I visited Carambolin on three separate occasions due its excellence for birds. The first visit was made with Len in the early morning. We began birding en route with a sighting of White-eyed Buzzard perched in a tree.
We reached Carambolin Lake and parked at the site marked as (B) on the map in Harris as the sun was behind us. The lakes speciality birds were soon in view, including Lesser Whistling Duck, Purple Swamphen, Little Cormorant, both species of Jacana and Cotton Pygmy Goose.|
Behind the rice paddies on the opposite side of the road (G) on my map, was a group of up to 20 Asian Open-billed Storks on and around the hedge and approximately 300 Baya Weavers were seen on the wires over the paddies. During a later visit Woolly-necked storks and a couple of Lesser Adjutants were seen in this area.
After a while a couple of Indian Cormorants were noted in flight although we did not obtain very good views of this species.
After an hour or so we headed for the point marked as (A) on the map, driving down one of the dead end roads to the lakeside. We walked right along the lake edge until we found some shade under some large trees near the end of the lake.
From here similar species were seen plus Darter in flight over the lake and Indian Cuckoo in the tress behind us.|
As the sun became very warm several raptors began riding the thermals behind us over the trees including two Lesser-Spotted Eagles (Indian Spotted Eagles). On checking the raptors I noticed a stork, which I identified as Lesser Adjutant. This bird was eventually accompanied by six others, giving good flight views.
From this point at the lake we checked out the many ducks, which included Shoveler, Pintail, Teal and Garganey. Eventually three Spot-billed Ducks were seen distantly in flight over the far side of the lake. These were seen much closer on my second visit when a single bird was found by Abhi feeding in the centre of the lake. It was apparently too early in the season for Comb Duck which we didn't see.|
On a later visit to the lake Jungle Owlet was found at a known roost in the large trees shown on the map below, near site (A).
Carambolin Chat Site
After spending several hours round the lake we headed back towards the village and the Mystery Chat site (C) and Carambolin Wood (D).
Two of the mystery chats were seen well but I will leave the identification of this species to the experts. However, the fact that there are obviously more than a single bird seems to rule out the possibility of hybrids or aberent Stonechats.
Over the three visits this site produced Larks, including Oriental Skylark and Short-toed Lark, chats as mentioned plus Pied Bushchat, Amur Falcon, several Eagles, Baya Weaver, Little Pratincole plus a few wader species.
Carambolin Wood, marked as (D) on the map below is just past the chat site. Our initial visit with a taxi driver called Papa was fairly fruitful with Grey-breasted and Plain Prinia, Rufous Treepie, Parakeets, and a Tickell's Leaf Warbler in the wood. However, Papa did not know that this was the roost site for several Owls including Spotted Owlet, Jungle Owlet and a pair of Brown Hawk Owls which I saw on a later visit, roosting directly over where we had parked the first time. This was in a Palm Tree directly over the road just past the disused building marked on the map. There is an old man who lives in the wood, who may follow you around if he sees you have binoculars. Do not be alarmed, as he will just want to show you where the Brown Hawk Owls are roosting.
Later visits to the area revealed some interesting species such as Red Collared Dove in the open ground at (E) and a Rusty-tailed Flycatcher in the wood. Unknown to us on the first visit was an area of mud to the right of the road just past the wood, marked as (F). On a later visit, Curlew Sandpiper and at least 80 Terek Sandpiper were seen amongst the commoner waders. A bird we didn't see in the wood, which is regularly seen there was Banded Bay Cuckoo. These birds are notoriously difficult to find due to there habit of perching low in bushes and trees. Carambolin is worth several visits both in the evening and late afternoon due to the variety of interesting birds to be found there.
I would not bother combining the Carambolin trip with a visit to the site known as Ciba-Geigy now owned by Syngenta. It is now virtually impossible to see any of the site from the road as trees and climbers up the high surrounding fence block off any viewpoints.
If you ask at either guardhouse at the two entrances they will refuse permission to enter unless you have written permission. This is a clever ploy on there part as I don't think Syngenta are likely to give birders written permission to enter the site. I emailed them several months before leaving for Goa and they did not even have the courtesy to reply to my request. Staff at Ciba-Geigy were very helpful but they apparently do not own the site any more.
I would be interested to know if anyone has gained access to this site and, Syngenta, it may be a very good public relations exercise to allow birders on site, even if accompanied by an employee. I'm sure birders would even pay a nominal fee towards the wages of a guide employed by the company if this meant access to the lakes was allowed.
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