Birdwatching in Goa—Western Ghats & Arabian Sea

Great Knot

Goa, situated on the west coast of India on the Arabian Sea, is of course popular as one of India’s prime beach destinations. With fresh delicious seafood, beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts and a fascinating colonial heritage, India’s smallest state has a lot to offer. Less well-known is that it is a fabulous place for birding, with a huge diversity from the coastal marshes with shorebirds, gulls and terns, to the verdant Western Ghats forests and many of India’s endemic species.

Target Species

  • Jungle Bush Quail 
  • Red Spurfowl 
  • Grey Junglefowl 
  • Sri Lanka Frogmouth 
  • Jungle Nightjar 
  • Jerdon’s Nightjar 
  • Savanna Nightjar
  • Crested Treeswift
  • Indian Swiftlet 
  • Blue-faced Malkoha 
  • Jacobin Cuckoo
  • Banded Bay Cuckoo
  • Grey-bellied Cuckoo 
  • Fork-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo
  • Nilgiri Wood Pigeon 
  • Oriental Turtle Dove
  • Common Emerald Dove
  • Orange-breasted Green Pigeon
  • Grey-fronted Green Pigeon 
  • Green Imperial Pigeon
  • Mountain Imperial Pigeon
  • Slaty-breasted Rail
  • Ruddy-breasted Crake
  • Watercock
  • Eurasian Oystercatcher
  • Yellow-wattled Lapwing 
  • Pacific Golden Plover
  • Kentish Plover
  • Lesser Sand Plover
  • Greater Sand Plover
  • Caspian Plover
  • Bar-tailed Godwit
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Great Knot
  • Broad-billed Sandpiper
  • Sanderling
  • Terek Sandpiper
  • Crab-plover
  • Small Pratincole
  • Slender-billed Gull
  • Pallas’s Gull
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull
  • Greater Crested Tern
  • Lesser Crested Tern
  • Sandwich Tern
  • Bridled Tern
  • Arctic Skua
  • Wilson’s Storm Petrel
  • Lesser Adjutant
  • Cinnamon Bittern
  • Striated Heron
  • Western Reef Heron
  • Rufous-bellied Eagle
  • Black Eagle
  • Indian Spotted Eagle 
  • Crested Goshawk
  • Besra
  • White-bellied Sea Eagle
  • Indian Scops Owl 
  • Oriental Scops Owl
  • Brown Fish Owl
  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Jungle Owlet 
  • Brown Hawk-Owl
  • Malabar Trogon 
  • Great Hornbill
  • Malabar Pied Hornbill 
  • Malabar Grey Hornbill 
  • Black-capped Kingfisher
  • Collared Kingfisher
  • Blue-eared Kingfisher
  • Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher
  • Blue-bearded Bee-eater
  • Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
  • Malabar Barbet 
  • Speckled Piculet
  • Heart-spotted Woodpecker
  • White-bellied Woodpecker
  • Amur Falcon
  • Vernal Hanging Parrot
  • Indian Pitta 
  • Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike
  • Malabar Woodshrike 
  • Orange Minivet 
  • Brown Shrike
  • Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
  • Black-naped Monarch
  • Indian Black-lored Tit 
  • Malabar Lark 
  • Mongolian Short-toed Lark
  • Grey-headed Bulbul 
  • Flame-throated Bulbul 
  • Yellow-browed Bulbul 
  • Square-tailed Bulbul 
  • Green Warbler
  • Large-billed Leaf Warbler
  • Western Crowned Warbler 
  • Paddyfield Warbler
  • Indian Scimitar Babbler 
  • Tawny-bellied Babbler 
  • Dark-fronted Babbler 
  • Puff-throated Babbler
  • Asian Fairy-bluebird
  • Malabar Starling 
  • White-rumped Shama
  • Asian Brown Flycatcher
  • Brown-breasted Flycatcher
  • White-bellied Blue Flycatcher 
  • Indian Blue Robin
  • Malabar Whistling Thrush 
  • Blue-capped Rock Thrush 
  • Nilgiri Flowerpecker 
  • Crimson-backed Sunbird 
  • Vigors’s Sunbird 
  • Little Spiderhunter
  • Black-throated Munia 
  • Forest Wagtail
  • Blyth’s Pipit
  • Black-headed Bunting
  •   Endemic
  •   Near Endemic


Day 1: Arrive in Goa

After arrival at Goa Airport you will be met and transferred to the lovely resort of Nature’s Nest, deep in the inland quiet of Goa’s Western Ghats. We will base ourselves here for three nights to explore the birdlife of the Western Ghats, in the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and elsewhere. Our first evening is likely to be spent in the Tambdi Surla area of the sanctuary, where we will target birds such as Blue-eared Kingfisher, Brown-breasted Flycatcher, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Malabar Barbet, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, and Dark-fronted Babbler.

Days 2-3: Bhagwan Mahavir and Bondla Wildlife Sanctuaries

We have two full days where we will explore the Western Ghats with morning birding, relaxation at the resort during the hottest part of the day, and late afternoon excursions. One morning will be spent visiting Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, where the forest has many excellent species, including several Western Ghats endemics. Grey-fronted Green Pigeon, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon, Crimson-backed Sunbird, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Black-throated Munia, and Goa’s state bird, Flame-throated Bulbul, could all be seen.

We will also do some night birding for nocturnal species such as Jerdon’s and Jungle Nightjars, and Sri Lanka Frogmouth.

Day 4: Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary to Baga

Leaving the Ghats we head to tourist Goa by the beach for our next three nights, in the Baga and Calangute area. Whilst there will be opportunities to relax and enjoy some of the non-birding side to Goa, this area is still brilliant for birds! Our hotel overlooks a series of paddyfields and a small marsh, and late afternoon here has been known to produce Cinnamon and Black Bitterns, Greater Painted-snipe, Watercock, Slaty-breasted Rail, Ruddy-breasted and Baillon’s Crakes, all from a poolside deck chair with cool drink in hand! Woodland areas nearby hold many common species, with some more notable ones including Grey-headed Bulbul, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Orange-headed Thrush, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Dark-fronted Babbler, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Crimson-backed and Vigor’s Sunbirds.

Days 5-6: Coastal Goa

With many options in this area the birding programme will be flexible. The main sites we could include are:
Morjim Beach—one of the best coastal sites, the beach here, and adjacent Chapora Estuary, holds large numbers of gulls, terns and waders, including the occasional Great Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit and even Crab Plover.
Carambolim and Mayem Lakes—two quite different lakes, Carambolim always has large numbers of waterbirds, whilst the forest surrounding Mayem is the best place for Orange-breasted Green-Pigeon, and also good for Brown Fish Owl.
Socorro Plateau—whilst the coastal wetlands, Western Ghats forests and inland marshes are well-known, the rocky laterite plateau is also a must visit, with dry country birds including Malabar and Sykes’s Short-toed Larks, Jerdon’s Leafbird and Grey-necked, Red-headed and Black-headed Buntings.
Zuari River—Goa is famous for kingfishers, and a boat trip along the Zuari River should produce the scarcest one, the endemic subspecies of Collared Kingfisher. Black-capped is also likely here, and Slaty-breasted Rail a possibility. We should also see Marsh Mugger crocodiles. (The boat trip would be at extra cost.)
Salvador do Mundo Wetlands—a relatively new site, formerly paddyfields but now mostly a wetland area giving easy access to riverside mangroves. A great variety of birds including Pacific Golden Plovers and a chance of Collared Kingfisher, and we were treated to lovely views of Smooth-coated Otters on our recent visit here.

Day 7: Depart

After breakfast, check out from the hotel and drive back to the airport.


For all our bookings we provide the most accurate and useful printable checklists available, specific to the actual areas you are likely to visit. In the meantime, use our interactive state checklists, or view the species bar chart for this area on eBird:

eBird India logo

Important information

Asian Adventures logo

As with all Bubo Birding tours, your booking is handled by Asian Adventures.

  • We may change the itinerary described due to various reasons such as latest birding information, availability of accommodation, state of the roads, and other unexpected factors that, this being India, do pop up from time to time!
  • We would be happy to make any additional travel bookings, e.g. domestic flights, car and driver, that you require.
  • The final price and itinerary will be confirmed before booking and depending on your expected arrival and departure plans.

See Asian Adventures for full tour details, including accommodation, meal plans, what's included, other exclusions, prices for different group sizes, single room supplements, cancellation policy, and booking process.

Interested in Birdwatching in Goa—Western Ghats & Arabian Sea?

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