Birding in Goa – Grey headed Bulbul, Vernal Hanging Parrot and more..

It was our 1st trip to Goa after we got into birding, so obviously we were all eager and geared up to check-out the birds in Goa. Couple of birding friends also suggested some hotspots for birding in Goa; however due to Ganesh Chaturthi and just 6 days at hand, we had to drop quite a no. of these hotspots. We finalized on driving through the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wild-life Sanctuary right up-to Tambi Surla and also check the Carambolim Lake specifically for birding apart from being on look-out for birds at all times. Best part was that we had decided to drive down from Pune to Goa via Belgaum through Chorla ghats, which did turn out to be very eventful!

We started out journey from Pune at 5 AM. Just as we crossed Katraj ghat and sun was rising, I saw a Shikra perching on a branch right next to the road. That was the 1st stop of the many stops which followed later :D.  As we approached Satara, we saw quite a no. of large grey babblers, laughing doves and long tailed shrikes all along the way. We halted at Karad for breakfast and then resumed our journey.

Then came the 1st lifer, Brahminy Kite which I sighted as we approached Kolhapur.  I could not manage a click as I was driving. The road from Kolhapur to Belgaum is just superb and it’s a pleasure to drive. As we crossed Nipani, we approached the Tawandi ghat were I saw quite a no. of kites hovering near the peak. I quickly made a stop and took some pictures and managed to get some decent shots of the Black kite (Juvenile) and the Brahminy Kite.

Next we halted at Belgaum for lunch and resumed our journey by 1:30 PM. The 1st town we came across after Belgaum was Jamboti. There was a little rain drizzle and after driving for around 2 KMs from this town we reach a patch of road with thick forests on either sights, and yes.. there were quite a no. of chirps all around. We parked the car to the side of the road and got down to check-out the birds and we were surely not disappointed. 4 lifers at 1 spot!.. There were around 6 Pompadour Green Pigeons, Square tailed Bulbul, Scarlet Minivet and the beautiful Vernal Hanging Parrot. We also saw the Golden fronted leaf bird, white cheeked barbet and Orange headed thrush at the same spot. 7 species at one spot; couldn’t have asked for more. We resumed our journey and as we neared Goa, we were greeted with a flying Cinnamon Bittern. We eventually reached Goa at 5:00 PM.

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Day 2 started with looking out for birds from my flat; we have our flat in a small town called Dhavali in Ponda. It has mountains on either sides and hence a good chance to spot some birds, and this is the place where I saw the globally near-threatened Grey-headed Bulbul! (Thanks to my friend Prateik for this information). Couple of more lifers were the Loten’s sunbird and the Black throated Munia. A quick trip to a nearby Kamleshwar temple (around 2KMs) from my place gave me more lifers. White Rumped Munias and the Little Spiderhunters! We also saw the Black Drongo, Greater Racket tailed Drongo and the White bellied Drongo. Apart from these, we saw the Red-whiskered Bulbuls, House sparrows, House crows, Indian Rock Pigeons, Indian tit, White spotted Fantail flycatcher and the common tailor bird. Never expected so many types of species right at my home!

In the evening, we made a visit to the Carambolim Lake, where I saw the Bronze winged Jacana and the Common tern. Rain was pouring down which did not allow me to do much of photography.

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Day 3 we had decided to go to Tambdi Surla via the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wild life Sanctuary. Again the rains were just pouring down, still I thought of taking a chance a started the journey by 9 AM. As soon as we entered the jungle area, we saw a pair of Malabar Grey Hornbills and the Chestnut headed bee-eaters. We were also greeted by the beautiful lesser golden backed Woodpecker, Wooly necked Storks and the classy Scarlet Minivet. As we neared Tambdi Surla, we again saw a couple of Malabar Grey Hornbills and Greater Racket Tailed Drongos. Rain had only increased which resulted in no birding at Tambdi Surla temple.

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Day 4 was the Ganesh Chaturthi, which meant no birding.. but from a weather perspective, it was perfect birding weather. Shraddha wanted to visit the Mangeshi temple hence we planned a quick trip in afternoon. While returning back, I decided to halt near Farmagudi just to see if I could spot something. Immediately I saw couple of Common Ioras perching. As we explored the spot further, we saw quite a no. of Red whiskered bulbuls. Suddenly Shraddha pointed towards what looked like a Red whiskered Bulbul and asked me to click it.. Have to say she always have this knack of spotting lifers!.. It was the beautiful Flame-throated Bulbul.. We also saw a pair of Malabar Grey Hornbills, Greater Racket tailed Drongos, a Pompadour Green Pigeon and a Vernal hanging Parrot.

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Day 5 was the 2nd day of Chaturthi and hence pretty relaxed. We decided to visit the Siddhanath Temple and waterfalls in morning. We started a bit late, by 10 AM. Finally got a decent shot of the Common Kingfisher and yes, there was a lifer as well.. the Darter bird. It was a rare sight for me where in I sawy the Darter bird and Brahminy Kite perching on the same tree. There was hardly any birding activity at the Siddhanath peak, but I did manage to click couple of butterflies.

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Day 6 was the final day of the trip.. Just before we started our return, a noisy white throated Kingfisher perched comfortable right infront of my flat.. :D. We had initially planned to return via Sawantwadi and Amboli ghat but we dropped the plan due to heavy rains and decided to return again via the Chorla ghats. Till now, there wasn’t a single day where I did not get a lifer, and today was no different. We halted somewhere in Chorla ghats where we saw the Yellow-browed Bulbul.

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We couldn’t have asked for more.. a total of 16 lifers including the near-threatened Grey-headed Bulbul. We have already planned our next trip to Goa soon.. surely winters will throw its own surprises..! Till then, keep reading and happy birding.

– Rudraksha

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