Goa - South India extension
26 November-1 December 2006

Guide: Keith Barnes
Custom Trip
Report and photos by Keith Barnes. 
All photos taken on this trip.

Small Pratincole at Morjim Beach


November 26

Arrival. Drive to Backwoods

November 27

Backwoods Camp.

November 28

Backwoods Camp

November 29

Backwoods to Beira Mar Marshes

November 30

a.m. Morjim Beach/Arpora Woods. p.m. Lake Carambolim

December 1

a.m. Mayem Lake p.m. Caligao Island

December 2

Early departure

This was a quickfire five-day junket through south India to make sure that Don and Doris managed their improbable goal of getting 1000 life birds in the year with Tropical Birding. Having already done three trips with TB this year and having joined the N.India trip, we decided to do this customized junket just to ensure that their target was reached. The five full days yielded some 220 bird species including many south India and Ghats specialties that we would not encounter later on the trip. Goa is a South Indian state that hosts a series of laidback coastal beach towns offering a great introduction to Asian birds and the fascinating culture of the Indian subcontinent. The town of Baga is an excellent base from which to see a ton of birds in a relaxed atmosphere. It is littered with western-style resorts, restaurants with delicious prawn and fish curries, and resorts with crakes and rails running around behind the swimming pools. However, before we spent time at the base in Baga, we headed into the cooler hills of the western Ghats, located near the eastern limit of the province. Here we lapped up the many South Indian endemics and the fragile beauty of these sub-montane forests, finding delights such as Malabar Trogon, Ceylon Frogmouth, Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl, and many others.

26 Nov: Dabolim to Backwoods
After a very late arrival in Dabolim we only had time to drive straight up into the Ghats, we did manage one stop for some very common (but still new) birds for Don and Doris. We scored Indian Pond Heron, White-throated Kingfisher, Small Sunbird and several other waterbirds. Unfortunately, all too soon the day was over and we headed to our camp in the mountains.

27 - 28 Nov: Backwoods
We spent two full days walking the many exciting trails on offer in the Backwoods area, finding many western Ghats endemics as well as other special forest birds occurring in the vicinity of the camp. Starting before dawn we were serenaded by the resident Malabar Whistling Thrush with it’s variety of melancholy calls. As first light approached we started working the network of forest trails seeking out the roaming flocks. The clicks and buzzy calls of a drongo gave away our first flock, and we located the flock sentinels, Black, Ashy and White-bellied, Drongos working the forest. Later on we also located the slightly more relusive Bronzed, and Great Racket-tailed Drongos. With a flurry we began to encounter a bunch of other species including electric Small and Scarlet (Orange) Minivets, stunning Rufous and Heart-spotted Woodpeckers, Large and Common Woodshrikes, Black-naped Monarch, Flame-throated, White-browed, and Yellow-browed Bulbuls. The understory flocks brought the dapper Dark-fronted Babbler and Brown-cheeked Fulvetta. Some residents needed more specific attention and during our stay we tracked down the elusive Malabar Trogon and Blue-eared Kingfisher, as well as the vocal but shy White-rumped Shama and Indian Blue Robin. We were fortunate with the area supporting many flowering trees and we saw several nectar-loving species including Thick-billed, Pale-billed, and Plain Flowerpeckers, and Purple-rumped, and Small Sunbirds. Some trees had already set fruit and staked these out for frugivores, seeing gems such as Asian Fairy Bluebird, Malabar Gray Hornbill, White-cheeked, and Crimson-fronted Barbets, and Golden-fronted and Jerdon’s Leafbirds. As is typical of India, we had some luck seeing owls during the day. Our first was the cute malabarica race of Jungle Owlet. Later we were exceptionally lucky to encounter the rarely seen Spot-bellied Eagle Owl. The local and regularly staked-out Ceylon Frogmouth performed on cue and we were able to sup up scopefuls of these birds. We were also lucky with raptors encountering the staunch Crested (Changeable) Hawk Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Shikra and Eurasian Sparrowhawk. We also spent one evening in an open area where we were lucky to find Green, and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Vernal Hanging Parrot, and Malabar Parakeet, not to mention the seldom seen Jerdon's Nightjar.

The Sri Lanka Frogmouth is a serious specialty of this area

29 Nov: Backwoods to Baga. After spending our final morning in Backwoods we’ll make our way back to the coast and headed straight for the marshes at the Beira Mar Hotel. We were immediately rewarded with views of many waterbirds, some of which are rather reclusive, including 7 female and 2 male Greater Painted Snipe, and a somewhat curious Ruddy-breasted Crake. A flyover Amur Falcon was a bit of a surprise. The resident Brown-headed Barbet “tokked” away over the hotel.

30 Nov: Morjim Beach / Arpora Hill & Carambolim Lake. The morning started fantastically with a bevy of sand plovers along the beach including great side-by-side views of Greater and Lesser Sandplover. The highlight though was the hundreds of Small Pratincole that were scattered along the beach. There was some severe frustration however as the main gull flock wheeled around and wouldn’t settle for long. However, when they did we were quickly able to identify Heuglin’s, Great Black-headed, Brown-headed, Common Black-headed and eventually a single Slender-billed Gull. Some terns included Gull-billed Tern and Lesser Crested Tern. The afternoon was a serious treat, with many waterbirds at the spectacular Carambolim Lake, including Asian Openbill, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacana and hoardes of ducks.

1 Dec: Mayem Lake and Caligao Island. Our last full day in the Goa area, we spent the morning at Mayem, a beautiful lake where we scored Pompadour Green Pigeon and the local Grey-headed Bulbul as well as a roosting Jungle Nightjar. Later we moved off to Caligao Island where the many larks, including Malabar Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark and harriers were a highlight.

Although not spectacular, the Malabar Lark is a sought-after western Ghats endemic

2 Dec: Goa – Delhi. With this whistle-stop tour over, we packed our bags and headed for Delhi where the next sector of our N. India tour started in earnest.


Bird and mammal lists

Species Scientific name
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger
Indian Shag Phalacrocorax fuscicollis
Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Western Reef-heron Egretta gularis
Great Egret Egretta alba
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus
Indian Pond-heron Ardeola grayii
Striated Heron Butorides striata
Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus
Lesser Whistling-duck Dendrocygna javanica
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
Cotton Teal Nettapus coromandelianus
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Garganey Anas querquedula
Oriental Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus
Black Kite Milvus migrans
Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus
White-bellied Sea-eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
Crested Serpent-eagle Spilornis cheela
Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus
Shikra Accipiter badius
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Indian Spotted Eagle Aquila hastata
Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
Crested Hawk-eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Amur Falcon Falco amurensis
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Red Spurfowl Galloperdix spadicea
Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus
Slaty-breasted Rail Rallus striatus
White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
"Eastern" Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla
Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca
Purple Swamphen Porphyrio [porphyrio] poliocephalus
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus
Bronze-winged Jacana Metopidius indicus
Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus
Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii
Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus
Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Little Stint Calidris minuta
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Small Pratincole Glareola lactea
Heuglin's Gull Larus heuglini
Great Black-headed Gull Larus ichthyaetus
Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus
Common Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei
Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
Grey-fronted Green-pigeon Treron affinis
Mountain Imperial-pigeon Ducula badia
Vernal Hanging-parrot Loriculus vernalis
Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri
Plum-headed Parakeet Psittacula cyanocephala
Malabar Parakeet Psittacula columboides
"Southern" Coucal Centropus [sinensis] parroti
Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus
Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl Bubo nipalensis
(Malabar) Jungle Owlet Glaucidium radiatum malabaricum
Spotted Owlet Athene brama
Brown Hawk-owl Ninox scutulata
Ceylon Frogmouth Batrachostomus moniliger
Indian Jungle Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus
Jerdon's Nightjar Caprimulgus atripennis
Indian W-rumped Spinetail Zoonavena syvatica
Asian Palm-Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis
Little Swift Apus affinis
Malabar Trogon Harpactes fasciatus
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting
Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis
White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
Lesser Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
Little Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis
Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops leschenaulti
Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis
Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus
Brown-headed Barbet Megalaima zeylanica
White-cheeked Barbet Megalaima viridis
Malabar Barbet Megalaima rubricapilla
Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala
Indian Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos nanus
Rufous Woodpecker Micropternus brachyurus
White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis
Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense
Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus
Lesser Yellownape Picus chlorophus
Heart-spotted Woodpecker Hemicircus canente
Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
Malabar Lark Galerida malabarica
Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula
Pale Sand-martin Riparia diluta
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica
White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba
White-browed Wagtail Motacilla maderaspatensis
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Paddyfield Pipit Anthus rufulus
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Black-headed Cuckooshrike Coracina melanoptera
Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus
Orange Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus
Pied Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus picatus
Malabar Woodshrike Tephrodornis sylvicola
Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus
Asian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi
Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea
White-spotted Fantail Rhipidura albogularis
Grey-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus priocephalus
Flame-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus gularis
Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus
Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer
White-browed Bulbul Pycnonotus luteolus
Yellow-browed Bulbul Iole indica
Square-tailed Black Bulbul Hypsipetes ganeesa
Common Iora Aegithina tiphia
Gold-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons
Jerdon's Leafbird Chloropsis jerdoni
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrina
Indian Blackbird Turdus simillimus
Malabar Whistling-thrush Myophonus horsfieldii
Brown-breasted Flycatcher Muscicapa muttui
Red-throated Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla
Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae
Indian Blue Robin Luscinia brunnea
Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis
White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus
Common Stonechat Saxicola torquatus
Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata
Puff-throated Babbler Pellorneum ruficeps
Indian Scimitar-babbler Pomatorhinus [schisticeps] horsfieldii
Tawny-bellied Babbler Dumetia hyperythra
Dark-fronted Babbler Rhopocichla atriceps
Jungle Babbler Turdoides striata
Brown-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe poioicephala
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
Grey-breasted Prinia Prinia hodgsonii
Ashy Prinia Prinia socialis
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata
Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
Blyth's Reed-warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum
Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides
Bright-green Warbler Phylloscopus nitidus
Western Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus occipitalis
Indian Yellow Tit Parus aplonotus
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch Sitta frontalis
Thick-billed Flowerpecker Dicaeum agile
Pale-billed Flowerpecker Dicaeum erythrorhynchos
Nilgiri Flowerpecker Dicaeum concolor
Purple-rumped Sunbird Leptocoma zeylonica
Small Sunbird Leptocoma minima
Purple Sunbird Cinnyris asiaticus
Long-billed Sunbird Cinnyris lotenius
Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata
Black-throated Munia Lonchura kelaarti
Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Yellow-throated Petronia Petronia xanthocollis
Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus
Grey-headed Starling Sturnia malabarica
Malabar White-headed Starling Sturnia blythii
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Jungle Myna Acridotheres fuscus
Indian Golden Oriole Oriolus kundoo
Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis
Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus
Asian Fairy Bluebird Irena puella
Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
White-bellied Drongo Dicrurus caerulescens
Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus
Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus
Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda
House Crow Corvus splendens
Indian Jungle Crow Corvus [macrorhynchus] culminatus

Mammal species Scientific name
Indian Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica
Three-striped Palm Squirrel Fanambulus palmarum
Hanuman Langur Semnopithecus entellus
Bonnet Macaque Macaca radiata
Flying Fox Pteropus giganteus