatcher: Females were seen at Fort Aguada and Backwoods
Red-breasted Flycatcher: A male at Backwoods
Verditer Flycatcher: A female at Maem
White bellied Blue Flycatcher: A male at Backwoods and birds of both sexes at Bondla Tickell's Blue Flycatcher: Often seen at Backwoods, Bondla, Baga Hill, Saligao and elsewhere
Bluethroat: At least two by the pools at Beira Mar
Indian Blue Robin: A single along the riverbed at Backwoods
Oriental Magpie Robin: Seen regularly throughout
White rumped Shama: Seen in single numbers at Backwoods and Bondla
Indian Robin: Regular at drier sites including Baga Hill, Fort Aguada and Dona Paula
Siberian Stonechat: Seen regularly at most suitable sites
Pied Bushchat: Recorded behind Beira Mar and at other similar drier areas
Chestnut tailed Starling: Seen at Beira Mar and along the coastal strip, with the white headed race, blythii, being present at Backwoods and Bondla
Brahminy Starling: A single at Morjim was the only sighting
Rosy Starling: A flock of c40 was present throughout behind the Beira Mar
Common Myna: A few seen at Baga Fields and Tikana
Jungle Myna: The most numerous Myna and many were seen regularly
Velvet fronted Nuthatch: 2 at Backwoods
Black lored Tit: Seen at Baga Hill, Maem, Fort Aguada, Backwoods and Bondla
Dusky Crag Martin: 2 at Bolcombe Bridge
Barn Swallow: Only a small number seen at Velim Lake
Wire tailed Swallow: Common and seen regularly throughout
Red rumped Swallow: Numerous and seen at most places throughout
Grey headed Bulbul: Elusive but seen at Backwoods and Bondla
Black crested Bulbul: Several seen at both Backwoods and Bondla
Red whiskered Bulbul: The commonest Bulbul and seen regularly at all sites
Red vented Bulbul: Seen regularly at most wooded sites
White browed Bulbul: Common at Arpora Forest and Baga Hill
Yellow browed Bulbul: Seen at Bondla and Backwoods
Black Bulbul: Two were seen very briefly whilst at Backwoods
Grey breasted Prinia: Seen at Candolim and en route to Backwoods
Ashy Prinia: Seen regularly at several sites
Plain Prinia: Small groups seen by the river bridge on Chorao Island and at Tikana
Blyth's Reed Warbler: Common and widespread
Clamorous Reed Warbler: A single was present throughout at Beira Mar
Booted Warbler: A brief single at Beira Mar
Common Tailorbird: Seen at several sites
Greenish warbler: This and/or the following (sub)species were commonly seen, but not always separately identified.
Green Warbler: As with above, with some individuals being identified as such.
Large billed Leaf Warbler: Two were seen at Bondla
Western Crowned Warbler: Seen at Backwoods and Bondla
Puff throated Babbler: Seen creeping around at Fort Aguada, Baga Hill and Backwoods
Dark fronted Babbler: Small numbers seen at most forest sites
Jungle Babbler: Parties seen at Baga Hill, Backwoods, Bondla, Arpora and elsewhere
Brown cheeked Fulvetta: Recorded in small numbers at most forest sites
Indian Bushlark: One bird gave close views when it alighted beside us on Baga Hill
Ashy crowned Sparrow Lark: Two on the plateau at Dona Paula
Rufous tailed Lark: A pair were seen near the river bridge on Chorao Island
Greater Short toed Lark: A flock of 20+ seen at Baga Fields
Malabar Lark: Regular along the coastal strip and also seen occasionally inland
Oriental Skylark: Singles noted at Tikana and Dona Paula
Thick-billed Flowerpecker: The commonest of the Flowerpeckers and seen at manylocations. (After all three types were seen they were generally not fully scrutinised).
Pale billed Flowerpecker: Noted at Beira Mar
Plain Flowerpecker: Recorded at Bolcombe Bridge, Backwoods and elsewhere
Purple rumped Sunbird: Seen regularly at many sites
Crimson backed Sunbird: Plentiful at Backwoods and Bondla
Purple Sunbird: Seen regularly at all suitable sites
Loten's Sunbird: Only recorded at Baga Hill
Little Spiderhunter: Brief sightings of 3 at Bolcombe Bridge and 1 at Backwoods
House Sparrow: Generally only seen around more urban areas
Chestnut shouldered Petronia: Odd birds were seen at several widespread sites
Forest Wagtail: Only seen at Backwoods
White browed Wagtail: Regular sightings were made, generally around the wetter areas
Yellow Wagtail: Several seen on Baga Fields, at Tikana and at Velim Lake
Grey Wagtail: A few singles at Beira Mar, Bondla and Backwoods
Richard's Pipit: Seen well at Baga Fields and other similar sites
Paddyfield Pipit: The most numerous Pipit and seen regularly throughout
Tawny Pipit: One on Chorao Island near the river bridge
Blyth's Pipit: Plentiful at Baga Fields and other similar drier sites
Tree Pipit: A group of three were seen at Baga Fields
Baya Weaver: Only a small group on Chorao Island and flying over Beira Mar to roost
White rumped Munia: Quite common and seen regularly at many sites
Scaly breasted Munia: c15 at Morjim and 2 at Beira Mar
Black headed Munia: One carrying food to a nest on Baga Hill
Common Rosefinch: Two males at Backwoods.