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India birding diary
Bill & Doreen Stair, November 15 2000 - January 15, 2001
The continuing saga of our year-long, theoretically low budget, RTW birding trip. Apologies for the spottiness in these trip reports, but compiling them is coming a distant third to birding and the day-to-day stuff. Hopefully I'll flesh them out a bit more when we eventually get back.
Collared Scops-Owl, Bharatpur
|Corbett National Park &
surrounding area: an overview
Birding the Corbett area is complicated by bureaucracy, topography, and tigers. We would have done things a little differently if we'd know more in advance, so I'll try and explain some stuff here that may hopefully make things easier for anyone planning a trip here in the future.
The park HQ is located in Ramnagar - 19 Km from the park entrance - where entry permits must be purchased at least one day in advance. (If they're in a good mood, they'll let you buy a same-day permit, but don't count on it - and don't even think about going to the gate without coming here first). Many jeeps wait outside the HQ and will drive you to the Dhikala compound for about 500 rupees, so getting there is no problem. (Be prepared to pay an additional entrance fee for the jeep and driver when you get to the gate. Or you could just get the bus). There is a lookout point just off the road a few Km before the compound; if you get a jeep, try and get the driver to stop here - we saw a Grey-headed Fish Eagle from this point.
In Ramnagar there is a cheap, fairly clean government rest-house, conveniently close to the HQ. The stretch of the Kosi river that runs through town is reputedly one of the best places in the world to see the Ibisbill, so an overnight stay in Ramnagar is well worth it. (If you're not on a budget, you might want to stay somewhere a bit more upmarket than the rest-house, but it is the nearest place to the river. The Corbett Inn was under construction when we were there, so maybe that'll be a more pleasant option in the future. It's also worth knowing that there is nowhere in Ramnagar to cash traveler's checks, and the only place to change hard currency is a confectionary store which gives predictably bad rates of exchange).
It's important to realize that there are two entrances to the park: Amanda gate, (nearest to Ramnagar) can only be used for half day visits, where you look for tigers by jeep or elephant. From a birding point of view, this is a complete waste of time and money. Don't be conned into making this trip.
A much better option is to enter via the Dhangarhi gate. If you do this, you must stay overnight at the cheap and seedy government rest-house in Dhikala, well located in the heart of park. This must be booked in advance at the park HQ in Ramnagar when you get your entry permit. Even though you can't go beyond the grasslands adjacent to the compound, (due to the presence of tigers), the birding here is excellent. If you stay longer and take a jeep or elephant ride further into the park, you stand a chance of finding even more species, although it's hardly the best way to bird. When you leave Dhikala, you must get a check-out receipt and present it at the gate - otherwise you could get sent back to the compound, a journey of an hour and a half.
Most tourists come to Corbett to see tigers and stay in one of the many, varyingly priced lodges dotted around the park. If you only have a couple of days to bird here, it makes more sense to stick to the government rest-houses in Ramnagar and Dhikala, and then move on to Nainital.
About an hour north of Ramnagar there are two lodges right on the banks of the Ramganga river, in Marchula. The birding here is also excellent, and you can see certain species that are hard to find anywhere else in the area (Crested Kingfishers, Spotted Forktails, Wallcreepers, and Brown Dippers). We initially booked into the Solluna Resort, where the food was great, but where the management had no comprehension of birding and tried to dissuade us from staying in Dhikala. However, the Corbett Ramganga Lodge - located about a quarter mile downriver - is an entirely different story. The owner is a keen birder, and he not only gave us excellent advice on where to find particular species, but provided us with guides to take us around the local trails where we could bird to our hearts' content. (The area around the Quality Inn is also supposed to be good for birding).
About three hours north of Ramnagar (on a different route from the road which takes you to the park and Marchula) is the town of Nainital, an essential part of any birding trip in this area. (The Oriental Bird Club recommends three days in Corbett and four days in Nainital during a two week trip to North India). A jeep from Ramnagar cost us 700 rupees, but you can also make the journey by bus or train. The trail to Tiffin Top, where you can find many excellent species, is easy to find and well maintained, but you can find many amazing birds just by walking along the road out of town. There are also many other easily accessible trails near town.
So, after having spent two very enjoyable weeks birding around here, we feel the best way to approach this area would be as follows: stay at least one night in Ramnagar, birding the river Kosi while sorting out permits and accommodation for the Dhikala rest-house; then, after spending at least one night at Dhikala, get a jeep to the Corbett Ramganga Lodge and spend a night or two there; following this, spend at least two days in Nainital, birding the trails and roads just outside town. The nearby locations of Mangoli and Sat tal are also supposed to be worth birding. The area around St. John's church is supposed to be good for Russet Sparrow, but unfortunately this seems to be the hangout for Nainital's apprentice juvenile delinquents and budding pyromaniacs, so we are unable to bird - an experience not unfamiliar to anyone who's birded anywhere, I think. Fortunately, the rest of Nainital is great and this is the only place we feel threatened. So much for the Russet Sparrow - maybe next time.
Hoopoe, White-throated & Crested Kingfishers, Oriental Turtle Dove, Red-headed Vulture, Blue Whistling Thrush, Black Redstart, White-capped & Plumbeous Water Redstarts, Stonechat, Grey Bushchat, Common Myna, Wallcreeper, Red-rumped Swallow, Red-whiskered, Red-vented & Himalayan Bulbuls, Plain Prinia, Oriental White-eye, Jungle Babbler, White & White-browed Wagtails, Scaly-breasted Munias, and Long-tailed Shrike.
Corbett N.P. via Amanda gate
Best moments: a couple of Long-billed Vultures and Indian Robins in the compound. Also: White-throated Kingfisher, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Crested Treeswift, Rufous Treepie, Large-billed Crow, Large Cuckooshrike, Common Iora, Stonechat, Pied Bushchat, Common Myna, Red-whiskered, Red-vented & Himalayan Bulbuls, White & White-browed Wagtails.
Bumping into the owner of the Corbett Ramganga Lodge, he tips us off as to the precise location of the Spotted Forktail, Doreen's first. (By the waterfall). We arrange to check in tomorrow morning. Also seen this afternoon: Grey-headed Woodpecker, Long-tailed Shrike, Blue Whistling Thrush, Hoopoe, White-capped & Plumbeous Water Redstarts, Grey Bushchat, Red-whiskered, Red-vented & Himalayan Bulbuls, Plain Prinia, Jungle Babbler, Paddyfield Pipit, White & White-browed Wagtails.
We cross the little footbridge and walk through a village, taking the trail up to the summit where we can look down on the river and both lodges. Apparently good for pheasants around here very early in the morning. Grey-headed Woodpecker, Greater & Lesser Yellownapes, Hoopoe, Crested Kingfisher, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Rufous Treepie, Brown Dipper, Blue Whistling Thrush, Black Redstart, White-capped & Plumbeous Water Redstarts, Stonechat, Common Myna, Wallcreeper, Great & Black-lored Tits, Plain Martin, Red-vented & Himalayan Bulbuls, White-crested Laughingthrush, Grey Wagtail.
Mr. Singh accompanies us on an afternoon jeep ride to the Mohan - Ranikhet road, a good spot for birding but a bit slow this afternoon. We do find some Ashy Bulbuls and almost run over some Kalij Pheasants on the way back. Also: Great & Black-lored Tits, Red-whiskered, Red-vented & Himalayan Bulbuls.
Ramganga river area
Taking the trails up on the lodge side of the river, an excellent day's birding. Grey-crowned Pygmy & Fulvous-breasted Woodpeckers, Blue-throated Barbet, Hoopoe, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Rufous Treepie, Long-tailed Minivet, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, White-throated & Yellow-bellied Fantails, Blue Whistling Thrush, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Red-throated & Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers, White-capped & Plumbeous Water Redstarts, Grey Bushchat, Common Myna, Velvet-fronted & Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches, Bar-tailed Treecreeper, Black-throated, Black-lored & Great Tits, Black, Red-vented & Himalayan Bulbuls, Blue-winged Minla (in the village), Green-tailed Sunbird, White & White-browed Wagtails, Grey-hooded Warblers.
Ramganga river, afternoon
Crested & Common Kingfishers, Indian Cormorant, Little Pied Flycatcher, River Lapwing, Grey Wagtail, Jungle Babbler, House Sparrow.
Ramnagar, Kosi river
The area between the dam and the short circular tower is not the most pleasant place in the world, but the birding is good, and there's always the chance of an Ibisbill. We see: Little Grebe, Ruddy Shelduck, Little Egret, Little Heron, Common Hawk Cuckoo, Black Kite, White-rumped Vulture, Common Sandpiper, River & Red-wattled Lapwings, Rock & Spotted Doves, Common & White-throated Kingfishers, Green Bee-eater, Common & Bank Mynas, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Black Redstart, White-capped & Plumbeous Water Redstarts, Plain Martin, Indian Robin, Red-rumped Swallow, Red-vented Bulbul, Oriental White-eye, Tailorbird, House Sparrow, White, White-browed, Yellow & Grey Wagtails.
A quick look for the Ibisbill before setting off for Dhikala yields: flocks of Rose-ringed Parakeets, Little Heron, Eurasian Coot, Moorhen, Red-crested Pochard, (sadly not a male in breeding plumage), Pied Starling, River & Red-wattled Lapwing, Little Egret, Green Bee-eater, White & White-browed Wagtail, Black Drongo, Scaly-breasted Munia, Indian Cormorant, Pied & Common Kingfishers, Jungle Babblers.
Dhikala, Corbett N.P.
Arriving in the heat of mid-afternoon, we head out into the grasslands to the watchtower, keeping a keen eye out for signs of tigers. From the tower we have great eye-level looks at an Alexandrine Parakeet and look down at a grumpy Jungle Owlet that abandons his perch, flashing the rufous of his wings, only to return to it some minutes later. Also: Greater Flameback, Osprey, Red-headed Vulture, Rufous Treepie, Large-billed Crow, Blue Whistling Thrush, Stonechat, Plain Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Black Crested, Red-vented, Red-whiskered, & Himalayan Bulbuls, Ashy Prinia, Chiffchaff, and flocks of Bright-headed Cisticolas and spectacular Red Avadavats.
Dhikala, Corbett N.P.
Out again at dawn we spy a pair of Black-shouldered Kites perched on a dead tree. Later in the day we see them hunting over the grasslands. There is a tremendous amount of activity, with massive mixed flocks moving through the grasses and around the trees at the base of the watchtower. We see: Collared Falconet, Rufous Treepie, Small Minivet, (males & females) White-throated Fantail, Dark-throated Thrush, Stonechat, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Great Tit, Red-rumped Swallow, Plain Martin, Himalayan & Red-vented Bulbuls, Ashy, & Grey-breasted Prinias, Bright-headed Cisticola, Oriental White-eye, Chiffchaff, Hume's Warbler, Yellow-eyed Babbler, Crested & Chestnut-eared Buntings, and Alexandrine Parakeets. Driving out, we stop an overlook and observe a Grey-headed Fish Eagle gliding over, and pass by a beautiful Black-necked Stork and flocks of White-crested Laughingthrush.
In the town of Nainital, there are Streaked Laughingthrushes all over the place. Walking up the hill along the road we drove in on, we run into some fantastic mixed flocks. The Great Barbets are perhaps the most spectacular birds, but we are also impressed by the Spot-winged Tits, Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes, Whiskered Yuhinas, and Black-chinned Babblers. Not to mention the Black Kites, Large-billed Crows, White-crowned Water Redstarts, Grey Bushchats, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches, Eurasian & Bar-tailed Treecreepers, Green-backed, Black-throated & Black-lored Tits, Himalayan Bulbuls, Grey-hooded Warblers, Rufous Sibias, and Blue Whistling Thrushes. The church n'er-do-wells prevent us from looking for the Russet Sparrow, but we are lucky enough to find a Blue-fronted Redstart just outside.
Tiffin Top trail, Nainital
The field just below the summit is excellent, with a Brown-headed Woodpecker and flocks of White-throated Laughingthrushes, Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes, amazing looking Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babblers, and a Buff-barred Warbler. On the trail up we see House Swifts and a Red-billed Blue Magpie (both apparently late), Oriental Turtle Doves, Large-billed & House Crows, Blue Whistling Thrushes, a Scaly Thrush, a Grey-winged Blackbird, a female Orange-flanked Bush-Robin, Grey Bushchats, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches, Spot-winged, Green-backed, Black-lored & Black-throated Tits, Nepal Martins, Grey-hooded Warblers, Streaked Laughingthrushes, Black-chinned Babblers, and Rufous Sibias.
From the summit we see many adult and juvenile Himalayan Griffons and a possible Steppe Eagle. In the woods we catch a glimpse of a Black-headed Jay, as well as his Eurasian counterpart. On the way back to town we investigate a mixed flock that includes an Ashy-throated Warbler.
Tiffin Top trail, Nainital
Failing to find a cab driver who will take us to Mangoli, we head back up to Tiffin Top, reversing our routes up and down. From the summit we see many more Himalayan Griffons, a possible Common Buzzard and confirm yesterday's questionable Steppe Eagle. In the great field just below, we're lucky enough to find a Himalayan Woodpecker, as well as flocks of beautiful Black-headed Jays. We also encounter a huge flock of White-throated Laughingthrushes and have great views of them. On the way up we have great looks at a Scaly-breasted Woodpecker and another, perfectly lit Buff-barred Warbler. Walking back down we startle a large galliform that is either a Kalij Pheasant or a Himalayan Monal - presumably the former. A little later we just miss identifying a small flock of possible Hill Partridges. We do see: Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches, Bar-tailed Treecreepers, Spot-winged, Green-backed, Black-lored & Black-throated Tits, Grey-hooded Warblers, Streaked & Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes, Whiskered Yuhinas, Blue Whistling Thrushes, Rufous Sibias, Large-billed Crows, Eurasian Jays, male & female Orange-flanked Bush Robins, and Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babblers.
Taking a jeep back to Ramnagar, we stop off at Mangoli village. Due to health issues, we only stay about an hour, but it proves to be as important a birding location as Nainital. Taking the trail up to the ridge behind the village, a flock of Slaty-headed Parakeets lands in a tree just in front of us, affording us excellent views of them - a species we had been hoping to see since Corbett. Even better, an adult Lammergeier cruises above us, another target species we had yet to see. Walking back to the jeep we pass a Rufous-breasted Accentor, completing the list of rare species which we were able to see here despite cutting the visit short. Also present: Grey Bushchat, Red-vented & Himalayan Bulbuls, Streaked Laughingthrush, Grey-hooded Warbler, Grey-breasted Prinia, Black-headed Jay, Blue Whistling Thrush, Oriental White-eye.
Back in Ramnagar and still feeling less than top notch, we check out the Kosi for the Ibisbill once more. We don't find it, but are lucky enough to see a flock of Plum-headed Parakeets among the many Rose-ringed, not to mention the Indian Grey Hornbill that casually flies by. A Bluethroat foraging by the banks of the river is also a good sighting for us. Also around: the same two Ruddy Shelducks and Red-Crested Pochard (we assume), Crested, Pied, White-throated & Common Kingfishers, Green Bee-eater, Little Egret, Pied Starling, Indian Cormorant, Red-rumped Swallow, Little Grebe, White, White-browed & Grey Wagtails, Indian Pond Heron, Black Drongo, Jungle Babbler, Common Sandpiper, River & Red-wattled Lapwings, Black Kite, Large-billed Crow, Rock Dove, Rufous Treepie, White-crowned & Plumbeous Water Redstart, Yellow-eyed babbler, Red-vented Bulbul. An amazing number of species for such a tiny stretch of river.
Our last day here and yet another search for the Ibisbill. One theory is that it's been unseasonably warm and it's just not here yet, but later in the day, as we wander towards the Amanda gate, a stall-holder tells us that the Ibisbill has been present - just further south of the dam and on the stretch of river nearer the park. We check it out, but with no luck. We see most of the usual birds today and, early on, an unmistakable Dusky Crag Martin mixed in with the Plain Martins and Red-rumped Swallows. A common bird apparently, but not around here. In addition to the regulars, we also see Green Sandpipers and a Little-ringed Plover. After our last search, the night train to Delhi - maybe we'll find the Ibisbill some other day.
Buddha Jayanta Park, Delhi
A pleasant city park where we fail to find Wheatley's specialties, but we do see: Black-rumped Flamebacks, White-throated Kingfishers, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Laughing & Eurasian Collared Doves, White-breasted Waterhens, a Shikra, Black Kites, White-rumped Vultures, Rufous Treepies, House Crows, Small Minivets, Common Woodshrikes, Black Redstarts, Indian & Oriental Magpie Robins, Common Mynas, Red-vented Bulbuls, Jungle Babblers, and Oriental White-eyes.
Taj Mahal, Agra
A scope might help birding the Yamuna river behind the Taj Mahal, but there's no way in which it could be brought in past the heavy security. Even so, it's possible to see many species on the water's edge, as well as dozens of Egyptian Vultures circling overhead and perching on the buildings. The surrounding gardens also support such species as the Indian Grey Hornbill. Also: Ruddy Shelduck, Hoopoe, White-throated & Pied Kingfishers, Rose-ringed Parakeets, House Swifts, Redshanks, River & Red-wattled Lapwings, Black-winged Stilts, Pied Avocets, Black-bellied Terns, Black Kites, Little, Intermediate & Great Egrets, Indian Pond Herons, Rufous Treepies, House Crows, Red-throated Flycatchers, Common Mynas, Red-vented Bulbuls, Jungle Babblers, and White-browed Wagtails.
Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur.
Bharatpur is indeed, as Wheatley says, a birdwatcher's paradise. In fact we had so much fun birding there that our notes suffered, and what follows is condensed for reasons of time. One day I hope to get around to uploading more extensive notes. While there we stayed at the excellent Falcon Guest House, and spent much of our time in the company of Dilip Saini, whose eagle-eyes and incredible knowledge of the area provided us with far more species than we could have found on our own. (You can contact him at 05644-30555 or 05644-25701). On 12/9/00 we took a side trip to the Bund Bharatha reservoir and the nearby Raja's palace, where we were able to find many species not present at Keoladeo. The road there and back also provided some interesting birds.
Highlights were plentiful, but the first day with Dilip stands out. What can you say about a day that starts with a nightjar and ends with a bittern?
Keoladeo/Bund Bharatha species list:
12/13/00 - 12/14/00
Ranthambore National Park
In direct contrast to Bharatpur, Ranthambore was a nightmare - largely due to the horrible Ankur Resort Hotel. The lack of hot water was eclipsed by the subsequent absence of any water at all, but we should have got the idea that something wasn't right when we heard the deafening machinery that was running when we arrived. Despite being assured that it would only last another hour, it continued all night, making sleep impossible.
Ranthambore is a tiger park, so you get the same kind of problems as Corbett, but things are compounded by the limited number of vehicles theoretically allowed in per day. We asked the Ankur to book us a jeep for the morning, and they informed us that we had to take it for both the morning and the afternoon shifts, doubling the rental and park entrance fees and far exceeding our budget. When we refused, they cunningly tried doubling the price for the morning, and when that didn't work, they sold our spot to someone else. They were such a nasty bunch that we left Ranthambore early and only went into the park once, on the back of a canter (truck full of tourists). Consequently, we not only failed to see a tiger - quite an achievement considering all the time we spent in India - but also did hardly any birding. The slim highlights: a Wire-tailed Swallow at nearby Surbal Bund, an Asian Koel outside the park, and a Pallid Harrier flying over the canter. At Surbal Bund we also saw a flock of flamingoes flying in against the setting sun, but weren't able to ascertain the species.
12/23/00 - 1/10/01
As any fule kno, the birding in Goa is excellent. The fact that we hooked up with ex-pat bird guide Gordon Frost and later stayed at the Backwoods Camp ensured that we had expert help while we were there. Gordon's phone number is in the Goa Lonely planet, and the Backwoods number is: 91 0832 436109. (They hope to have a website sorted out soon). The fact that Gordon and the Backwoods crew each provide transport means that we did a lot of zipping around, so once again I apologize for the inadequacies of any location specifics.
When we arrived in Panjim on the evening of the 23rd, we saw several Brahminy Kite over the estuary, and on Christmas morning we saw our first Purple-rumped Sunbird.
Salim Ali Sanctuary, Goa
This tiny sanctuary preserves a few, highly important acres of mangrove. Unfortunately, the trails have fallen into disrepair, so the only way to see it is by hiring a boat for a few hours - expensive, and hardly ideal. We took the car ferry back and forth a few times (spotting a Western Reef Egret along the way) and birded the fields and dykes east of the sanctuary. Present in good numbers were: Common Kingfisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Little-ringed Plover, Gull-billed Tern, Brahminy Kite, Eurasian Marsh Harrier (one male), Little Cormorant, Intermediate & Cattle Egret, Indian Pond Heron, House Crow, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Black Drongo, Common & Jungle Myna, Red-rumped & Wire-tailed Swallows, Ashy Prinia, Common Tailorbird, and Purple Sunbird.
Isle de Goa
We started out with Gordon at this choice location quite near Panjim. Small Pratincole, Lesser Sand-Plover, Greater Sand-Plover, Little-ringed Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper, Gull-billed Tern, and Green Bee-eater.
Birding this and the adjacent paddy-fields, we saw: Common Snipe, Small Pratincole, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, Black-winged Stilt, Pheasant-tailed & Bronze-winged Jacanas, Pacific Golden Plover, RW Lapwing, Comb Duck, Lesser Whistling Duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Common Teal, Garganey, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Asian Koel, Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, Spotted Dove, Wooly-necked Stork, Common Coot, Moorhen, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Little Grebe, Little & Indian Cormorants, Purple & Grey Herons, Black Drongo, House Crow, Little, Intermediate, Great & Cattle Egrets, and Jungle Myna.
Nearby, Gordon took us to the roost of a Brown Hawk Owl. Along the way, we passed several Malabar Larks.
A bit slower today than usual, apparently, but we do see: Indian Roller, Hoopoe, Eurasian Kestrel, Red-rumped & Wire-tailed Swallows, Greater Coucal, House Swift, Brahminy & Black Kite, Western Reef Egret (from the ferry), Lesser Adjutant, Brown Shrike, and Stonechat.
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
We parked the car at the base of the hill and walked up, not even entering the park proper. Still very fruitful. Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Greater Flameback, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Greater Coucal, House Swift, Emerald Dove, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Green Sandpiper, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Booted Eagle, House Crow, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Ashy, Bronzed & Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Black-naped Monarch, Asian Paradise Flycatcher (both morphs), Common Iora, Large Woodshrike, Blue-capped Rock Thrush, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Orange-headed Thrush (cyanotus), Brown-breasted Flycatcher, Red-throated Flycatcher, Velvet-fronted Flycatcher, Red-rumped Swallow, Black-crested Flycatcher (fuscoflavescens), Red-vented Bulbul, Blyth's Reed, Greenish & Western Crowned Warbler, Dark-fronted Babbler, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Purple & Crimson-backed Sunbird, Little Spiderhunter, and White-rumped Munia.
Tagging along with Gordon and a couple of Scottish birders in search of storks, we visit a few obscure locations around Goa. Bird of the day is our first Paddyfield Warbler. Also: White-throated Kingfisher, Green & Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, House Swift, Spotted Dove, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Common & Spotted Redshank, Common Greenshank, Common, Green, Wood, Curlew, & Terek Sandpiper, Little Stint, Ruff, Black-winged Stilt, Bronze-winged Jacana, Small Pratincole, Pacific Golden Plover, RW Lapwing, Gull-billed Tern, Black & Brahminy Kite, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Besra, Little Cormorant, Little & Cattle Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Asian Openbill, White Stork, Long-tailed Shrike, House Crow, Black Drongo, Bluethroat, Jungle Myna, Wire-tailed, Streak-throated, Red-rumped & Barn Swallows, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Paddyfield Pipit, Malabar Lark, Citrine & Yellow Wagtails, and Baya Weavers.
Once again with Gordon, we see his and our first Grasshopper Warblers. Also: Indian Peafowl, Common & White-throated Kingfishers, Green Bee-eater, Plum-headed Parakeet, Brown Shrike, Small Minivet, and White-rumped Munia.
Morgim Beach area
Larid time, before a very unseasonable rainstorm: Pallas's Gull, Black-headed & Brown-headed Gulls, Gull-billed & Lesser Crested Terns. Also, some distant gulls that might be either Yellow-legged or Heuglin's. Also: Lesser & Greater Sand Plovers and Paddyfield Pipit.
Golden-fronted & Blue-winged Leafbirds, nesting White-bellied Sea Eagles, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Black-headed Cuckooshrike, Hoopoe, Crested Treeswift, unidentified nightjar, Spotted Dove, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied & Ashy Drongo, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Red-vented Bulbul, Greenish Warbler, Purple-rumped & Crimson Sunbirds.
1/2/01 - 1/4/01
Backwoods Camp, Goa
Backwoods Camp, located in Goa's Western Ghats, is wonderful. Their two and a half day birding programs are well thought out, the accommodation and food are good, the beer is cold, and in addition to being extremely knowledgeable about the local birdlife, they're really nice. It's probably the best run bird-oriented camp we've stayed at, and also one of the best deals. The only problem in this case is that they zipped us around so many places in such a short space of time that, once again, my location notes are virtually non-existent. However, they know the birds, and with the sad exception of the Sri Lanka Frogmouth that formerly roosted in the camp, they can deliver them. The spot-lit nightjar extravaganza at the temple was one of our more memorable experiences on this trip. (Getting in touch with the Backwoods boys was a little tricky, though. They are apparently working on a website, but in the meantime they can probably be found advertising in British birding magazines).
Backwoods Camp species list:
1/4/01 - 1/5/01
Baga, Hotel Beira Mer
A day and a half at this other famous Goan site yielded the remarkably tame Cinnamon Bittern - not to mention the quite predictable Black-capped Kingfisher, Painted Snipes, and Ruddy-breasted Crake. Also seen around, at the hotel and in the immediate vicinity: White-throated Kingfisher, Lesser-spotted Eagle, Rosy & Chestnut-tailed Starlings, Common & Jungle Mynas, Cattle Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Brahminy Kite, House & Asian Palm Swifts, Crested Treeswift. Red-rumped Swallow, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Paddyfield Pipit, White-browed Wagtail, Common & Wood Sandpipers, Hoopoe, Common Snipe, Purple Gallinule, Ruff, White-rumped Munia, White-breasted Waterhen, Black Kite, Green & Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Bluethroat, and Baya Weaver.
1/10/01 - 1/14/01
Mamallapuram and Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary
Despite our best efforts to get to Thailand sooner, we ended up spending several days in Tamil Nadu. As expected, Chennai was not an ideal birding location, so we headed south to the little town of Mamallapuram. The 'temple walk' behind the town yielded some good species, but the (relatively) nearby Vedanthangal sanctuary was great. Despite its tiny size, it's a very important breeding ground, and the trees were covered with thousands and thousands of birds. It's definitely worth a short visit - the site of so many Eurasian Spoonbills and Glossy & Black-headed Ibis in full breeding plumage is spectacular.
Birds seen at Vedanthangal and around Mamallapuram: Jungle Bush Quail, Shoveler, Pintail, Spot-billed Duck, Indian Roller, Hoopoe, Pied & White-throated Kingfishers, Blue-tailed & Green Bee-eaters, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Common Hawk Cuckoo, Greater Coucal, Blue-faced Malkoha, Asian Koel, Asian Palm Swift, Spotted, Eurasian Collared & Red Collared Doves, Moorhen, Black Kite, Shikra, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Oriental Darter, Little Cormorant, Moorhen, White-breasted Waterhen, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt, Gull-billed Tern, Little, Great, & Cattle Egrets, Black-crowned Night, Indian Pond & Grey Herons, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy & Black-headed Ibis, Spot-billed Pelican, Asian Openbill, Painted Stork, Bay-backed Shrike, Rufous Treepie, House & Large-billed Crows, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Black & Ashy Drongos, Oriental Magpie Robin, Indian Robin, Pied Bushchat, Chestnut-tailed, Rosy & Brahminy Starlings, Common Myna, Barn Swallow, White-browed & Red-vented Bulbuls, Common Tailorbird, Blyth's Reed & Greenish Warblers, White-browed & Yellow-billed Babblers, Loten's, Purple & Purple-rumped Sunbirds, Paddyfield Pipit, White-browed Wagtail.
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