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TRIP REPORT GOA BIRDING NEAR TAMBDI SURLA

Goa, the land of the Sun-Sand-Sea – is also a legendary Birding site in India. And not many tourists – be it Indian or foreign are aware about this.

For instance Joana Silvia Brown in London and her six neighbours who joined Asian Adventures on a Birding Trip to Goa in 2016’s winters. I took the seven of them plus seven others from different parts of the world for this trip which I would ike to detail now.

DAY 1:
The 14 birding enthusiasts and I met at the Dabolim Airport in Goa. Here I took them aboard a minibus which led us all to the Asian Adventures allied resort right next to the ancient Tambdi Surla Temple. Its location at the edge of the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary makes it an ideal camp for exploring the nearby birds, even if you are sitting in the vicinity of the lodge. After a leisurely breakfast and a early noon siesta, I led the birders on a roadside trip for birding which would eventually lead us all into the dense Bondla forests near the lodge. Just within few hundred meters the birders had already captured Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Flame-throated, Black Drongo, Yellow-browed and Red- whiskered Bulbul and Western Crowned Warbler – in their cameras. Post this, I took them to the dense forests. Not to worry, you won’t find preying hunters here – it is safe. Sun was about to set. The green canopy had become bottle green and a shallow stream invited us for more clicks – the birders spotted a mixed flock of Dark-fronted Babbler and White- bellied Blue Flycatchers. After spotting a few more species, it was time to head back to the resort since it was to get dark within an hour. On our way back, I introduced the 14 of them to the Great Hornbills and Grey Jungle fowl. Sasha Sen John was the nost elated of the lot. She is just 20 and this was her second birding trip of the life. Her sprint and joy would make me feel proud at times. At evening the resort welcomes the guests back with the song of the birds returning to the nest and a cacophony of bats flying out for their prey. After an early dinner of the choicest Goan cuisines – all need to retired for the day. 

DAY 2:
Post the trip, Sasha wroye to me and that’s how I would like to write further, “The next three days were an enchanting experience in Birding. An unimaginable adventure in Goa, which on tourism map of India, primarily talks only about its beaches and adventures at the Sea.” Sasha’s letter paves the way ahead. Day two here begins with an early breakfast at Sunrise after which I lead the guests to the Tambdi Surla Temple. This ancient abode of Lord Shiva is a densely forested region, making it the perfect site to spot birds early morning. Birders’ cameras captured Malabar Pied Hornbills, Shikra, Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Bulbuls and an Orange-headed Thrush. The back side of the temple is rarely explored and thus inhabited by many rare species like the Grey-fronted Green Pigeons. Thet’s where I take the guests next, but beyond a certain point, this region is almost impenetrable. After an in-depth tour of the penetrable areas, we traced our steps back. It was late noon by now and all of us opened out packed lunch – a sumptuous treat of Goan Cuisines – which tastes awesome even if not served warm. Post lunch it is time to head to the Tambdi Surla waterfall trail. A hidden beauty in the land of Sun, Sand and Sea. We spotted Puff-throated and Dark-fronted Babblers besides many other birds. The Sun was about to set so it was time to heda back to the resort. In the vicinity of the resort itself I took the guests to spot Owls, which were about to take off for their night adventure. We called it a day, after an early Goan dinner.

DAY 3, 4:
The next two days were about exploring the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary that lies in the immediate proximity of the resort. The tourists are always delighted to spot Grey Fronted Green Pigeons, Coppersmith Barbets, Malabar Barbets, Brown Headed Barbets and White Cheeked Barbets which can be found in plenty in this region. The place has so many fruiting trees, that rather than you waiting to welcome the birds, they welcome you. Gabreil John from Sydney was lost in thoughts, just when the calls of the Malabar Pied Hornbills broughthim back to reality. He jumps with joy, “ What a beautiful sight.” All 14 birders had lost count of how many species they had captured en-route to the WildLife sanctaury itself. Asian Fairy Bluebird, Indian Pitta, Brown Fronted Fulvetta, Scarlet throated Bulbul, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, etc all had been canned in their cameras! Joana Silvia Brown chuckled, “What an experience – a walk in the deep forests along the river to sight the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher and the Blue Eared Kingfisher. I had only seen them in books before that.” Over these two days, further deep into the forests and also along the mangroves of the Zuari River, I guided the birders to spot Blue Eyed Malkoha, Flower Peckers, Munias, Vernal Hanging Parrots, a Black Headed Cuckoo Shrike, an Indian Pitta and several other species of beautiful birds. They also got to view Orange Headed Thrushes and White Rumped Shamas as well as the Greater Flameback. By the time this three day tour got over, my reward as a guide was each of the 14 tourists craving for more! Yes, indeed, there was so much to be explored, not just in terms of birds, but the local Flora as well. I made a list of some 130 birds for their reference later on. And I was helped by ace birder Jacob Samuel from Italy, who had done this trip with Asian Adventures for the third time. At the finale Sunset of the trip, It was time to take the birders to the camp for a heart-full of a Goa  that – an assortment of the finest Goa Cuisines. Later I instructed them to retire early so that we catch some early birds on the final morning before heading back to the Dabolim Airport to catch a flight to Delhi (from where they will head to their respective homes). The Best season to visit the Tambdi Surla region for birding is November to February.