Goa 12th/25th Dec 2004




This was our third trip to Goa previousiy visiting in december 1999 and december 2002. We decided to travel with jewel in the crown as they were the cheapest option  and we had already used this company on the last to visits. Our place of residence for the two weeks was Calangute a place we hadnt visited befor but it knew was well situated for visiting other sites, we had also pre booked a two night stay to backwoods camp online from the uk .To get around the various sites it is essential to hire a good taxi driver that knows all the birding sites ,i have used Ramond for all three visits to goa as he is a excellent birder that knows all the sites . He can usely be found outside the Beira Mar hotel in Bagga or you can email him befor your visit rayman-govelcar@yahoo.com  or phone him on his mobile when you arrive in goa 9326139411.


(Day 1) 12th Dec


After the 12 hour flight from gatwick to Dabolim and another hour to get through customs we finally reached the resort of calangute after booking into the hotel and having a couple of beers and a bite to eat i decided to do bit of birding around the fields behind the hotel . An breif 2hr walk produced the following Indian Roller,White-Throated Kingfisher, Green Bee-Eater,Spotted Dove,Black Kite,Brahminy Kite,Indian Pond Heron,Cattle Egret,White-Browed Wagtail and Baya Weaver .


Indian Roller

Spotted Dove                                                                      


(Day 2) 13th Dec


Up a first light i decided to explore the various fields around Calangute first birds seen were 90+ Baya Weavers on the overhead wires and two Pied bushchat sat on fenceposts. Finding a good vantage point overlooking the fields i was soon watching Hoopoe, Indian Roller,Stork-Billed Kingfisher,White-Throated Kingfisher,Green Bee-Eater,Asian Koel,Greater Coucal,Oriental Turtle Dove,Spotted Dove,Red Wattled Plover,Black Kite,Brahminy Kite,Marsh Harrier,Shika,Cattle Egret,Indian Pond Heron,Ashy Woodswallow,Long-Tailed Shrike,Ashy Drongo,Common Myna,Jungle Myna,Barn Swallow,Wire-Tailed Swallow,Red Whiskered Bulbul,Ashy Prinia,Blyths Reed Warbler,Common Talorbird,Lotens Sunbird & Yellow Wagtail.

Ashy Wood Swallow 


White-Throated Kingfisher         


A late afternoon visit to the same area produced a superb male Pallied Harrier,Yellow-Browed Bubul,Brahminy Starling and Blyths Pipit.


(Day 3) 14th Dec


A early morning visit to Morjim to catch the high tide gull & wader roost proved worthwhile, Pallas's Gull, Brown Headed Gull , Black Headed Gull, Lesser Crested Tern and Great crested Tern all present in the roost . Also in this area are large numbers of Little Prantincole,Lesser Sandplover and Greater Sandplover all giving amazingly close views, the only other wader seen was a lone Dunlin feeding with the sandplovers. Other birds seen in the area were Black-Rumped Flameback, White-Throated Kingfisher, Plum-Headed Parakeet, Red-Wattled Lapwing, River Tern, Gull-Billed Tern, Osprey, Black Kite, Brahminy Kite, Black-Crowned Night Heron roosting in a palm tree(this bird was seen in the same tree in 2002), Orange-Headed Thrush, Brahminy Starling and Jungle Myna

Greater Sandplover

Little Pratincole


(Day 4) 15th Dec


Just after first light i found myself looking over Carambolim Lake where good numbers of  Pheasant-Tailed and Bronze Winged Jacana were seen amongst the water lilys, Purple Swamphen were also very numerous on the edge of the lake. Scanning the lake produced a single Comb Duck and three Cotton Pygmy-Goose and large numbers of Lesser Whistling Duck. A coppersmith Barbet was calling repetitively behind me and was quickley located on the top of a tree ,i then caught sight of 4 Plum-Headed Parakeets feeding in the same tree.Looking out on the lake again i saw Common Coot, Moorhen, Pintail, Garganey , Little Grebe,Cattle ,Little,Great Egret,Indian pond Heron,Purple Heron,Darter,Little Cormorant and Asian Openbill .On the edge of the lake were 5 Paddyfield Pipit,3 Hoopoe,Jungle Myna, Yellow Wagtail and 2 calling Blyths Reed Warbler.


After a short breakfast in Carambolim went to Carambolim Fields 2 Marsh Sandpiper,1 Wood Sandpiper and a Painted Snipe were seen on the edge of a small pool. large Raptors numbers of raptors were seen soaring over the fields and included Black Kite,Greater Spotted Eagle,Marsh Harrier,Shikra and Besra.

Green Bee-Eater


(Day 5) 16th Dec


This was our second visit to backwoods our first visit was in December 2002 ,we had pre booked our stay online from the uk.


We were picked up at 5.00am and the journey to backwoods took just under 2 hrs, as we neared the camp we got off the bus and walked the last half a mile to the camp so as to do some birding. the walk to the camp passes a area of fiels and then leads into the forest area of the camp birds seen were ,Greater Flameback,Heart Spotted Woodpecker, Tickell Blue Flycatcher, Black Crested Bulbul and Hawk Cuckoo. On reaching the camp we picked up our bags and were shown to our tent or hut we then made our way to the dinning area where breakfast was being served.After breakfast we spent our first morning birding in the forest.                                                                                                    


First birds seen where Brown Capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Greater/Black Rumped Flameback, Rufous Woodpecker, Heart Spotted Wooder, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Asian Brown Flycatcher, and Verditer Flycatcher.Promod decided to head back to camp for dinner and try the forest again in the afternoon.We were given a few hours siesta time befor the afternoon walk i chose to have a look by the river and saw Stork Billed and Common Kingfisher, Black Throated Munia, Blue Capped Rock Thrush, Orange Headed Thrush and Spangled Drongo.


The afternoon visit to the forest produced much the same as this morning except for only myself seeing a Indian Blue Robin when i was trying to photograph a Orange Headed Thrush and the group had chose to walk ahead. The Indian Blue Robin appeared out of the undergrowth next to the Thrush for a few seconds befor dissappearing back into the forest. As the forest was so quite we made a move to another sight where Promod said we might see Malabar Pied Hornbill. At this sight we saw some good commoner forest birds but the Hornbills failed to show and it was time to head back to the camp for dinner and a few cold beers.


(Day 6) 17th Dec                                


The first walk of the day was a different forest walk and the target species was Spot-Bellied Eagle Owl. First birds seen were 6 Chestut-Headed Bee-Eater near the river ,as the group walked around the corner they flushed a Brown Fish Owl  from its roost but it was only seen by the four birders at the front of the group and  it was long gone by the time the rest of the group had reached the location. A mixed feeding flock was noticed moving through the forest and included Velvet Nuthatch, Brown-Capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Yellow-Crowned Woodpecker,Greater Flameback, Orange Headed Thrush and Forest Wagtail. Promod then got everyones attension as he had located the Spot-Bellied Eagle Owl roosting in the top of a tree ,a superb bird that showed very well giving excellent scope . Moving on White-Rumped Shama was seen on the forest floor quickly dissapearing into the undergrowth.Walking back to the camp White-Bellied Woodpecker could be heared drumming in the distance,the drumming then got closer , it then flew across a forest opening and dissapeared deep into the forest.


After breakfast we headed to the fields on the edge of the camp to look for raptors, Black Eagle , Shikra, and Oriental Honey-Buzzard were the only raptors seen but we had some excellent views of Indian Swiftlet, White-Rumped Needletail , Brown-Backed Needletail, House Swift and Crested Treeswift. Moving further down the road a singing Crimson-Fronted Barbet was located ,also in the area was Coppersmith Barbet, White-Cheeked Barbet, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Black-Headed Bunting Small Minivet and Scarlet Minivet.



Crimson-fronted Barbet



Coppersmith Barbet 


Arriving back at camp Loven had just relocated the  pair of Sri Lanka Frogmouth that had gone missing two weeks ago after moving from their traditional roosting site in a bamboo just outside the camp.Minutes later we were watching the newly found pair again roosting in a bamboo about 200 mts from their usually sight.




 Sri Lanka Frogmouth                          


After lunch we headed to the Tambdi Surla Temple sight, firstly walking along the river bed we located Malabar Whistling Thrush feeding between the rocks of the river bed. The next bird to be seen was a Blue-Eared Kingfisher perched on a pole in the river as we approched nearer it flew from its perch and flew further down river. Returning to the Tambdi Surla Temple we began to search the surrounding fields birds in this area were Rufous Woodpecker, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Hoopoe, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Rose-Ringed Parakeet, White Rumped Needletail, Crested Treeswift, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, White Bellied Blue Flycatcher, Tickells Blue Flycatcher, Malabar Lark and Black-Headed Munia. As dusk neared we looked out for nightjars but none showed so we all headed back to camp after a truly amazing days birding.




Yvonne at our Back-Woods camp


(Day 7) 18th Dec


Our last morning at Backwoods ended with a early morning forest walk, Brown Capped Pygmy Woodpecker and Velvet Nuthatch were seen high in the tree tops, Indian Scimitar Babbler was heared calling but only brifly seen as it skulked from bush to bush on the forest floor.Promod then heared a calling Malabar Trogon but despite his effots to locate the bird it was never seen. Returning to camp for breakfast Verditer Flycatcher and Orange Headed Thrush were showing around the dinning area.After breakfast we had a few hours to bird on our own and then it was time to drive back to the hotel.Backwoods is a great place to see some of the harder find goan birds and the guides ,food and accomidation are excellent , i just hope that if i visit again the group number is cut to only 6 people as 12 birders in one was far to many.


(Day 8) 19th Dec


After getting in touch with Rayman an excellent taxi driver and birder, we were on our way to Saligao Zor and Carambolim to check out the owl roosts. First stop was just outside the Saligao Zor village near a stream where the local wash their cloths. Raymond pointed to a tree where a roosting Brown Wood Owl was sat ,looking around the other trees a second Brown Wood Owl was found .Moving further along the path two Brown Hawk Owls were found roosting together in the same tree a new roost site that Raymond haddnt seen befor. After watching both owls we decided to try the Brown Fish Owl site



Brown Wood Owl



 Spotted Owlet                  




in the forest near to  Saligo Village, as we drove up through the forest a Red Spurfowl walked across the track. Parking the taxi we walked into the forest ,Raymond pointed to the tree where the Brown Fish Owl roosted but there was no sign, then in the tree opposite there was a loud crash as we looked round the Brown Fish Owl was flying off into the forest. As we walked back to the taxi a Crested Serpent Eagle flew right over or heads calling repeatedly. Next stop was Carambolim wood for Spotted and Jungle Owlet .We arrived and parked up  near to a house and began to walk around this small wood. The Spotted Owlet was seen  looking out of  its traditional roosting hole in one of the trees showing very well befor decending into the hole. Walking further along the road a second spotted Owlet was flush from its roost and flew off into the wood. We stayed in this area for a couple of hours but could not locate the Jungle Owlet, but i was very happy with four out of five owls seen plus the bonus of Red Spurfowl.


(Day 9) 20th Dec


This morning we visited Maem Lake to see roosting Grey Nightjar that Raymond knew of. The Nightjar was seen on its usual perch on a tree at the edge of the lake, i had only seen this  bird once befor at dusk near  backwoods in 2002 so it was nice to one in daylight .Whilst watching this bird a Rufous Woodpecker flew onto the same branch as the nightjar and started tapping on the branch below where the nightjar was sat , the nightjar didnt even open its eyes. Across the lake was a Changeable Hawk Eagle calling continuously from a tree. As we walked further around the lake we flushed a Dove from the forest floor that landed in a nearby tree ,it was a superb male Emerald Dove but it quickly flew off into the forest.Other birds seen at this site were Pied, White-Throated,Stork-Billed and Common Kingfisher, Brown-Capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Common Flameback, Plum-Headed Parakeet,Ashy Drongo,White Breasted Waterhen, Darter, Little Cormorant, Long-Tailed Shrike,Black-Hooded Oriole, Large Cuckoo Shrike, Small Minivet, Scarlet Minivet, Eurasian Blackbird(nigropileus), Ashy Prinia, Booted Warbler,Puff-Throated Bulbul, Lotens Sunbird and Little Spiderhunter



 Grey Nightjar


(Day 10) 21st Dec


Early morning saw us boarding our boat for the Zuari river trip ,first birds seen were Great Crested and Lesser Crested Terns perch on the fishermans poles on the river. As the boat entered through the canels and tributaries Black Capped, Stork Billed, White Throated and pied kingfisher where all seen then the target bird was seen a Collard Kingfisher perched on a dead tree in the river. The boat driver managed to get a good distance from the bird and i was able to get a couple of photos befor it dissappeared.We also had good views of Brahminy Kite, Great Spotted Eagle and Osprey 




Changeable-hawk Eagle


(Day 11) 22nd Dec 


Today we decided to visit Dona Paula for Ashy-Crowned Sparrowlark a species that has eluded me on my last two visits. As we arrived at this site we started searching the various fields Malabar Lark  and Oriental Skylark were seen in good numbers then Raymond heard what he thought was Ashy-Crowned Sparrowlark , a small group of five birds were seen to fly up and land a few hundread metres away .Slowly creeping up on the birds i managed to get the scope on them and they were indeed Ashy-Crowned Sparrowlark  a group of 3 females and 2 striking male birds.We managed to watch the birds for about half an hour befor the flew off into the distance. Deciding to leave the site we headed to Chorao Island, here we saw large numbers of waterfowl that consisted of Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Gargany and Common Teal. Walking  right from the ferry port we saw Lesser Adjutant, Wolley Necked Stork a good selection of Egrets and a large number of waders but they were far to distant to id.


(Day 12) 23rd Dec


Today we found ourselves walking the approch road to Bondla at first light Raymond had gone ahead to park up the taxi and wait for us a the reserve entrance. Birdwere singing  everywhere and we were soon watching a superb Greater Racket Tailed Drongo sat out in the open giving amazing views . Minivets and Leafbirds were in every tree ,and a Asian fairy Bluebird was seen singing from the top of a tree, as we walked up the road a Grey Junglefowl ran across the roadand dissappeared into the scrub. As we reached the reserve entrance we paid the entrance fee and walk in. An Yellow-Crowned Woodpecker was seen high in the tree tops , a Plum-Headed Parakeet landed on the top of a dead tree then a bird caught my eye as it flew passed and landed on the floor it was a male White-Rumped Shama that was later joined by a female. An female Peafowl was then seen running through the scrub. We stopped at the local cafe for breakfast and were amazed to have 2 mongoose sat under the table waiting for food. As we walked further into the reserve 2 Malabar Pied Hornbill were seen flying over the trees a loud calling sound from the trees turned out to be a Malabar Giant Squrrel.This is a excellent reserve and is well worth the long drive to get here.




White-bellied Drongo                                


(Day13) 24th Dec  Christmas Eve


Target species today was Indian Pitta Ramond decided the best site was Arpora Wood as we also stood a chance of seeing Blue-Faced Malkoha. We arrived an hour after daylight and started searching the scrub area for pitta ,Raymond once again proved to know his sites as he called me over a pointed into a bush a Indian Pitta was sat right at the bottom of the bush but it soon dissappeared and couldnt be relocated. The next bird we saw got Raymond that excited he could hardly speak i looked up and saw two large bee-eater type birds with downcurved beaks land on a nearby tree top,it was clear right away that they were Blue-Bearded Bee-Eater. They stayed for only a short time and i was alble to take just one photo befor they dissappeared out of view. Other birds seen in the area were a superb White-Bellied Drongo,White-Bellied Sea Eagle that also has a large nest in the area, also a good varity of common birds were seen.




Blue-Bearded Bee-Eater


(Day 14) Christmas Day


The last day of our holiday was spent enjoying a excellent Christmas Day and saying goodbye to all the friends we have made in this beautiful country.


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