Before coming out I had made contact with a local guy whom I found on Facebook. He had a terrific page which was filled with lots of wonderful photos of various birds from Goa. His name was Arup Banerjee, and luck would have it he was based in Southern Goa, not too far from where I was staying. Even better, he had just set up his own business as a bird guide, so we agreed that he would take me out for three mornings during my stay in Goa. (Apparently the sun and heat would be too intense for a full day birding!). We emailed each other quite a lot in the weeks leading up to my visit, and each time Arup was extremely polite, jovial, and very friendly. Even so, you never truly know somebody via a computer so when he arrived to pick me up at 6.30am for our first trip there was a touch of apprehension. I genuinely needn't have worried about anything. Arup was without doubt one of the nicest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. A great conversationalist, with a cracking sense of humour, he was a pleasure to spend time with and great company all round. And more importantly he knew all the best places in the area to go birding! On that first morning we were concentrating on water birds, and I was genuinely amazed at how much water there was in Goa. There were ponds, rivers and rice fields all over the place, and each one contained a load of birds. The very first one we arrived at was a perfect example of this, there were so many birds it was almost overwhelming and it was really difficult to know where to start! What WAS immediately noticeable was how many Garganeys there were, literally hundreds of them. I've never seen so many before. In county Durham we're lucky to see one or two each year on passage, but here they were everywhere. And then I slowly started to take in the other birds that were around. Comb Ducks and Lesser Whistling Ducks were abundant, as were Greenshanks, and in amongst these birds I started to pick out individuals of other species including Bronze Winged Jacana, Oriental Darter, Purple Heron, Little Cormorant and Purple Swamphen. There was a small flock of River Terns coming and going, and a single Whiskered Tern patrolled the pond looking for food. We also saw the first two species of Kingfishers here, Common Kingfisher and White Throated Kingfisher. It was a tremendous start to the day, and over the next couple of hours we consistently picked up more and more new species with every site we visited. First up was Spot Billed Duck, then there was Black Headed Ibis, and Pheasant Tailed Jacana, Intermediate Egret, Openbill Stork etc etc. It wasnt just water birds we were picking up, there was Black Drongos, Spotted Dove, Tailorbird, Pied Bushchat, Indian Roller, Long Tailed Shrike, Indian Robin, Jungle Mynah, Indian Silverbill, Oriental Skylark, Paddyfield Pipit and many more. We even got a third Kingfisher, the Pied Kingfisher, at the last pond we went to. It was a great morning, filled with birds galore new and familiar. But there was still time for one more beauty on our journey back. We pulled up at a field that had plenty of things like Little Egrets and Glossy Ibis etc, and then after a bit of a search Arup spotted the bird he was looking for, a Painted Stork. What a majestic bird, and a superb way to end our first morning.
BLACK HEADED IBIS
BRONZE WINGED JACANA
PYGMY COTTON GOOSE
SPOT BILLED DUCK
All the photos above were taken by Arup Banerjee and used by very kind permission.