Me, my wife and our 4-month-old son took a package tour from Stockholm-Arlanda, about 4000 SKR (~£ 400) per person. Flight time ~11 hours (intermediate landing in Dubai). Hotel in Baga (first the package tour Hotel Lua Nova, after two nights we changed to Hotel Beira Mar, much better). No air condition, very hot between 10.30 to 15.00, some mosquitoes, some heavy traffic, a lot of animals on the streets, driving on "the wrong" side of the road (left), almost everyone speaks English, and everyone was very friendly. We were lucky in finding a good driver who knew all the good birding sites, he had been driving for Sun-bird-tours before. Most of the visiting bird watchers in Baga stay at Hotel Beira Mar, and the taxi drivers outside the hotel know where you want to go. Everything is very cheap.
We didn't bring the heavy books but used them before and after. Unfortunately there is no really good literature for this area yet, two or three new books are in preparation and will hopefully be much better. Peter Harris' guide was very useful in finding all the good sites and a lot of other good advice for a successful birding trip, but it gives very few hints on the subject of field identification. Of course some of the birds are very easy to identify, but many are not. Females and immatures are rarely covered in the literature.
I advise everyone who is thinking of going to Goa to buy a copy of Peter Harris' guide mentioned above. I also reference it (the sites) below.
I will usually only mention common species only first time/site they were seen.
Indian Pond Heron (Paddybird) 3, Cattle Egret 20, Pariah Kite (subspecies of Black Kite) 5, Brahminy Kite 5, Laggar Falcon 1, Spotted Dove 2, Domestic Pigeon 200, White-breasted Kingfisher 5, Little Green bee-eater 30, Indian Roller 2, Small Green Barbet 1 pair (in the Hotel garden), Rufous-backed (Long-tailed) Shrike 2, Black Drongo 20, Common Myna 4, Jungle Myna 20, House Crow 50, Jungle Crow 1, Magpie-Robin 1 female, Pied Stonechat 1 male, Blue Rock Thrush 1 male, Large Pied Wagtail 1 pair, Purple-rumped Sunbird 4, Purple Sunbird 1, Red-rumped Swallow 500 and House Sparrow (everywhere).
It was a good thing to birdwatch around the hotel the first day(s) to get used to the more common species. The Laggar Falcon was a surprise. We had some trouble in separating the fast flying sunbirds; first we thought that all of them were Purple Sunbirds but after a while we realised that most of them were Purple-rumped. Jungle Myna has crest and no red-yellow area around eye, the bill is 75% yellow. Jungle Crow is of course black but also bulkier (more raven-like) and has a harsher call. Female Pied Stonechat is insignificant, diffuse streaked brown, doesn't look like anything else (fortunately they are often accompanied by a male!). Little Green Barbet has a very strong and loud call for being such a small bird, a rolling "r-call" ascending and descending.
Stork-billed Kingfisher 1, Koel 3 pairs, Spotted Owlet 1, Little Green Heron 1, Western Reef Heron 2, Grey Heron 2, Red-wattled Lapwing 10, Tawny Pipit 2, Paddyfield Pipit 10, Red-throated Pipit 2 (!), Richard's Pipit 2, Blyth's Pipit 1 (not 100% sure), Little Ringed Plover 5, Pied Stonechat 10, Little Swift 50, Hoopoe 1 and Golden Oriole (H).
Calls of the Little Swifts are more musical and not so screaming as Common Swift. Paddyfield Pipit looks like small Richard's but have a different call, "tsippit" or "tseep-tseep" and some (but not all) have a dark loral stripe.
Same as yesterday except: Kestrel 1, Yellow-cheeked Tit 2, Franklin's Prinia 1, Crested (Oriental) Honey Buzzard 2, Booted Eagle 2 and Osprey 1.
The Yellow-cheeked Tits sounded very much like "normal tits" (Great Tit or March Tit) "tsi-uu, tsi-uu,..." or "tsi-tuu, tsi-tuu".
Except the species from yesterday: Malabar Crested Lark 2, Red-vented Bulbul 1, Tree Pipit 2 and Yellow Wagtail (beema) 2.
Malabar Crested Larks were noticeably smaller than Crested Lark with thinner (weaker) bill and more rufous in colour.
(Asiatic) Paradise Flycatcher 1 female, Booted Warbler 1, Booted Eagle 1, Common Buzzard (japonicus) 1 and Osprey 2.
Chestnut Bittern 1 male + 1 female (seen almost every evening), Little Egret 1, Grey Heron 1, White-breasted Waterhen 15, White-backed Munia 2, Red-wattled Lapwing 2, Pintail Snipe 15, Common Snipe 2, Magpie-Robin 1 male, Green Sandpiper 5, Wood Sandpiper 10, Little Cormorant 5 and Parakeet sp. 5.
Spotted Dove 2, Ring-necked Parakeet 20, Koel 10, Small Green-billed Malchoa 2 (1 pair?), Common Kingfisher 2, Small Green Barbet 3, Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker 1, Golden Oriole (H), Ashy Drongo 1, Jungle Crow 10, Red-whiskered Bulbul 3, Red-vented Bulbul 1, 2, Jungle Babbler 5, Franklins' Prinia 2, Green Warbler 1 (not 100% sure), Indian Robin 1 pair, Malabar Whistling Thrush (H) and Common Sandpiper 1.
The Small Green-billed Malchoas were cuckoo-sized, very dark, lead-grey birds with intensively turquoise oval around the dark eye. Very long grey-black tail with white bar at the end. The picture in "Pictorial guide" plate 52 isn't good... Indian Robin looks all black, but given good views in good light you can see the brown-red area under root of tail. The white wing patch wasn't obvious on sitting males (though conspicuous in flight) and females lacks it.
Intermediate Egret 1, March Harrier 1 male, Palm Swift 1, Pied Kingfisher 1, White-backed Munia 5. (The Little Cormorants, Chestnut Bitterns, Egrets, White-breasted Waterhens, waders and kingfishers were present every evening.)
Little Grebe 2, Indian Shag 1, Little Cormorant 10, Grey Heron 10, Purple Heron 3, Intermediate Egret 200, Great White Egret 3, Little Egret 50, Western Reef Heron 4 (on the way home at Mandovi river), Asian Openbill Stork 35 (Ciba Geigy), White-necked Stork 2 (Ciba Geigy), Lesser Whistling Duck 300, Northern Pintail 10, Spotbill Duck 2, Garganey 1000 (!), Cotton Teal 50, Booted Eagle 1 (Ciba Geigy), Greater Spotted Eagle 1 (Ciba Geigy), March Harrier 10 (Ciba Geigy), Moorhen 20, Purple (Gallinule) Swamp-hen 200, Coot 50, Pheasant-tailed Jacana 300, Bronze-winged Jacana 100, Red-wattled Lapwing 10, Little Ringed Plover 20, Greenshank 1 (Ciba Geigy), Green sandpiper 10, Wood Sandpiper 10, Little Stint 10 (Ciba Geigy), Dunlin 1 (Ciba Geigy), Gull-billed Tern 20 (both places), Pied Kingfisher 2 (+1 Ciba Geigy), Common Kingfisher 1, Wire-tailed Swallow 20, Swallow 10, Indian Cliff Swallow 2, Tawny-flanked Prinia 4 (Ciba Geigy), Bluethroat 1 female (Ciba Geigy), Siberian Stonechat 5, Saxicola sp. 1 (Ciba Geigy) and Citrine Wagtail 1 female (Ciba Geigy).
The Indian Shag had longer and more slender bill and was a larger bird (direct comparison). Bluethroat is a very good record, and the Saxicola sp. looked like a Winchat, a species which does not occur in India. On page 110 in Birding World no 3 1997 is a photo of a chat which looks almost exactly the same as "our" bird.
Yellow-cheeked Tit 1 and House Martin 1.
(Asiatic) Paradise Flycatcher 1 brown male, White-backed Munia 50, Citrine Wagtail 1, Indian Edible-nest Swiftlet 25 (over the beach).
Coppersmith Barbet 2, Koel 5, White-browed Bulbul 2, Red-whiskered Bulbul 5, Red-vented Bulbul 1, White-throated Fantail (Flycatcher) 2, White-backed Munia 3 and Ring-necked Parakeet 10.
Coppersmith Barbet called with a very deep voice "hoot, hoot, hoot..." 1 time/second. The White-throated Fantail didn't look brown, it looked brown-grey. White supercilium, "open" (spotted) grey breast-band, white below, long diamond shaped tail with white terminal bar on each side of the "diamond-end".
Lesser Ringed Plover 2, Greater Sandplover 10, Lesser Sandplover 30, Kentish Plover 10, Red-wattled Lapwing 1 (on the way), Herring Gull (heuglini and a few mongolicus) 50, Great Black-headed Gull 15, Brown-headed Gull 20, Black-headed Gull 1, Gull-billed Tern 10, Greater Crested Tern 4, Lesser Crested Tern 10, Sandwich Tern 1, Spotted Dove 5, Blossom-headed Parakeet 1 in a nest (hole in the tree), Coucal 1 (on the way), Pied Kingfisher 1 (at the ferry), Indian Roller 1 (on the way), Hoopoe 1, Coppersmith Barbet 2, White-browed Bulbul 2, Ashy Prinia 2 and Magpie-Robin 1 pair.
All the sandplovers were in full winter plumage, and at last we got our first Coucal!
Tailor Bird 1, Olive-backed Pipit 2 (on the fields outside), Spotted Owlet 1 and Blyth's Reed Warbler 2.
White-bellied Sea Eagle 1 ad. in a nest (!), White-breasted Waterhen 2, Spotted Dove 20, Golden Oriole 5, Black Drongo 20, Ashy Drongo 2, Bronzed Drongo 1 (!), Hair-crested Drongo 1 (!), Gold-fronted Leafbird 2, White-browed Bulbul 2, Jungle Babbler 20, (Asiatic) Paradise Flycatcher 1 male, Magpie-Robin 10, Indian Robin 4, Malabar Whistling Thrush (H) and Plain Flowerpecker 2.
A very nice place! A lot of forest species (e.g. the drongos) and the magnificent White-bellied Sea Eagle. Plain Flowerpecker has dark (black) bill.
Blyth's Reed Warbler 3 and Ashy Drongo 1.
The Ashy Drongo was outside our hotel, must be a very good record (normally only in forest). Crimson eyes are diagnostic on this species.
Stork-billed Kingfisher 1 (same place as the first one), Blossom-headed Parakeet 6, Little Green Heron 2 and Red-wattled Lapwing 15.
The Blossom-headed Parakeets became "more common" when we learned their call!
Brown-headed Gull 30 (seen from Mandovi bridge), Gull-billed Tern 10, Pied Kingfisher 2, Common Kingfisher 10, Black-capped Kingfisher 1, White-collared Kingfisher 2, Blue-tailed Bee-eater 1, Indian Cliff Swallow 1 and Purple-rumped Sunbird 1 pair in a nest.
Although it's mangrove on Chorao Island, the White-collared Kingfisher is said to be very rare, so we were probably very lucky.
Yellow-wattled Lapwing 1, Hoopoe 1, Malabar Crested Lark 2, Red-whiskered Bulbul 5, White-browed Bulbul 1 and Red-breasted Flycatcher 1 (Cicade de Goa).
Little Green Heron 1, Redshank 30, March Sandpiper 1, Greenshank 1, calidris sp. 1, Common Sandpiper 1, Gull-billed Tern 2, Wire-tailed Swallow 1, Franklin's Prinia 1 and Indian Robin 1 female.
Shikra 1, Osprey 1, Booted Eagle 1, Palm Swift 2, Stork-billed Kingfisher 1, House Martin > 50 (!), Ashy Drongo 1 (still here), Ashy Swallow Shrike 1 and Yellow Wagtails 20.
Only one House Martin until today, now we saw at least 50, maybe more!
Indian white-backed Vulture 15 in a tree.
The Den --> zoo + zoo-parking --> The Den --> zoo-parking (again). Indian White-backed Vulture 20, Indian Long-billed Vulture 2, Crested Serpent Eagle 3 (5?), Crested Goshawk 1 (2?), Besra Sparrowhawk 1 (identified by an English birdwatcher, only short view for us), Crested Honey buzzard 3 (5?), aquila sp. 1 (Steppe or Tawny Eagle), Grey Junglefowl 1 male, Little Swift 50, Indian Edible-nest Swiftlet 50, Three-toed Kingfisher 1 (!), Malabar Grey Hornbill 1, Malabar Pied Hornbill 4, woodpecker sp. (H many, many times...), Indian Great Black Woodpecker (H), Golden Oriole (H), Black-headed Oriole 2 + many (H), Red-rumped Swallow 50, Common Iora 6, Red-whiskered Bulbul 10, Black-headed Yellow Bulbul (gularis) 4, Yellow-browed Bulbul 1, Ashy Drongo 10, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 4, Bronzed Drongo 1, Indian Treepie 1, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch 1 (seen by the English birdwatcher mentioned above), Black-headed Babbler 4, Quaker Babbler 5, Shama 4, Magpie-Robin 10, Orange-headed Ground Thrush (cyanotus) 2, Blue-headed Rock Thrush 1 male, Blyth's Reed Warbler 10, Large Crowned Leaf Warbler 1 (!), Tickell's Blue Flycatcher 10, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher 1 male, Indian Verditer Flycatcher 2, Black-naped Monarch Flycatcher 1 male, Small Sunbird 20, Plain Flowerpecker 20, Large Wood Shrike 1, Spotted Babbler 2 and Fairy Bluebird 2.
Much to say about Bondla, incredibly good birding. We remember the Three-toed Kingfisher most. It was in a totally dry river-bed near the zoo-parking. A very small, shining kingfisher with some distinct pink colour flew by. I had to shake my head and watch again. The small kingfisher flew by two more times, and we had very good views. What was he doing here? Then these amazing feeding-parties, with all the blue species of flycatchers, mostly males. Why? And the Shamas, lovely birds! If we return to Goa, Bondla is no 1 on the priority list. We also heard a call very similar to the song of Wood Warbler (the rotating coin on a tray) several times. Wood Warbler isn't mentioned in the India bird literature, what was it? The calls of Black-headed Oriole differs clearly from Golden with a more "tjlp"-tone; if Golden calls "tjududiliduu" then Black-headed calls "tjulpdudljidu" (difficult to write but obvious if you hear it!). Quaker Babbler doesn't look like a Whitethroat as on plate 78 in "Pictorial guide"!
About 1 000 vultures in the air! Indian White-backed and Indian Long-billed.
It was too hot for our young son to spend a long time in the hot car, so we spent only about fifteen minutes here. We saw a lot of other raptors sp. and a lot of unidentified vultures.
Same as last visit but lower numbers this time of the day. Wire-tailed Swallow 30 and Little Cormorant 50.
Short-toed Lark 2, Lesser Ringed Plover 2, March Harrier 1 female, Shikra 1 and Palm Swift 1.
White (Holy) Ibis 5 (!), Blue-tailed Bee-eater 30, Great White Egret 1, Black-capped Kingfisher 1, Brown-headed Gull 10 and Gull-billed Tern 20.
The White Ibises was a surprise, five birds!!!
First behind the café (page D10 in PH's guide):
Pintail Snipe 5, Indian Pitta 1 (!), Clamorous Reed Warbler 10, Baya Weaver 2 and Jungle Babbler 30.
Indian Pitta, probably the same bird that over-wintered in 1995-96. Very good views! (See photo in Birding World no 3 1997 page 108 by Simon Harrap.)
Then to "good view point" (the cross):
Stork-billed Kingfisher 1, Koel 1 and Purple Heron 1.
Better here if low tide.
Then to the area around the Fort:
Dolphins 4, Kestrel 1 female, Golden Oriole 1, Rose-coloured Starling 6, Brahminy Myna 2, Indian Edible-nest Swiftlet 20, Jungle Babbler 10, Brown-headed Gull 3, Coucal 1 and Coppersmith Barbet 1. Many Pariah Kites soaring around our heads.
Shikra 1 male (sitting in a garden, distance only 4 meters!), White-browed Bulbul 2.
(Asiatic) Paradise Flycatcher 1 male.
White-breasted Waterhen 15 (new birds), Spotted Owlet 1, Blossom-headed Parakeet 10, Magpie-Robin 2, March Sandpiper 5 and Little Cormorant 2.
We heard one of the Chestnut Bitterns when it flew by "keak..keak..keak..keak..." rather harsh.
White-necked Stork 3, Northern Goshawk 1 ad. female (!), aquila sp. 1 (very dark, Greater Spotted Eagle?), White-bellied Sea Eagle 1 imm. (sat very close to the nest we saw last visit), Coucal 1, Wryneck 1 (!), Woodpecker sp. (H), Golden Oriole many (H), Black-headed Oriole 1 male, Ashy Drongo 4, White-bellied Drongo 1, Bronzed Drongo 2, Small Minivet 1 female, Blue-winged Leafbird 1 male, Red-vented Bulbul 10, Red-whiskered Bulbul 10, White-browed Bulbul 1, Jungle Babbler 20, Greenish Warbler many (H), Indian Robin 1 male, Yellow-cheeked Tit 2, Plain Flowerpecker 10 and Tickell's Flowerpecker 2.
The Northern Goshawk (a bird which we are very familiar with in Sweden) showed all the typical features including rather prominent whitish supercilium, white patch in the nape, barred chest and very large. Also the flight silhouette was typical. Tickell's Flowerpecker has orange-pink bill. Wryneck is a good record, it sat only two meters from the path!
White-necked Stork 1, Shikra 1, Booted Eagle 1, March Harrier 2, White-breasted Waterhen 10, Red-wattled Lapwing 4, Blossom-headed Parakeet 10, Pied Kingfisher 1, Indian Roller 2 and Blyth's Reed Warbler 2.
Little Green Heron 1, Kentish Plover 5, Lesser Ringed Plover 10, Redshank 30, Greenshank 5, Green Sandpiper 2, Wood Sandpiper 10, Common Sandpiper 10, Little Stint 30, Temminck's Stint 2, Curlew Sandpiper 4, Gull-billed Tern 5, Blossom-headed Parakeet 5, Ring-necked Parakeet 10 and common Kingfisher 10.
Shikra 1 juv.
It's very possible for a family with children to travel to Goa and have a very pleasant birding-stay. We didn't birdwatch all the time, but we managed to see almost 200 species. We heard that a party of four hot European birdwatchers had been driving all around Goa every day for two weeks, early morning to late evening, managing to see about 210 species. Compared to this our 186 isn't so bad, is it? [All right, we didn't see Lesser Adjutant Stork, Comb Duck, Painted Snipe, Little Pratincole, (Oriental) Darter and a few other nice species!]
Finally I would like to add that many (about 100) of the species mentioned above (and below) were new to us, and I can not exclude the possibility of occasional errors, even if I have tried my best not to include uncertain records.
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