Zuari river ride ~ Birding in Goa

A warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrate animal distinguished by the possession of feathers, wings, a beak and typically by being able to fly“- that is how a ‘bird’ has been defined in dictionary. And when you want to photograph these splendiferous creatures, you have to be a part of the silence. You have to be voiceless and blend in with the nature’s quietness. Whenever I am out there in nature, I automatically hush myself no matter how much I
want to shout with excitement when I get to see a lifer or a very beautiful perch or some behavioral enactment by the birds.

Kamat crocodile station

And if you want to experience silence with fresh earthy feeling and chirps falling on your eardrums, a river cannot be the last place you think off . One such tranquilizing experience one can get at this beautiful river boat ride. This
experience is exlusively provided by ‘Kamat Crocodile Station’ below the zuari river bridge in south Goa,India by Dr. Varsha Kamat, A very heart warming lady who has two very talented boat riders and bird guides Frankie and Royson working with her helping out tourists and photographers (mainly bird enthusiasts) taking beautiful photographs of the rare birds that can hardly be seen with normal people with their naked eyes. Both of them are gifted with bird spotting eyes with amazing skills to get close to the birds without disturbing them at all.

Zuari river

Starting our journey from north Goa, we had plans to reach Agonda beach which was our stay for two days to cover Netravali Wildlife sanctuary , Cotigao WLS and few very less visited and less crowded beaches of south Goa in the first week of February 2019. I thought of giving zuari river boat ride (of which I heard a lot about) a try which was on the way to Agonda on this beautiful Saturday morning. I already had a talk with Mrs.Kamat the previous day and she provided me with all the details and when we reached there at around 7am , we found out that we get the 10-12 seater boat all by ourselves as there were no more participants that morning.. yee lottery 😀

As we sat on the boat, I got my gear ready to shoot with probable useful settings. I usually don’t carry tripod on-the-go trips for more flexibility and less hastle. Mr. husband was taking out his binoculars (that’s what he is best at ) while I was a bit conscious/witty and talking to Royson about getting the birds that were on the top of my list for that day. And those were 2-3 types kingfishers (that I havn’t seen yet then), peregrine falcon, sea eagle and other raptors.
And our journey on the Zuari river started..

We were not much far that we spotted a western reef heron. Got pretty good pictures when the heron was waiting on the bottom of one of the pillars of the huge bridge.

Western Reef Heron

We moved a bit and Royson spotted the bird I was waiting for, the peregrine falcon from a good distance. I never knew the fastest bird in the whole wide world is that small for a raptor. We went as close as possible and took some shots but was not amazingly satisfied as it didn’t decide to move from the nut-bolts of the bridge. Wish to get this awing raptor in its wild habitat sometimes.

Peregrine falcon

A big size for a wader was our next sighting. A very pretty Eurasian curlew with a long beak.

Eurasian curlew

The western reef heron was again spotted fishing along with a grey heron , a sandpiper ,a few more water birds and some egrets of course.

Western reef heron

A bold and beautiful brahminy kite roosting here.

Brahminy KIte

 

Time for kingfishers 😀 . A common kingfisher decided to be alone and sat on the wooden stick in the middle of nowhere, all by itself.

Common kingfisher

Next was the time for the very eye catching bright blue colored bird waiting for us from a very far distance. The Black capped kingfisher was spotted and we get nearer to it safely as it changed its perch quite a few times. Finally it was closer sitting idle on the fishing net for a few seconds for me to make images before it flew away in the dense marshlands along with a white throated kingfisher.

black capped kingfisher

A black crowned night heron was spotted from a close distance as our boat moved close to the mangroves. So I took the opportunity to click some closeups of the large beauty.

Black crowned night heron

It was again time for the some kingfishers and this time it was one of my best sighting of any bird in its own personal habitat for a good long time. Can say about 10 mins, that a very very bold and majestically beautiful Collared kingfisher showed off its white collar to us changing just 2-3 perches before it vanished in the marshes. More than just taking shots, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it calling for its mate not annoyed with us being around. That is where you actually listen to the silence.

Collared kingfisher

After spending the good time that we could with the white collared gentleman ,we moved on to see a beautiful couple absolutely blending in with the environment.Unfortunately, I couldn’t capture the female one . So here is a very pretty Orange breasted green pigeon beautifully camouflaging with the tree leaves.

Orange breasted green pigeon

A flock of rosy starlings caught my attention while the bird eyers were looking for some unusual birds.

Rosy starlings

Talking of unusual , here comes the first one. Obviously my lifer and a hard to photograph bird with astonishing features. The blue faced malkoha. I had a hard time while getting to see it only. So only this shot was possible
from the position on the boat. I was happy to at least see the beauty which was not in my expectations list.

Blue faced malkoha

After we struggled with taking pictures of the malkoha was waiting for us the the bird of the day,which absolutely took my heart. A bird of prey- OSPREY. It was visible in the open on the river from quite a long distance. I just hoped it stays put till we reach closer. And it did. It absolutely did and I would thank Frankie for the beautiful 180 degree view of the bird that I am in awe with still, before it took off gracefully right infront of us.

Osprey
Osprey taking off

But with osprey , my hopes for seeing a sea eagle on perch and other eagles flew away too as we couldn’t spot a single one. So we turned our boat to return back to the riverside. As the name of the ride organizers suggest “The Kamat crocodile station”, the tour couldn’t complete without a crocodile right? So here is the one I forgot to talk about all this while.. The Indian mugger or marsh crocodile

Marsh crocodile

I enjoyed watching a lot of herons and egrets along the sides while our boat reached from where we started.

Indian cormorant

After this beautiful memorable river ride ,we took off for our next destination towards South Goa. Lets keep it until next time.

At kamat crocodile station, Zuari

Thanks for reading.

Other bird watching activities :

Ganeshgudi~ A birder’s paradise

Migratory Bird Area, North Goa

Birding in Pilerne lake, North Goa

An evening with Asian openbill

Stay happy , stay beautiful , keep birding. 🙂

Until next time

Much love,

Riya ❤

White throated kingfisher (Halcyon pileata)

Hello everyone. First of all a very beautiful sunday to all the nature lovers out there. Its been a while I had posted anything in my “Through my lenses” page. That is because I had indulge myself in learning all the important aspects of photography. The process of learning never ends. It just enhances your ability to learn more and more. And I pray that my passion for learning and gaining knowledge never dies.

Recently, I have been very glad to own a new set of telephoto lens for wildlife photography which is my genre, and hence made myself busy in trying my hands on the new combo. I cant express my excitement in words I had, when I first click a bird that close which almost filled the frame. And there they says, “Finish what you have started” so to finish, I have to first begin and here my friend, is a new beginning for me. I don’t know where I will reach in near or far future or will I even reach my destination ever! But this is my journey and I absolutely love it.

My very second post in my blog was on a bird species “Egret” (Link to the post – Egret ) which I am going to continue now. I have had blogs on my birding activities :

Feel free to have a look .Now I am starting a new series on About the bird”. This series will have a detailed post on ONE bird at a time with beautiful explanatory pictures. All the pictures are obviously clicked by me and the knowledge that I have gained about them by observing them,reading about them,shared by seniors/friends will be discussed here. So lets get to the very first post in my “About the bird” series.

WHITE THROATED KINGFISHER (Halcyon smyrnensis)

One of the most common in Kingfisher family (Alcedinidae), this small to medium sized birds has large heads and short legs. They size around 27-28cm (10.6-11 inch).

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This was shot in Agonda backwater while on boat in Automatic mode.

Their other features include chocolate-brown head, shoulders, flanks and lower belly, white throat/breast, large red bill and beautiful turquoise-blue feathers and tail.

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The prominent look showing off beautiful white breast.
Exif: f/6.3 exposure-1/320sec ISO-800 @435mm

They are most easily spotted for their distinctive blue color that can be easily identified in any green or plain land. The details of the feathers are just so breathtaking. They look stunning when they fly (mostly alone).

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My personal favorite perch.
Exif: f/6.3 exposure-1/400sec ISO-125 @562mm

A very widespread resident throughout India and very common in western ghats, they choose their high perches and usually comes back to the same perch every day.

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One fine morning. EXIF : f/6.3 exposure:1/500sec ISO-800 @435mm

Their call is loud,rattling laugh and sings their musical whistle when in search of prey. They will sit on their favorite perch (an exposed tree branch or wire) , sings out loud and looks downwards in search of prey exquisitely and continuously.

 

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Looking for prey.      EXIF- f/6.3       exposure-1/50sec ISO-200 @600mm

Not caring about water bodies, they feed on insects, fishes, small reptiles, amphibians, crabs, small rodents and even birds and choose to live in forest edges,gardens, coastal wetlands and even in urban society.

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With lizard kill. EXIF- f/6.3 exposure-1/200sec      ISO-640 435mm

The white-throated kingfisher begins breeding at the onset of the monsoons. Males perch on prominent high posts in their territory and call in the early morning.

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High perch call in the early morning.
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The wallpaper. Exif: f/6.3 exposure-1/60sec ISO-800 @600mm

The details of the bill which is duller in juveniles.

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The beak. Exif- f/6.3 exposure-1/250sec ISO-500mm @600mm

It is one of the first birds that caught my attention towards birding and always been by my side since then. One of the male is a regular visitor to my backyard birding sessions.

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I love photographing this beauty whenever I get a chance.

My gears = Canon + Sigma

Location- Goa, India

This is it for todays lesson. Hope you like my work and if you did, come back regularly for similar updates. I will see you all next time. Happy birding. Stay blessed. Keep sharing love.

Much love

Riya.