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Home   Indian Wildlife Tour & Birds Watching >> Birding in Goa India

Duration : 16 days

Activities : 16 day trip / 13 night Goa.Two nights at Backwoods Camp will be in tents with private facilities.

Grade : Easy

Best time to visit - November to May

GOA - Tropical beaches, fine cuisine, winter sunshine, and good birding surely make an irresistible combination. We find them in Goa, a tiny Indian state that offers a taste of this vast sub-continent, and with its own distinctly relaxed southern style. Join us for a leisurely fortnight in this bird watching paradise!

Goa is a tiny former colony of Portugal, quite distinct from the rest of India. The Portuguese built villas and churches together with an infrastructure of roads and sanitation in an attempt to create a haven of civilisation in which to grow tropical spices. Today the tourist infrastructure is some of the best in India, with some excellent hotels, and a much more relaxed atmosphere than can be found in the bustling north of India. Superb beaches and an excellent cuisine with some of the finest seafood in the world serves to make Goa a very popular holiday venue.

Added to this is some outstanding and varied birding contained in a small and easily accessible area. Typical Indian birds are joined at this time of year by wintering Siberian and Asian migrants and further complemented by an exciting range of south-west Indian (or Malabar) endemics. The near perfect weather of clear skies, warm sun and low humidity along with a decidedly relaxed pace make this holiday a perfect introduction to India and its wildlife.

Day 1 : Arrive Goa and check into our hotel . We stay put for 15 nights in Goa

Day 2 - 15 : Goa offers an excellent range of habitats in quite a small area: river estuaries, mangroves, superb freshwater lakes, thick forest and dry scrubland. The area around the hotel itself will give us a splendid introduction to Indian birdwatching, and in the gardens and wooded areas we should soon see our first Asian Koel, Coppersmith Barbet, Plum-headed Parakeets, Purple-rumped Sunbird and Common Tailorbird along with wintering Red-breasted Flycatcher, Greenish Warbler and Golden Oriole. Adjacent paddy-fields support Little Cormorants, Red-wattled Lapwing and countless Indian Pond Herons, whilst flocks of Black and Brahminy Kites constantly wheel overhead and even the spectacular White-bellied Sea Eagle is regularly seen. Drier areas near the hotel harbour flocks of Chestnut-tailed Starlings, Jungle Mynas, striking Pied Bushchats and exquisite Little Green Bee-eaters.

Goa is famed for its beaches, but these aren't just places to swim and laze - they make excellent birdwatching sites as well. Waders can include Greater and Lesser Sandplovers, which run along the beach accompanied by Small Pratincoles. Offshore we are likely to find Pallas's, Brown-headed and Slender-billed Gulls alongside Gull-billed and both Crested and Lesser Crested Terns.

One day we'll travel inland to the beautiful forest reserve of Bondla, just over an hour away from the hotel. The hills here form the edge of the Western Ghat range, and the forests offer some characteristically exciting, but at times quite challenging birdwatching. Drongos, Bulbuls and Babblers can be relatively easy to see, but an amazing range of flycatchers and warblers could be trickier. The forest floor could give us skulking Orange-headed Ground Thrush and White-rumped Shama, or more confiding Forest Wagtail, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher and White-throated Fantail, while Crested Tree-Swifts hawk over small pools. From the treetops a call like a European Nightjar alerts us to the presence of Black-headed Oriole, which could signal that start of a mixed flock of Scarlet Minivets, Brown-cheeked Fulvettas, Black-naped Monarchs, Golden-fronted Leafbirds, Paradise Flycatchers and many others.

To get the best out of the Western Ghat forests, home to so many Malabar specialities, you really need to stay overnight and the famous Backwoods Camp some two hours drive from the hotel on the edge of the huge Molem Forest Reserve is the perfect venue for us. A series of excursions here, never venturing far from the camp, will bring us into contact with a wide range of exciting forest birds which may well include Great and Malabar Pied Hornbills, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Brown Hawk Owl and the beautiful Malabar Trogon. Typical forest feeding flocks involve various Bulbuls Babblers and Flycatchers alongside such striking species as Fairy Bluebird, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and Crimson-fronted Barbet. Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers and the curious Little Spiderhunter flit around the bushes, Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters hawk around the clearings and overhead we'll need to look out for Rufous-bellied and Changeable Hawk Eagles, Black Eagle, White-eyed Buzzard and the spectacular Brown-backed Needletail, one of the world's very fastest birds. This wonderful pageant of birdlife is supported by a host of colourful butterflies, exotic lizards and mammals such as Common Langurs, Bonnet Macaques and Indian Giant Squirrels.
Quite near the hotel is Carambolim Lake, an incredibly rich site, filled with an astonishing variety of waterfowl including masses of Purple Swamphens, hundreds of Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas, together with Spot-billed and Comb Duck, and the delightful Cotton Pygmy Goose. Standing around the lake or in nearby meadows can be found Lesser Adjutant, Woolly-necked and Asian Openbill Storks, while Citrine Wagtails and Wire-tailed Swallows feed around the cattle. Raptors can include Tawny and both Greater and Lesser Spotted Eagles. The lake is only a half-hour's drive from the hotel, so we expect to make more than one visit to this wonderful spot.

Day 16 : Depart on International flight

In Goa we stay in a good quality hotel, well placed for birdwatching excursions. All rooms are en suite and air-conditioned. Two nights at Backwoods Camp will be in tents with private facilitie.

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