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Soukous

Birding in Goa - November 2020

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Soukous
Posted (edited)

This is just an initial feeler to find out if there are any Safaritalk birding enthusiasts out there who might be interested in getting together for a week in Goa in November 2020.

 

This is not intended as a commercial tour, just a slightly more elaborate GTG, with costs being shared amongst the participants.

 

A week in Goa should give us the chance to see around 200 species, and hopefully get decent photos of at least some of them.

 

Goa offers an excellent variety of habitats that should make for a great week.

It should be possible to do this quite cheaply too.

 

There are charter flights into Goa from many European countries - it may even make sense to buy a package that includes accommodation.

We would need accommodation for the week - it would make sense to rent a villa

We would need a good local birding guide - I am working on this

We would need a vehicle and driver.

The plan would be to base ourselves in 1 place and make daily excursions. None of the best birding locations are more than a couple of hours drive from coastal resorts like Baga or Calangute.

 

So, without any commitments at all, who might be interested in joining me?

 

Here is a list of some of the species we should expect to see:

Morjim Beach / Chapora river mouth

Great Sand Plover

Lesser Sand Plover

Kentish Plover

Sandwich Tern

Gull-billed Tern

Swift Tern

Lesser Crested Tern

Brown-headed Gull

Black-headed Gull

Slender-billed Gull

Heuglin’s Gull

Brahminy Kite

Black Kite

Osprey

White-bellied Sea Eagle

 

Dona Paula Plateau / Coastal floodplain

Richard’s Pipit

Blyth’s Pipit

Red-throated Pipit

Tawny Pipit

Tree Pipit

Paddyfield Pipit

Plum-headed Parakeet

Golden-fronted Leafbird

Malabar Lark

Oriental Skylark

Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark

Eurasian Hoopoe

 

Cruise on Zuari river / mangroves

Terek Sandpiper

Pied Kingfisher

White-throated Kingfisher

Stork-billed Kingfisher

Black-capped Kingfisher

Collared Kingfisher

Green Bee-eater

Blue-tailed Bee-eater

 

Freshwater Lakes - Carambolim & Maem (Mayem)

Bronze-winged Jacana

Pheasant-tailed Jacana

Lesser Whistling Duck

Garganey

Indian Spot-billed Duck

Northern Shoveler

Cotton Pygmy Goose

Little Cormorant

Darter

Great White Egret

Little Egret

Intermediate Egret

Lesser Adjutant

Asian Openbill
Woolly-necked Stork
Little Pratincole

 

Western Ghats

Bondla Sanctuary

Grey Junglefowl

Malabar Grey Hornbill

Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike

White-bellied Blue Flycatcher

Scarlet Minivet

Nilgiri Wood Pigeon

Orange-headed Thrush

 

Bhagwan Mahavir NP ( Molem)

Indian Pitta

Malabar Trogon

Sri Lanka Frogmouth

Malabar Pied Hornbill

Blue-bearded Bee-eater

Rufous-bellied Eagle

Malabar Whistling Thrush

Heart-spotted Woodpecker

 

Edited by Soukous

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Kitsafari

That Indian pitta and malabar trogon sing to me but November is my busiest working month. Hope you get a good number of STers for a GTG!

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Soukous

I should have mentioned it before, but Goa has the added advantage that non-birding partners can easily be accommodated too. There is plenty to see and do in the area and I can 'probably' arrange for some Indian cooking classes as well.

Hang on, if there are Indian cooking classes I might have to skip the birding.:wacko:

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Dave Williams

I'm in contact with an excellent guide who has his own transport, both a car and a bus.He's based in Calangute.I'm hoping to take a day out with him and possibly the Zuari trip, which I have done several times in the past, in November.He might be available if booked early.

I fell out of love with Northern Goa when the Russians arrived and hadn't been back to Goa at all until I spotted a very cheap package deal to Southern Goa last year. It was so good we have booked again this year. Southern Goa is less developed, the hotels tend to be more upmarket and expensive, but there are lots of cheaper options if you seek them out, you just won't find them on a package deal.

Nothing planned for November 2020 at the moment so I am interested to include a week in the north where the choice of restaurants, shopping etc is much better than the south.

The package we are taking this year is with Thomas Cook, it's a very basic hotel and the cost is £1680 for three weeks for the two of us. B&B. Well, coffee and toast included everything else at cost! It's very inexpensive though and you can eat like a king in Goa for the price of a couple of starter dishes in the UK.

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xelas

Time for me to finally set my foot in India. Will keep an eye on this post.

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Dave Williams

India has a different feel than any other country I have been to, totally different to Sri Lanka even. It's like a warm blanket that envelops me.

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Soukous
6 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

I'm in contact with an excellent guide who has his own transport, both a car and a bus.He's based in Calangute.I'm hoping to take a day out with him and possibly the Zuari trip, which I have done several times in the past, in November.He might be available if booked early.

 

 

@Dave Williams would you mind giving me the contact details for your 'excellent guide'. I think it would help move this suggested trip along if we can show a ball park figure for costs.

I was only planning to allocate 1 week to the birding, but there is no reason why anyone who wished could not stay longer and make the most of the trip by visiting other parts of the country. 

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Dave Williams

@SoukousThat would be my idea, fit it in with a longer trip. There isn't much else in the way of sightseeing in Goa. It's just a popular holiday state but you can fly from Diabolim to Delhi ( or vice versa) and do the Golden Triangle or those reserves in the North that look very appealing! I'll send you the guides details by PM after I have contacted him to pre warn him! He may well be booked up in advance though.

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Soukous

Would a guide really already be booked for November 2020 @Dave Williams? He must be good!

 

One of the thoughts I had was to use Goa as a springboard for a trip further south.

Whilst it is pretty easy to get to the parks and cities in the north, I can't think when I might be that close to Nagarhole/Kabini again and Nagarhole is perhaps the place that gives the best chance of seeing a Black Panther (melanistic leopard).

The birding around Kabini is pretty good too, with some good river excursions

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Dave Williams

@SoukousI have sent him a message but he can be slow to respond. The reason he is possibly booked is that tour companies use him as he has a vehicle big enough for groups.

Incidentally, how many people where you considering might be the ideal number?

From a birding perspective Kerala is excellent but having been twice I can't persuade Claire to go a third time as it's not as developed for tourism, even getting a beer can be problematic! 

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Soukous
2 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

@SoukousI have sent him a message but he can be slow to respond. The reason he is possibly booked is that tour companies use him as he has a vehicle big enough for groups.

Incidentally, how many people where you considering might be the ideal number?

From a birding perspective Kerala is excellent but having been twice I can't persuade Claire to go a third time as it's not as developed for tourism, even getting a beer can be problematic! 

 

I would be amazed if we get more than 6 - maybe even as many as 6. 

In other Indian parks, because they use Maruti jeeps I try and keep the numbers small, no more than 3 to a jeep. 

 

Once I have some provisional costs to share It will be easier to move forward. The main reason for that is the rooming. If we need a lot of single rooms then the cost will be higher, but that's why my preference is to rent a villa rather than book hotel rooms. It should give us more flexibility.

 

Beers in Kerala are possible in the places where I've stayed. But that bit will depend on people wanting to go there. 

 

I'd like to see how many are interested in Goa first and then look at the options for making a longer trip.

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janzin
Posted (edited)

oh dear this is so tempting! Maybe if you do it again in 2021 :)  We already have one India trip planned for Feb 2020 and something else in the works for Nov. If I did this I'd definitely want to add Nagarhole/Kabini. Sigh. Well I'll keep an eye on this too to see how it shakes out.

Edited by janzin

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Soukous
15 hours ago, janzin said:

oh dear this is so tempting! Maybe if you do it again in 2021 :)  We already have one India trip planned for Feb 2020 and something else in the works for Nov. If I did this I'd definitely want to add Nagarhole/Kabini. Sigh. Well I'll keep an eye on this too to see how it shakes out.

 

You never know @janzin 

No dates or costs have been fixed yet, so you may be able to fit it in. 

Alternatively, if it goes really well we can do it again in 2021. :D

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Galago
Posted (edited)

I've not been there and so I'd be interested, especially if Nagarhole etc is added (otherwise it's too far, too expensive for such a short trip). I'd be a single room as the OH doesn't like birding (poor deluded man 😎).

Please keep me in the loop.

Edited by Galago

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Soukous

Some important updates...

 

We are making good progress;

 

Guide:

I am in communication with Savio Fonseca and hope that he will be able to guide us. Savio is one of the co-authors of the Photographic Guide to the Birds of Goa which lists over 400 species from the region.

Savio has his own vehicle which will carry up to 6 people.

 

You can look at his website here: https://birding.avocet-peregrine.com/

 

Savio has suggested the following itinerary for the time spent in Goa; it looks fine to me.

 

Birding in Goa – suggested itinerary

 

Day 1 – Arrive Dabolim airport and transfer to accommodation

Day 2 – Drive to Siolim for a boat ride on the Chorao river before exploring the Socorro plateau ad the Salvador Do Mundo wetlands.

Day 3 – Excursion to Carambolim Lake

Day 4 – A boat trip on the Zuari river

Day 5 – Day excursion to Bondla Sanctuary and Bhagwan Mahavir NP

Day 6 - Visit the Verna plateau and Curtorim wetlands

Day 7 – a free day that can be used for extra excursions or return visit to somewhere productive.

Day 8 – Transfer from accommodation to Dabolim airport.

 

Accommodation:

My recommendation would be that we try and book ourselves into Wildflower Villas. Wildflower has 7 villas with a total of 13 rooms. Each villa is built in the style of a typical Goan home.

It is located in Saipem, just 7 minutes drive from the well-known Candolim beach.

 

Rates shown on the website - http://wildflowergoa.com/villas/ - are for the villa, not per person. A villa with 1 room costs 8500 Indian Rupees. That is about GBP100. ie, GBP 50 per person sharing.

 

Costs:

I propose to present the costs as an 'open book'. By that I mean that these are the costs that I have been quoted, no mark-up. Once we have established a final itinerary and payment needs to be made I will ask each participant to contribute towards the bank charges incurred transferring the monies to India. I hope that sounds fair.

 

Guide - Savio charges 5000 Rupees for a half day day (dawn until lunchtime), for him plus his vehicle. That's equivalent to approximately GBP60. If there were 6 of us that would mean a costs of GBP10 per person per day.

The rate does not include boat rides, forest entry fees, refreshments (apart from bottled water) or meals.

If we wish for a full day excursion (from dawn to sunset) the cost is 8000 Rupees. (approx GBP95)

If we wish to do a 2 hour night birding excursion to look for owls or nightjars, there is a cost of 3500 rupees.

 

Accommodation - I have asked wildflower for their nett tour operator rates. Once I have these I will post them here.

 

Boat trips - The cost of these is likely to be about 500 Rupees per person per trip, that's about GBP6.

 

Rough costs - Based on the above costs, and assuming we do 3 full days, 3 half days and 2 night excursions, I have calculated that the cost per person will be approximately as follows:

Number of participants

Cost per person in twin or double room

Cost per person in single room

2

£907

£1253

3

£636

£982

4

£546

£892

5

£501

£847

6

£474

£820

 

These costs do not include the cost of getting to Goa and do not include the cost or meals. Dining in Goa is very affordable.

I would be very happy for someone to check my maths. :unsure:

 

I will almost certainly be going from Goa to Nagarhole/Kabini for a further 7 nights.

This will involve flying from Goa to Bengaluru where I will meet a driver that will take me ( and anyone else  who wishes to join me) to Nagarhole and Bandipur.

I do not have costs for this section yet. It will undoubtedly be more expensive.

I propose to stay at Kaav Safari Lodge in Kabini and Dhole's Den in Bandipur

 

One important point to bear in mind is that, unlike most other parks in India, private/exclusive game drives are not possible in Kabini or Bandipur. The only vehicles allowed to operate game drives are the park's own vehicles which are small buses with open sides.  

Another possibility, if you don't like the idea of these game drive vehicles - I don't - would be to stay at a place called Fringe Ford instead of Bandipur. Here we could do walking in the jungle which would be better for birding.

 

Once I have some ball park costs for Nagarhole/Kabini and Bandipur I'll post them here.

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Soukous

I forgot to mention that at Nagarhole there is a 'camera fee' for bringing your camera into the park. It depends on the length of your lens. Up to 200mm is 125 rupees. Over 200mm is 600 rupees. 

A sneaky way to make extra money.:angry:

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janzin
2 hours ago, Soukous said:

One important point to bear in mind is that, unlike most other parks in India, private/exclusive game drives are not possible in Kabini or Bandipur. The only vehicles allowed to operate game drives are the park's own vehicles which are small buses with open sides.   

I don't think this is correct. I had awhile back done some research on Kabini, and you can do jeep safaris but only through the lodge you are staying at--and only certain lodges. The lodge you listed, Kaav Safari Lodge, does seem to offer jeep safaris. You can see a photo of a pretty standard jeep safari vehicle (looks like six passengers) on their website. https://kaav.com/activities-kabini

 

I don't know about Bandipur though--although a quick look seems like its the same, you can get jeep safari through some of the resorts.

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Soukous
16 minutes ago, janzin said:

I don't think this is correct. I had awhile back done some research on Kabini, and you can do jeep safaris but only through the lodge you are staying at--and only certain lodges. The lodge you listed, Kaav Safari Lodge, does seem to offer jeep safaris. You can see a photo of a pretty standard jeep safari vehicle (looks like six passengers) on their website. https://kaav.com/activities-kabini

 

I don't know about Bandipur though--although a quick look seems like its the same, you can get jeep safari through some of the resorts.

 

Thanks for that @janzin I'll double check. 

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Soukous

@janzin it seems that the situation is not as straightforward as it ought to be.

The information I have is this....

 

As things stand all jeep/vehicle permits are issued by government.

Kabini River Lodge is a government owned property and have a monopoly over safaris. I have been told that no matter which lodge you are staying with, the safaris must still be booked through Kabini River Lodge. 

The next problem is that the government wants all seats in jeeps to be occupied, so rather than allow 2 jeeps with 3 people in each, they will insist on all 6 people going in the same jeep. Their preference is to put everyone in a Mitsubishi Canter rather than jeeps.

 

Evolve Back ( which was previously called Orange County Resorts and Hotels but has recently re-branded to Evolve Back Luxury Resorts) promise exclusive safaris. However, in order to comply with the requirement to have all seats filled they put their own staff into any empty seats. So you may be the only clients in the jeep, but you do not have it exclusively to yourself.

 

My colleague is escorting a trip in Nagarhole/Kabini this November; even though his group is staying at Kaav Safari Lodge he has had to book 3 additional rooms (which are not needed and will not be used) at Kabini River Lodge just to ensure that he can do his safaris in a jeep not be forced to share a Canter.

 

Apparently some operators make 'under the table' payments to get a jeep but even then it is not guaranteed.

 

I have sent a message to Kaav Safari Lodge asking specifically if they use their own jeeps for safaris in the park and will report back when I hear from them.

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janzin

Oh interesting info. Certainly not all that clear from the various web sites. What a racket!  It will be interesting to see how it shakes out for you. I suppose six people (that you know) in one jeep would be better than being on the bus, though. I wonder how @madaboutcheetah has done it, he's been to Kabini many times.

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Soukous
25 minutes ago, janzin said:

 I wonder how @madaboutcheetah has done it, he's been to Kabini many times.

 

Good question. Over to you Hari.

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Soukous
Posted (edited)

OK, I now have some ball park costs for a 7 night excursion to Nagarhole, Fringe Ford and Bandipur.

 

Nagarhole & Bandipur - a suggested itinerary ( this is just a preliminary suggestion. If anyone who thinks they will be coming along has suggestions for amendments just post them here). I guess one obvious option would be to find cheaper accommodation. I know these places and feel I can count on them but I am open to suggestions. 

 

Day 01: Arrive Bengaluru and drive to Kabini. Rest of the day free to explore Kabini or try your hand at controlling a Coracle. Overnight at Kaav Safari Lodge (Superior Room).

Day 02: Morning and afternoon safaris in Nagarhole NP. Overnight at Kaav Safari Lodge (Superior Room).

Day 03: Morning and afternoon safaris in Nagarhole NP . Overnight at Kaav Safari Lodge (Superior Room).

Day 04: Drive to Finge Ford. Walks around the area. Overnight at Fringe Ford (Guest Rooms)

Day 05: Walks around the area. Overnight at Fringe Ford (Guest Rooms)

Day 06: Drive to Bandipur. Afternoon safari in Bandipur NP. Overnight at Windflower Resort (Cottage)

Day 07: Morning and afternoon safaris in Bandipur NP . Overnight at Windflower Resort (Cottage)

Day 08: Morning drive back to Bengaluru airport for onward travel arrangements.


 

Price (nett) per person for 2 guests on Twin sharing: GBP 1580

Price (nett) per person for 4 guests on Twin sharing: GBP 1555

Price (nett) per person for 6 guests on Twin sharing: GBP 1445

Single room supplement: GBP 640


 

Inclusions: all activities and safaris mentioned above. **

** As previously mentioned, the lodges in Kabini and Bandipur are reluctant/unable to guarantee exclusive jeep safaris in the parks. As things stand, prices are based upon seat in vehicle for the safaris. I am trying to get some kind of guarantee that we’ll be able to have our own vehicle but if this proves impossible in advance I propose that we tackle the issue when we get there. A little bit of baksheesh may grease the wheels.

 

Transport services using AC Toyota Innova (3 persons per Innova). If there are 4 people travelling then there will be 2 Innova cars with 2 people in each. The Innovas are much more comfortable and quicker than a minibus.

Meals: All three meals included in Kabini, Fringe Ford & Bandipur.

Edited by Soukous

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madaboutcheetah
Posted (edited)

@Soukous -  Sorry i've just seen this as I was away in Europe for work.  

 

Correct - the Kabini River Lodge do have exclusive rights ... however, they have a mix of jeeps and canters (ugh) ....... That does not mean, that those are the only vehicles though.... The other lodges (KAAV, Serai) etc etc., have a vehicle of theirs outsourced by Kabini River Lodge too.  You are correct that Private vehicles are not permitted as there is the vehicle limits in the park (That is a plus and a minus - the park is never crowded like the major tiger parks) ........ All of this inconvenience however is forgotten when you even get a glimpse of the Black Panther!!!! I have personally never been on the Canter (I rarely visit during weekends or school holidays).  Your mention of EVolv back (that's more like a Serena/Sopa in East Africa) .... 

 

And Oh - Bandipur - I would avoid the park under all circumstances.  It's a very badly maintained park over-run by Lantana (invasive species) and that was one of the main causes of the fire outbreak this summer. Bandipur however, you can get an exclusive jeep for drives from the Govt (not the JLR lodge) at the park office. 

Edited by madaboutcheetah

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Soukous

Many thanks @madaboutcheetah, food for thought.

 

My Bandipur experiences have not been as traumatic as yours seem to have been, and it is still a good park for birds.

We can easily opt to avoid Bandipur and visit Wayanad Wild instead. 

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kittykat23uk

I am following this with interest. I have still not got around to Goa although it was on my radar for a long time and I would very much like to visit Kabini to hopefully see the black leopard and dhole! 

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