Goa and South India Birding Tour
Goa is situated on the west coast of India by the Arabian Sea. Although the smallest state in the country, Goa is a favorite destination for birders as it offers a wide variety of birdlife and habitats ranging from coastal area to marshes, woodlands to the tropical jungles of Western Ghats. Our three Centre tour will offer us some of the best birding available on the Indian Sub-continent and this includes carefully selected accommodation that will enhance our birding experiences, as many species can be seen from within the grounds. Goa is a birders paradise with many excellent habitats: wide river estuaries, mangrove swamps, marshes, scrub-covered hillsides, arid fields, rich forest reserves at the foot of the majestic Western Ghats and a spectacular bird-thronged lake at Carambolim. We’ll see many species endemics to peninsular India as well as many wintering species from farther north and more widespread Asian birds. Wonderful birds, exquisite beaches, delicious food and the easygoing Goan lifestyle – it is almost too good to be true! The starts will be mostly early in the mornings. We don’t follow a fixed itinerary, as birds are constantly changing feeding and roosting areas according to water levels and other factors; instead, the guide will use his expertise to decide our excursions daily. We will visit all the main birding habitats of Goa – returning to the most productive several times. The aim will be for the excursions to be good fun, with a relaxed pace and with the accent on obtaining good views of the birds. We may have packed breakfasts most of the days so that we start birding early.
On two or three occasions we’ll head well inland to the base of the Western Ghats. This involves a drive of two hours or more and an early start – perhaps as early as 04.30. On several days, we’ll return to our hotel for a break during the heat of the day, and most days we aim to be back at our hotel before dusk. Thus, the grade of this tour is relatively easy, and while a couple of the days will be long and tiring, many will not. The walks will not be particularly strenuous. On most days we’d bird from little-used, paved roads. While most of our walks will be of one or two hours in duration, some will be longer, and when we visit Bondla Wildlife sanctuary in the Western Ghats, we expect to spend all morning walking slowly down the park’s approach road. We’ll cover perhaps four kilometers with the vehicles catching us up at intervals of between one and two hours. Many of these walks will be flat and over good terrain, and we do not anticipate doing any strenuous uphill walking.
On a couple of occasions, we’ll walk through the fields immediately behind our hotel; in years where the monsoon has been particularly substantial, these fields will be damp underfoot. We’ll explore other areas if we consider this area is too wet. Raptors are particularly well represented in Goa with Black and Brahminy Kites everywhere, and we should also see several spectacular White-bellied Sea-Eagles. We’ll visit a harrier roost that contains good numbers of both Montagu’s and ghostly Pallid Harriers and where Booted Eagle and both Greater and Indian Spotted Eagles are common. We also have a couple of reliable sites for Black, Rufous-bellied and Crested Hawk-Eagles. Other excursions will include a backwater river trip in search of crocodiles and the endemic Goan subspecies of Collared Kingfisher and trips to the local craft and flea markets. Finally, we hope to see one of Goa’s avian specialties: Indian Pitta, a much-wanted species spotted frequently by our guides on previous visits. We may also spend time sightseeing in Old Goa and at the Hindu temple of Mangueshi. All the sites that we’ll visit in Goa are at a low altitude – none are above 400 meters. Please note that during the festive period, the tour may run in reverse order.
This tour focuses on the endemic birds of the Western Ghats and South India generally. The area is known for its species richness – with more than 450 bird species and a good diversity of mammals ranging from Asian Elephant and Nilgiri Langur monkeys to the rare Mouse Deer to name just a few of the special fauna.
A lot is common with Goa, so we will not repeat the species.
With the help of an excellent bird guide, you should stand a good chance of picking up most of the endemic bird species associated with the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area. Species include White-bellied Treepie, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Parakeet, Nilgiri Woodpigeon and Nilgiri Flycatcher to name a few.
In addition, you will see the enigmatic Ceylon Frogmouth, colorful Malabar Trogon and Indian Pitta. Thattekad is awesome for owls, you will see many species.