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Pipit School (and a few larks)

The top of the bridge towers were shrouded in the clouds of dust/pollution as Rayman drove us south long before dawn to an area of fields to the south east of Panjim.

He seemed none the worse for his collision the day before, but reassured us he’d visited the moped riders in hospital and they were recovering well – and that this was his first accident in 23 years of driving.

Quite some feat considering motoring in India (from a passenger’s point of view at least) seemed like everyone was in some bizarrely enlightened version of Death Race 2000 and Ganesh was at the wheel.

On the upside we were in a slightly larger replacement vehicle today, and no one was suing for whiplash.

So the darkness just before dawn on December 21st saw us standing beside a burnt area of fields south of the river in an area of farmland and saltpans, as the rather soulful Hindu calls to prayer drifted over from the concrete and steel of bustling Panjim.

As the light seeped in, a few mopeds putted through the scorched grasses on the way to work and a footy game kicked off on the dirt nearby.

Movements on the blackened earth revealed Oriental Skylarks and Paddyfield Pipits, with a few Pintail Snipe rising before us.

I’ve always liked a good Oriental Skylark, so watched this one for a while as it rooted about about 15 feet from me.

Egrets, waders and terns dropped into the nearby pans, which held good numbers of Wood Sands, and a flighty flock of Rose Coloured Starlings.

Once the sun rose properly we jumped back in Rayman’s wheels and drove back across the river to some more burnt fields, near the little village of Parra, where we spent the next few hours.

Plenty of pipits to tax us – separating Blyths and Paddyfield is simply not as starightforward as some would have you believe unless you hear them call, and even Richard’s can be a bit tricky.

Analysing the call itself can be pretty subjective too – was that a “schwip” or a “chip chip chip” or a “tsweet”?

In the Goan heat ALL pipit species stand upright and thrush-like, not just Mr Schreepy-pants, but it was fascinating working with them trying to get conclusive views.

All three species were in the fields ( and Tree Pipit), and while they were not easy, it was hugely entertaining working them out.

If you’re not learning and having fun, then you’re not doing it right.

Have a go at these two, let’s call the first one Pic A and the second Pic B (answers at the end of the blog entry):

If it helps, the picture at the very top of the entry is a Blyth’s Pipit. I think. Probably.

There were plenty of other good birds in these fields too – Hoopoes grubbed amongst the ash, superb eastern Stonechats came real close and Malabar Crested Larks sang from overhead wires and scurried about on the deck.

Our only Black Headed Bunting of the trip dropped into the crown of a roadside palm as the pipits twisted our melons, a Black Shouldered Kite went through and the local White Eyed Buzzard swept into a tree about 200m away.

The clock was against us as the day really started to heat up past 10am we had to leave the site and head back to Arpora to pack and get ready for the flight home in the early hours of the 22nd.

Black Kites and Oriental Honey Buzzard came in low to see us off…

Time to leave Ganesh up to his trunk in festival water, hug/thank Rayman for all his help and say farewell to the guys and to Goa.

Fields near Panjim, 21.12.18:

Black Crowned Night Heron, Red Wattled Lapwing, Paddyfield Pipit, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Purple Heron, Little Cormorant, House Crow, Black Kite, Brahminy Kite, Woolly Necked Stork, Gull Billed Tern, Indian Roller, Black Drongo, Pintail Snipe, Siberian Stonechat, Rose Coloured Starling, Western Reef Egret, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Spotted Dove, Greenshank, White Throated Kingfisher, Blue Tailed Bee Eater, Oriental Skylark.

Fields by Parra, 21.12.18:

Hoopoe, Red Wattled Lapwing, Black Drongo,  House Crow, White Eyed Buzzard, Black Shouldered Kite, Indian Roller, Paddyfield Pipit, Tree Pipit, Malabar Crested Lark, Common Myna, Common Kestrel, Siberian Stonechat, Long Tailed Shrike, Indian Grey Hornbill, Richard’s Pipit, Pied Bushchat, Common Hawk Cuckoo, Indian Golden Oriole, Little Green Bee Eater, Coppersmith Barbet, Black Headed Bunting, Blyth’s Pipit, Booted Eagle, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Eastern Red Rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Indian Spotted Eagle, Little Swift.

Right, just a trip list and details of how to hire Rayman to stick on and that’s it, ‘cos if you go to Goa, you NEED to hire Rayman.

Oh yeah, Pic A = Paddyfield Pipit, Pic B = Blyth’s Pipit.











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