|I visited this small forest sanctuary on two separate occasions, both times using Abhi as driver and guide, although we took two taxis due to the fact that five people went on each visit and it is only possible to fit three in a taxi. It was necessary to leave the hotel at around 5 o clock in the morning to arrive at Bondla at first light. Abhi advised us to start at the lower end of the approach road at first light, where the sun hits the hillsides first.|
On both occasions we parked beside a stream on the right hand side of the road where an obvious track crosses the stream. On the other side of this stream the track leads in to an area of low bushes and patches of open ground. From the open patches of ground it was easy to view the surrounding forested hillside. This area was excellent on our first visit but much quieter on the second.|
In this area birds of interest were Peafowl, Variable Hawk Eagle, Brown-backed Needletail, Greater Racket-tailed and Spangled Drongo, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Grey Junglefowl, Rufous Treepie, Rufous Woodpecker, and Shikra amongst many others. Although facing towards the sun there is a dead tree over on the opposite side of the road, which allowed excellent views of many of the birds.
I was especially hoping to see Malabar Pied Hornbill at Bondla, as I had missed this species at Backwoods.
I was not disappointed, after seeing several Malabar Grey Hornbills Abhi heard what he thought was Pied Hornbill. He was not wrong we all had excellent views of 5 birds in flight and perched in the tops of the trees.|
The most exciting bird of this area was only found during our first visit. At one point Abhi became very aware a something calling and began searching the surrounding trees. Suddenly I noticed two large Bee Eater like birds with slightly down-curved bills sitting in some dead branches at the top of a nearby tree. The birds called in a Hoopoe like manner. I was very pleased and surprised to be able to identify a pair of Blue-bearded Bee Eaters, quite a rarity by all accounts. After spending several minutes watching these birds they flew off up the hillside and we departed the site.
Our next port of call was a site on the left hand side of the road where a narrow track ran parallel to the road. Here Abhi showed us at least two Little Spiderhunters.
We next stopped at the reservoir shown on the map in Harris. Here we had good views of Chestnut-headed Bee Eater over the water. We walked all the way round the Reservoir to look for Brown Wood Owl to no avail.
The ground was alive with ants round the water and even on the road. They didn't bite just crawled up your legs and back down again.|
On the second visit to this site whilst watching Loten's sunbird Abhi again suddenly began searching the trees. I asked him what he was on to. He thought he had heard a juvenile Banded Bay Cuckoo begging for food from its parent host. He was yet again proved to be correct as there in the trees above the road was a young Banded Bay Cuckoo begging for food from a Common Iora.
Prior to the reservoir we stopped along the road to listened for Malabar Trogon. This was a species we did not catch up with at Bondla.They are apparently much more abundant in January and February.
After checking the reservoir out we entered the sanctuary through the entrance gate. This cost 180 rupees for 7 people and 2 still cameras. It costs more to take your camera in than yourself and video cameras are 200 rupees each.
We didn't declare Adams as it was not going to be used in the zoo or anywhere it may have been noticed.|
Once inside we were taken to the area of mature woodland by the dormitories marked on Harris' map. From here we walked through the woods on to the nature trail past the workers homes, where we appeared to traipse through their gardens but they didn't seem to mind. They just gave a friendly smile like all the Goans who are genuinely likeable people.
In the forest many common woodland birds were located in feeding flocks along with Malabar Grey Hornbill and close views of a female Blue-capped Rock Thrush.
There were also plenty of Langur Monkeys in this area. Our final destination was the stream, which passes under a bridge next to the car park. This is a site for two species of Kingfisher, Blue-eared and Oriental Dwarf, the latter being the only kingfisher I missed in Goa, despite searching the stream for about 2 hours on our second visit as Ian from the Beira Mar had seen it only 30 minutes before our arrival and 2 non-birders had seen a kingfisher in the bear pit in the zoo.
The zoo itself held many common woodland species including Black-rumped Flameback and a big flock of Jungle or Large-billed Crows. Unfortunately the animals look pitiful and very sorry for themselves. I don't enjoy this type of zoo even though it is meant to be educational as all the animals are those, which can be found in Goa.|
A bird of interest found walking along the outside of one of the cages was a juvenile Crested Serpent Eagle, which let us walk to within touching distance of it.
I'm not sure whether it was an injured bird that had been looked after or a resident of the zoo. I think the former was likely, as Abhi had not seen it before.
On the first visit, we stopped next to a river almost at the end of the approach road and walked approximately 100 yards to a large tree on the opposite bank of the river. This site was a banker for Brown Fish Owl which I had still not seen at this point. We scoured the tree but as usual no Fish Owl in sight. Abhi redeemed himself by finding the Owl in a smaller tree further down on our side of the river. At last!
|On the second visit the only different area we checked out was round the tourist cottages and up to the main entrance barrier. Abhi spotted an Emerald Dove hidden in the middle of the trees in this area. Speckled Piculet has been in this area in previous years but not when we visited.|
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