We arrived from Manchester two hours late, getting to our hotel, Sonesta Inns in Candolim, at 4am. After a brief sleep we got a bit of breakfast and explored the grounds between the hotel and beach. Considering we were seriously boggle-eyed, we were delighted to get Green Bee-eaters immediately together with other common birds such as White-fronted Kingfisher, Black Drongo, Tailorbird and Purple-rumped Sunbird. A pool of water underneath some bushes was being fed by a pipe and proved to be a magnet for birds with a Dark-fronted Babbler being completely unexpected. House Crows were ubiquitous of course as were the calls of Green Warblers but seeing the latter was amazingly difficult here as they kept to the tops of the tall trees. Unfamiliar sounds echoed around the trees surrounding the hotel but I soon got to know the Koel, Coucal, Jungle Myna and Indian Magpie Robin as well as the repetitive call of the Coppersmith Barbet.
|Fishing fleet at dawn from Candolim Beach|
27 species were recorded that first day and we’d only been out for a few hours in the local environs.
Wed 14 Nov: Candolim, Sonesta Inns
We spent the second day further acclimatising and relaxing around the hotel. We checked sea early morning and as well as adding Slender-billed and Heuglin’s Gull to the list, I had an Arctic Skua chasing Brown-headed Gulls before it continued it’s journey south. The drinking pool in the grounds was dry and remained so for the rest of our stay unfortunately.
In the afternoon, we ventured out onto the main road and tried to find Saligao Zor (being the nearest site in the Gosney guide to our hotel) but to no avail! Taxi drivers were ubiquitous and yet all clueless as to where this would be. We found out later that it wasn’t all that good, a rather ‘smelly’ place being a dump.
Thu 15 Nov: Pilerne Lake
I did the now customary check of the sea and grounds again early morning adding Clamorous Reed Warbler and Ashy Drongo in the hotel grounds before breakfast and then took taxi to Pilerne Lake where we added lots of new birds. Most obvious was a couple of Oriental Darters having a bit of a scrap as well as Little Cormorant, Bronze-winged Jacanas and Red-wattled Lapwings. We got brief fly by views of Stork-billed Kingfisher as well as great views of Eurasian Kingfisher, Asian Koels and Nilgiri Flowerpecker. A Peacock emerged briefly on the far bank as did a Crested Serpent Eagle. Swifts and Swales of various species darted around and Kites and Egrets passed overhead. A nice calm introduction to some of the commoner birds of Goa before chillin’ the rest of the day.
|Male Asian Koel|
|Female Asian Koel|
Fri 16 Nov: Nerul Bridge and Fort Aguada
I checked beach early morning then we took a taxi trip to Fort Aguada followed by Nerul Bridge as the tide receded to find some local birds. Fort Aguada was impressive but boy was it getting hot! Western Reef Heron en route was a nice find and the exposed mud below Nerul Bridge held a few waders, mainly Redshanks and Common Sandpipers though I got a brief view of a Black-necked Ibis.
Sat 17 Nov: Socorro & Paithona Bridge
I had pre-arranged a birding morning with Rahul Alvares pre-breakfast into some forest around 30 minutes drive east of where we were towards the Socorro plateau. This was our real first taste of birding somewhere a bit more peaceful with loads of good habitat, though dogs were a bit of a nuisance. Soon we were hearing all sorts of goodies - Bernie picked up a Rufous Woodpecker and a little later a Yellow-fronted Woodpecker. Sunbirds were showing well with Crimson-backed and Vigor’s Sunbirds showing particularly well. A Nilgiri Woodpigeon sat right in front of Rahul and Bernie - most uncharacteristic and a few Emerald Doves whizzed by. We caught up with Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and Indian Robin on the plateau and a Shikra perched obligingly in a tree that contained Small Minivets and Common Ioras.
|Indian Pond Heron|
We set off back via Paithona Stream where there is a pool with Openbill Stork and Pied Kingfishers amongst other things. Here we also got more egrets and raptors with a couple of Oriental Honey Buzzards and a couple of Indian Spotted Eagles. There was one that got away though as I had an all-too-brief view of a small heron diving into cover - probably Cinnamon Bittern but it never re-appeared. I pick up a falcon heading straight to the pool and it landed on the roadside wall after having taking what looked like a quick bathe. It was a juvenile Hobby and a lifer for Rahul!
|Indian Spotted Eagle|
|Juvenile Eurasian Hobby|
Sun 18 Nov: Batim Lake
Our taxi driver Umesh turned up on-time to Batim Lake via some salt pans as per Gosney’s guide. The drive through the fish-market and onto the new highway construction site was interesting but soon we were free from the traffic and found the salt pans that were covered in birds. The pool on the east side of the road was filled with egrets, cormorants and herons whilst the salt-pans on the west side were teeming with waders - mostly Redshank but good numbers of Common, Marsh and Wood Sandpipers, Greenshank, Black-winged Stilts and a single Temminck’s Stint.
|Salt-pans north of Batim Lake|
Mon 19 Nov: Socorro & Paithona Bridge, Nilaya Hermitage
Umesh took us again towards the Socorro area where we picked up lots of birds - the morning was cloudy and a little cooler. Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrikes showed well as did Black-hooded Oriole, White-cheeked Barbet, Black-rumped Flameback, Grey-headed Bulbul and a wonderful Greater Racket-tailed Drongo that perched up on overhead wires as we were driving down the road.
|Peacocks with Egrets, Ibis and Kites in the trees|
|View from above Arpora towards Baga & Baga Hill|
Tue 20 Nov: Nilaya Hermitage
We didn’t sleep well. The AC in the room kept cutting out and in the morning I found yet more visitors. That was the last straw (coupled with the fact that there was a building site next door and it wasn’t the place of tranquility it was made out to be).
Wed 21 Nov: MorjimBeach, Siolim
Umesh picked us up at 8 after an early breakfast to meet high tide at Morjim beach around 9. We found the access point and headed out through the pines onto the beach where we were immediately greeted by a large mixed flock of Kentish, Lesser Sand- and a few Greater Sand-Plovers. Gulls and terns were passing into the mouth of the river but rather than roosting on the sandbank, headed for another sandbank in the middle of the river and some distance away - there were lots of gulls on there as well as three Oystercatchers! Little Terns fished close by and we had both Greater and Lesser Crested Tern fly past. Twenty Black-throated Munias hung around for a while and a single Baya Weaver and Yellow Wagtail dropped in briefly.
Thu 22 Nov: Carambolim Lake
We had a pre-breakfast start for Carambolim Lake which initially looked good when we got there but was pretty much devoid of birds apart from Jacanas, Gallinules and a few Lesser Whistling Ducks. The area to the south of the lake was much more productive but difficult to view as you were looking into the sun.
Fri 23 Nov: Mayem Lake, Divar Island, Carambolim
Another early start to Mayem Lake today but when we arrive an hour later we found the path described in Gosney’s now gated and though we pleaded with security, they wouldn’t let anyone in. So we headed up the road and found a quiet area up the hill with some nice habitat and birded that area - we got Orange-headed Thrush, Jungle Babblers and Blue-faced Malkoha amongst other stuff. We continued up the hill and eventually got to the plateau where there was a bare football field - and birds; we could see Malabar Larks from the road as well as Hoopoe and pipits.
|Malabar Lark and Hoopoe|
|Brown Hawk Owl|
We had a quiet day today with a post-breakfast sortie around Arpora and then Baga fields. We connected with Alexandrine Parakeet as well as great views of Stork-billed Kingfisher, flocks of Yellow Wagtails, Brown Shrike, Common Myna, Brahminy Starling and a host of commoner stuff.
Sun 25 Nov: Bondla
We started early as it would take around 90 minutes to get to Bondla. We arrived just a little after sunrise but maybe half an hour too late. There was a SunBird tour here led as it happened by my old friend Paul Holt. We got talking and they helped us get a few birds straight away. Coppersmith and Brown-headed Barbets as well as Vernal Hanging Parrots utilised a prominent bare tree. Paul tried to coax out an Indian Pitta for us but although we were within feet of it (and they’d seen it on a previous visit a couple of days prior, it wasn’t for showing. Malabar Starling was another good one along with Asian Fairy Bluebird and Verditer Flycatcher. I didn’ want to take too much advantage so we headed up the road as they went another direction. We got some wonderful views of Flame-throated Bulbul, Black-headed Cuckoo-shrike, Crested Treeswift, Golden-fronted Leafbirds and Indian Cuckoo.
We headed back to the group where another tour (Heatherlea) had arrived. Just as we got to them a couple of Heart-spotted Woodpeckers flew across our paths. There were other birds new for us in this area but it was hotting up considerably by now and birds were getting a little more shy. So we headed deeper into Bondla, up the hill to where the reservoir is (complete with introduced crocodiles to dissuade folk from having a dip! Here, we saw White-rumpled Sharma, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater and heard all sorts of other stuff. Brief, untickable views of Western-crowned Warbler and White-faced Buzzard were had but we did get good views of Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker. Down near the zoo, we used the rather pungent toilets and stocked up on water, ticking of Blue-capped Rock Thrush in the process before heading back via a spot where Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher had been glimpsed earlier in the day. No sign of that but a brief view of a Malabar Blue Whistling Thrush was good.
|Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker|
Mon 26 Nov: Zuari River Trip, Pilerne & Beira Mar
Our final day saw us up early to get the 7:30am trip up the Zuari River. We’d pre-booked with Dr Varsha (+91 94224 40040) a couple of days earlier and this was our opportunity to get another two kingfishers on the list. To Bernie’s delight, we managed that with good views of Black-capped and Collared along with plenty of Common, White-throated and Stork-billed.
|Western Reef Heron|
Later that afternoon we visited Pilerne Lake once again, bumping into a Heart-spotted Woodpecker flying along the roadside just before we got there. There wasn’t too much here so we decided to try the Beira Mar for sundown. Here we had a lovely hour sipping beers and sharing our birds with the locals who were amazed at digiscoping. There’s no water to be seen, all overgrown but we did have a lovey female/juvenile Amur Falcon and Bernie found the last bird of the trip, another Spotted Owlet.
Trip list & days seen
|Lesser Whistling Duck||7|
|Cotton Pygmy Goose||1|
|Black-crowned Night Heron||2|
|Indian Pond Heron||Daily|
|Eastern Cattle Egret||Daily|
|Western Reef Heron||2|
|Crested Honey Buzzard||3|
|Crested Serpent Eagle||1|
|Short-toed Snake Eagle||2|
|Indian Spotted Eagle||1|
|Greater Spotted Eagle||3|
|Western Marsh Harrier||8|
|White-bellied Sea Eagle||4|
|Pacific Golden Plover||1|
|Little Ringed Plover||1|
|Lesser Sand Plover||2|
|Greater Sand Plover||1|
|Lesser Black-backed Gull (Heuglin's)||2|
|Greater Crested Tern||2|
|Lesser Crested Tern||1|
|Nilgiri Wood Pigeon||1|
|Common Emerald Dove||1|
|Grey-fronted Green Pigeon||3|
|Greater Coucal (Southern)||6|
|Asian Palm Swift||5|
|Malabar Pied Hornbill||1|
|Coppersmith Barbet||Heard daily, seen 3|
|Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker||1|
|Vernal Hanging Parrot||1|
|Indian Pitta||Heard only 1|
|Indian Golden Oriole||7|
|Greater Racket-tailed Drongo||3|
|Black-naped Monarch||Heard only 1|
|Indian Paradise Flycatcher||3|
|Indian Jungle Crow||2|
|Common House Martin||2|
|Western Crowned Warbler||Heard only 1|
|Clamorous Reed Warbler||4|
|Blyth's Reed Warbler||8|
|Tickell's Blue Flycatcher||4|
|Malabar Whistling Thrush||2|
|Blue-capped Rock Thrush||1|
|Pied Bush Chat||6|
|Western Yellow Wagtail||2|