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South Goa, February 2016.

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Old Wednesday 24th February 2016, 15:18   #1
monkir
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South Goa, February 2016.

GOA – CAVELOSSIM FEBRUARY 2016

Having been to North Goa several times I decided to give South Goa a try, staying in Cavelossim.
This proved a good choice with 115 species seen including two unexpected birds, Pied Harrier and Grey headed Lapwing.

Flights
Booked Thomson from Gatwick. They use the Dreamliner on this route. We were on time going but delayed by two hours on the return. The flights were 8 ½ hours outbound and 10 hours inbound.

Hotel
We booked Casa de Cris directly by e-mail. £30 a night for the room B&B. Rooms were large and comfortable and centrally located in Cavelossim.

Transfers.

We took a taxi from the airport for 1150 rupees. The return, with Babu’s taxi, was 1500 rupees. This trip takes about 50 minutes.

Reports used.
Not many available for this area but had some tips from Pratincol on Bird Forum which were very useful.
I also found this report to be useful: http://safaritalk.net/topic/11290-so...november-2011/

Taxi for trips.
I used Babu as recommended in the above report. He can be found at the taxi stand opposite Dona Sylvia Hotel.
He is very reliable, friendly and a careful driver. He understands the concept of stopping for birds and driving slowly so none are missed. He doesn’t know the birds but can see them and point them out. He also knows the sites. He can be highly recommended.


Visas.
There are 2 options:
Traditional Visa, filling in form online and sending off your passport. Cost is £100 for 1-year multiple entry (applicable from 4/1/2016) plus add ons of postal order, postage and special delivery envelopes. This totals about £130.The big advantage is on arrival in Goa, where you are directed to a separate desk with almost no other tourists. We were out of the airport and in our hotel within 1 and a half hours. E visa tourists had not left the airport by then! One told me that after landing at 4 am they did not reach their hotel until 8am!
E-Visa. Apply and pay online. Cost is approx. £40 for single entry but there are lots of problems trying to pay online. Many have given up and used Visa Genie at about £20 extra cost. On arrival you join a very long line of tourists and the queue can take 1½ hours to clear.

Sites visited.
Netravali - Taxi 4200 rupees for 8-hour trip
Chandranath Hill – 3500 rupees for 6 hours
Cabo de Rama and Velim Lake – 2500 rupees for 5 hours
Lonely Place Track. - Walked this on 4 occasions
Carmona Electricity substation. – walked here once
Joe’s Place – Walked here once

Daylight
It started getting light about 06:30. There was a heavy low lying mist each morning. Bird activity did not start until 07:45 when the mist had burnt off.
Bird activity died down about 11:00 – time to head for the beach and a beer.
Sunset was about 18:00.


Restaurants and money
We used Jai’s to change money. 97 rupees to the pound. He also accepts cards but charges commission on this. No commission on cash. He is situated opposite Haathi Mahal.
We ate several times at Masha which is just past Haathi Mahal. This was our favourite restaurant. Very highly recommended. We also ate at Saajan which is a family run restaurant near our hotel and almost opposite Goan Village. We ate at Goan Village one night but were not impressed either by the food or the service.
On the beach we used Islandish shack. It was between The Beach Hut and Q Baaa. The food was good at lunchtimes and the staff were very friendly but not overbearing.

Birds seen every day, anywhere.
Rock Dove, Asian Koel, Indian Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Indian Cormorant, Red Wattled Lapwing, Brahminy Kite, Black Kite, Little Green Bee Eater, White Breasted Kingfisher, Brown Headed Barbet, Wire tailed Swallow, White browed Wagtail, Red whiskered Bulbul, Pied Bush Chat, Purple rumped Sunbird, Black Drongo, House Crow, Jungle Myna, Common Myna, House Sparrow.
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Old Wednesday 24th February 2016, 15:20   #2
monkir
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Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary
A little visited forest sanctuary in the Western Ghats and a site with much potential. It can be reached in about 1 ¼ hours, but as the route is through interesting countryside, with good birding spots, it took about 2 hours.
There is a circular route around the reserve on a tarmac road. After passing through the manned barrier I birded from the road with several stops, walking the road and forays into the forest. There is a waterfall, (almost dry) and a temple with a pool that produces bubbles when you clap your hands. On the return we had lunch at Palolem beach.
Birds seen on route and around the sanctuary: Peafowl, Spotted Dove, Greater Coucal, Blue faced Malkoha, Lesser Adjutant, Woolly necked Stork, Green Sandpiper, March Sandpiper, Gull billed Tern, River Tern, Black shouldered Kite, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Shikra, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Indian Roller, Pied Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Scarlet Minivet, Grey headed Bulbul, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Common Iora, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Indian Robin, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Dark Fronted Babbler, Ashy Woodswallow, Rufous Treepie, Jungle Myna, Baya Weaver, White rumped Munia, Black naped Oriole.

Lonely Place Track.
This proved disappointing, probably due to being very dry and no water present. There are two ways to access this site.
From the beach, especially if you are staying at Don Sylvia or Radisson Blu. Walk north along the beach about 250 metres past the shacks. You will see 2 palm trees like gate posts. The start of the track is here. Walk in about a North Easterly direction. The soil is very sandy with scrub and clumps of trees. You will reach a tarmac road, turn right and you quickly reach the main road to Cavelossim.
From Cavelossim. This is a quicker route if you are staying in the village. It took me about 15 minutes to reach the start from Mikes Place. Walk along the main road and turn left at a small complex of Bank, Café/bakery, and an Ocean Breeze sign. The tarmac track passes between two ponds and goes uphill for about 50 metres and birding starts on your left. In the corner of the pond on the right is a large tree with red flowers which attracted Chestnut tailed Starlings. I could not identify the “dead trees” noted in the report.
Birds seen: White browed Bulbul and Little green Bee eaters very common. Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Large Grey Babbler, Paddyfield Pipit.

Cabo de Rama and Velim Lake.
This is an old fort about 1 hour from Cavelossim. The route goes through farmland and very dry rocky countryside. Inside the fort, which covers a large area, is a church and a small man made pond. Behind the church, in a large tree, was a white phase Asian Paradise Flycatcher. The pond had Grey Wagtail and Red Throated Flycatcher, Eurasian Golden Oriole.

Velim Lake was overgrown with reduced water levels due to construction work being done. Very disappointing.
Peafowl, Lesser Whistling Duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Spotted Dove, Coucal, Moorhen, Openbill Stork, Black headed Ibis, Woolly necked Stork, Darter, Black winged Stilt, Little Plover, White bellied Sea Eagle (nesting at the Fort), Roller, Stork billed Kingfisher, Coppersmith Barbet, Barn Swallow, Red rumped Swallow, Stonechat, Common Tailorbird, Plain Prinia, White rumped Munia.

Chandranath Hill.
About 1 hour from the hotel. Bird activity a bit slow until after 8 am. We drove slowly to the temple at the top birding from the road.
Glossy Ibis. About 30 seen in rice field on the way to Chandranath Hill.
Black shouldered Kite, Shikra, Chestnut headed Bee Eater, Roller, Brown headed Barbet, White cheeked Barbet, Scarlet Minivet, Small Minivet, Golden fronted Leafbird, Common Iora, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Arctic Warbler, White bellied Drongo, Ashy Woodswallow, Large billed Crow.
On the way back we stopped at Margao Lake on the Margao to Benaulim road. Unexpected birds seen here were 6 Grey headed Lapwings. Also Bronze Winged Jacana, Indian Swamphens, Blue tailed Bee Eater, Lesser Whistling Duck, Pintail Snipe.
Quartering fields near Benaulim was a nice juvenile Pied Harrier. Also unexpected.

Carmona Electricity Substation.
A nice walk from Cavelossim. Walk or catch the local bus to the large white church. About 100 metres past the church pools have been reported. These had dried up, but there was a tidal pool with exposed mud that had Little Plovers, Pintail Snipe, Common, Wood and Green Sandpipers.
Carry on walking about 300 metres and turn left at a small shrine and sign for Carmona Electricity Substation
The road leads to the Electricity Sub Station where the trees open up to fields and some wetter areas.
March Harrier, Nutmeg Mannikin, Rosy Starling, Spotted Dove, Pied BushChat, Redshank.

Joe’s Place.
Another nice walk. Go along the main road and turn right at the D’Mello signs. After 200 metres turn right at the T junction, then straight past small holdings, rice fields and rough grassland to Joe’s. about 1 mile.
Plain Prinia, Zitting Cisticola, Stonechat, Red rumped Swallow, Spotted Dove, Pied BushChat, Long tailed Shrike.

Beach and River Sal.
There are boat trips available but we did not take one. We viewed the river while having lunch at The Hungry Shark and River View cafes, and the beach from Islandish Beach Shack.
Brown headed Gull, Gull billed Tern, White bellied Sea eagle, Lesser Sand Plover, Western reef Heron, White browed Wagtail.

Conclusion.
This proved an interesting alternative to North Goa, being a lot quieter on the beach and around town. Netravali deserves more attention and unexpected birds can turn up anywhere. If we had been staying longer I would have included a trip to the well-known Cotigao Wildlife sanctuary. I did not see any other birders during my visit and am not aware of any local bird guides.
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Old Wednesday 24th February 2016, 16:11   #3
monkir
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A few photos

1 Asian Fairy Bluebird.
2 Indian Roller
3 White bellied Sea Eagle
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Old Wednesday 24th February 2016, 16:17   #4
pratincol
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Brought back happy memories!
I wasn't aware of Carmona Electricity Substation.Is this the same area I referred to as the ricefields just past the football stadium?
Sorry the Lonely Track was not as productive as when I was there.
It is best visited early morning when many birds are moving across towards the the Dona Sylvia lawns which are almost contantly being watered.
Like you I met no other birders there which is a shame because it is such a lovely area.
Thanks again for the report-very interesting.

Last edited by pratincol : Thursday 25th February 2016 at 05:08.
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Old Wednesday 24th February 2016, 16:17   #5
monkir
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4 Indian Swamphen
5 Grey headed Lapwing
6 Bronze winged Jacana
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Old Wednesday 24th February 2016, 16:22   #6
monkir
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pratincol View Post
Thanks for the report
Brought back happy memories!
I wasn't aware of Carmona Electricity Substation.Is this the same area I referred to as the ricefields just past the football stadium?
Sorry the Lonely track was not as productive as when I was there.
It is best visited early morning when many birds are moving across towards the the Dona Sylvia lawns which are almost contantly being watered.
Like you I met no other birders there which is a shame because it is such a lovely area.
Thanks again for the report-very interesting.
It was past the ricefields and then turn left. After about half a mile the fields and wet area are past the substation .
I went to the Lonely Place track around 7 am till about 8.30. I think it was the time of year. We are hoping to visit earlier in the season next time.
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