India Goa 6.-22.12. 2005
On the 6th of December, on the Independent day of Finland, at 7 a.m. my dad drove us to Helsinki-Vantaa airport. After some waiting our plane left towards Frankfurt.
11.05 a.m. we landed to Frankfurt, where we waited for a couple of hours before we continued towards Mumbai with huge Boeing 747 400 -plane.
The flight was extremely boring! We were sitting in the middle places of all ten seats and the movies were horrible. I haven’t seen many worse movies than Charlie and a chocolade factory or that Bollywoods love-comedy that were played.
On the 7th day at 2 p.m. we landed to Mumbai airfield. After many long queues and waiting for our luggage we found out that there was a free bus to local flights terminal.
After a short Mumbai sightseeing the second terminal was our Air India terminal. And after a couple of hours waiting our flight to Goa left at 5.20 a.m.
Right away when we had landed to Mumbai I got a textmessage from our old catalan friend Oriol Clarabuch where he told he and his girlfriend Maria had problems with their flights. Because of fog they hadn’t been able to land to Milano from where they had their flight to Mumbai. They had landed to some other airport and they were badly late from Milano. It was already clear they would miss their flight and the next one would be after 24 hours.
It was bad news, we had planned to meet in Mumbai. But the worst thing was that Oriol had also our flight tickets to Goa. And now even Oriol sent all the important information from the tickets, Indian Airlines workers weren’t letting us to their flight – just because we had no print of the email ticket! And of course Indian Airlines had no internet and the internet bar was opening too late. Luckily we realized to go to ask help from Kingfisher airlines! They had internet and a printer so we were able to print the tickets by using the information that Oriol had sent. So we managed to get our flight to Goa and officers of Indian Airlines weren’t happy.
Finally in Goa!
At 7 a.m we landed to Dabolim airport. After we had found the luggages we took a taxi that was waiting for us. We started our way to Baga and our hotel Riverside.
It was directly clear we would have a good time in Goa – there were so many birds everywhere! Even though our driver was driving like a lunatic (more on the right than on the left line), we managed to identify many tripticks even though many birds weren’t identified. House Crows, Rock Doves, House Sparrows, Cattle Egrets, White-breasted Kingfishers, Brahminy Kites, Black Kites, Little Egrets, an Oriental Magpie Robin, a Large-billed Crow, an Asian Koel, Swallows, Stork-billed Kingfishers, Little Cormorants, Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Indian Swiftlets, a Purple Heron, Red-wattled Lapwings and Indian Pond Herons were seen. It was really good we had studied the local birds beforehand.
After one hours rallydriving we finally parked to Riverside hotel. We took our room and rested a little but soon we had to go for a walk to see some birds to the Baga fields.
We had hardly started walking on the field when a small bird jumped to the air just underneath my feet. The first really good triptick has been found, a Barred Buttonquail! It was extremely hot and we were absolutely tired because of travelling but anyway we managed to find Black Drongos, Hoopoes, an Indian Roller, more White-breasted Kingfishers, House Crows, House Sparrows, Little Green Bee-eaters, Rosy-ringed Parakeets, Plum-headed Parakeets, Little Swifts, Spotted Doves, Common Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plovers, Red-wattled Lapwings, lots of Brahminy and Black Kites, a Booted Eagle, Cattle Egrets, Long-tailed Shrikes, Golden Orioles, Oriental Magpie Robins, Stonechats, Common and Jungle Mynah, Red-rumped Swallows, Purple-rumped Sunbirds, a Crimson-backed Sunbird, a Malabar Lark, Richard’s and Paddyfield Pipits, a Tree Pipit, a White-cheeced Barbet and a Plain and a Grey-breasted Prinia. Soon the heat was too much and it was difficult to walk because we were so tired. We had to walk back to the hotel to rest even though we had walked only some hundreds of meters!
To Anjuna fleemarket
So we slept for 4 hours before we decided to start walking to weekly (only on wednesdays) fleemarket to Anjuna. We walked some 4 kilometers following the coastline which was the easiest way to find the Anjuna beach where the fleemarket was. The rocky coastline was beautiful. Bushes held some Greenish Warblers but also a White-throated Fantail was found. A Western Reef Heron, 2 Turnstones, a Grey Plover and a flock of Lesser Sand Plovers were also seen on the shore. Blue Rock Thrushes were flying from the rock to rock as were 2 White-browed Wagtails too, Wire-tailed Swallows were circling up on the sky.
The fleemarket was huge! Luckily we were there in the evening, so there were not so many people all the sellers were already tired. Of course it was a pity it came dark before we had managed to see a half of the market. Anyway Hanna managed to buy several souvenirs and I managed to see a Brown Fish Owl flying from a palmtree to another. When it was too dark we took a taxi to Calangute (it took 40 minutes to drive that 3 kilometers because of the traffic) where we bought something to eat and then walked another 3 kilometers to Riverside.
Learning the forestbirds
On the 8th of December we woke up a little bit too early, but when the sun started to rise at 6.45 we were walking on the other side of the river towards the Baga hill. The first observations were made on the river where we saw a Common Kingfisher, a Greater Flameback, an Asian Coucal, Spotted Doves, a Grey Heron and Plum-headed Parakeets. Baga hills forests were full of strange birdcalls and we hadn’t yet idea what they all were. It was really difficult to find the birds from the dense trees but Ashy Drongos, 2 Asian Brown Flycatchers, Common Tailorbirds, Blyth’s Reed Warblers, Green and Greenish Warblers, a Large-billed Leaf Warbler, White-rumped Munias and a flock of Puff-throated Babblers with 1 Tawny-bellied Babler and 1 Brown-cheeced Fulvetta were identified. Also one red Asian Paradise Flycatcher was seen flying.
Oriol and Maria arrived at 8 a.m. and we finally met on the Riverside. They were of course even more tired than we had been the day earlier because of the 24 hours too long journey, so they decided to go to sleep. We walked back to Baga hill.
A couple of hours trip was really good even though the birds were even more difficult to find than in early morning. New tripticks were Black-rumped Flameback, Coppersmith Barbet, White-bellied Drongo, Shikra, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grasshopper Warbler, Red Spurfowl, Spotted Owlet, Indian Swiftlet and Asian Palm Swift.
At 2.30 p.m. we woke up still tired catalans and walked to have a late breakfast at Lila’s Café. At 4 o’clock we started to walk to the legendary Beira Mar hotel. On the way we saw some Striated Herons, a White-breasted Waterhen, Common and Jungle Mynahs, Rosy Starlings with a beautiful Brahminy Starling, a couple of Fan-tailed Warblers and a Malabar Lark.
Legendary Beira Mar
When we reached Beira Mar we walked straight to the restaurant from where we knew opened a good view to Baga fields. There were already a couple of birders who told that the area wasn’t as good now as it has been in the past. There weren’t much water for the crakes and snipes. Anyway there were a lot for us: a Black-capped Kingfisher, some common waders, a Coot, a Purple Heron, Marsh Harriers, Intermediate Egrets, Chestnut-tailed Starlings, White-rumped, Scaly-breasted and Black-headed Munias, Indian Silverbills, Plain Flowerpecker and later in the dusk a Spotted Owlet, a Ruddy-brested Crake, 50 Small Preticoles and some Night Herons. And all these were seen while chatting and drinking lemonade or Kingfisher beer!
On the next morning we woke up 6 a.m. and the taxi came to pick us up 6.30. We drove to Arpora where behind the Club Cabana opened really good Arpora hills forests. The place was absolutely good and there were already other birders even one Finnish, Pasi Laaksonen. I had never been that confused with birds in my life. There were lots of birds in the bushes and trees, too many different birdcalls and many colourful birds were flying around. But we were doing quite well, some of the identifications were made with the help of other birders: a Black Eagle, an Oriental Honey Buzzard, Common Ioras, Black-hooded Oriols, Alpine Swifts, Golden-fronted Leafbirds, a Blue-winged Leafbird, Small Minivets, a Scarlet Minivet, Orange-headed Thrushes, Tickel’s Blue Flycatchers, a Rufous Treepie, a Black-headed Cuckoo-shrike, Bronzed Drongos, a Little Spiderhunter, a Black-lored Tit, a Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Red-whiskered, Grey-headed, Red-vented, and White-browed Bulbuls, Grey-breasted Prinias, Thick-billed, Plain and Pale-billed Flowerpeckers, Purple-rumped, Purple, Loten’s, Crimson-backed and even a Crimson Sunbird. One of the funniest observations was sitting on the top of one big three – a big black-faced monkey, a Hanuman Langur.
When it started to be hot we walked to Marinha Dourada pools where we found some common waders but also a Pacific Golden Plover, Marsh Sandpipers, 50 Small Pratincoles, Little Cormorants, a Striated Heron, a couple of Pied Stonechats, a White-browed Wagtail and a couple of Oriental Honey Buzzards.
After having breakfast we had a short siesta before we took a taxi again. First we drove to an old Portuguese fortres to Chapora, where we climped up to the fortres to watch views to the Morjim Beach. On the Morjim there was one place full of gulls and waders so that was the place where we were going next. We saw also some other birds: a White-bellied Sea Eagle, an Osprey, Curlews and lots of Black and Brahminy Kites.
So we continued to Morjim by taxi. There was now a new bridge over the river so it took only some 20 minutes to reach the beach. Even though the timing and tide were both bad for visiting Morjim we saw lots of Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers, Kentish Plovers, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, Oystercatchers, Small Pratincoles, Brown-headed, Slender-billed, Black-headed, Heuglin’s, Caspian and Barbary Gulls, one Great Black-headed Gull and some Gull-billed and Lesser Crested Terns, a Caspian Tern and lots of funny crabs and nice sunset.
At the evening once we were back in the Riverside we had lounch and enjoyed the warm evening until 11 p.m when we went to sleep.
Baga, hills and fields
On the 10th of December we started again 6.30 a.m. and walked to the Baga hill. Now we climbed up by using the eastern path. In the beginning it was very quiet but soon many different birds started to call on the top of the trees. Many calls were already familiar, we had been listening Hannus Jännes CD in the evenings. Common Ioras, Coppersmith and White-cheeced Barbets and bulbuls were singing, Greenish Warblers and Blyth’s Reed Warblers were calling. But it was much better when we reached the top of Baga hill – Jungle Babblers, a Blue-faced Malkoha, Indian Robin and finally a couple of Indian Peafowls were found. Other nice birds included Black-headed Cuckooshrikes, many bulbuls, Orange-headed Thrushes, a Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Black-hooded Orioles and a Black-lored Tit. A family of monleys were also nice to see very close.
During the day we had a short walk on the Baga fields. Maria was having a bad flu but she came with us more crazy birders. The best observation was made right in the beginning when a Small Buttonquail was seen twice. It really left under the feet! The pipits included now also Blyth’s Pipits and other nice birds were Ashy Prinias, Asian Coucals, Asian Coels, Indian Rollers, Siberian Stonechats, a Booted Eagle and lot more.
At 4 p.m. we went to Beira Mar again and it was really good! A Lesser Whistling Duck, a Black-capped Kingfisher, a Stork-billed Kingfisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, a Shikra, a Rufous Treepie, an Asian Brown Flycatcher, 2 Black-lored Tits, Chestnut-tailed Starlings and lots of munias. When the sun set the White-breasted Waterhens started to keep strange voices, a Ruddy-breasted Crake was seen breafly and we were lucky to twitch a Painted Snipe female that a Welsh birder Tim found behind the neighbouring hotel.
On the 11th of december we woke up 4.50 a.m. and the bus to Backwoods camp to a jungle came 5.15. Tim and his partner were picked up at Beira Mar and another couple of British birders at Marinha Dourada. After that we started a long drive to Backwoods.
I think everybody were sleeping in the beginning of the drive, but when the sun started to rise and the landscape changed more forested atleast I was unable to sleep. I was hardly woken when I saw 2 enormous birds flying quite close to the bus – Great Hornbills! Unfortunately only some of us managed to see these birds.
Soon we stopped and met Leio who was our guide for next 3 days. After a short drive we stopped again and that bridge was our first birding place. Crows were now Large-billed Crows, soon we found some Spangled Drongos, Asian Fairy Bluebirds, a Large Cuckooshrike, a Changeable Hawk Eagle, Black-crested Bulbuls and one Kestrel were seen too.
Next stop was made to a dry rocky meadow that was surrounded by nice forests. Chestnut-shouldered Petronias were calling, we saw a Common Woodshrike, Black-headed Cuckooshrikes, Greater Racket-tailed Drongos, a Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, a Common Rosefinch, an Indian Peafowl, Scarlet Minivets, Brown-headed and Crimson-fronted Barbets, Pompadour Green Pigeons, Grey-headed, Yellow-browed and Black Bulbuls, an Asian Paradise Flycatcher and the first crazy looking Malabar Grey Hornbill.
Soon we continued to the camp to have a breakfast at 9.50 a.m. The breakfast was great, some spicy potatos and crisps with mango and pineapplejam – good!
Walking in the jungle
After the breakfast the birding really started! First we drove a little and saw an Indian Peafowl and a Chestnut-headed Bee-eater from the bus. Then we had a long walk following a dry riverbank. A Crimson-fronted Barbet was seen right away but then it was very quiet. Of course there were different calls everywhere but we were walking pretty fast following Leio who had clearly something better on his mind. Soon Leio started to whistle a short tune and after a couple of minutes we heard an answer – a Malabar Trogon! This really amazing bird was also seen briefly and soon there were atleast 3 of them calling for us. It was really hot and we really walked a lot before we headed to a dry river again. But there Leio was upset because there were people. This was the place to find a Blue-eared Kingfisher but now there were locals fishing, with explosives! So the Kingfisher was somewhere as far as possible.
So we continued even further following the river and now we were lucky – we found an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher which was hiding extremely well inside a vegetation. But we saw it – that was enough for us.
When the jewel of the Kingfishers was found we could concentrade to more common birds too. Malabar Whistling Thrushes, Orange-headed Thrushes, White-bellied Blue Flycatchers, Western Crowned Warblers, a Forest Wagtail, a Red Spurfowl and Yellow-browed and Black-crested Bulbuls were all seen. After a hot walk at the camp we ate delicious vegetarian food.
After the lounch we had a couple of hours free, but we all walked to the closest river to do birdwatching. White-naped Woodpecker female was something rare, but we were happy to see also a Striated Heron, Brown-cheeced Fulvettas and lots of different bulbuls.
After tea and coffee we gathered at the parking place from where we had a short walk to twitch one of the strangest bird in the whole World – a Sri Lanka Frogmouth. After some searching we found only one bird sitting inside a bamboobushes. Another of the couple had been disturbed from its sleeping place. So we walked away as quietly as possible away even without taking any pictures. We continued by bus to Tambdi Surla temple and there we walked to a dry river which was behind the much smaller temple than we had thought. Next three hours we walked and tried to find the Blue-eared Kingfisher. Crimson-fronted Barbets were calling, a Stork-billed Kingfisher, Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters and Brown-breasted Flycatchers were sitting on the branches that bend over the river and Vernal Hanging Parrots were calling when flying over us. When we again reached the Kingfisher place we were again disappointed – there were now people cutting trees! So we kept on going and soon Oriol and Maria found a beautiful rarity, a Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher! This greenish yellow and grey headed bird was absolutely beautiful and a big surprice for Leio too. Other birds were already familiar: Tickell’s Blue Flycatchers, Orange-headed and Malabar Whistling Thrushes, bulbuls, Dark-fronted and Puff-throated Babblers, Brown-cheeced Fulvettas and Black-naped Monarchs. Only other ticks were a Large Woodshire which was singing shortly and a Grey Wagtail.
When we had walked back to the temple we scanned shortly to the sky above the hills because of many birds used to fly there in the evening, but nothing interesting was seen.
At 7.15 p.m. we had lunch (vegetable soup) and after listening a Brown Hawk Owl calling we continued to the evening trip to see nightjars. On the drive we saw some Indian Hares and when we reached the open area where the nightjars used to be we found the first one immediately. Leio and some boys had a big torches and they used them very well so we could get really close to the first nightjar which was a Grey Nightjar. All together we saw 2 Grey Nightjars and 2 Jerdon’s Nightjars. When we were walking back to the bus we accidently walked very close to a flock of Gaurs (Indian Bisons) that were resting on the open area. We also heard a couple of calls of a Brown Fish Owl. Then the long but really good day was over and soon we went to sleep to our small cottage called Malabar Trogon.
On the 12th of December we had breakfast behind the kitchen because that was the place to see an Indian Pitta in very early morning. At 6.30 we were all sitting silent and waiting the bird to come. First some Orange-headed and Malabar Whistling Thrushes and Blacbirds came but soon the pitta came visible too. It was funny to have tea while the pitta was jumping in 4 meters.
To a birdwalk again
At 7 a.m. we saw some Black-throated Munias from the bus while we were driving to do birdwatching behind a local school. We had a short walk but found only one birdflock but it was a good one: Asian Paradise Flycatchers, a Heart-spotted Woodpeckers, Black-naped Monarchs, bulbuls and Jungle and Dark-fronted Babblers. A couple of flying Malabar Parakeets were also seen shortly. When we were back in the bus Maria noticed a cute Red-breasted Flycatcher just 2 meters from the bus sitting on a fence. A little bit later we found a Red-headed Bunting sitting on an electic wire.
Our second walk was made near the camp. We walked first to the fields where we saw a Brown Shrike and then from the river to different kind of forests than before. We saw babblers and bulbuls, a Scarlet Minivet, Brown-backed Needletails, a couple of Heart-spotted Woodpeckers and then a real rarity a Dark-sided Flycatcher. It was also good to see a local tractor, an elephant, that was having a real good shower – two men were really doing their best to make the elephant shiny!
An hour free was spent again on the river. Hanna decided to try to do some photographing so I was the first one to get there. After some 10 minutes I saw 2 Malabar Pied Hornbills flying across the river to the other side and that was it, we never saw them again. Later we saw an Oriental Honey Buzzard, White-rumped Needletails, an Ashy Woodswallow and a House Martin. Meanwhile Hanna had found a good flock of birds where were many common ones (thrushes, drongos, babblers and bulbuls) but also Tickell’s Blue Flycatchers, Asian Paradice Flycatchers, Black-naped Monarchs, Asian Fairy Bluebirds, a Large Woodshrike, a Rufous Treepie and a White-rumped Shama. There were also two different kind of monkeys Bonnet Macaques and Hanuman Langurs and a couple of huge Red Giant Squirrels (about 1 meter long) in the camp area so there were lots to see and photograph.
After the dinner we drove again to the river behind the temple to try the Blue-eared Kingfisher. We had walked only some meters when Leio shouted loudly! Everybody knew now there was something good, and there was – an Indian Blue Robin! This absolutely fabulous bird was hiding well underneath the bushes but we all managed to see it quite well. It was the most beautiful passerine I had ever seen!
Now we walked harder walk than ever: Malabar Trogons were heard and seen again but all Kingfishers were the common ones (Common, White-breasted and Stork-billed). Anyway we walked also backwards following the riverbank not the path even though Leio gently asked us to use it. When we were almost back on the bridge I found a dark Kingfisher hiding in the shadows underneath some roots that were growing over the dry river. But only Leio managed to see this Blue-eared Kingfisher before it flew to the bushes. We waited for it some minutes but then we decided to walk to the bridge to have a look if it had flewn there, and there it was! This beautiful kingfisher was really far from its normal places!
We scanned the hills from the temple again and now we saw a Crested Treeswift and also a Fork-tailed Swift amongst other swifts.
When we were walking the last hundreds of meters to the camp we heard an Indian Pitta calling and a little bit later when we were having a dinner (really good curry chicken), we heard 3 Oriental Scops Owls calling.
On the 13th of December after the morning tea we walked to the closest river to check to check if the hornbills would have been there. There were some indeed but only Malabar Grey Hornbills. Then we had a couple of short walks in the forests where weren’t too many birds: a Black Eagle, Asian Paradice Flycatchers and so on. From the bridge behind the temple we saw now two Blue-eared Kingfishers which had some problems with Common Kingfishers. They were now so easy! On the way back to have a breakfast we saw a Black-headed Bunting.
After having breakfast we drove to do raptorwatching. On the way we saw a flying White-rumped Shama and once we had reached the place we found a flock of Common Rosefinches, Plum-headed Parakeets and a couple of Black-headed Buntings. A couple of Besras were soaring on the sky shortly, 3 Oriental Honey Buzzards were flying high over us and then we still saw a Hobby and a Crested Goshawk but that was it. Even though we tried still a couple of hours no more raptors were seen. The weather was misty and windy so it wasn’t the best day for raptorwatching.
When we were back at the parking place of the camp we found a couple of singing Black-hooded Orioles. Sri Lanka Frogmouths weren’t found anymore – a pity we never got the pictures. Then we had to pack all the luggages before the lunch, but of course we had some time to spend on the river too. But only better bird was an Ashy Woodswallow. At 1.45 p.m we sat on the bus which was driving us back to Baga. 3 days in Backwoods jungle had been absolutely great!
On the way we saw plenty of egrets on the rivers, a couple of Spotted Eagles flying and a Peregrine sitting on a big bridge.
We parked to our new hotel, Ronil Royal, 4 p.m. and after an hour we were ready to go to Beira Mar again. We had now less than 100 meters to Beira and it was really good we went there: a Paddyfield Warbler was just the beginning, because we saw also a Watercock and an Isabelline Shrike! And it was good to see Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Rosy Starlings, Pied Stonechats and so on again.
Short trip to Baga fields and to Anjuna again
On the 14th of December we had some kind of lazy day. Anyway we woke up early with Oriol and walked to Baga fields. It was absolutely beautiful light for photographing but I forgot my camera to hotel. We had also promised to be back in hotel before 9 a.m so we hadn’t too much time. So we just tried to find a good path through the fields. And we managed to find a path but in some places it was wet.
From the flocks of Swallows and Red-rumped Swallows we found some Streak-throated Swallows, a Sand and a Plain Martin. Malabar Larks and pipits were common, a couple of Yellow Wagtail were flying, a Clamorous Reed Warbler and some Pintailed Snipes were something we had been expecting.
Finally we had to walk through the whole fields until we were in Riverside, that was the only place to cross the river. Then we took a taxi to Ronil where girls were already waiting for us.
Then we took a taxi to Anjuna, but of course we stopped in Marinha Dourada pools on the way. Only Pacific Golden Plovers, Small Praticoles and a White-browed Wagtail were interesting so we continued soon to Anjuna fleemarket. We did shopping for several extremely hot hours!
Finally at 2.30 p.m we were back in our hotel. Then we just relaxed a couple of hours before we had a short visit to Beira where nothing new was found. We ate at the hotels own restaurant which was pretty good and at 9 p.m. we were ready to go to sleep.
On the 15th of Decmenber the taxi driver which we had contacted by text messages, Abhi Naik, came 6 a.m to pick us up and we started our way towards Carambolim Lake. First we drove to the pools that were on the eastern side of the lake. And Abhi really knew that was a good place to start: a Ruddy Shelduck, Terek Sandpipers, Indian Cormorants, Black-headed Ibises, Dunlins, Curlew Sanpipers, Little Stints, a Grey Plover, Lesser Sand Plovers, a Greater Spotted Eagle, Yellow Wagtails, Plain Prinias, Streak-throated Swallows, a Plain Martin, Gull-billed Terns and a Banded Bay Cuckoo that wasn’t identified before we asked Abhi to help us, he knew the bird directly as he knew all other birds too.
From the pools we drove to a small village where Abhi found easily the birds we were searching for – two Brown Hawk Owls were sleeping in a palmtree. We also tried to find Jungle Owlets but they weren’t found.
Next we drove to a meadow that was little bit too overgrown so the larks and pipits weren’t easy to find. Only Malabar Larks and Paddyfield Pipits were found, so we had no luck with Rufous-tailed Lark. Anyway we were happy to see 5 Asian Openbills that were flying over us.
Then we continued to the Carambolim Lake which was easy to see it was a perfect birding place! It was very overgrown but there were some open places which were absolutely full of Lesser Whistling Ducks, some Cotton Pygmy Geese, Garganeys, Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas and Purple Swamphens. Lots of egrets were walking on the shores, in the bushes there were a huge flock of Baya Weavers, a couple of Ashy Prinias, in a closest palmtree there was a Rufous Woodpecker eating some insects from their nest and over the lake there were 3 Asian Dartes flying! When we checked the lake more carefully we found still some Moorhens and when we were walking back to our small bus Abhi realized there was a Jungle Owlet calling. And soon Abhi also found another Jungle Owlet from the palmforest, the caller had moved further.
On the southern side of the lake there were pools that were absolutely full of egrets, but there were also lots of waders, all the common ones but also some tripticks, Temminck’s Stints, Spotted Redshanks, Black-winged Stilts and Ruffs. An Indian Spotted Eagle was soaring above us and an Osprey fished an Argus Fish (a fish that looks like a football) infront of us.
On the way to the next lake, Mershim, we saw a really important triptick when Abhi found a flying Lesser Adjutant from the sky. The only good place to see this species has been Giba Geigy factory area which was now not worth to go because the pools aren’t visibly anymore. Mershim wasn’t that good, there were just 2 Pied Kingfishers and then some ducks and jacanas to photograph.
At midday we drove to Saligao spring, where Abhi showed us a Brown Wood Owl that was sleeping inside a big dense tree. We had never found the bird without Abhi!
At 12.30 p.m. we were back in Baga and in our hotel. After the breakfast we relaxed until 5 p.m. when the rest of us went to do shopping to the streets. I had to stay in the hotel because I had some stomach problems.
On the next morning Abhi came at 6 a.m. and this time we headed to south. First we drove to Batem Lake where we were a little bit before the sun started to rise. The lake was full of ducks and there were not only Lesser Whistling Ducks and Cotton Pygmy Geese and jacanas but also Teals, Garganeys, Pintails, Shovelers, a Mallard, a Gadwall, a couple of Little Grebes and a Ferruginous Duck. With Common Kingfishers there were White-brested, Stork-billed and Pied Kingfishers.
We continued more south until Lake Velim, where we did raptorwatching for several hot hours. When we arrived there were only one Great Spotted Eagle sitting in a tree and some Black Kites in the palms. But otherwise there were nice birds for us. The badly overgrown lake held lots of egrets, mynahs were on the fields with cows and a Wild Boar, with Swallows and Red-rumped Swallows we saw again a Plain Martin, a couple of Alexandrine Parakeets flew over us and a Pied Cuckoo landed to a bush next to us.
When the day was warming up there were more and more raptors on the sky – a couple of Besras, a Kestrel and soon also bigger birds. First there were hundreds of Black Kites but soon also some Indian Spotted Eagles and a Booted Eagle, 3 Woolly-necked Storks, an Oriental Honey Buzzard, a Crested Goshawk, a White-bellied Sea Eagle and when it was really hot also Greater Spotted Eagles. When it started to get too hot we found the first Crested Serpent Eagle which started to call loudly and soon there were 3 of them calling and soaring on the sky. But none vultures were seen! They are probably instinct from whole Goa?
Tired birding but good species
On the way back north we stopped at Santa Cruz pools even though it was extremely hot. There were good numbers of Little and Temminck’s Stints but no Long-toed Stint that a couple of Belgians had seen earlier. Pacific Golden Plovers were nice to study and with Yellow Wagtails there was a female Citrine Wagtail, an Oriental Honey Buzzard was seen again. But the birding ended sadly when Oriols telesope falled to the ground and went broken.
After an hour siesta we walked to Beira with Hanna. Pasi Laaksonen who had also stayed in Ronil was also there but there was also our old friend William Velmala!
So next couple of hours it was nice to chat with good friends in Finnish. But we saw also some birds: a couple of Black-rumped Flamebacks, a Stork-billed and again the same Black-capped Kingfisher, Chestnut-tailed and Rosy Starlings, Plum-headed and Rosy-ringed Parakeets, munias, a Baillion’s Crake which only I saw and when it was almost dark we saw 2 Cinnamon Bitterns!
Boat trip to Zuari River
On the 17th of December we woke up 6.25 a.m. and the Backwoods bus picked us up 6.50 a.m. Soon there were our old Backwoods group in the bus and we were on the way to boat trip to Zuari River. We drove directly to Panaji harbour, where we had a riverboat waiting for us.
The morning was cold and we drove quite fast a long time befere we started to see birds. First there were just Brown-headed and Slender-billed Gulls and Gull-billed Terns but soon also Lesser Crested and Crested Terns and also 1 Sandwich Tern. Under the big bridge there were some Western Reef Herons that flight away when we went under it.
The Crested and Lesser Crested Terns were easy to photograph from the boat, but we were lucky to get close to a White-bellied Sea Eagle too. It was sitting on a pole and we managed to get really close!
After one and half hour boating we had seen some Common, White-breasted, Stork-billed and Black-capped Kingfishers but now we a turned to a small sideriver and from the mangrove we tried to find Collared Kingfishers.
Clamorous Reed Warblers and Greenish Warblers were calling in the bushes, a Spoonbill flew over us, but finally one of the boat drivers found a pair of Collared Kingfishers that were hiding in a mangrove. The drivers were really good and we managed to get quite close to the birds so Hanna could make some pictures of this 8th kingfisher species for our trip.
Later we took another small sideriver where we found one more Collared Kingfisher but unfortunately we couldn’t find any crocodiles. An Osprey let us get really close so Hanna could get good pictures of it. Then we drove back only to the halfway where the bus was waiting for us and we continued to the Batem Lake by bus. This time it was very bad light and there weren’t so many ducks than a day before. Pied Kingfishers were the 6th kingfisher species for the day.
At midday we were back in our hotel and after the breakfast we just relaxed a couple of hours. Then we went to the Baga fields with Hanna. Oriol and Maria had to get some medicines because they had got some problems with their malariapills. We had a short but very good walk: a Common Buzzard, a Painted Snipe male with a chick, a Collared Dove and a couple of Blyth’s Pipits were found.
On the 18th of December we woke up to a knockig to our door. The hotel guard was standing there a and saing: “Your bus is here!”. And it was only 5 a.m. Then we realized Abhi had became too early. We had thought he would come 5.30 a.m. So we had to be very quick and 5.12 we were all in Abhis bus and ready to go to Bondla.
At 6.40 we arrived at Bondla, where we had first a short walk to a temple. It was really cold – maybe 18 degrees but we were absolutely freezing! Anyway there were lots of birds: Grey Junglefowls were calling, a couple of Changeable Hawk Eagles, Serpent Crested Eagles and Spangled Drongos were sitting on the top of the trees. An Oriental Honey Buzzard was flying on the top of the hill, a Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, a Heart-spotted Woodpecker and a Black-rumped Flameback were climbing in the trees, Dark-fronted Babblers, Asian Paradise Flycatchers, bulbuls, a Rufous Treepie, Common Woodshrikes and some Malabar Grey Hornbills were on the bushes and trees.
We drove higher to the hill where Abhi dropped us to walk some kilometers to the best looking forest. And the forest was really good! More lunaticly laughing Malabar Grey Hornbills, Tickell’s and White-bellied Blue Flycatchers, Black-naped Monarchs, many Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrikes, Western Crowned Warblers, I saw a Hume’s Leaf Warbler and with Hanna we saw a male Grey Junglefowl. We also heard strange drumming of a woodpecker but couldn’t find the drummer.
Soon we reached Abhi and we continued by bus to a parking place of the zoo (the tickets were 5 rupees and a camera 25 rupees – so we paid only Hannas camera). We walked around the whole zoo area and then behind it in a good forest for some hours. The best observations were 3 Speckled Piculets, many Asian Paradise Flycatchers (also beautiful white morph birds!), White-rumped Shamas, many common blue ones, bulbuls and babblers, I saw also a Forest Wagtail. One of the funniest observations was a Wild Boar that had an appointment with 2 Large-billed Crows. It really wanted to get to a sunny spot where we were standing and when we realized to let it come there 2 crows flew immediately there and started to eat insects from it.
When we were back in a parking place we drove a little bit downwards and stopped to try to find a Blue-capped Rock Thrush which we hadn’t found from the zoo. First Abhi found a beautiful Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and soon also a female Blue-capped Rock Thrush! Great!
From the bus we saw a male Grey Junglefowl and down near a small lake 6 Crested Treeswifts before we went to have a breakfast to a restaurant nearby. The omelet was pretty bad but there were really funny cats in the restaurant.
We had decided to continue our trip for whole day so our next target was a Merck meat factory. We found 6 Oriental Skylarks and some White Wagtails easily. Then we had a lunch in Sahakari spice farm where we also had a tour to world of spices.
After Sahakari Hanna and Maria wanted to get to a shop where local women buys their clothes. And Abhi found a good shop at Ponda. Of course bying these dresses wasn’t very easy, but surprisingly quickly they found local “salwar kamees” dresses. The right ones were found after the seller had shown some 200 hundred differend ones.
We were back in Baga at 5.30 p.m. and after relaxing and dinner we were ready to sleep at 9 p.m.
Arpora and Marinha Dourada
On the next morning when the sun was rising we were already at Arporas Club Cabana. We tried to see some pigeons, because I had seen a couple of brown and green pigeons that I couldn’t identified in our first visit. Now we had luck when we saw a Nilgiri Woodpigeon with Hanna. A couple of Crested Serpent Eagles were soaring and calling on the sky and there were many birds to photograph: Golden-fronted Leafbirds, sunbirds, bulbuls, some Jungle Babblers, but nothing very special.
At 10 o’clock we took a taxi to Marinha Dourada where we tried to find an Oriental Praticole which we had got a message from Abhi. (At the evening Pasi and William told they had seen the bird and it had been a difficult Collared Pratincole.) An Osprey, Wire-tailed Swallows and Small Praticoles were easy to photograph.
Relaxing and the horrible end for the day
We had a late breakfast at Lila’s Café before we continued to our hotel to rest. We even took some sun with Pasi, who was really getting brown. In the evening we walked to Beira Mar with Oriol, girls went to do shopping. It was pretty quiet in Beira but the only real observation was really amazing! I found a Barn Owl which landed to a telegraph pole. I hardly had time to say to Oriol about the bird when an Indian Pond Heron landed next to the owl to the wire. The Owl got scared, turned around when its wing touched the wire, we heard a strange sound and saw a flash, and the owl dropped to a ground dead! Horrible! A little bit later we saw a Spotted Owlet on the same pole and we could just hold our breath and hope nothing happens!
Its about the time to spend a morning in Baga fields
On the 20th of December we went to Baga fields and walked the same paths than earlier. It was pretty quiet in the beginning, one Booted or Syke’s Warbler was seen breafly but only Clamorous Reed Warbler was found better visible. Other birds were just the same than always in the area.
When we had walked around one pool we saw a small bittern kind of bird flying in front of us. Luckily we found it again and saw it in flight very well and could identify it as a Yellow Bittern!
From the dry parts of the fields we found some singing Oriental Skylarks, big flocks of Short-toed Larks, some Malabar Larks, pipits and a couple of Pintail Snipes.
At 10 a.m. we walked back to hotel and after having breakfast we took the rest of the day easy. We did some shopping and we even spent an hour or two in Baga beach. Of course we had to swim in Indian Ocean.
And last visit to Beira Mar
At the afternoon we had to pack all our luggages but at 4.30 p.m. we went to Beira Mar one more time. A Shikra was sitting in a closest palmtree, munias were in a big flocks with a small flock of Baya Weavers. Hanna managed to see a Baillion’s crake and we saw a couple of Ruddy-breasted Crakes breafly and a couple of Spotted Owlets were sitting in a tree, but then it was time to go the say goodbyes to this amazing place.
Next morning was our last in Goa. We should have had a wake up at 6.10 a.m but again we woke up to a knocking to our door. The taxi had arrived too early – 6 oclock. So we had to pack everything in hurry but it took 30 minutes before we were ready to go.
First we drove to Dona Paola which we knew was a dry and ugly deserted area with lots of rubbish and shit everywhere. That was the reason why we hadn’t been there yet. After all it wasn’t as ugly place as we had thought but the smell of burned rubbish was really bad there. Anyway we found easily 3 more tripticks which 2 of them were lifers. First we found about 10 Yellow-wattled Lapwings and 2 small flying flocks of Ashy-crowned Sparrow Larks. In dry sandy area there were also some Tawny Pipits, Malabar, Short-toed and Oriental Skylarks and a couple of Indian Robins. A White-bellied Sea Eagle and a Shikra flew over us.
Because we still had some time we continued to Santa Cruz pools, where were almost the same birds than last time. A Greater Spotted Eagle, an Indian Cormorant, a Pheasant-tailed Jacana, a couple of Paddyfield and Clamorous Reed Warbler were something better.
We had still time before we had to continue to Dabolim airport, so we visited the Mershim lake again. But as we knew there were nothing intersting, some Bronze-winged Jacanas, Lesser Whistling Ducks, Purple Swamphens and Pied Kingfishers were good to see anyway.
Then we had to drive to Dabolim airport because Oriol and Maria had their flight 1.30 p.m. On the way in Cutalim I found a Darter sitting on a dry branch in the middle of a river. It was our last bird observation in Goa and it was really good to get this amazing bird digiscoped.
Oriol and Maria had their flight to Delhi where they were going to spend last 5 days of their holiday. After their plain had left We had still some hours to wait for our flight to Mumbai.
Now we, of course, used Kingfisher airline and it really was worthy! The plains and all services were from different planet than with Air India or Indian Airlines! Even the food was good! The flight was in schedule and in Mumbai all luggages came without waiting.
At Mumbai airport we walked to hotel booking and took a room from Hotel Benzy Palace, where we got the transportation too.
In the evening we did some shopping in the shops opposite our hotel, Mumbai wasn’t that kind of city I wanted to see more. After the dinner we went to sleep early because next day would be long travelling day.
Very long flights!
On the 22nd day of December we woke up too early again because the hotel phone alarmed 4.50 a.m. The taxi came also 10 minutes too early at 5.20 a.m. We packed all our luggages to the taxi and soon we were driving to the Air India terminal.
After one hour waiting we realized our flight wasn’t on the screen at all! Only flight to Frankfurt was after 20 hours! And when we asked we heard our flight had been delayed!
We managed to change our fligh so that we had to run to a plain that was just about to leave to Delhi and then going to continue to Frankfurt. At 7.30 we stepped in the plane and then we realized that was a plane that should have been left already 5 a.m. There was something wrong. I sent a message to Oriol if there was something wrong in Delhi. And there was a thick fog in Delhi, so that was the reason nothing was happening, but the officers never said it.
So we sat down in an extremely hot plane for more than 3 hours but nothing happened! Captain said several times that we would go in 10 minutes but nothing happened before some local people really came angry! It was really chaotic but luckily the plane started to move before the fight really started. At 11.15 the plane finally left towards Delhi, after some people had been sitting in a plane for more than 6 hours!
At 1.10 p.m. we landed to Delhi where we just sat in the plane while the officers were cleaning. Only good thing was that we saw a Black-shouldered Kite from the plain window. This was the 296th species for us in India!
Finally our plane left towards Frankfurt at 3.15 p.m. The flight was extremely boring and the service was really bad! Again the movies were horrible (Surviving Christmas and so on). At 6.50 local time we landed to Frankfurt, where we realized we were already 40 minutes late from our next (already once changed) flight to Helsinki.
Luckily we got the last 2 places to the last plane to Helsinki and after eating in MacDonalds we ran long way to our port. At 9.15 p.m. we finally left towards Finland where we landed 1 a.m. And 2 a.m. our trip was at its end when we finally were in my parents house in Kirkkonummi. It was good to go to sleep to a bed with soft mattress!!!