Birds of Goa and Western Ghats
06 nights & 07 days
Best time: mid-October to March
Note: Should you choose to opt for your own dates, let us know and we will check the availability of the guide and services.
Tour Code: BGOA
Day 01: Back Woods
Day 02: Back Woods
Day 03: North Goa
Day 04: Various Habitats of Goa
Day 05: Various Habitats of Goa
Day 06: Various Habitats of Goa
Day 07: Departure
Endemic variety of birds, great birding
mazing marine life
You may ask us for a checklist of birds of Goa.
Goa is situated on the west coast of India by the Arabian Sea. Although the smallest state in the country, Goa is a favourite 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 endemic to peninsular India as well as a large number of wintering speciesfrom 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 on a daily basis. We will visit all of 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 a number of 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. This 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 a distance of 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 seen frequently by our guides on previous visits. We may also spend time sightseeing in Old Goa and at the Hindu temple of Mangueshi. All of 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.
Day 01: Arrival in Goa
Meals: Lunch, Dinner
You will be met and transferred to Backwoods Camp at the foot of the Western Ghats to spend two nights birding in the forests and along the streams around the camp. Overnight at Backwoods camp.
Among several sites, we will visit Bhagwan Mahavir sanctuary and the environs of the camp. We will focus on finding those species that are difficult or impossible to find elsewhere in Goa, with an emphasis on Western Ghats endemics, forest and south Indian specialties, and any other species of interest that has been found in the area. Our days begin early with a walk before breakfast, another before lunch, and a final session after afternoon tea, returning for dinner and an evening campfire in the winter months when nights can be cool. Our excursions will take us through a variety of habitats in the local area from dense forests and streamside jungle, to open fields and scrub, as well as watching the Ghats for raptors rising in the thermals, and one evening searching for Grey, Jerdon's, and Savanna Nightjars at dusk. Within Backwoods Camp itself you will find many specialties including Malabar Trogon, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Malabar Parakeet, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher and Malabar Whistling Thrush, with Forest Wagtail and Indian Pitta even seen in the kitchen! At night, you can hear the calls of Oriental and Collared Scops Owls, Brown Wood Owl and Brown Fish Owl from the trees above. We make a special effort to locate and protect the roosting site of a pair of Sri Lanka Frogmouths and every alternate year the nesting site of a pair of Spot-bellied Eagle Owls in the forest a short walk away. Other species that can be seen here include Grey Junglefowl, Heart-spotted, Brown-capped Pygmy, Rufous and White-bellied Woodpeckers, Lesser Yellownape, Black-rumped Flameback, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Great and Malabar Grey Hornbills, Malabar Trogon, Blue-eared, White-throated, Common and Stork-billed Kingfishers, Little Green, Blue-bearded, and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Malabar and Plum-headed Parakeets, House Swift, Indian Swiftlet, Brown Fish Owl, Brown Hawk Owl, Jungle Owlet, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Grey, Indian and Jerdon's Nightjars, Emerald Dove, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Black Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Shikra, Besra, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Booted Eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Rufous Treepie, Ashy Wood Swallow, Black-hooded Oriole, Black-headed Cuckoo-shrike, Scarlet and Small Minivets, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Spangled, Racket-tailed and Bronzed Drongos, Black-naped Monarch, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Common Iora, Common and Large Woodshrikes, Malabar Whistling Thrush, White-bellied Blue, Red-breasted, Brown-breasted, Red-throated, and Tickell's Blue Flycatchers, Indian Blue Robin, White-rumped Shama, Oriental Magpie Robin, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Grey-headed, Black-crested, Black, Yellow-browed and Grey-headed Bulbuls, Western Crowned Warbler, Dark-fronted and Jungle Babblers, Malabar Crested Lark, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, Little Spiderhunter, Forest and Grey Wagtails, Common Rosefinch and Grey-necked, Red-headed and Black-headed Buntings.
Overnights Backwood Camp.
Day 02: Goa (Temdi Surla)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Another day of birding around the backwoods camp.
Day 03 & 04: Goa
You will be transferred the hotel in Baga or Calangute. This will be our base for much of the following days. After a break we'll do some local late afternoon birding in the vicinity of our hotel. At Arpora Woods, we search for species such as Ring-necked and Plum-headed Parakeets, Asian Koel, Greater Coucal, Thick-billed and Pale-billed Flowerpeckers, Indian Roller and Orange-headed Thrush, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Oriental Scops Owl, Black-rumped Flameback, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker. We should also encounter White-browed, Red-whiskered and Red-vented Bulbuls, Jungle and Dark-fronted Babblers, Common Woodshrike, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Purple Sunbird, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Small Minivet, White-bellied Drongo, Crimson-backed Sunbird, White-throated Fantail, Spotted Dove, Common Iora, White-rumped Munia, Black-headed Cuckooshrike, Eurasian Golden Oriole, and Black-lored Tit.
From the comfort of a poolside deck chair, cool drink in hand, we can overlook a series of paddy fields and a small marsh - a superb area that on our has held Cinnamon and Black Bitterns, Greater Painted-Snipe, Small Pratincole, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Pacific Golden Plover, Pintail Snipe, Watercock, Slaty-breasted Rail, Ruddy-breasted and Baillon's Crakes, Rosy Starling and a host of pipits including Blyth's, Richard's and Paddyfield. Other species here should include White-breasted Waterhen, Common Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Red-wattled Lapwing, Great White Egret, Cattle Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Pintail Snipe, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Black and Brahminy Kites, Pallid Harrier, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Osprey, Shikra, Crested Goshawk, Red-rumped Swallow, Asian Palm Swift, Indian Swiftlet, Black-capped, Common and White-throated Kingfishers, Green and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Asian Koel, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Plum-headed Parakeet, Spotted Owlet, Oriental Turtle Dove, Long-tailed Shrike, Black Drongo, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, White-spotted Bluethroat Oriental Magpie Robin, Rosy Starling, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Jungle and Common Mynas, Siberian Stonechat, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Ashy Prinia, Red-vented Bulbul, White rumped and Scaly-breasted Munias, Malabar Lark, Ashy Wood Swallow, White-browed Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail and Baya Weaver. We'll explore a further variety of habitats during our stay here ranging from grasslands, where we'll search for larks, pipits and chats, to marshland replete with numerous shorebirds and ducks. Away from the coastal plain, we'll visit several of Goa's forested reserves and we'll stay out late at least one evening searching for night birds such as Ceylon Frogmouth, Oriental Scops Owl and Brown Fish Owl. These same reserves harbour three species of hornbills including the majestic Great Hornbill, as well as the endemic Grey. Other destinations that we will visit include.
Baga Fields: On the left hand boundary wall of Beira Mar there is a gateway which leads out to Baga Fields. From here we can walk in the direction directly out towards the front of the hotel for a couple of hundred metres and to the left as far as the Baga river.Species expected include: White-cheeked Barbet, Richards, Blyth's and Paddyfield Pipits, Pied Bushchat, Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Asian Palm Swift, White-throated Kingfisher, Spotted Owlet, Oriental Skylark, Short-toed Lark, Common and Jungle Mynas, Long Tailed Shrike, Pintail Snipe, White-breasted Water Hen, Brown Shrike, Hoopoe, Tree Pipit, Indian Roller, Common Kestrel, Green Warbler, Osprey, Spotted Dove, Wire-tailed and Red-rumped Swallows, Ashy Prinia and Little Swift. Baga Hill is approximately a mile away from the Beira Mar. There are a number of paths up to the top of the hill, but some can be overgrown. Species we hope to see include Asian Koel, Common Kingfisher, Little Green Bee-eater, Purple-rumped and Loten's Sunbird, Indian Robin, Crested Goshawk, Booted Eagle, Bronzed Drongo, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Greenish Warbler, Spotted Dove, Common Iora, Long tailed Shrike, Greater Coucal, Coppersmith Barbet, Black Headed Munia, Black-rumped Flameback, Rufous Treepie, Nilgiri Blackbird, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Puff-throated Babbler, White-browed Bulbul, Ashy Prinia, Black and Brahminy Kites, Western Reef Egret and Indian Bushlark. Carambolim Lake is a large expanse of water close to Seraulim railway station. Water can often be low, but the lake is nearly always full of birds. Species here include Lesser Whistling Duck, Cotton Pygmy-goose, Comb Duck, Marsh Harrier, Purple Heron, Purple Swamphen, Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Ashy Wood-swallow, Common and Pintail Snipes, Asian Openbill and Baya Weaver. Fort Aguada is approximately eight kilometres south of Baga and has a number of reliable sites for Indian Pitta. Other species present here are Blue Rock Thrush, Indian Peafowl, Thick billed Flowerpecker, Greater Coucal, Red breasted Flycatcher, White-throated Fantail Purple-rumped Sunbird, Red-whiskered and Red-vented Bulbuls, Puff-throated Babbler, Indian Robin, and Tickell's Blue Flycatcher. Mayem Lake, which is about 35km from Baga, has few water birds, but the surrounding forest, which can be explored using a footpath, is the main reason for a visit. The key bird species at Maem is the Brown Fish Owl, which can often be located in the forest within a couple of hundred metres of the restaurant and accommodation area. We will also search for Little Cormorant, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Red-wattled Lapwing, Brown Fish Owl, Rufous Woodpecker, Common Woodshrike, Stork-billed, White-throated and Common Kingfishers, Jerdon's Nightjar, Crested Tree Swift, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Ashy Wood Swallow, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Hooded Oriole, Black-hooded Oriole, Red-vented and Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Asian Koel, Small Minivet, Verditer Flycatcher, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Coppersmith and White-cheeked Barbets, Common Iora, Nilgiri Blackbird, Purple-rumped and Purple Sunbirds, Ashy Drongo, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Blyth's Reed and Greenish Warblers, and Black-lored Tit. Santa Cruz, which consists of a number of sandy pools, scrubland, extensive wetlands and marshes is a good location for a variety of wader species. We expect to see Wood, Terek and Marsh Sandpipers, Greenshank, Black winged Stilt, Grey and Pacific Golden Plovers, Red-wattled Lapwing, Black tailed Godwit, Purple Heron, Small Pratincole, Gull-billed Tern, Little Stint, Pintail Snipe, Paddyfield Pipit, Pied Kingfisher, Shikra and Tawny Eagle. At Tikana we walk through the extensive paddy fields and marshes, while scanning the open water and tidal mangroves. Little Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Lesser Adjutant, Cattle, Little and Intermediate Egrets, Striated, Grey and Purple Herons, Greenshank, Common and Wood Sandpipers, Redshank, Pacific Golden Plover, Red-wattled Lapwings, Gull-billed Tern, Marsh Harrier, Spotted Owlet, Common and Pied Kingfishers, Rufous-tailed and Malabar Larks, Oriental Skylark, Tawny Pipit, Siberian Stonechat, Plain Prinia, Black Drongo, Pied Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Wire-tailed Swallow, Yellow and White-browed Wagtails, Red-vented Bulbul, White rumped Munia and Plain Prinia can all be expected. Finally at Velim Lake we look for Common Teal, Pintail, Lesser Whistling Duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Garganey, Purple Gallinule, Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Barn, Wire tailed and Red-rumped Swallows, Yellow Wagtail, Wood Sandpiper, Pacific Golden Plover, Greater Coucal, White-rumped and Indian Vultures, Woolly necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Crested Serpent Eagle, Shikra, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Crested Goshawk, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Common Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Marsh Harrier, Brahminy Kite and Black Kite.
Overnight in a hotel.
Day 05 & 06: Goa
At Morjim, we watch shorebirds, gulls and terns. Gull-billed, Sandwich, Crested, Lesser Crested and Common Terns, Pallas's, Brown-headed, Caspian, Slender-billed and Heuglin's Gulls, Lesser and Greater Sand Plovers, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Small Pratincole, Striated and Western Reef Herons, Common and White Throated Kingfishers, Wire-tailed Swallow and Painted Snipe and with luck Caspian Plover. Just inland from the beach is a area of trees and scrub surrounding a small village. This area is also well worth checking out. For Brahminy Starling, Plum-headed Parakeets, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Red-vented Bulbul, Long-tailed Shrike, Coppersmith Barbet, Orange-headed Thrush, Scaly-breasted Munia and Barred Buttonquail. We will take a drive to Saligao Zor. This area of woodland with its stream where villagers come to wash clothes is a haven for a range of birds, but especially Brown Wood Owl and Malabar Whistling Thrush. Other species here include Loten's and Purple-rumped Sunbirds, Tailorbird, Greenish Warbler, White-cheeked Barbet, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Indian Peafowl, Thick-billed and Plain Flowerpeckers, Jungle Babbler, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Ashy Tree Swallow, White-throated Fantail, Orange-headed Thrush, Large Cuckoo Shrike, Common Iora, Grey-headed Bulbul, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Nilgiri Blackbird, Black-naped Monarch and Common Buzzard. At Pilerne, not far from Saligao, is a small rectangular lake which is often covered in considerable amounts of vegetation. Red-wattled Lapwing, White-browed Wagtail, Moorhen, Stork-billed Kingfisher, male Painted Snipe, White-breasted Waterhen, Intermediate Egret, White-rumped Munia, Crested Goshawk, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Bronze-winged Jacana, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Black-capped Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher and Little Cormorant can all be found here. Overnight in a hotel.
Day 07: Goa to Next Destination
Transfer to the airport for your flight back home.
-Accommodation on twin sharing basis
-Meals as per the itinerary
-Guided birding throughout
-Permits and entry fee
-All surface transfers by a private air-conditioned vehicle
Services not included:
-Optional tours/excursions, personal & incidental expenses.
-Tips, laundry, phone calls, alcohol, camera fee etc.
-International and domestic air fare, visa, insurance.
Please ask for Terms and Conditions
Write to us: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org