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INDIA 2002

Goa

The January 2002 tour was Birdfinders' second to Goa and our group total of 289 was an exceptional achievement. Highlights were Cinnamon Bittern, Spot-billed Duck, an amazing 11 species of eagle (including Rufous-bellied, Steppe and Mountain Hawk Eagle – all rare in Goa), 15 White-rumped and a single Long-billed Vulture on a carcass (both rare in Goa now), Pied Harrier, Small Buttonquail, two Saunders's Tern, many Malabar Parakeets, no less than five Banded Bay Cuckoos and a Grey-bellied Cuckoo, 10 sightings of Blue-faced Malkoha, five species of owl, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Jerdon's Nightjar, no less than 12 Malabar Trogons, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Speckled Piculet, seven species of woodpecker including White-bellied, four different Indian Pittas, Hume's Lark, Dusky Crag-martin, all six drongos, Large Cuckooshrike, Indian Blue Robin, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Brown-breasted, Rusty-tailed and White-bellied Blue Flycatchers and Long-billed Pipit.

The monsoon had been poor this year so the amount of standing water was greatly reduced. There was virtually no water outside the Bierra Mar Hotel and Carambolin Lake had little open water. Fortunately, we managed to find two alternative lakes that were packed with wildfowl and gave amazing views of both species of vulture. Apora Hill and the new track up Baga Hill were both excellent, with raptors especially well represented this year. Backwoods camp now has 12 units and although the Spot-bellied Eagle-owls are not breeding this year, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Oriental Scops-owl and Brown Hawk-owl are all regular visitors to the camp at night. An Indian Blue Robin is wintering and White-bellied Woodpeckers are slightly easier to find this year. The food at the Cavala Beach Resort was excellent as usual (you should experience the chicken sizzler!) and although the Calangute/Baga road is still very noisy, the Cavala end of it is a lot quieter than the Bierra Mar and Ronil Royal end of it! The 2–3 hour break in the middle of the day (birding is unproductive at this time of day) was utilised by many to go for a swim, whilst others sought bargains in the numerous stalls along the road

Indian Pitta

Indian Pitta