It was the end of a great weekend in Goa as we rushed to catch what I thought was the 6.35pm flight back to Mumbai, only to realize that we were booked on the 4.35 flight.
In my defense the ticket did read 16.35 which does include a ‘6’, doesn’t it?!
The next available flight was for the following afternoon, ‘forcing’ us to spend an extra night in Goa.
Deciding to make the most of it, I woke up early the next morning and set up my tripod and camera at the edge of the porch.
And so it was on this typical (many would say ‘spectacular’) monsoon morning in Goa, that I sat by my camera and tripod sipping my coffee still rueing how on earth I managed to screw up our return flight timings.
The kingfisher in the image was the first bit of silver in what was till now a solid grey cloud!
White-breasted Kingfishers are common but tend to keep their distance. Contrary to normal behaviour, this one positioned itself on tree stump bang in the middle of my lawn and was so intent on the earthworms and insects in the grass below that it seemed oblivious of my presence.
Twenty minutes later a pair of courting Malkohas decided to make their presence felt.
The Blue-faced Malkoha is shy but striking bird. It is fairly large with dark green feathers on its back and belly and has a long tail with bold white patches at the ends of the individual feathers.
Sightings are restricted to infrequent glimpses through the undergrowth (like the one above that was taken a couple of days earlier on the same trip, all credit to Maria de Souza for spotting it).
It is very, very occasionally that will they venture out into the open.
And very…very…very infrequently will they do so long enough to allow me to get off a shot like the one below!
By now I knew, that as far as birding was concerned, I was on a roll!
There was this unusual-looking solitary parrot perched atop the gunpowder tree at the far end of the yard.
Plum-headed Parakeets (as seen on the left) are frequent visitors. They come in noisy droves preferring the uppermost branches of tall trees.
This particular parrot (below) looked different.
On raising my binoculars the curved, red beak, short tail, patch of blue around the neck and red rump feathers confirmed my suspicions that I was looking at my very first sighting of a Vernal Hanging Parrot right here in my very own backyard! How cool was that!!
Other sightings from the edge of my porch that morning include White-bellied Drongo, Green Bee-eater, Jerdon’s Leafbird, Speckled Dove, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Red-rumped Swallow, Oriental Magpie-robin, Jungle Myna, Small Minivet, Black-hooded Oriole and Greater Southern Coucal.
I was one happy trooper!!
Our ‘new’ return flight tickets were for 1.30pm and taking into to account the hour-long drive to the airport we decided to start packing at about 11am.
That’s when I noticed a couple of light shades and bulbs that were dismantled the previous day and left on the floor of the porch.
I was about to pick them up and take them inside house when I saw this little fellow (below). He must have been about a foot and a half long, and coiled peacefully barely a few feet from where I had set up the camera!
Subsequent ID (thanks to Dr. Neil Soares) confirmed that this was a Wolf snake and was non poisonous but to think that we were in close proximity for a couple of hours is both exciting and scary!
We did make it to the airport in time to catch our flight. This time, you may be pleased to hear, without mishap!
But looking back I am glad that things panned out they way they did.