Shiva jams a spanner in the works

Some days, it just doesn’t pan out as planned, but we didn’t know that as Rayman picked us up at 5.30am and we headed south to the lakes and tanks around Cutorim on December 20th.

A different side of Goa, the lakes were still stacked with birds – especially wildfowl and the sun rose and residents came to see why we were staring intently at the shallow water…

Shoveler, Pintail and Teal everywhere, Bronze Winged Jacanas, Black Drongos and White Throated Kingfishers on the wires overhead – a great way to start the day.

Pathside weeds held a fine feeding flock of Black Throated Munias, but it took some time for us to get good views of this scarce Goa resident.

Graceful River Terns floated by on pearl grey wings, and at the second tank a pair were entrancing as they fly in perfect synchronicity over the waters – incredibly beautiful.

(picture courtesy Chris Kehoe) 

In the shallows Cotton Pygmy Goose sailed past White Browed wagtails feeding on the mud, while in deeper water splendid Indian Spot Billed Ducks floated about lethargically, while two big Comb Ducks squinted at us.


Appetites raw and ready, Rayman took us into the bustling town of Margao where we ordered way too many samosas, bhajis, coffee and lassis for breakfast before hitting the road.

Or rather the road hit us, as a short time later Rayman was involved in a collision with two ladies on a moped, who mercifully escaped the crash with minor injuries, despite the impact.

Shocking, and naturally Rayman spent the rest of the day filling in reports and making sure the ladies were okay at the hospital, but it brought the birding to an end and we headed back to Arpora in a hastily arranged cab, all quite subdued.

A reminder that not all those close shaves on Indian roads pass in a blur and without consequences.

Cutorim area, 20.12.18:

Coot, Moorhen, Pheasant Tailed Jacana, Bronze Winged Jacana, Grey Headed Swamphen, River Tern, Pied Kingfisher, White Throated Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Pintail, Shoveler, Teal, Cotton Pygmy Goose, White Browed Wagtail, Ashy Prinia, Black Throated Munia, Lesser Whistling Duck, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Small Pratincole, Indian Cormorant, Brahminy Kite, Jungle Myna, Black Kite, Glossy Ibis, Black Necked Ibis, Purple Heron, Openbill Stork, Osprey, Gull Billed Tern, Spot Billed Duck (8+), Garganey, Comb Duck, Wire Tailed Swallow, Eastern Red Rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Black Drongo, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail, Alpine Swift, Southern Coucal, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Rock Dove, Asian Koel, Green Warbler.



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.










Rayman and the list

Couldn’t finish the Goa blog without including Rayman’s contact details.

A great guide, driver and friend to us during our stay – good birding buddy.

Thanks to Rama K. Govekar aka Rayman.

If you’re going to Goa you can contact him via email at:

Goa 8.12.18-21.12.18, final tally:

Lesser Whistling Duck, Ferruginous Duck, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Indian Spot Billed Duck, Northern Pintail, Common Teal, Comb Duck, Asian Cotton Pygmy Goose, Indian Peafowl, Grey Junglefowl, Red Spurfowl, Little Grebe, Rock Dove, Nilgiri Pigeon, Spotted Dove, Orange Breasted Green Pigeon, Grey Fronted Green Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Sri Lankan Frogmouth, Indian Jungle Nightjar, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Crested Treeswift, White-Rumped Needletail, Brown-backed Needletail, Indian Swiftlet, Asian Palm Swift, Alpine Swift, Little Swift, Southern Coucal, Blue Faced Malkoha, Asian Koel, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Common Hawk Cuckoo, White Breasted Waterhen, Purple (Grey Headed) Swamphen, Common Moorhen, Common Coot, Lesser Adjutant, Asian Openbilled Stork, Woolly Necked Stork,  Black Crowned Night Heron, Striated Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Western Reef Egret, Black Headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Little Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Oriental Darter, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Grey Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Red-wattled Lapwing, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Bronze-winged Jacana, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Little Stint, Dunlin, Pintail Snipe, Common Snipe, Terek Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank, Redshank, Barred Buttonquail, Little Pratincole, Slender-billed Gull, Brown-headed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Pallas’s Gull, Heuglin’s Gull, Steppe Gull, Caspian Gull, Little Tern, Gull Billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Whiskered Tern, River Tern, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Great Crested Tern, Lesser Crested Tern, Osprey, Black Shouldered Kite, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Legge’s Mountain Hawk Eagle, Black Eagle, Indian Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Shikra, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Black Kite, Black-eared Kite, White-eyed Buzzard, Brown Hawk Owl, Jungle Owlet, Spotted Owlet, Indian Scops Owl, Brown Fish Owl, Malabar Trogon, Great Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Indian Grey Hornbill, Hoopoe, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Black-rumped Woodpecker, Rufous Woodpecker, White-bellied Woodpecker, Greater Flame-backed Woodpecker, White-naped Woodpecker, Brown-capped Woodpecker, Brown-headed Barbet, White-cheeked Barbet, Malabar Barbet, Coppersmith Barbet, Little Green Bee-eater, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Black-capped Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, Common Kestrel, Peregrine, Plum-headed Parakeet, Malabar Parakeet, Alexandrine Parakeet, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Indian Pitta, Small Minivet, Orange Minivet, Black-headed Cuckooshrike, Black-hooded Oriole, Indian Golden Oriole,  Black-naped Oriole, Ashy Woodswallow, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Malabar Woodshrike, Common Woodshrike, Common Iora, Black Drongo, Ashy Drongo, White-bellied Drongo, Bronzed Drongo, Hair-crested Drongo, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, White-browed Fantail, White-throated Fantail, Brown Shrike, Daurian Shrike, Long-tailed Shrike, Rufous Treepie, House Crow, Indian Jungle Crow, Black-naped Monarch, Indian Paradise-flycatcher, Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Pale-billed Flowerpecker, Nilgiri Flowerpecker, Little Spiderhunter, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Purple Sunbird, Loten’s Sunbird, Vigor’s Sunbird, Asian Fairy-bluebird, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Jerdon’s Leafbird, Baya Weaver, Red Avadavat, White-rumped Munia, Scaly-breasted Munia, Black-throated Munia, Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, Forest Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Olive-backed Pipit, Richard’s Pipit, Paddyfield Pipit, Blyth’s Pipit, Yellow Wagtail x3, Grey Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, White-browed Wagtail, Common Rosefinch, Black-headed Bunting, Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, Black-lored Tit, Oriental Skylark, Malabar Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Grey-breasted Prinia, Ashy Prinia, Plain Prinia, Common Tailorbird, Booted Warbler, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Paddyfield Warbler, Indian Reed Warbler, House Martin, Streak-throated Swallow, Eastern Red-rumped Swallow, Wire-tailed Swallow, Barn Swallow, Crag Martin, Dusky Crag Martin, Sand Martin, Square-tailed Black Bulbul, Flame-throated Bulbul, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, White-browed Bulbul, Grey-headed Bulbul, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Green Warbler, Greenish Warbler (?), Western Crowned Warbler, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Dark-fronted Babbler, Puff-throated Babbler, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Jungle Babbler, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Rose-coloured Starling, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Malabar White-headed/Blyth’s Starling, Common Myna, Jungle Myna, Indian Robin, Oriental Magpie Robin, White-rumped Shama, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Brown-breasted Flycatcher, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Indian Blue Robin, Bluethroat, Malabar Whistling Thrush,  Red-breasted Flycatcher, Taiga Flycatcher, Blue-capped Rock Thrush, Eastern Stonechat, Pied Bushchat, Orange-headed Thrush, Indian Blackbird.

Heard, not seen:  Brown Wood Owl, Blue-bearded Bee-Eater, Large-billed Leaf Warbler, Indian Scimitar Babbler.