Saturday, 30 March 2013

Goa Trip 3 - RIVER TRIP

For our final trip, Arup booked us on a birding cruise up the river Zuari in the hope of seeing a host of Kingfishers and probably my most sought after bird, the White Bellied Sea Eagle! Another early start saw us on the road for 6.30am, and we had an enjoyably relaxed drive inland stopping on a number of occasions to look at the various water birds en route. One such bird was a fabulous Woolly Necked Stork. I had seen them before in Gambia but those birds were quite distant, so it was nice to get a much better view. We arrived at the jetty nice and early and Arup enjoyed a nice cup of tea while I watched a flock of Red Rumped Swallows showing off their aerial acrobatics. We were joined on the boat by a couple of other birders, but I made sure I had a seat at the front as past experience taught me that you get the best views from up front! As we set off, the first place the boatsman took us was a lovely big railway bridge that towered above the river. His target was a Peregrine Falcon, a bird I'd seen many many times so as the other 'birders' ooh'd and aah'd at the common raptor I focused on a group of Dusky Crag Martins who had made their home under the bridge. First new birds of the day! And the next were mere moments away, as we past a small group of Great Crested Terns perched on wooden posts coming out of the water. These posts were scattered all over the river, and 99.9% seemed to be occupied by Ospreys!!! I've never seen so many, they were absolutely everywhere and they all allowed incredibly close views. We continued on, seeing a number of already seen species, until the boatsman spotted something flying overhead and land in the trees to our left. We searched for what seemed like ages until finally Arup picked up the bird in the foliage, a stunning Orange Breasted Green Pigeon. Our patience was rewarded when the bird came out and perched ontop of a bush in clear view. What an incredibly beautiful bird it was, its colours almost glowing in the bright morning sunshine. It was while we were watching the Pigeon that we saw our first new Kingfisher of the day as a gorgeous Collared Kingfisher flew past and landed up ahead. This was the first of many Collared Kingfishers as they were extremely abundant on this stretch of river. We then turned off the main river and headed up a stretch that was much thinner and more dense along the riverbanks. This was when the real goodies started to show! First up was a pair of possibly one of the ugliest species of bird I've seen, the Lesser Adjutant. Big and extremely unattractive, yet very scarce here so it was still good to see. Next up was a real skulker, a Slaty Breasted Rail. It was really hard to get onto this bird as it hugged the muddy reedbed but it did come out into the open on a couple of occasions. Then came a tremendous double-whammy! We were slowly crawling along when something flew across us from one side to the other. After a little search we came across the bird, a fabulous Stork Billed Kingfisher. This was a huge bird, easily the biggest Kingfisher I've seen. The bird was very flighty and kept flying off whenever we got near it, and it was as we were following it that we saw the best bird of the day. We were creeping up to the Stork Bill when we unexpectedly flushed an amazing Black Capped Kingfisher. This is probably the scarcest of all the Kingfishers in this region, and we were extremely lucky to stumble across this one. Incredibly it was the sixth species of Kingfisher I'd seen on my trip! This rounded off an incredible morning. The only downside was missing the Sea Eagle, but to be honest all the other species more than made up for it. I'd had a magnificent three days with Arup, saw a lot of fantastic wildlife and thoroughly enjoyed his company. He helped to make it a very special holiday and for that he has my highest gratitude.










A big thank you to Arup for the fantastic photographs.

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