Saturday, 23 March 2013


Having spent quite a lot of time visiting the Caribbean in recent years, myself and Maria decided we'd try something a bit different for a change and visit an area neither of us had ever been before, Asia. It was decided (by Maria of course!) that Goa in India would be our first taste of this new continent, and to be honest that was fine by me! I bought myself a good bird book and the weeks leading up to the holiday I studied as much as I could so I could be as ready as possible for the new species I would hopefully be seeing. From the moment we left the house to the time we arrived at the hotel, it was by far the easiest journey we've ever had. Literally every single stage went as smoothly as it possibly could which was an absolute treat. We left the house at 4am to drive to Manchester,  the roads were practically empty and the drive was extremely comfortable and we arrived just as the check in girl was sitting down! She informed us we were in for a rare treat, as there were only 26 people on the whole of the plane!!! Excellent, almost an entire aeroplane to ourselves! The plane left on time, the flight was smooth and uneventful, and we landed in Goa about 20minutes early. Even getting through arrivals and customs was stupidly easy, as it was well after midnight and the airport was empty. The downside to that of course was it was pitch black, so any new birds would have to wait till the morning. The hotel was lovely, maybe in need of a lick of paint here and there, but it was nice and clean which is the main thing. And the staff were magnificent. To a man they were friendly, cheerful and would do anything to make you feel special. We had definitely hit lucky with this hotel. Wildlife-wise the holiday was a bit of a mixed bag. Before leaving the UK I had hired a guide to take me out a couple of mornings, but I'll write about that later. For now I'll just concentrate on around the hotel. The first bird of the trip (other than the ubiquitous Feral Pigeons!!!) was one of the birds I was really looking forward to seeing, the Red Whiskered Bulbul. Its a beautiful bird to look at, and also I discovered to hear! Its stunning song woke us every morning, but it was always a pleasure to hear. The Bulbul turned out to be a very common bird, but nowhere near as common as the House Crow. They were absolutely everywhere! There were two species of raptors that were also remarkably abundant, the Black Kite and the Brahminy Kite. From mid-morning they would turn up in mass flocks and just soar on the thermals looking for food. It was terrific to see, particularly the Brahminy Kite, its one of the most beautiful birds of prey I've ever seen. Other birds seen around the grounds included Purple Rumped Sunbirds, Oriental Magpie Robins, White Rumped Munias, Greater Coucals, Green BeeEaters, Asian Koels, and a pair of Black Rumped Flamebacks, all of which were totally new to me. Another bird seen easily was the Eurasian Golden Oriole. Although I have seen these in the UK I've never seen them as good as this and it was a delight to see. There were more birds down on the beach, which was a mere five minute stroll away. The beach itself held a nice flock of 50+ Brown Headed Gulls, and on one occasion they were joined by a single Black Headed Gull. It was a great chance to see the difference in size between the two species. On another occasion a handful of Gull Billed Terns joined the flock. Also on the beach were two species of wader I'd not seen before, Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers. Again, it was good to see them side by side to get a better chance of comparisons. A number of other species were seen around the many tidal pools scattered along the beach. The most common was the Indian Pond Heron, there was at least one on every pool. There were also plenty of Little Egrets and Cattle Egrets, and a pair of Red Wattled Lapwings were regular. On a couple of occasions a White Breasted Waterhen was seen but it always scooted off whenever it noticed I was there. A number of more familiar waders were seen around the pools including Common and Wood Sandpipers, Redshanks and Greenshanks. The only other new bird in this area was the White Browed Wagtails, which were a fairly common sight. They were noticeably bigger than our Wagtails, but just as tame. Other wildlife was hugely disappointing. Only one species of lizard was seen, a Gecko that I am unfamiliar with, although it was very common around the hotel. Only one mammal was seen, an Asian House Shrew, and that was on the night we came home. Only a handful of butterflies were around, and I only saw two species of moths the whole time, which was a huge disappointment! The best wildlife was understandably away from the hotel, but I cant really complain with what I did see locally. After all its not like I see them every day in sunderland!





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