Monday, February 11, 2008

Goaing Forwoods

Still in Goa
I came back last night from a trip up to the legendary "Backwoods Birding Camp", in the foothills of the Wstern Ghats, about 50km inland from the beaches. Strictly speaking, i wasn't actually at Backwoods itself, but if i wrote that i had been to the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife sanctuary, nobody would have a clue where it was, such is the stranglehold that Backwoods have on visiting birders.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, i didnt ant to stay with Backwoods, beacuase a) they're too expensive, and b) i prefer to find birds for myself.
So i got a bus from the coast up to the town of Ponda, which had the closest acommodation to BM WLS (there is a resort on the edge of the sanctuary, but some appaling timing by meant that i arrived at the weekend and it was all full).
The first afternoon i headed up to Bondla WLS, about 15 km from Ponda. It was too hot to bird effectively, but i still picked up some good stuff, notably Blue-capped Rock-thrush, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher and Lesser Adjutant.
The next morning, i took a bus up to Molem, and as suggested in "Kazmierczak and Singh", walked 2 km up the road to the old entrance to the sanctuary, near the 94km marker. Less than 100m down the track i picked up the target bird for the day, when a pair of Malabar Trogons flew in and landed on a branch overhanging the track, msot unexpected. Continuing east into the jungle i was soon picking up more specialities; Malabar Whistling Thrush, Moutain Imperial Pigeon, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Red Spurfowl and Grey Junglefowl being the stars. I took the side track off South towards Sunset point, this went thorugh some excellent dense, damp forest and provided Indian Scimitar Babbler, Yellow-browed Bulbul and Large Woodshrike. As it was getting pretty damned hot and the birdlife was quietening down, i guessed that i wouldnt pick up much more and headed back towards the road. Walking through an unpromisig looking dry woodland with little undergrowth a smallish bird giving an unfamiliar call flew up from the gorund onto a low branch out in the open, bloddy Forest Wagtail, excellent. a superbly smart bird and very difficult to find in this area. A great way to finsih my stay in the area, so i headed back to Molem to catch a bus and return back to the beaches. But my luck was truly in, walking back down the main road, a stonking Crested Goshawk glided slowly over the road, at tree-top height, result.
That was it though, and within a couple of hours i was back in Baga, watching the usual Painted Snipe and Cinammon Bittern with beer in hand (my hand, not the birds) from the balcony of the Beira Mar hotel. Followed by another excellent meal from one of the many restaurants on the beach.
First thing this morning i took a taxi out to Saligao, and scored excellent views of a Brown Wood Owl roosting near the spring, then went up to Chapora for a good look at Heuglins, Caspian and Great-black headed gulls on the beach, along with a load of assorted terns.
We leave Goa tomorrow evening. We're not particualrly looking forward to 24hours worth of train up to Ahmedebad but its just one of those things thats got to be done. Soon though, we should be looking for Asiatic Lions, Onagers and Blackbucks in the plains of Gujarat, follow by camel safaris in the Great Thar Desert, the awesome desert forts of Rajahstani cities, masses of wetland birds at Harike, the golden temple at Amritsar, and then, in just 16 days time we'll be flying back to London, something that i'm really not looking forward too

1 comment:

Avi said...

good to read ur Goa birding. since u r going to Ahmedabad, do try visiting the Thol Bird sanctuary. Very rich for both waterfowl & landbirds & is 40 kms from ahmedabad via thaltej & on the road to Kadi. If public transport is your preference, u can take a bus from State Transport depot at Geeta Mandir at 8 a.m. for more details call me at 09825086307. I stay at Baroda - 120 kms from ahmedabad. Happy birding. Avi