Sunday, March 2, 2014

Goa- Cotigao & Raia Wetlands

We have been waiting to visit Cotigao from Christmas time and we made it mandatory on this subsequent visit to Goa. We were excited about this place because it was part of the all famous Western Ghats – a haven for animals and birds and one of the bio-diversity hotspots of India. We were also expecting to see different species than the one that we would have seen at Bangalore.

This was 20 kms from home – we decided we will leave at 6 am so as to reach there for the birds “active” time. Even before alarms rang, our lovely Cock was Up and CrooingJ. Hes pretty smart and dint want to us to miss on anything for the day.

The trip started at 6 am from Benaulim – a village close to Madgaon. All 4 of us (Al, his parents and me) perched ourselves onto the Getz and zoomed past the early morning. Dawn highlighted the “Susegaad” in Goa – one of the commonly used words in Konkani meaning “To relax”.

We reached the park at 7:15am and made our way to the nature interpretation center. Here is the interesting “Code of the Forest” handed over to us – applicable to all Zoo s and nature reserves but never followed due to ignorance and arrogance on part of humans.

The place was buzzing with bird activity and their wake up calls. We spotted a Golden oriole just outside this building. The map given to us directed us to the prime spots for birding. We proceeded from the center to the “Tree-Top”. Beautiful Majestic Trees adorned the route with many of them starting to flower. Trees big and stout, pretty for the scout.

Our second sighting lasted a few seconds – two Malabar grey hornbills playing on a huge tree and disappearing as our car approached them. YeaJ.. we add them to the list.

We reached a fork which said on one side is Tree Top and the other Bela Lake. We took the one leading to the Tree Top. This place is a forest – the paths are small, shrubs undisturbed and dense foliage overhanging on all sides and with old trees with huge trunks. Birds, insects and some animals can have a ball of a time.
There was continuous chirping all around us and we kept stopping and peering into the tree tops for the owners. We spotted many new species.

There were many highlights in this trip - The Asian fairy Blue Bird with its magnificent shiny blue, the mischievous Malabar squirrel and the loud Indian grey hornbills.

We lost our way searching for the “Tree Top” since there was lot of routes marked on the ground – seemed to be some sort of trails followed by the forest guards.  We proceeded to the Bela Lake. More of an “Empty” lake, it was dry with absolutely no vegetation around. But this is where we spotted the Malabar squirrel running up and down a tree –observing us with his peering eyes and rushing to hide immediately.

Raia Wetlands
The hope for seeing other species had been awakened by the Cotigao spirit. We set out to see more of the Goa birds on Sunday. One of the suggested birding places was the Raia Wetlands.

The wetlands not only greeted us with early morning sunlight reflecting on its waters but with so many bird varieties that left us wanting to stay more in that place. Two of the species which were supposed to be common have evaded our vision till now. And we saw both of them, one on either side of the road, indulging near the fields nearby. Here is a pic of the Hoopoe and the Indian Roller.

The rollers flight looked more like a flowing ribbon of shades of blue and brown.

Here’s the List of Birds we saw – also updated on the birds page. The pics can also be viewed at Alton's photography page on FB.
  1. Asian Blue Fairy Bird *
  2. Asian paradise flycatcher white
  3. Black hooded Oriole
  4. Common Kingfisher
  5. Copper smith barbett
  6. Golden Oriole
  7. Green bee eater
  8. Grey Hornbill *
  9. Hoopoe *
  10. Indian Roller *
  11. Little egret
  12. Long Tailed Shrike
  13. Malabar Skylark*
  14. Marsh Sandpiper
  15. Orange Minivet *
  16. Peacock
  17. Plain Preeniya
  18. Purple rumped sunbird
  19. Racket tailed Drongo
  20. Red wattled Lapwing
  21. Southern Coucal
  22. Whiskered Tern
  23. White cheeked barbett
  24. White chested kingfisher
  25. Wire-tailed swallow
  26. Black Drongo

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