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BIRDING GOA

Mark & Sandra Dennis

November 29th-December 19th 1999

This trip report records the birds seen on a three week trip to the state of Goa on the west coast of India. During the trip we were based in Arpora on the coast about 25km north of the capital Panjim. Our accommodation, the Marinha Dourada, was from the Thompson brochure and was excellent in all aspects, especially in location. Our itinerary involved day trips out with the exception of a two night, three-day trip to 'Backwoods'. Many of the sites visited are well-described in the Goa guides listed. Where we have visited a 'new' site, access details and directions are included.

Health: Injections are needed and your GP will advise and administer. You also need to take Malaria tablets 'just in case' although, according to Goans, Malaria epidemics are rare. Some guides recommend various precautions but really its up to the individual to be sensible. Only one afternoon was lost due to stomach upsets and even then the balcony birding was ample compensation. Odd bites were a niggle and ants occasionally nipped but, apart from a rash around the ankles for a while, no real problems were encountered.

Bugs & Snakes: There were some bugs including the odd Cockroach and ominous looking but completely harmless Carpenter Bees. Snakes do occur and care should be taken if walking off track through leaf litter or at night. We only encountered a small pit viper at Backwoods and occasional ones from the Beira Mar balcony. Up country in the Bondla and Molem areas there are some big spiders, especially the Giant Forest Spider but these can be avoided although I would hate to inadvertently walk into a web!

Travel to & from: The flight was from Birmingham via Abu Dhabi. It was OK and we enjoyed an upgrade to premier class f.o.c on the way back. The flying time was roughly eight and a half hours to Abu Dhabi, a 50-minute stop and then three hours on to Goa. Dabolim Airport was fairly quick to get through and the transfer to the hotel around one hour. If you are thinking of buying a new camera Abu Dhabi is cheap. Also make sure you get a window seat on the way back and keep your bins handy. There were larks and shrikes next to the runway as we taxied in to refuel, but we were in the aisle seats.

Accommodation: The hotel room had air conditioning and two fans. Initially we had a pool view but changed it for a view over Baga Hill, a good choice. The room was very comfortable with en-suite shower and kitchenette with fridge. The staff were superb and helpful. The food was good but more expensive than other restaurants. Breakfast was eggs in various forms or porridge along with toast, fruit juice and tea/coffee. Room service was good and the packed cheese sandwiches with bananas for take out lunches were OK. It is possible to book the hotel directly over the Internet at mdourada [at] bom2.vsnl.net.in They also have a website.

Travel in Goa: Taxis are easily found and, in nearby Baga and Calangute can be pests. The Marinha Dourada taxis have a queuing system which they tend to stick to. The rate for Bondla was 850r plus a bit extra for off-route stops on the way back. Local trips were Aguada 200r, Saligao Zor 150r, Beira Mar 150r, Morjim Beach 500r (+16r ferry each way). Most taxi drivers speak reasonable English, certainly better than our Koncani, and will happily stop ANYWHERE for you to look at the birds. One of our drivers actually stopped on a very busy road and then backed up because he'd missed the turn off! The driving is entertaining unless you are the nervous type, you soon get used to the sound of the horn and not stopping at junctions. We had no problems during our trips out and our only 'incident' involved a pair of cows which bumped the vehicle while fighting, the cows are everywhere as are dogs and scooters.

Field Guides and references: We used the softback Grimmett, Inskip and Inskip Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent throughout and found it very good. I would also suggest taking Harris, Shirihai and Christies Birders Guide to European and Middle Eastern Birds which would have been helpful. We did not take any butterfly or mammal guides but did manage to buy some wildlife books from a book shop in Calangute including Salim Ali for £6.00

We also used the following site guides and trip reports:

Goa, The Independent Birders Guide, Peter Harris (essential).

Goa, A Birders Guide, Paul Willoughby (very useful)

Goa Birding Trip February 1999, Mark Beevers (very useful).

Goa Trip Report January-February 1995, Paul Hill et al.

Goa November-December 1993, D Sneap et al.

From the Internet

Trip Report November 1998, Clive Harris.

Trip Report March 1997, Joakim Djerf.

Birding Trip to Goa in 1997, Tom and Marie Tarrant. Species list. Map of Goa.

Trip Report January 1996, Anssi Kristian Kullberg.

Birding In Goa December 1998 -January 1999, Simon Woolley et al.

Trip Report Goa November-December 1998, Pierre van der Wielan and Alma Leegwater.

Unpublished notes from January-February 1998, John Hopper.

[Goa Update, 1994-1999, by Prasad Anand on Worldtwitch]

[Goa Jan-Feb 2000, by Willy Aelvoet on Wielwaal]

Annoyances: Not many; Beggars beg but no worse than your local subway wallahs. Stall sellers get a bit wearing with their “come see my stall” calls but do respond to banter and can be bargained down if you want to buy. We were told Mapusa (Mapsa) market was very good and hassle free. Barking dogs can also annoy, just shout at them or threaten with an imaginary stone, mostly they just want a pat but remember that the bugs that live on them can and will jump! Occasionally 'officials' might ask for rupees such as one doing the searches at the airport when we left. Some tourists were very patronising to locals and staff, especially visiting English Indians, it really is uncalled for.

Generally: The people of Goa are very friendly and easy going. They smile and greet you and almost without exception respond to a greeting or smile. They have no objection to birdwatchers on the land, just don't trample crops and treat their land with respect. They work very hard and put us to shame with the amount of manual work they have to do to survive so bear this in mind when walking on hand-made bunds on paddies. I don't understand the caste system (13 different castes) but it is rather a shock to see women and kids digging ditches and removing the spoil with their bare hands. The luckier kids all go to school and are spotless and in uniform. We experienced no crime and felt very safe at all times, an important consideration when it's just the two of you.

Backwoods: Now well established as the birding experience in Goa. Backwoods is a tented camp near Tambdi Surla on the fringe of Molem. The guides, Leio De Souza, Pramod Madkaikar and Loven Pereira are superb birders and excellent guides. During our visit we were led by Loven who was very easy going and incredibly alert, despite the slush slush of feet in the leaf litter. You may think that you are above guided birding but really we felt it was more like a group of birders out birding than being led (there were six in our group, one of whom had surely borrowed someone else's feet!). The tents have flush toilets and cold showers, they are on concrete plinths and the beds are better than the hotels but do take a blanket (from your hotel). There is a weak light in each tent and the site is dimly lit at in the evening. The camp has a campfire area and a covered dining area. Each morning you rise at first light, have tea and then bird the forest. Return take tea and breakfast and then bird again until lunch. Take a mid-day break (unless your British then you bird through the heat!), bird the afternoon then dinner. The food was excellent and mainly vegetarian. Drinks are available (including an evening beer) and are extra to the cost. The cost for the trip in December 1999 was 2,800r or c£41.00 per person and is very very good value. You are collected from you hotel early in the morning, spend three days up jungle and then dropped off back at your hotel late in the afternoon on the third day. After Backwoods we did not bother to go to Molem as the birding was that good.

To contact Backwoods phone 0091 832 436109, remember Goa is five and a half hours in front of UK time when you ring. You can also fax 00 91 832 272341. At present they only have six tents so make sure you book early.

Itinerary & day lists November 28th - December 18th 1999.

28/11: Marinha Dourada pools, Baga Hill. 53 species.

29/11: M/D pools, Baga Fields, Beira Mar balcony. 80 sp.

30/11: M/D pools, Chapora Fort, Morjim Beach, Baga Hill. 91 sp.

01/12: Carambolim Lake, Stoliczka's Site and wood, Panjim Shrimp pools, M/D Pools. 80sp.

02/12: M/D pools, Baga Hill, Beira Mar balcony. 79 sp.

03/12: Saligao Zor, M/D pools, Maem Lake. 80 sp.

04/12: Backwoods. 83 sp.

05/12: Backwoods. 78 sp.

06/12: Backwoods, Ciba Geigy, M/D pools. 91 sp.

07/12: Baga Hill, Aguada, M/D pools. 86 sp.

08/12: Bondla, M/D pools, Baga Fields, Aguada, Saligao Zor. 107 sp.

09/12: Aguada, Saligao Zor, Baga Hill, M/D pools, Beira Mar.102 sp.

10/12: Carambolim, chat site etc., Ciba Geigy, Choroa Is, Santa Cruz, Aguada, M/D pools. 123 sp.

11/12: M/D pools, Morjim Beach, East Baga. 122 sp.

12/12: Nr Saligao Zor, Baga Hill, East Baga. 104 sp.

13/12: M/D pools, birders boat trip up the Chapora River & Morjim Beach, East Baga. 110 sp.

14/12: Baga Hill, nr Saligao Zor, Aguada, M/D pools. 114 sp.

15/12: Bondla, Dharjo, Ciba Geigy, Carambolim Lake, M/D pools. 133 sp.

16/12: Morjim Beach, Choroa Is, Santa Cruz, Panjim Shrimp pools. 117 sp.

17/12: Nr Saligao Zor, M/D pools, Baga Hill, Beira Mar balcony, Baga Yellow Bittern site. 109 sp.

18/12: Aguada, Panjim Shrimp pools, Santa Cruz, nr Saligao Zor, M/D pools. 117 sp.

As you can see, the species day count increased as we learnt the calls and regular locations of our 'local' species. We also got about a fair bit.

Sites visited

Within walking distance of the Marinha Dourada

Marinha Dourada pools: Literally on the doorstep. On arrival the pools were flooded but still had Bronze-winged Jacana and commoner waders. After a few days they were drained and the waders increased in number and species. At one point we had 15 Marsh Sandpipers and a couple of Temminck's Stints along with the commoner species. We also had a good roost of Baya Weavers at the back of the pools and the daily dawn and dusk spectacle of up to 250 Little Pratincoles. The fields around the pools had Paddyfield, Richard's and Blyth's Pipits, Malabar Larks and Clamorous Reed Warbler, Ashy Woodswallow was regular and the hirundines were numerous and varied. When we arrived we had 3,000+ Red-rumped Swallows along with the regular House Swifts and Wire-tailed Swallows. We also noticed a definite passage of birds when the wnd was easterly with Indian Swiftlet, Plain Martin and Sand Martin moving through, the latter two in small numbers. After a couple of days we noticed that parakeets were passing over the complex at dawn and dusk to and from roost. This knowledge brought us four Alexandrine Parakeets one evening and daily views of good numbers Rose-ringed and Plum-headed Parakeets.

Baga Hill: The bit we concentrated on was 400m north of the hotel, a broad track to the right of the Effie D'souza house (brightly painted rails with the name picked out). At the start of the track is a fruiting tree which became very popular with barbets and koels, further on the garden to the left also held good birds with Indian Pitta seen in the area and Banded Bay Cuckoo. We walked the broad track, apparently bulldozed out for an impending hotel development, and found early morning and 3pm onwards the best times. The track has a short loop and gives access to Baga Hill top. We saw very little on the top although the grass had been burnt off so its probably better earlier in November. There are other ways to access the hill but the paths are closed in making birding harder.

East Baga: A nice little site which is ten minutes walk from the hotel. Directions: From the hotel gate turn right and go up to the road junction, go left at the junction and then continue c1km until the road bends to the left. On the right hand side is a wooden 'goalpost' over a gap in a low, broken wall, this is next to an obvious track. Inside the wall is a sort of parkland which had birds. By either cutting through the parkland or by taking the track you can go down a valley with forested hillsides. We saw many species here (but not the resident Blue-faced Malkohas) including Pallid Harrier and Mountain Imperial Pigeon. The pigeons fly across the valley giving reasonable views. There are numerous tracks to explore, the main one seems to loop around the bottom of the valley and we flushed a large owl species here, possibly Brown Fish Owl. Our list for the above three sites and including birds seen from the balcony was 148 species.

Other sites

Baga Fields/Beira Mar/Yellow Bittern site

By taking the road towards Baga from the Marinha Dourada you reach an entertaining bridge and then a large area of paddies. The whole area is said to be good for buntings etc. but we only saw pipits, Malabar Larks, Brahminy Starlings and Common Mynas (very scarce elsewhere) and our only Bay-backed Shrike of the trip. We also had Yellow-wattled Lapwing once and Eurasian Roller. The area can be easily walked and it is possible to walk the fields through to the Beira Mar Hotel by cutting through some houses. At the Beira Mar, locate the pool and watch from the balcony. You need to stay until dusk for Cinnamon Bittern and rails and crakes. Keep checking directly below the balcony for Yellow Bittern and the wires nearby for Scaly-breasted Munia. If you turn around the big trees behind the hotel to the right have Spotted Owlets at dusk. The regular Yellow Bittern site is opposite the Beira Mar balcony. Across the marsh and paddies is a ramshackle building with tracks either side. Behind this is a reedy pool which the Yellow Bittern is said to use. There are other tracks along a stream with mangroves which is a regular Black-capped Kingfisher spot. This bird also sits on the palm frond hut 400m left of the Beira Mar balcony.

Saligao Zor and area

There are several tracks in this area but the regular spot is the one at the Saligao Zor, a spring. Most taxi drivers know it, you park on the edge of the village and take the obvious track to the public washing/bathing area. Just behind the man made pool is the stream. The streambed holds Malabar Whistling Thrush and Brown-breasted Flycatcher. The large trees, especially those to your right, have roosting Brown Wood Owl if your lucks in. To view the stream bed climb the first two tiers to your right. To get onto the top of the Zor, take the rough track from the yard of the last house on the right. We had Oriental Skylark, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Eurasian Thick-knee on the top open areas. As for other tracks, the secret is if you see one try it, especially where secondary jungle meets farmland.

Chapora Fort

We only visited once and trying to make the white blobs in the estuary into anything is pointless. The fort held little bar Blue Rock Thrush and Malabar Lark although others have seen some good birds there.

Morjim Beach

The only bit you really need to explore is around the estuary itself where the gulls and terns gather. Get your driver to park on the bend and go through the break in the hedge. Check the scrub carefully for buttonquails and the open dune slacks for roosting waders. The gulls and terns will be obvious enough. The trip from Baga to Morjim passes through some good areas and we located our only Ashy-crowned Sparrow Larks of the trip along with up to eight Yellow-wattled Lapwings all just a couple of minutes walk from the road. The site has no name but is about 8km from Baga on the Siolim Road. Look for the Nirmala Bar on the left about 500m after a cross-roads. Continue 400m until an obvious shelter belt meets the road on the right, if you come to the washing lines on the left you have gone too far. The area is dry paddies and very open. Also here were Blyth's Pipits and Chestnut-shouldered Petronia. When on the ferry to Morjim beach, check the banks for Western Reef Egret and Terek Sandpiper.

Aguada

We only visited the fort briefly and saw little, others saw good birds on the mud flats on the way up and several fruiting trees halfway up had minivets and orioles etc.. The Indian Pitta site is at the junction of the Candolim Road. On the left at the junction is the Ashok Hotel (a place with no stars to its name). To the left of this is a track which goes c400m. This track can be very good early in the morning and we saw Tickell's Thrush, Nilgiri Blackbird and Orange-headed Thrush here amongst others. The pitta winters in the ditches either side of the track which you have to squat down in to get a view, hold that word squat for a moment. As you will find in India, many homes have no running water or sanitation and people use ditches and rivers for their ablutions. To see the pitta you need to get in those very ditches and wait. The best bet is to go at dawn, i.e. 06.25, get into 'position' and wait. The favoured area is under the bush on the left, 150m down the track and 30m before the pipes (obvious). Squat (that word again) under the bushes and wait quietly. I (Sandra refused to go near the place) had the bird down to four feet as it hopped about around me before disappearing off into the undergrowth. Others scored at various times of the day but it seems dawn is as guaranteed as birding gets. 300m to the north of the pitta site is a large red and white mast. By walking a track from here it is possible to view two small pools, one of which produced Yellow Bittern for one visiting crew.

Panjim Shrimp Pools, Choroa Island wader scrape

The Panjim Shrimp pools are only good if drained, as we found on our first visit, also a high tide visit is necessary. Our second visit produced loads of waders with numbers as follows:

Greater Sandplover 30, Lesser Sandplover 80, Kentish Plover 50, Little Stint 20, Terek Sandpiper 20, Broad-billed Sandpiper 6, Temminck's Stint 40, Curlew Sandpiper 2, Dunlin 10, Grey Plover 1, Pacific Golden Plover 2, Spotted Redshank 20, Marsh Sandpiper 10, also Redshank, Greenshank, Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper. A later visit produced similar species except for no Temminck's Stints or Broad-billed Sandpipers. The track to access the pools is tricky to find from a moving taxi but is c1km from the Panjim bridges. Park by the first (hopefully drained) pool and explore. We also did a dusk watch on the river and had numerous Gull-billed Terns and raptors flying upstream along with many more waders flying past and, just when the scopes had been put away, three long billed, dark rumped curlew sps. We were actually waiting for the Fruit Bats to leave their roost.

On Choroa Island we only visited the wader roost by the landing jetty. From Ribander, take the ferry on foot (if not exploring the island) Upon docking walk the river bank to the right, 500m should bring any roosting waders into view and we had Sanderling and two Broad-billed Sandpipers here. We also saw Ashy Prinia along the Mangrove edges on each visit along with one Black-capped Kingfisher. The Choroa landing point is a good place to get cold drinks and a boat into the Salim Ali reserve. The reeds to the left of the landing jetty was the only place where we saw Plain Prinia, also keep checking the sky on the way over for Lesser Adjutant.

Santa Cruz lark fields and lake.

This site is easily visited when going to Carambolim or Panjim Shrimp pools/Choroa Island. Traveling from the Panjim bridge, about .75km before the Ribander ferry ramp there is a right turn, take this turn and drive up to the line of Palm trees. Park here and scan the area. We had both Short-toed and Hume's Lark here along with many raptors and a Stoliczka's Bushchat type. The fields are also good for pipits. To visit a lake which is a smaller version of Carmbolim, continue along the road, go straight on at the crossword and on through the village. After 1km a lily covered lake appears on the left, park after a white house to view. When we left Arpora on the coach to the airport we passed several more good-looking sites but which had not known about. If you continue along the road past the lake you come to a main road, turn left here and stop as pools appear.

Carambolim

A good site and one which certainly needs good optics to get the most from. I would suggest starting from the northeast corner which is accessed from the village. On our first visit we started at the level crossing and found it hard going. By viewing from the village side we found the light to be perfect and the wildfowl much easier to sort. It is probably necessary to walk the paths length and scan regularly and carefully, also try to be there at dawn. It takes about 45 minutes from Arpora to Carambolim. After grilling the lake, walk to the road and start on the flooded paddies. You will need to drop down the bank to view but it is worth it. We missed Long-toed Stint here but saw lots of other stuff especially Citrine Wagtails etc.. The paddies go a long way out so once again good optics are needed to sort the furthest waders. We visited the area three times in all although a dicky stomach shortened the first visit on December 1st. The second visit, on December 10th, was with Mick Rogers and we had an excellent day with two male Baer's Pochard the highlight from the lake. It helps to have as many pairs of eyes as possible scanning the masses of duck. Next time I visit I'll take a more powerful scope as 50x magnification would have been very useful. Our third visit was an afternoon one and not very productive due to heat and shimmer.

The chat site and wood.

To find this site drive from the Carambolim causeway (road) back toward the village. At the cross road (c.5km) turn right and keep going 1.5km through a village. At the junction go right and park, the chat gets in this area. There seem to be two schools of thinking on the chat, one says its a hybrid others its a Stoliczka's Bushchat. The latter argument is strengthened by similar birds being located in the same general area and we did hear that somebody is currently studying the birds and their identity. On the east side of the road is a fenced area, we had very good views of Rufous-tailed Lark here. The wood is 750m along the road and is obvious. Park by the ruined building on the left and, having first asked permission, look in the garden of the house opposite with the tap in the wall. The old lady who lives here is very nice and will help you look for the owls if you ask. You will also encounter a few local kids who might show you owls but do not give them any money, the old lady disapproves strongly and, despite her only English word being Owl, was very clear about there being no charge for visiting. This little wood has many species in a small area but is the worst place for mossies we encountered and we got well and truly chomped.

Bondla

It takes about an hour and a quarter to get to Bondla and you want to be walking the approach road as it gets light. On the way up look out for Grey Junglefowl on the road, we also had an Indian Pitta actually on the road. Get your driver to drop you off c1km from the barrier and then slowly walk up. When you get near to the barrier you pass a pool on the left, take the track at the end and give it five minutes. We had superb views of a Brown Fish Owl here, as did others on subsequent visits. Once at the barrier go through on foot and walk to the Zoo car park birding all the way. We then walked back to the barrier, bought tickets (64r) and drove back to the car Park. Inside the zoo grounds there is good birding, especially along the riverbed. We also birded the Botanical Gardens and had an Indian Scimitar Babbler amongst the Jungle Babblers. From the zoo car park others had seen the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher but we had no luck. Just inside the gate we had Blue-capped Rock Thrush.

Dharjo Village

This site can be visited en-route to Bondla or included in a Carambolim visit. The directions in Harris are fine and the site fairly easy to find. As you drive towards the village there are some large areas of wet paddies but, as we were searching for Collared Kingfisher, we did not put much effort into them. We had no luck with the kingfishers and intend to do the Crocodile Trip next time we visit, the whole are offered fairly good birding though.

Ciba Geigy

Something of a disappointment as they were not letting any birders in at all without written permission. If you wish to visit contact Novartis directly otherwise you too may be refused access. The gate controller did say it would be for six months but I have my doubts. If you do not gain access you will be limited to viewing from the second gate through a chain link fence, 200m along the road from the main gate. You can get the Darters from there but the storks are very distant roosting on a dead tree.

Maem Lake

We only visited once, an afternoon visit, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The lakeside track past the chalets is rather overgrown but not impassable. We tried the Brown Fish Owl stakeout with no joy but continued on to the end of the lake where there was lots of activity. Just before we reached the lake's end we passed a large (empty) wasp nest. We were later told that Blue-bearded Bee-eaters had been feeding there a few days before our visit but had now moved on. En-route from Arpora we passed a flooded river which had birds and looked good but we did not stop.

Chapora River boat trip

By luck we heard that four other birders, Bob and Alicia Normand and Mike and Annie Evens, were looking for two more birders to make up a boat trip up river, a birders boat trip with control over the boats movements. The trip cost 700r each and consisted of a steady cruise up the coast before turning up river at Morjim, skirting the large sandbars and then going upstream almost to the Colvale Bridge. We had some excellent birding as we picked our way including two White-rumped Vultures, several Tereks, a couple of Crag Martins and a Black-capped Kingfisher. We stopped for lunch (provided and excellent) and then stopped at Morjim Beach for more birding. We were given frequent soft drinks and water and were out for about six hours. if you fancy doing a similar trip contact Keith on the quay side. To find his house walk past Baga Bridge on the north side of the river and go to the last house after the S bend.

In truth, all of Goa is a site for birds and anywhere can turn up unusual species. With more and more birders visiting, the true status of Goan birds will be revealed. All that is needed is someone to co-ordinate and evaluate records.

Systematic list

The list used follows Grimmett, Inskip & Inskip 1999.

The figures after the scientific name refer to the number of days seen out of 21. Species underlined were recorded on our 'patch' list i.e. M/D pools, East Baga and Baga Hill.

Barred Buttonquail Turnix suscitator 1/21

One seen briefly at Morjim Beach on 16/12 but probably overlooked on previous visits.

Red Spurfowl Galloperdix spadicea 2/21

One was flushed and seen flying away at Backwoods on 4/12. Another was on Baga Hill, 7/12.

Grey Junglefowl Gallus sonneratii 1/21 

One crossed the approach road to Bondla on 8/12 before disappearing into the jungle.

Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus 6/21 

Heard on Baga Hill on 28/11 & 2/12. Seen on Baga Hill and near Saligao Zor on four subsequent dates.

Lesser Whistling-duck Dendrocygna javanica 5/21

Seen in big numbers at Carambolim on each visit. Also seen at Santa Cruz lake on each visit.

Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos 3/21

Seen at Carambolim on each visit though never more than two noted.

Cotton Pygmy-goose Nettapus coromandelianus 5/21

Common at Carambolim and also seen at Santa Cruz lake.

Gadwall Anas strepera 1/21

Seen at Carambolim on 15/12 when six birds (three pairs) were present.

Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope 1/21

Seen at Carambolim on 10/12, a single male.

Common Teal Anas crecca 1/21

Seen at Carambolim on 1/12, three birds.

Garganey Anas querquedula 4/21

Seen at Carambolim in large numbers on each visit. A single was seen on the M/D pools on 7/12.

Northern Pintail Anas acuta 4/21

Seen in good numbers at Carambolim on each visit. A flock of ten flew over M/D pools on 16/12. 

Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata 1/21

Two were at Carambolim on 10/12.

Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri 1/21

A real surprise were two males seen very well at Carambolim on 10/12.  

White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis 1/21

Two were seen very well at Backwoods on 4/12.

Rufous Woodpecker Celeus brachyurus 3/21

Seen at Baga Hill, Backwoods and in Carambolim wood.

Heart-spotted Woodpecker Hemicircus canente 4/21

Seen each day at Backwoods and once at Bondla in the zoo grounds. An odd looking bird with no back end when it flies.

Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos nanus 2/21

Seen at Backwoods and Bondla, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in size and habits and really it is more a case of luck if you see one.

Common Flameback Dinopium javense 1/21

One on Baga Hill on 2/12 was carefully grilled as it was only the second flameback we had seen. The bird showed very well and we were able to pick out all the features, book in hand.

Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense 11/21

The commonest woodpecker encountered and fairly easy to find. Our first was at Morjim Beach and was in view for five minutes or more. The back colour is quite different from other flamebacks in having a really yellow/gold sheen to it contrasting well with the blacker primaries and rump/tail.

Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus 3/21

Seen at Backwoods and at Bondla, very noisy.

Brown-headed Barbet Megalaima zeylanica 1/21

Seen very well at Backwoods, the size took us by surprise, they are very big.

White-cheeked Barbet Megalaima viridis 10/21

Seen frequently on the coast and up jungle. Once the song is learnt many more are located and we saw them virtually daily towards the end of our trip. As with any barbets, find a good fruiting tree and wait.

Crimson-fronted Barbet Megalaima rubricapilla 3/21

Seen only at Backwoods were they showed very well.

Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima heamacephala 11/21

Overlooked early in our trip but clearly they were present each day on the coastal strip. Another fruiting tree lover and a very striking looking bird.

Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus 3/21

Seen and heard at Backwoods on two dates on at Bondla on 15/12 when a pair posed 100m from the barrier.

Malabar Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros coronatus 2/21

Seen very well at backwoods and also heard. We probably saw four different birds.

Common Hoopoe Upupa epops 6/21

Strangely absent at times, our first sighting involved 21 leaving a tree by the hotel at dawn on 29/11. After that we saw odd ones at several sites around the coastal strip.

Malabar Trogon Harpactes fasciatus 2/21

A superb bird which, according to Loven our guide, always lands with its back to you. We saw three possibly four birds at Backwoods and even had the luxury of ignoring one when we got onto a good bird wave.

European Roller Coracias garrulus 2/21

Singles were seen on 9/12 near the Beira Mar and 16/12 near our Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark site.

Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis 18/21

A common bird which was usually seen on wires everywhere.

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 21/21

Common on the coast, scarcer up jungle. Seen daily.

Stork-billed Kingfisher Halcyon capensis 16/21

A monster of a kingfisher which was seen daily around the coast, especially on the M/D pools. Our best count was three together.

White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 21/21

Very common and seen daily. Very raucous and usually the first bird seen and heard each day.

Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata 6/21

A scarce bird and rather shy. We saw our first at Backwoods followed by birds near the Beira Mar, at Choroa Island and on the birders boat trip up the Chapora River.

Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis 12/21

Regularly seen around the hotel pools and on other wetland sites. Our best count was five together over the M/D pools one evening.

Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis 21/21

A common species seen throughout Goa at all sites. The Goan birds are of the subspecies M. o. beludshicus with a distinctive chestnut crown and nape.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus 21/21

Fairly common in most coastal habitats. Birds seemed to appear in the Marinha Dourada area in our third week. 

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops leschenaulti 2/21

Only seen while at Backwoods where they were fairly numerous once a flock had been located.

Common Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx varius 1/21

One bird seen at Backwoods on 8/12 was unobtrusive and could easily been missed.

Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea 13/21

A common species along the coast and a lover of fruiting trees. Females seemed commoner than males and a suitable tree might typical hold five females to one male. We overlooked this species at several sites until the call was learnt, after which they became easier to locate.

Blue-faced Malkoha Phaenicophaeus viridirostris 1/21

An elusive bird which we only saw briefly near Saligao Zor on 14/12. We heard that birds had been seen on Baga Hill, at East Baga and at Aguada.

Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis 11/21

A noisy and fairly common bird which did not always show itself and, on one occasion, managed to melt itself away despite there seemingly nowhere for it to go.

Vernal Hanging Parrot Loriculus vernalis 4/21

Seen up jungle at Backwoods and Bondla and also at Maem Lake. Easily overlooked when feeding quietly in tree tops although most birds we saw were pinging across the skies calling.

Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria 1/21

The discovery of a roost flight-line of parakeets over our general area was significant in locating this species. On 14/12 four flew low over M/D pools on their way to roost. By watching the different parakeet flocks go to roost it was clear that they were gathering somewhere behind the east end of Baga Hill.

Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri 18/21

Common around the coastal strip with flocks seen most days.

Plum-headed Parakeet Psittacula cyanocephala 11/21

Fairly common around the coastal strip especially near Saligao Zor and in roost flights over the Marinha Dourda. Most flocks were of around four birds.

Malabar Parakeet Psittacula columboides 1/21

Only seen while at Backwoods when one male and two females showed well, a stunning species.

Indian Swiftlet Collocalia unicolor 8/21

Seen at Backwoods and small numbers appeared around the Marinha Dourada regularly in the last two weeks.

White-rumped Needletail Zoonavena sylvatica 2/21

Seen at Backwoods on two dates and showed very well.

Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis 15/21

Common around Baga Village and seen daily with the hirundines at the Marinha Dourada.

House Swift Apus affinis 20/21

Very common on the coast although often high overhead. We found early morning and dusk the best time to get good views.

Fork-tailed Swift Apus pacificus 1/21

One bird seen on 28/11 showed well over the Marinha Dourada. Others saw them at Aguada, Candolim and from the Beira Mar.

Alpine Swift Apus melba 4/21 

Not a species expect so birds on four dates was surprising. On 2/12 three were over Baga Hill. On 5/12 one was seen distantly at Backwoods. On 12/12 & 14/12 flocks of up to 40 appeared over M/D pools.

Crested Treeswift Hemiprocne coronata 4/21

Seen at Backwoods and Bondla in good numbers.

[Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia] 3/21

Rather frustratingly this species called every night while we were at Backwoods, often directly above our tent. Another birder found one at Saligao Zor being mobbed by small birds.

Brown Fish Owl Ketupa zelonensis 2/21

One at Backwoods showed partly obscured on 5/12. On our second visit to Bondla, 15/12, we had excellent views of one by the reservoir on the approach road. We also searched the Maem Lake stake out for this species with no luck.

Brown Wood Owl Strix leptogrammica 1/21

This superb owl was seen well at Saligoa Zor on 9/12. Despite its great size it was not easy to locate in the treetops. One local guide said he had never failed to see the birds there although they do seem skittish and prone to disturbance so tread carefully if searching for them.

Spotted Owlet Athene brama 4/21

We rather overlooked this species early on in the trip but eventually had some good views, especially in Carambolim wood with the assistance of the old lady there.

Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata 1/21

Our first visit to Carambolim wood, 1/12, was rewarded by superb views of this smart owl c40' up, under a palm frond. It was located by the old lady's husband, who simply walked around looking under the trees until he found it.

Sri Lanka Frogmouth Batrachostomus moniliger 1/21

One of the Backwoods highlights was brief but excellent views of a female in the campsite on 5/12. One birder who had been there previously had located two day-roosting birds on Bamboo and, according to Loven, they will simply roost wherever they land last.

Nightjar sps

An evening trip while at Backwoods produced two species of Nightjar, neither of which called. Unlike Eurasian Nightjar, these birds soared the open skies rather than hawking and we had good silhouette views as well as the usual dusk views nightjar species normally give. The birds we saw were almost certainly Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus and Jerdon's Nightjar Caprimulgus atripennis. Maybe next time we visit they will call.

Indian Nightjar Caprimulgus asiaticus 1/21

On 8/12 a nightjar seen around the hotel complex was identified as Indian Nightjar on the plumage seen and habitat. The bird flew from its roost in the top of a Palm tree and did several circuits of the complex in the company of False Vampire Bats. We were looking for Spotted Owlets at the time.

Rock Pigeon Columba livia 21/21

A very common species throughout Goa.

Mountain Imperial Pigeon Ducula badia 4/21

Seen twice at Backwoods, once at close range but in flight. Also seen twice at East Baga where it was certainly unexpected. To see the East Baga birds try the afternoon and watch for birds crossing the valley.

Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis 21/21

Common throughout Goa but not very approachable.

Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica 21/21

Our first was flushed from the base of Baga Hill early on the morning of 30/11. We then saw another at Bondla feeding inconspicuously in dense woodland on 15/21.

Pompadour Green Pigeon Treron pompadora 3/21

Seen at Maem Lake, Backwoods and Saligao Zor. The Saligao Zor birds showed best of all in the large bare tree next to the first house on the track to the Zor. An easy species to overlook.

Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus 3/21

All our sightings were at the Beira Mar, the last on 17/12 when one performed very well immediately below the balcony.

White-breasted Waterhen Amourornis phoenicurus 16/21

A common species in wet areas though not very easy to photograph. Birds were regularly seen on M/D pools and in surrounding ditches.

Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca 2/21

Only seen at the Beira Mar just before dusk when several charge out of cover and across the marsh. If you want half decent views have your scope ready as they did not linger in the open for very long.

Watercock Gallicrex cinerea 3/21

Seen only at the Beira Mar but not difficult to see. Birds emerge just before dusk, all were female types.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio 4/21

Very common at Carambolim, seen once from the Beira Mar.

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 5/21

Seen only at Carambolim and Santa Cruz lake where present in small numbers.

Common Coot Fulica atra 10/21

One was resident on M/D pools for a while, otherwise seen at Carambolim, Santa Cruz lake and Ciba Geigy.

Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura 4/21

A tricky species to see and good views are needed to sort them out. seen at Beira Mar and near Candolim, usually after they have been flushed.

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 1/21

Only one definite because we did not bother much with the snipe species.

Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus 1/21

While waiting for Nightjars at backwoods one flew around us before dropping into an area of paddies. Loven was incredulous but a Jack Snipe is a Jack Snipe wherever you are.

Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata 4/21

Seen around the Chapora River and at Choroa Island in small numbers.

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus 9/21

Seen on M/D pools, Panjim Shrim pools, from the Beira Mar and at Carambolim paddies.

Common Redshank Tringa totanus 19/21

Seen almost daily on wetland areas.

Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnitalis 11/21

One the M/D pools had been drained up to 11 were present most days. We also saw birds at Carambolim paddies, from the Beira Mar and on Panjim Shrimp pools. 

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia 19/21

Common enough around the wetlands.

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus 10/21

Only seen in ones and twos with the M/D pools usually having a few along with other wet sites. 

Wood Sandpiper Tringa gleareola 14/21

Common and present at most wetland sites in small numbers.

Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus 3/21

First seen from the birders boat trip up the Chapora River where several occupied quiet channels. Other birds were seen from the Siolim ferry and in good numbers at Panjim Shrimp pools.

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 20/21

Common and sometimes present in good numbers.

Sanderling Calidris alba 1/21

Six bnirds were found roosting at high tide on Choroa Island on 10/12.

Little Stint Calidris minuta 11/21

Very common on the Carambolim paddies and at Panjim Shrimp pools. We had up to six regularly on the M/D pools once the water had been dropped.

Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii 5/21

A couple were frequent on the M/D pools and good numbers were at Carambolim paddies and Panjim Shrimp pools. 

Dunlin Calidris alpina 3/21

Seen on the birders boat trip on the Chapora River and at both Panjim Shrimp pools and Carambolim.

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea 3/21

Seen on Morjim Beach and at Panjim Shrimp pools.

Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus 1/21

Seen on Choroa Island (three) and at Panjim Shrimp pools (six) on 16/12. One was reported from M/D pools but we missed it.

Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis 5/21

Seen only at the Beira Mar where up to 15 birds at a time showed to varying degrees. On one date a Common Mongoose caught and ate a snake from within their hiding area causing panic and lots of flight views.

Eurasian Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus 1/21

A bird seen briefly by Sandra at Saligao Zor on 3/21 was eventually tracked down after 20 minutes searching, seen well and identified as this species.

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus 3/21

Only seen on the Carambolim paddies where up to 23 birds could be found.

Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus 5/21

Seen at Carambolim and Santa Cruz lakes where common.

Bronze-winged Jacana Metopidius indicus 12/21

An immature was on M/D pools until they were drained. Seen on each visit to Carambolim and Santa Cruz lake.

Small Pratincole Glareola lactea 19/21

This superb little bird was fairly common and seen at most wetland areas. At M/D pools up to 200 per night would descend and hawk the area while at Carambolim at least 1000+ birds were on the paddies.

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva 19/21

Fairly common and seen virtually daily in small numbers. Up to five were on the M/D pools throughout. Birds were also seen from the Beira Mar, at Carambolim paddies and on Panjim Shrimp Pools.

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola 2/21

A single on Panjim Shrimp pools on 16/12 were followed by seven over the Beira Mar the next day.

Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula 10/21

Two seen regularly on the M/D pools and singles seen at Carambolim paddies and Panjim Shrimp pools.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 14/21

Common on wetland sites, also frequented burnt paddies by the M/D pools.

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus 6/21

Very numerous on Morjim Beach where c200 on each visit. Also seen at Panjim Shrimp pools, Carambolim and near Candolim.

Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus 5/21

Not as common as trip reports suggested with only odd singles at Morjim Beach. The best counts were on Panjim Shrimp pools with 80 there on 16/12 and 18/12.

Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii 4/21

Odd singles on Morjim Beach and 30 on Panjim Shrimp pools on 16/12 and 18/12.

Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malabaricus 3/21

Seen easily on Baga Fields on our first visit. En-route to Backwoods we stopped off and saw four at dawn. We located three between Baga and Siolim. We also heard of eight birds regularly seen between Arpora and Saligao Zor.

Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus 21/21

A vociferous and obvious species which occurs all over Goa

Gulls: We decided to treat the Herring Gull races as separate species as they surely will be in the near future. We ignored birds in first-winter plumage completely.

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans 4/21

Seen in good numbers on Morjim Beach. Having seen several in the UK the Goan birds appeared slightly darker mantled but retained the distinctive jizz and structure of this 'species'.

Baraba Gull Larus barabensis 4/21

Seen at Morjim Beach on each visit.

Heuglin's Gull Larus heuglini 4/21

Seen at Morjim Beach on each visit.

Taimyr Gull Larus taimyrensis 4/21

Up to six on each visit to Morjim Beach, all adults.

Pallas's Gull Larus ichthyaetus 4/21

Up to eight in most gull flocks around Morjim Beach and further north.

Mew Gull Larus canus 1/21

An unexpected record was of three adult birds in one of the flocks on Morjim Beach on 30/11. They seemed to be nominate birds and did not look dark enough to be L c heinei.

Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus 8/21

A common bird on the coast and also seen flying up river from time to time.

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 4/21

Seen in small numbers around Morjim Beach.

Slender-billed Gull Larus genei 3/21

Up to five birds present at Morjim Beach.

Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica 7/21

Common on the coast and frequent on the rivers. Also seen at Carambolim.

Caspian Tern Sterna caspia 1/21

A total of five birds flew upstream while were on the birders boat trip on the Chapora River.

Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis 4/21]

Fairly common on Morjim Beach with the maximum count around 40.

Great Crested Tern Sterna bergii 4/21

Not very common around Morjim Beach and mainly seen in ones or twos. Our best views were at sea on the birders boat trip.

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 3/21

Seen at Morjim Beach in small numbers.

Little Tern Sterna albifrons 2/21

Seen at Morjim Beach in small numbers. Never seen down so the possibility of Saunder's Tern Sterna saundersi not ruled out. Some birds did appear to have concolourous rumps and lots of black in the wings.

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus 1/21

Seen at Carambolim on our first visit only.

Osprey Pandion haliaetos 9/21

Frequent around the coast, also seen at Ciba Geigy and Carambolim.

Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes 1/21

One of the Backwoods highlights and thought to be a new species for Goa. On 6/21 one was located in dense forest and showed very well for about 15 minutes as it remained on the periphery of a feeding flock.

Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus 1/21

We finally caught up with one that had been frequently seen in the Saligao Zor area on our last day, 18/12.

Black Kite Milvus migrans 20/21

Very common with birds of the nominate M m migrans and the Peninsula subspecies M m govinda seen.

Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus 20/21

A stunning species which seems commoner than Black Kite on the coastal strip.

White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster 12/21

Frequent on the coast. We accidentally located a nest near Baga, it was huge.

White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis 1/21

Two birds seen on the birders boat trip up the Chapora River were most welcome.

Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus2/21

Seen in the Baga area on 29/11 & 6/12, probably the same bird.

Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela 3/21

Seen at Backwoods, Bondla and perched up on Baga Hill

Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis 1/21

Seen only at Bondla. Others reported one from Baga.

Eurasian Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus 13/21

Not uncommon on the marshes.

Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus 2/21

A male seen from the Beira Mar on 9/12 and East Baga on 11/12 may have been the same bird.

Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus 1/21

One flew directly over us at Backwoods.

Shikra Accipiter badius 14/21

Common and not hard to see.

Besra Accipiter virgatus 1/21

We saw one definite Besra but, in hindsight, we may have seen a couple beforehand. Our definite was perched in a tree at the Baga Yellow Bittern site and we had good, close views as a pair of House Crows attempted to dislodge it.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus 1/21

One was seen at Backwoods. What may have been another was near the Beira Mar.

Oriental Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus 17/21

Common on the coast with at least six different birds seen from the balcony of the hotel. Also seen at Backwoods and Bondla.

White-eyed Buzzard Butastur teesa 5/21

One regularly seen in fields near Saligao Zor. Another showed well at Bondla on 15/12.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo 1/21

A single over Baga Hill on 12/12 seemed to be an adult B b japonicus.

Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus 1/21

One near Baga on 29/11 was also seen by other birders on later dates.

Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina 2/21

Seen well at Saligao Zor on two dates.

Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga 3/21

Seen at Carambolim wood, Santa Cruz lark fields and Saligao Zor. 

Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax 2/21

One near Saligao Zor showed well on consecutive dates.

Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis 2/21

Single immatures were seen at Saligao Zor and Baga Hill.

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus 15/21

A fairly common bird on the coast with more light birds than dark. Beware of immature Brahminy Kites which can look like dark Booted Eagle.

Changeable Hawk Eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus 3/21

Seen at Backwoods and at Baga Hill.

Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 9/21

Common enough around Baga.

Amur Falcon Falco amurensis 1/21

After much searching we finally found one at Saligao Zor on 18/12. Other had seen several of this species, especially in the Aguada area. 

Laggar Falcon Falco jugger 2/21

One showed very well at Carambolim on 1/12. Another swept through the M/D pools on 14/12. 

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus 4/21

Seen around M/D pools and Baga Hill.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 2/21

Seen only at Carambolim.

Darter Anhinga melanogaster 3/21

Seen each time we peered through the chain link fence at Ciba Geigy.

Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger 17/21

Common on the M/D pools until they were drained when numbers decreased. Also seen at Carambolim, Ciba Geigy and on the Chapora River.

Indian Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscicollis 13/21

Odd singles were on M/D pools but most just flew through. Also seen on the Chapora River, Choroa Island and at Ciba Geigy.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta 20/21

Common on wetlands.

Western Reef Egret Egretta gularis 9/21

Frequent on the big rivers and around estuaries. One was normally to be found just up from Baga Bridge. Dark morphs were commoner the white one.

Great Egret Egretta alba 20/21

Common on most wetlands in small numbers.

Intermediate Egret Mesophoyx intermedia 18/21

Common on most wetlands in small numbers, more numerous at Carambolim.

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis 21/21

Very common.

Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii 20/21

Very common

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 19/21

Present throughout on M/D pools, also seen at other wetland sites.

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea 9/21

Frequent at the Beira Mar. also seen at other wetland sites.

Small Heron Butorides striatus 14/21

Not uncommon on shrimp pools and small rivers. Up to eight usually around the M/D pools.

Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus 2/21

Seen only at the Beira Mar and then when it was almost too dark to see.

Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 1/21

A single was seen on the Choroa River on our way back from Backwoods.

Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans 3/21

Seen at Ciba Geigy at distance, around 15 present.

Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus 6/21

Seen at Carambolim, Ciba Geigy and at M/D pools.

Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus 4/21

Easily seen at Ciba Geigy despite the range. Also frequent in the air over Choroa Island.

Indian Pitta Pitta brachyura 2/21

Seen at four feet range in the pooh ditch at Aguada. One was on the road up to Bondla on 15/12 but soon slipped into the jungle. At Backwoods up to four were present but we failed to see any including one outside our tent one morning.

Asian Fairy Bluebird Irena puella 4/21

Seen at Backwoods each day and at Bondla on 15/12.

Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis 5/21

Seemingly less common than the following species and it took us a few days to find them. Present on Baga Hill, at East Baga, near Saligao Zor and at Aguada. We probably overlooked them at other sites.

Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons 12/21

Common in the jungle with a distinctive call once learnt. Seen at the same sites as the previous species and also in the hotel garden.

Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 6/21

When we found our fist near Saligao Zor we thought it was a good find. It eventually transpired that birds are present in small numbers and we had them on Baga Hill, at Backwoods and Morjim Beach.

Bay-backed Shrike Lanius vittatus 1/21

One on Baga Fields on 29/11 was seen twice in the area by the raised plantation c200m from the bridge. According to the range maps, this species should be widespread in Goa but, despite careful checking of most shrikes encountered, no further birds were located.

Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 21/12

Common and seen daily in all habitats.

Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda 12/21

Not uncommon but certainly elusive at times. It seemed the where there was one, another would be nearby. Locally the birds were fairly easy to see on Baga Hill, at Saligao Zor and at East Baga.

House Crow Corvus splendens 21/21

Horrendously common.

Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 12/21

Not uncommon but overlooked amongst the noisy hoards of House Crows. Easy to see on Baga Hill and at East Baga, especially in the late afternoon in pre roost gatherings.

Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus 12/21

Locally common with birds very regular around the M/D pools and odd ones seen elsewhere.

Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus 21/21

Common in woodland situations, especially around fruiting trees.

Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus 10/21

Not uncommon and easy enough to find on Baga Hill and at East Baga. Also seen at Backwoods and Bondla and Saligao Zor.

Black-headed Cuckooshrike Coracina melanoptera 7/21

Strangely absent from our local sites until 5/12 when up to five were at East Baga, four near Saligao Zor and three on Baga Hill. We also saw one at Backwoods

Ashy Minivet Pericrocotus divaricartus 1/21

A very rare bird in India and probably only the second Goan record was a bird found three minutes before departing Backwoods. In desperation and not seeing one of their Indian Pittas a female Ashy Minivet was located behind the kitchen area on 6/12 and seen well by all the group.

Small Minivet Pericroctus cinnamomeus 10/21

A fairly common bird, especially where there are fruiting trees. They travel in small groups with five to eight birds of all ages present. Head on the males look like a fabulously rich coloured redstart sp. Locally we saw birds on Baga Hill, East Baga, Saligao Zor and Aguada.

Scarlet Minivet Pericroctus flammeus 4/21

Seen only up jungle at Backwoods and Bondla where fairly common.

Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus picatus 5/21

Seen only up jungle at Backwoods on each day and at Bondla on each visit. Birds travel in pairs and tend to be in the treetops.

White-throated Fantail Rhipidura albicollis 10/21

Fairly common and present on Baga Hill, East Baga, Saligao Zor and Aguada at the pitta site.

White-browed Fantail Rhipidura aureola 1/21

A pair on Baga Hill showed well on 30/12 off the broad track. Others saw these birds on subsequent dates but we never bumped into them again.

Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus 18/21

Common and at all coastal sites. We seemed to see more Black Drongos in open situations whereas Ashy Drongos preferred cover.

Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus 20/21

Common in scrub and jungle.

White-bellied Drongo Dicrurus caeruslescens 11/21

Fairly common locally and easy to find on Baga Hill, at East Baga and Saligao Zor.

Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus 5/21

Seen only at Maem Lake, Backwoods and Bondla. Others claimed them on Baga Hill.

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus 5/21

Seen only at Backwoods on each date and at Bondla on both visits. Highly mimetic.

Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea 6/21

Fairly common at Backwoods and Bondla. We also saw birds at Saligao Zor on 14/12.

Asian Paradise-flycatcher Tersiphone paradisi 11/21

Fairly common throughout with a distinctive zik zik call which alerts you to their presence. Most of the birds seen were the brown, short tailed type. We also saw white morphs at Backwoods and Saligao Zor and a long tailed brown morph at East Baga.

Common Iora Aegithina tiptia 17/21

Quite common with a distinctive call. Birds were present at most sites visited and seem very reminiscent of a brightly coloured North American warbler.

Large Woodshrike Tephrodornis gularis 1/21

A single in a feeding flock at Backwoods was the only sighting.

Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus 2/21

Not very common at all and only seen at Bondla on 8/12 and East Baga on 11/12.

Blue-capped Rock Thrush Monticula cinclorhynchus 2/21

A stunning looking bird which was quite elusive. We saw males at Maem Lake on 3/12 and inside the Bondla zoo compound on 15/12.

Blue Rock Thrush Monticula solitarius 3/21

One was on the walls of Chapora Fort on 30/11 and a single showed well on building opposite our balcony on two dates, both were males.

Malabar Whistling Thrush Myophonus horsfieldii 5/21

Fairly secretive and unobtrusive but easy to locate once you learn the lazy sequence of whistled notes. We saw birds well at Backwoods, Bondla and Saligao Zor

Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrina 10/21

The Peninsula Indian subspecies Z c cyanotus is quite stunning and not uncommon. Birds are easy to see at Baga Hill, East Baga, Saligao Zor and in the pooh ditch at Aguada. They were also common at Backwoods and Bondla.

Tickell's Thrush Turdus unicolor 2/21

Both records refer to the same bird which shared the Aguada pitta site and, with luck and patience, would show well.

Nilgiri Blackbird Turdus nigropileus 7/21

Not uncommon but certainly elusive at times. we saw birds well along the Aguada pitta track, at East Baga and near Saligoa Zor. Our first was at Maem Lake and, as they are not illustrated in the field guide, it took some sorting. At present this 'species' is still lumped with Eurasian Blackbird but they are very different to look at

Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica 2/21

Tricky to catch up with and we only saw two birds, both on Baga Hill.

Brown-breasted Flycatcher Muscicapa muttui 1/21

An easily overlooked bird which we saw at Saligao Zor by walking up the tied bank and scrutinising the riverbed. Our bird sat motionless for long periods on the riverbed rocks. Others saw this species at Bondla.

Red-throated Flycatcher Ficedula parva 3/21

Not at all common. We saw two around Backwoods and a single at the foot of Baga Hill.

Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassina 1/21

One was located with a feeding flock at Backwoods and gave exceptional views.

White-bellied Blue Flycatcher Cyornis pallipes 1/21

We only saw one bird, this on the approach road to the zoo at Bondla. Others saw them at Baga Hill and Saligao Zor.

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae 2/21

Seen only at Backwoods and Bondla where not uncommon.

Bluethroat Luscinia svecica 5/21

Seen easily from the Beira Mar balcony on most visits and also at Carambolim.

Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis 19/21

A common bird seen daily in scrubby type habitats.

White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus 5/21

Seen daily at Backwoods and on each Bondla trip. They like cover and can be elusive.

Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicata 8/21

Not especially uncommon but not always seen. Birds locally were at East Baga and Saligao Zor.

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochrurus 3/21

All our records refer to a single which was present opposite the hotel.

Stoliczka's Bushchat Saxicola macrorhyncha 1+/21

Early in our trip we were told that the Carambolim bird was a hybrid so we put less effort into finding it than we should. What was possibly the Carambolim bird was seen distantly on 10/12 but not located when we entered the field. Another was found by other birders at the Santa Cruz lark fields on and we saw it on 18/12. It looked like a big, long tailed Whinchat with was fairly uniform underparts.

Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata 9/21

Present at many sites but not always looked for.

Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata 17/21

A common bird and present in most open and scrubby habitat.

Chestnut-tailed Starling Sturnus m malabaricus 6/21

Present on the coastal strip in small numbers and attracted to fruiting trees such as the one at the base of Baga Hill.

(Chestnut-tailed Starling Sternus m blythii) 2/21

Seen at Backwoods and Bondla, the inland version of the previous species and possibly a potential split.

Brahminy Starling Sternus pagodarum 5/21

A small group were regular in one corner of Baga Fields on each visit. The bushes by the roadside at Morjim Beach also held a few.

Rosy Starling Sternus roseus 6/21

Fairly common around the Aguada pitta site and at Saligao Zor. One flock of starling sps over Baga Hill were probably Rosy Starling.

Common Myna Acridotheres tristis 5/21

Not common at all and only seen around the Marinha Dourada once. In Baga a few were frequent around the field edges and occasionally strayed down to the Beira Mar.

Jungle Myna Acridotheres fuscus 20/21

Very common.

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch Sitta frontalis 2/21

Seen at Backwoods on two dates always high up in the trees.

Black-lored Tit Parus xanthogenys 11/21

Not uncommon and present at Saligao Zor and in the Baga Hill, East Baga areas. We also saw birds at Morjim Beach and in the hotel grounds. Several other birders mistook the Black-lored Tits for the Yellow-cheeked Tit which should not occur in Goa.

Sand Martin Riparia riparia 7/21

An unexpected species and one which caused some raised eyebrows. A change in the wind to north-easterlies brought a definite passage of hirundines through the M/D pools area and this species came with them. A conversation on the birders boat trip up the Chapora River went something like “we've had Sand Martin here (Morjim Beach)” “ a local guide told us Sand Martin do not occur in Goa” “ Well there's one now, we'd best tell it” Several more were seen on the boat trip.

Plain Martin Riparia paludicola 5/12

This species arrived under the same conditions as the previous one and were recorded daily between 9-14/12 at M/D pools. We also had them at Morjim Beach where hirundines flew along the coast and out to sea before returning to repeat the operation, a bit like Spurn really.

Eurasian Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris 1/21

Two were seen on the birders boat trip up the Chapora River with other hirundines on 13/12..

Dusky Crag Martin Hirundo concolor 2/21

Seen on 28/11 & 30/11 over the M/D pools but none subsequently there or anywhere else. Others had this species from the Beira Mar and at Duhdsager Waterfall.

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 11/21

Not very common and only seen as odd singles. All from the coastal strip.

Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii 19/21

Fairly common on the coastal strip but not numerous with hirundine flocks containing up to half a dozen.

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica 21/21

Common throughout Goa.

Streak-throated Swallow Hirundo fluvicola 3/21

Tricky to locate. We only saw definites at M/D pools, Beira Mar and Carambolim Lake.

Northern House Martin Delichon urbica 1/21

One bird was seen well at M/D pools on 2/12.

Grey-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus priocephalus 3/21

Seen only at Backwoods where present in small numbers. A shy bird and difficult to see.

Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus 6/21

Seen at Backwoods on each visit and at Bondla on each visit. We also saw one on Baga Hill briefly. The Goan birds are of the subspecies P m gularis which has a stunning red throat.

Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus 16/21

Seen at most sites and probably overlooked by us somewhat.

Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer 10/21

Less frequent than the previous species but present at most sites.

White-browed Bulbul Pycnonotus luteolus 9/21

Fairly common on the coastal strip. Our first was an immature which does not look like anything in the book being fairly uniform grey with a paler supercillium.

Yellow-browed Bulbul Iole indica 4/21

Seen at Backwoods daily and at Bondla once. They reminded us of huge Hippolais warblers.

[Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus] 1/21

A small group flew over us at Backwoods while we were in the jungle but the views were poor although they were calling. Not really tickable.

Grey-breasted Prinia Prinia hodgsonii 11/21

Not uncommon in the jungle and easy to locate on Baga Hill, East Baga and Saligao Zor. They look a bit Whitethroat like and travel in small flocks.

Jungle Prinia Prinia sylvatica 2/21

Seen at Backwoods and Saligao Zor. Fairly elusive although the guide distribution map suggests them to be commoner than they appear.

Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 1/21

Only seen in the small patch of emergent vegetation to the left of the landing ramp on Choroa Island.

Ashy Prinia Prinia socialis 6/21

Not uncommon favouring wet locations such as scrub at the edge of water courses etc.. We saw them around the M/D pools and at Choroa Island. They were also common near Dharjo Village.

Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia 1/21

One was flushed from the scrub at Tambdi Surla.

Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola 2/21

Seen from the Beira mar balcony on two dates with several birds involved.

Blyth's Reed Warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum 21/21

Common and present throughout Goa.

Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus 4/21

Not many seen but possibly overlooked. Seen well around the M/D pools, Carambolim, Saligoa Zor and at Ciba Geigy.

Booted Warbler Hippolais caligata rama 1/21

Our only record was of a single bird at East Baga on 11/12.

Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius 12/21

A not uncommon bird of scrub and woodland edge. Fairly easy to find on Baga Hill, at East Baga and Aguada. 

Hume's Warbler Phylloscopus humei 1/21

One seen on 15/12 just before the barrier at Bondla.

Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides 21/21

Very common and seen and heard in all woodland and scrub. They sound like Pied Wagtails.

Two-barred Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus plumbeitarsus 1/21

One well marked bird seen in the grounds of the Marinha Dourada on 7/12.

Western Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus occipitalis 7/21

Common up jungle and seen at Backwoods daily and Bondla on each visit. We also had singles on Baga Hill and at Saligao Zor.

Puff-throated Babbler Pellorneum ruficeps 9/21

Fairly common in jungle but elusive and secretive. We located most feeding groups by the rustle of the leaves as they moved. Usually in groups of four to eight, local birds were easy to find on Baga Hill, at East Baga and Saligao Zor.

Indian Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus horsfieldii 1/21

A stunning bird seen loosely associating with a Jungle Babbler flock in the Botanical Gardens at Bondla on 15/12.

Tawny-bellied Babbler Dumetia hyperythra 4/21

Not very common but chanced upon at East Baga, Baga Hill and Saligao Zor by the bathing pool.

Dark-fronted Babbler Rhopocichla atriceps 4/21

Fairly common up jungle and seen at Backwoods each day and Bondla once, they look like big Sardinian Warblers..

Jungle Babbler Turdoides striatus 8/12

Big noisy things, easily located at East Baga, Saligao Zor and Bondla.

Brown-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe poioicephala 5/21

Seen each day at Backwoods and twice at Bondla. Very plain, the Garden Warbler of Goa.

Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark Erempterix grisea 1/21

A hoped for species which might be commoner earlier in November. We looked in many places for them finally locating a territorial pair and single male on the road between Baga and Siolim. See the site details for more specific directions. Well worth the search.

Rufous-tailed Lark Ammomanes phoenicurus 2/21

Seen at Backwoods distantly and then very well at the Carambolim chat site.

Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla 3/21

Only located at the Santa Cruz lark fields where up to 150 present in large wheeling flocks.

Hume's Lark Calandrella acutirostris 2/21

Difficult to identify with the limited reference available but several were seen on two dates with the above species where close views were obtained. In flight the Hume's Larks seem to stick out from the Short-toed Larks, appearing colder and less brown. On the ground the subtle differences in colour, head pattern and breast markings though not individually diagnostic, cumulatively identify the species.

Malabar Lark Galerida malabrica 15/21

A common species which is very very similar to Crested Lark in all aspects.

Oriental Skylark Aluada gulgula 1/21

Seen only above Saligao Zor where one showed well in flight at close range on 3/12. Also heard singing their Skylark like song there.

Thick-billed Flowerpecker Dicaeum agile 16/21

Common and overlooked. Very active and easily located in forest and scrub on the coastal strip.

Pale-billed Flowerpecker Dicaeum erythrorynchos 5/21

Less common than the above species and certainly overlooked.

Plain Flowerpecker Dicaeum concolor 5/21

Overlooked once seen well and identified as there were always more interesting species to spend time on.

Purple-rumped Sunbird Nectarinia zeylonica 19/21

Common on the coastal strip and seen everywhere.

Crimson-backed Sunbird Nectarinia minima 13/21

Less common on the coastal strip but still present on Baga Hill, at East Baga and Saligao Zor. Commoner inland. Especially Backwoods and Bondla.

Purple Sunbird Nectarinia asiatica 12/21

Common on the coast and inland but looked at more often while searching for Loten's.

Loten's Sunbird Nectarinia lotentia 4/21

Seen at Bondla and on Baga Hill and East Baga but not common.

Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja 9/21

Commoner than we had been led to believe with birds seen at Chapora, Baga Hill, East Baga and several other sites, especially inland. The subspecies present is A s vigorsii which has a much shortened tail.

Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra 5/21

Not common but noisy so learn the call. We saw birds very well at Backwoods and also found them on Baga Hill, East Baga and Saligao Zor.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus 14/21

Not uncommon around houses and buildings.

Chestnut-shouldered Petronia Petronia xanthocollis 11/21

Present at several sites in large flocks. We saw many at Carambolim and Aguada along with smaller numbers elsewhere.

Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus 3/21

Seen on each day at Backwoods but possibly only two individuals involved.

White Wagtail Motacilla alba 2/21

Scarce, seen at Carambolim and M/D pools on single occasions.

White-browed Wagtail Motacilla maderaspatensis 19/21

Pretty common throughout and a smart looking wagtail.

Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola 2/21

Seen only on Carambolim paddies where several present each time including males.

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava 4/21

Seen mainly at Carambolim but also M/D pools and from the Beira Mar.

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinera 6/21

Seen at Backwoods and Bondla and also odd singles on the coast.

Richard's Pipit Anthus richardii 16/21

Present in most open areas and frequently heard 'shreeeping' overhead.

Paddyfield Pipit Anthus rufulus 19/21

Common on the coast and in open areas inland. A small pipit that has a squeeky call when flushed.

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris 1/21

An adult was on Chapora Fort on 30/12 but no others seen.

Blyth's Pipit Anthus godlewskii 4/21

Present around M/D pools and in other open areas. Once we had sorted them out we largely ignored them as not worth the trouble. Some pipits which would not call were probably this species.

Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis 2/21

Seen at Backwoods, M/D pools and Carambolim.

Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus 1/21

One flushed from the Carambolim chat site on 10/12. 

[Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens]

A bird showing characteristics of this species showed well and was photographed at Carambolim on 10/12. Further checking and examination of the photos is required before the identification is confirmed.

Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus 12/21

Common at many sites with a big roost of 250+ in the M/D pools area.

White-rumped Munia Lonchura striat 12/21

Common at Baga Hill, East Baga, Saligao Zor, Beira Mar and Aguada.

Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata 3/21

Scarce. seen only at the Beira Mar and Saligao Zor in small numbers. Some munia types seen on the birders boat trip up the Chapora River may have been this species.

Black-headed Munia Lonchura malacca 5/21

Encountered as pairs only on Baga Hill, East Baga and Saligao Zor.

Common Rosefinch Caropdacus erythrinus 1/21

One seen at Backwoods was a streaky female/immature type.

Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala 1/21

Seen well at Backwoods but nowhere else.

Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps 1/21

Seen with the previous species at Backwoods where birds showed well at close range on wires.

Species reported by others

Long-toed Stint - Carambolim

Banded Bay Cuckoo - Baga Hill, Aguada

Roseate Tern - Morjim Beach

Eastern Curlew -Aguada

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher - Bondla

Orphean Warbler - Saligao Zor

Black-headed Ibis - Carambolim

Blue-eared Kingfisher - Tambdi Surla, Backwoods.

Broad-tailed Grassbird - Tambdi Surla

Blue-bearded Bee-eater - Maem Lake

Bar-headed Goose - Chickla (not sure of the spelling)

Grey-necked Bunting - Chickla, Baga Fields

Yellow-crowned Woodpecker - Baga Hill

Crab Plover - Morjim Beach

Nilgiri Flycatcher - Aguada, Bondla

Yellow-breasted Bunting - Baga Fields

Long-billed Vulture - Backwoods

Spot-billed Duck - Carambolim

Japanese Sparrowhawk - Saligao Zor

Oystercatcher - Morjim Beach

Yellow Bittern - Beira Mar, Aguada

Red Collared Dove - Carambolim chat site.

Other wildlife

Black-faced Langur Presbytis entellus

Bonnet Macaque Macada radiata

Common Mongoose Herpestes auropunctatus

Chital Deer Axis axis

Malabar Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica elphinstoni

Three-striped Palm Squirrel Funambulus palmarum

False Vampire Bat Megaderma lyra

Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis

Indo-pacific Hump-backed Dolphin Sousa chinensis

Muggar Crocodile Crocodylus palustris

Bamboo Pit Viper

Indian Bullfrog Rana tigrina

Fiddler Crab Uca sp

Mud-skipper Periphtalmus sp

Barracuda

Giant Forest Spider Nephila maculata

Monitor Lizard Varanus bengalensis

Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor

Tortoise Sp

Snake Sp (several)

Lizard Sp (several)

Butterflies

Amongst the numerous species seen were

Crimson Rose Pachliopta hector

Common Rose Pachliopta aritolochiae

Common Bluebottle Graphium sarpedon

Tailed Jay Graphium agamemnon

Common Wandered Pareronia valeria

Common Jezebel Delias eucharis

Striped Tiger Danaus genutia

Common Crow Euploea core

Blue Tiger Tirumala limniace

Malabar Tree Nymph Idea malabarica

Peacock Pansy Junonia alman

Additional links :
Wildlife Sanctuaries in Goa
Goa World


Copyright © 1992-2012 John Wall