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GOA UPDATE

by Prasad Anand

(March 94, December 94, December 95, December 96, February/March 99). [March 2000 addendum.] [June 2001 addendum]

These notes are to update the report of Paul Willoughby and to give the more scarce sightings.

Santa Cruz

This new site is worth mentioning and can be found in the report by Pete Harris. This is the area around Santa Cruz and here John and Jane Martin saw two Great Knot in 12/94.

The detailed map (6) in Harris is wrong in that the road illustrated as NH17 is actually another road which runs south from Panjim after running along the south of the town by the canal (see general map 5 in Harris which is good). If you come via the NH17 you need to turn right (west) at some pools by a crossroad about 3km from Panjim. These pools are good for birds and worth stopping for as P.M. Hill saw Broad-billed Sandpiper here in Jan 98. There is a risk if you continue along this turning to Santa Cruz that the gates at the market will be closed on market days (if you are on a motorbike you can get by).

Whichever way you come you head west in Santa Cruz, fork left after the church and after about 1km turn right until you come to a small bridge. This is the area, and the Great Knot were seen from here. You can walk back about 100m until you come to a good path which runs along the south of the "river" heading north-east. From along here you can view the mudbanks, I saw Curlew Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Zitting Cisticola, Rufous-tailed Shrike and Small Pratincole. I found out this area is controlled by a sluice gate so there is not much tide, it should be best during full and new moon, at low tide when the tide is lowest and most mud shows.

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher sighting

I also discovered a new site for Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher on Feb. 24th 1999. From Molem you take the road to Templa Surla and when you turn right at the village to turn off for Templa Surla you continue uphill past the school on the right. Continue up hill until you come to a small building with a plaque "Govt. Goa Forest Lodge Anti-Poaching Wing Patrolling Station", continue up hill for another 300m until you come to a small new house on the right with a boundary wall. Here the road starts to dip down slightly to cross a small stream after about 300m (where the road starts to climb slightly again). Stop before this stream and there is a path to your left (uphill) by some bamboo, take this path into the forest and where this path crosses an even smaller dried up tributary there is a small pool, this is the spot. I also saw a pair of Malabar Trogon here.

Templa Surla

At Templa Surla there is also a tented camp which specialises in bird tours. They know a nesting site for Spot-bellied Eagle Owl and have Ceylon Frogmouth in the compound. When I booked they didn't pass on my booking to each other so I didn't stay but I only wanted to see the S.B. Eagle Owl anyway and with great effort managed to persuade them to take me next day. As I arrived the first time, I saw White-bellied Woodpecker a difficult bird outside of Cotigao!

They also know some more sites for Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher although we failed to see any more. Jerdon's Nightjar was also seen by other birders who spent time at the tented camp and also Mountain Imperial Pigeon. The Telephone # 436109 and Fax # 272341 it's called Backwoods. They charged 2,800rps for 2 days (3 nights), this includes a pickup from your hotel.

Morji Beach

This is THE place for roosting gulls but there are also turtles nesting here. If you ask the tea shack people here they can tell you the possible hatching times. My girlfriend and I spent three beautiful nights here but they didn't hatch as expected. No one could tell me what species they were but I think they are Oliver Ridley's.

Fort Aguada

On the road from the Taj to the fort after the cross (a good place to climb down to the river for Terek's) you come to the place where the road divides. The left fork continues along the river the right fork continues up to the fort. At this spot there is a house on the right with some oil drums, here is a productive path into an otherwise impenetrable jungle. The path starts from behind the house itself just to the right. The path after only a few hundred metres runs just beside a dry stream bed. You can continue up the path or the stream bed for only a few hundred metres more until you come to a large Banyan? tree which has lots of green bangles hung on it. You can't get much further but along this path and the stream I've regularly seen Crested Goshawk. It was very wary but with patience I was rewarded with good views. You can only do this with one or two people as it's a small path. The stream is dry in winter but good birds come to drink and I have unfailingly seen Grey-headed Bulbul here on many occasions. Other birds here include, Lesser Cuckoo, Emerald Dove, Blackbird, Tickell's Thrush, Crimson Sunbird, Indian Pitta, Puff-throated and Tawny-bellied Babbler, Rufous Woodpecker, Black-headed Cuckooshrike, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Grey-headed Myna, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Booted Eagle and Honey Buzzard. Beware of snakes in the streambed.

Marshy Areas

Just for an experiment I tried waiting till almost dark at wet areas other than Hotel Beira Mar and found out everywhere could turn up great birds. At the wet area near the large church at Candolim for example, it wasn't until very late but Watercock, Cinnamon Bittern and Slaty-breasted Rail appeared.

Motorbike

100cc bikes can still be rented for 100rps per day if you are lucky (Try Hotel Ronil Beach, Baga). I find them great especially for short trips. If you do go to Bondla or Molem it's best early morning because of traffic POLLUTION but then it is surprisingly cold! You can also try back roads but some of these are mining roads with trucks, so ask first.

I tried to go to Dudhsagar in 1994 but the spark-plugs got wet in the river and I ended up pushing it back to Colem in the dark. Luckily there were still locals about to give me directions. The next year people told me there was a new good track from Colem to Dudhsagar so off I went again only to find out it was the same track. As I watched other motorbikes crossing the river and them assuring me there was only one more stream and it was easy to cross, I decided to try again. Four more stream crossings later I decided to walk the rest of the way and finally made it, AND BACK.

You can also enquire about the train.

Most unusual sightings

On some trips to Goa I didn't go near the forest and other years I concentrated on waders which might explain the gaps. I was also usually spending some time on the beach.

Yellow Bittern (Marsh 200m behind Hotel Beira Mar 12/96, also 1 present 2/99 which I didn't see)
Cinnamon Bittern (nightly behind Hotel Beira Mar, Baga, Candolim)
Crested Goshawk (Aguada, see above, 6-10/12/96, also feather 3/99)
Besra (several sightings Molem, 1 Bondla 22/2/99 calling Ftseeooo)
Black Eagle (hill behind large church Candolim is a nearby site)
Long-legged Buzzard (1 adult and 1 immature 16th Feb-9th March 99, at the edge of palms between Candolim and Nerul bridge. Description available)
Common Buzzard (The odd sighting, Candolim 1 on 7th and 11th 12/96)
Osprey (regular by river near fish ponds behind Candolim)
Common or Rain Quail (Morji beach 3/99)
Little Crake (2 at Beira Mar 12/95)
Baillon's Crake (paddies a few hundred metres behind Beira Mar, 9/12/96)
Spotted Crake (Beira Mar, 12/96)
Brown Crake (Beira Mar,9/12/96)
Slaty-breasted Rail (Beira Mar, 12/96, Candolim 3/99)
Watercock (nightly Beira Mar, Candolim 3/99 see above)
Terek Sandpiper (Aguada river, down by cross is good also Agasaim and Santa Cruz, all depend on tide)
Curlew Sandpiper (3 singles at Candolim fish ponds 12/95 and Santa Cruz 3/99)
Broad-billed Sandpiper (1 at Candolim fish ponds 12/95)
Sanderling (singles Candolim beach 3/94, Choroa Is. 12/94)
Ruddy Turnstone (Morjim, at the first and second rocky outcrops north, 1 on 4th and 2 on 7th March 99)
Whimbrel (Aguada river from cross and Nerul bridge 3/94,12/95,12/96)
Heuglin's Gull (at least one ssp.Heuglini 34/3/99 but also one possible Tamyrensis 8/3/99 Morji)
Yellow-legged Gull (most common gull at Morji ssp. Barabensis)
Slender-billed Gull (12/95, now regular at Morji)
Common Tern (Morji 12/95)
Green Imperial Pigeon (Bondla and Molem 12/95)
Emerald Dove (Bondla 12/94, Molem common on NH4A up to Ghat 12/95 also Aguada 12/95,12/96, see above)
Alexandrine Parakeet (2 above Baga 3/99)
Malabar Parakeet (Dudhsagar 12/95)
Eurasian/Indian Cuckoo (Cicade de Goa, Dona Paula 3/99)
Lesser Cuckoo (Aguada see above 12/96)
Blue-faced Malkoha (Candolim hill beyond church 12/94, Baga hill 12/95)
Collared Scops (heard behind hotel Dona Alcina, Candolim 12/96, heard Bondla 22/2/99)
Jungle Owlet (behind Dona Alcina, Candolim 12/96)
Barn Owl (Agasaim 3/96, Baga Beira Mar 3/99)
Spot-bellied Eagle Owl (Templa Surla 2/3/99 see above)
Brown Fish Owl (Bondla reservoir 12/95,Bondla deer park 12/94, several sightings along Devil's Canyon track Molem 12/95)
Indian Swiftlet (Baga 12/95, Molem 12/95)
Fork-tailed Swift (Baga 3/99)
Malabar Trogon (1km past river Devil's Canyon track Molem 12/94, a pair to the left of the entrance to Molem loop track 23/2/99, pair on road to Templa
Surla 24/2/99 see above)
Blue-eared Kingfisher (Molem loop pond see Harris 23/3/99)
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (24/2/99 see above)
Collared Kingfisher (boat trip Chorao Mangroves 3/94)
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Devil's canyon common)
Blue-bearded Bee-eater (Bondla 1km from Zoo on Molem backroad)
Hoopoe (Candolim fish ponds 12/96)
Malabar Pied Hornbill (Bondla 12/94, Molem pair 12/95 1km from ford)
Great Hornbill (2 sightings of 2, possibly the same pair, 12/95. 1km past first ford on Dudhsagar track, and on fruiting tree about 1/2 way from Molem to the ford, same site as previous species)
White-bellied Woodpecker (Templa Surla 3/99 see above)
Speckled Piculet (Bondla 12/95)
Indian Pitta (Aguada "stake out" 12/95, also site described above 12/95, 12/96)
Greater Short-toed Lark (common at Baga but there is some doubt whether this is not in fact Hume's Short-toed, if anyone has the latest on this -as the call has been taped - I'd like to hear about it)
Plain Martin (1 at Molem at Great Hornbill site 1km past ford 12/95)
Crag Martin (Dudhsagar 12/95)
Dusky Crag Martin (Dudhsagar 12/95)
Brown Shrike (Behind Candolim 12/95, a pair 12/96)
Rufous-tailed Shrike (Santa Cruz 3/99)
Black-naped Oriole (at Blue-eared Kingfisher site 23/2/99)
Spangled Drongo (1 in flight and 1 1km past ford Dudhsagar track Molem 12/94,about 4km from Molem on backroad to Bondla 12/95)
Ashy Woodswallow (Baga and front of Molem tourist complex are good
Large Cuckooshrike (Bondla 12/95)
Grey-headed Bulbul (Aguada see above)
Black Bulbul (Willoughby lists it as scarce but around fruiting trees there can be large flocks in Molem)
[Stoliczka's Bushchat. The bird present near Carambolim from 10/12/96 was still present in 3/99 (not seen in 3/2000) but is now thought not to be this species, but what an interesting bird. It had a black head, a pronounced white supercilium and an absence of black on the throat except a small black chin. If anyone has any news of
this bird I'd be very interested!]
Ultramarine Flycatcher (Baga hill 3/94)
Rusty-tailed Flycatcher (Molem 6/12/94)
Brown-breasted Flycatcher (Bondla dorm. 12/95, Molem 12/95, 23/2/99)
Zitting Cisticola (Common Santa Cruz 3/99)
Tickell's Thrush (Aguada see above 12/95, Bondla 12/94)
Blyth's Pipit (Baga 3 in 3/99)
Forest Wagtail (good first 1km from Molem on Devil's Canyon track also try Bondla reservoir)
Crimson Sunbird (Aguada see above 12/95, Candolim hill 12/94)
Little Spiderhunter (Bondla 22/2/99)
Red-headed Bunting (Baga 2/99)
Grey-necked Bunting (Baga 2/99)

Other birders saw Rosy Minivet at Bondla gate in 2/99.

March 2000 Addendum

If anyone is going to Goa you are almost bound to end up going to Morji beach to look for gulls and terns at the spit there. Last year I explored a couple of km. farther north to the rocky outcrops and found some Ruddy Turnstones on the first rocky outcrop about 1.5 km. north of the gulls. On the 5th of March 2000 I was there again and saw three Eurasian Oystercatchers, which are quite hard to find on the "usual birding circuit" in India. This area is worth exploring even if you are not interested in common European birds because I wouldn't be surprised if Crab Plovers turn up.

Out of the Herring Gull complex all birds present at Morji on 8th March 2000 were (almost certainly) Yellow-legged Gull ssp. barabensis except for one Heuglin's Gull.

At Panjim Salt Pans there was one Curlew Sandpiper with good flocks of stints etc., and also one present at a new site for me, which according to a local birder, is good for Broad-billed Sandpiper. From Panjim head south towards Santa Cruz on the road to the  west and parallel to the N.H.17. About 2 km. south of Panjim you cross a sluice gate and come to about 4 billboards. There are some small ponds where waders roost.

If you walk west from there you cross the road and can walk along the water's edge to the bridge I mentioned above. This area was not so productive this year, but I did see Rufous-tailed Shrike again and an apparently healthy Gull-billed Tern with almost all or all of the upper mandible missing.

Behind Candolim one immature Common Buzzard ssp., vulpinus was present from 2-7th March at least.

The fish ponds near the large bridge at Candolim have been useless in the last few years.

June 2001 Addendum

Introducing two new sites and giving the highlights of two trips in the winter of 2000-2001. Finally I have added some seabirds seen by Heinz Lainer, which should encourage a monsoon visit.

Arambol Shola

How to get there.

At Arambol beach, head north around the point to the beach pool (with mud bath). Then walk up the stream which feeds this pool. There is a good path and walking up the streambed is also good.

David Stanton (a beginner birder) thought he had seen a shortwing at this forest patch at Arambol, so I went to check it out. There was no shortwing but he has discovered a very good site.

Best birds for Goa

15th Jan 2001 (half day).

Best birds:

Several Red Spurfowl

Several Tawny-bellied Babbler

Brown-cheeked Fulvetta (common)

1 Brown Fish Owl (showing well)

1 Indian Pitta (showing well)

1 Indian Scimitar Babbler (2 were seen on the 19th by David Stanton)

Many Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike

Tickell's Flycatcher (common)

2 Nilgiri Wood Pigeon

1 Blue-faced Malkhoa.

22nd Jan 2001 (half day visit with David Stanton).

Best birds:

Rufous Woodpecker

3+ Eurasian Blackbirds

1 Malabar Whistling Thrush (superb views)

1 Brown Wood Owl (superb views)

1 Blue faced Malkhoa

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, superb views of an adult at the point where the stream forks (before the hippies banyan tree)

1 Tawny Pipit (on plateau)

Malabar Pied Hornbill was seen the previous day by others.

I also received an e-mail from Jörgen and Annica Bernsmo on 07 Feb 2001 who wrote "visited Arambol Forest a week ago and had 2-3 Brown Wood Owl, Crested Treeswift, Indian Pitta, Crested Goshawk, Short toed Eagle, Pallid Harrier, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Grey Junglefowl and Indian Swiftlet as best species I think. Not bad for such a small patch of forest! It was certainly a new and good site for us. No Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher however although we looked hard for it."

So in three visits some incredible birds have been seen at this site.

Pilar Marsh

Heinz Lainer showed me this new wetland on the road between Carambolim Lake and Goa Velha.

How to get there.

From the roundabout near the cathedral at Old Goa take the road to the railway station beside Carambolim Lake. Continue straight along beside the railway station until after about 5 km you come to an open marsh on the left. There is a good path which takes you to the railway embankment and you can continue birding on the marshes on the other side of the tracks. If you miss the marsh you will end up on the road to Agasaim which is good for waders. We saw 18+ Little Terns and 1 Great Knot on the 19th of Jan 2001.

Best birds for Goa

On 19th Jan 2001at Pilar Marsh we saw the following birds: (but the site looks even more promising).

1 Lesser Spotted Eagle

2 Pallid Harrier

1 + Sand Martin

4 Spotted Redshank

a few Indian Cormorants

1 Eurasian Spoonbill

1 Wooly-necked Stork

Best birds (for Goa) from two trips in Dec 2000 and January 2001

Goa 3rd-7th December 2000

Santa Cruz Paddyfields.

3rd Dec

2 Greater Spotted Eagles, 2 Curlew Sandpipers and 1 Long-toed Stint.

4th Dec

3 Dunlin, 6 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Common Ringed Plover, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, about 6 Ruff, 1 Greater Spotted Eagle and a Bluethroat.

5th Dec

6 Curlew Sandpipers, 2 Black-tailed Godwits and several Ruff.

Fort Aguada (at the dried up stream mentioned in main report)

5th Dec

One unidentified Fish or Eagle Owl flew from low down near the steep bank of the stream by the large banyan where there was a pool with a crustacean inside. It flew out of my sight but when I peered round the trunk of the big banyan it looked at me for a split second and then flew down the gully. In that split second I thought I saw a facial disk with concentric circles and bars on the chest. It was massive. Mostly a dark brown overall colour when it flew and with very distinctive broad dark brown tail bands. I tried to get another view but it always managed to fly further away until it flew around me back to the original banyan. This went on a couple more times until I gave up. In my notes from 1997 I recorded another large owl which I flushed here.

I also saw Crimson Sunbird, Tawny-bellied Babbler (which is common here) and several Eurasian Blackbirds.

6th Dec

Grey-headed Bulbul (very regular at this site), more Tawny-belled Babblers and Eurasian Blackbird.

7th Dec

On the ridge, 1 female Amur Falcon hawking and consorting with a female Kestrel species.

Morjim

5th Dec

2 Ruddy Turnstones (one at the first set of rocks north of the estuary and another at the second).

In Dec 2000 the gulls were constantly being hassled by kites and it was hard to get a look at many birds, but the ones which stayed put, were mostly Hueglin's Gull with very few Yellow-legged Gulls (which I identify as Barabensis). This is the opposite of March 2000 when the majority were Yellow-legged Gulls.

I also spent a fair amount of time looking for Crab-plovers but didn't see any.

Goa 8-22 Jan 2001

Indian Swiflet common throughout the coastal plain

Baga, Hotel Beira Mar.

Ruddy-breasted Crake (1-3 birds present for a few days), Night Herons (3+ seen on all visits), Bluethroat (on several evenings), 1 Lesser Spotted Eagle (present throughout, giving incredible views) and a Barn Owl was seen by others on a few evenings (I saw it once on 22nd Jan).

Fort Aguada.

9th Jan

2 Alpine Swifts and 1 Blue Rock Thrush at the fort. At the dried up stream: 1 Grey-headed Bulbul, a flock of Tawny-bellied Babblers (seen on other dates also but not recorded) and 1+ White-throated Fantail.

12th Jan

At the dried up stream: 1 Grey-headed Bulbul (almost guaranteed here, seen on other dates but not recorded), 1+ White-throated Fantail and 1 Yellow-browed Bulbul (rare at the coast).

Candolim Hill (behind Orda village) The hill is now a rubbish dump and attracts scavengers.

10th Jan

1 Lesser-spotted Eagle

17th Jan

2 Lesser/Greater Spotted Eagles

Carambolim Lake

11th Jan

1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Common Pochard (rare) and 5+ Ruff.

Santa Cruz/Panchim Billboards

11th Jan

About 40 Curlew Sandpiper

16th Jan

1 Common Ringed Plover, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 30+ Curlew Sandpipers.

Santa Cruz Bridge

19th Jan (with Heinz Lainer)

2+ Sand Martins

Choroa Island

16th Jan

1 Bar-tailed Godwit

Morji Beach

13th Jan

1 Dunlin, 3 Sanderling and 6 Ruddy Turnstones (on rocks).

15th Jan

5 Ruddy Turnstone, 4 Dunlin and 1 Sanderling

22nd Jan

4 Ruddy Turnstone

I again spent a fair amount of time looking for Crab-plovers but didn't see any.

Seabirds of Goa

From a report in BNHS Journal 96 (2 and 3) by Heinz Lainer.

Wilson's Storm Petrel.

Mid August-early October (peak in mid September when 20 birds can be seen at the scan of a scope)

Masked Booby

1 in August '97

Brown Booby

1 in early June '97

Brown Noddy

18 on Vengurla Rocks, S. Maharstra in September '97

Parasitic Jaeger (Skua)

A few in September-January and even in March in Maharashtra.

Roseate Tern.

Scarce in August-September.

White-cheeked Tern.

Large numbers from end August-mid October.

Bridled (Brown-winged Tern).

Very large numbers end August-September.

Sooty Tern.

Uncommon but associating with the Bridled Terns.

In his report there are also a few unidentified shearwaters, frigatebirds etc. and he has seen even more since this report (should be in his forthcomlng book with Paul Holt.)

[See also Goa trip report by Mark and Sandra Dennis, November-December 1999]


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