Full day birding at South Andaman

I received a phone call from Samuel Snow who arrived at Port Blair with his wife Lily from the US. He saw our advertisement on go2andaman travel maps (always pick one from the airport on arrival, its super useful) and booked me for a half day birding tour for the following day.  Next morning, I picked them up at 0515hrs after struggling to locate the Homestay they were staying at.

Morning: Birding at Chidiyatapu

We left for Chidiyatapu, a secondary deciduous forest at the southern tip of South Andaman. As the name suggests, it’s teeming with birds and among my favorite places for birding at South Andaman. Our first stop came at a small mangrove patch just before Burmanallah, a good spot for kingfishers. Here we spotted the common, collared and white-throated kingfisher; striated heron and a Chinese pond-heron. A little ahead we stopped again at the sight of over 50 white-rumped munias feasting on rice paddy. The forest was fairly silent which usually the case on early mornings. We stopped at a small dam which offered some forest clearing. Here we spotted our first endemic the andaman cuckooshrike perched overhead followed by white-headed starling, andaman shama, andaman flowerpecker, freckle-breasted woodpecker, vernal hanging parrots and green imperial pigeons. We also scoped a Scarlet Minivet on its nest and accidentally flushed a cinnamon bittern.

We decided to walk along the road and straight away rewarded with a pair of andaman bulbul feeding unmindful of our presence. Our attention was diverted by the loud drumming of the andaman woodpecker and we rushed towards the sound. After a lot of searching, we couldn’t locate the bird but instead found a mixed feeding flock of andaman treepie, andaman drongo, greater racket-tailed drongo and black-naped monarch. We could still hear the woodpecker drumming although it was deep inside the canopy. Further ahead we spotted Emerald Doves feeding on the road and a forest wagtail which flew of before everyone can get a decent look. We eventually spotted a female Andaman Woodpecker drumming on a dry branch before leaving the forest patch for Breakfast. 

Birding in South Andaman
Digiscoping vernal hanging parrots
birdwatching in south andaman
Scope Views of Andaman Green Pigeons

Our breakfast was interrupted by an olive-backed sunbird (only species of sunbird in andamans) feeding on the nearby coconut tree. We watched the bird while sipping our ginger tea. Meanwhile, a mangrove whistler was heard whistling from the nearby mangroves, couldn’t locate the bird but found Eastern yellow wagtail, Taiga flycatcher instead. We then headed towards the Biological Park at Chidiyatapu which opens only at 0900hrs. As we waited for the park to open its gates, we saw a flock of Long-tailed Parakeets feasting on chikoo tree. Later we went inside the park; right at the entrance we saw an andaman shama, andaman treepie, black-naped monarch (pair) and orange-headed thrush from close range.  Further ahead, we saw an andaman green pigeon flying in, landing and disappearing on a padauk tree.

After some searching, we managed to scope the bird for some good views.  It was getting hotter and the bird activity had already gone down so we decided to return back to Port Blair. On our way back, we stopped again at the same mangroves at Burmanallah, this time, we found a stork-billed kingfisher and few blue-tailed bee-eaters on the wire. On the opposite side along the shore, we saw both the morphs of pacific reef heron and a lone whimbrel before heading back. Sam & Lily who initially opted for a half day tour decided to cancel their sightseeing plan and asked me to assist them for the evening session as well. 

Click here for the complete checklist.

Evening session at Sippighat

I asked Basu (our driver) to pick them up at 1415hrs and we drove towards Sippighat wetlands on the outskirts of Port Blair. We spotted the slaty-breasted rail and Pin-tailed snipe feeding as we parked ourvehicle. Walking along the dirt road yielded yellow and cinnamon bitterns, white-browed crake (a vagrant in Andaman) and our main target the andaman teals. While returning, a eurasian wryneck flew past us and landed on a tree nearby, another uncommon species for the islands and a lifer for sam; who had multiple failed attempts to spot the bird previously. We drove ahead to a nearby mudflat and added red-necked and long-toed stints, pacific swallow, white-bellied sea-eagle, curlew sandpipers to the list. We then left Sippighat at 1600hrs to reach Chidiyatapu to watch the sunset and look for Owls.

Click here for the complete checklist.

Sunset at Chidiyatapu

Night Session at Chidiyatapu

We reached Chidiyatapu just on time to watch the sunset while sipping Tea.  The place is usually buzzing with tourists who come to witness the same.  So we had to wait till the crowd is gone and the owls come out to hunt. We first tried the walden’s scops owl (andaman subspecies of oriental scops owl), we did see the bird but not very satisfactory views. We left the bird alone and went ahead to locate the hawk owls and we weren’t disappointed. The andaman hawk owl was spotted on a dead tree next to the road and minutes later the hume’s hawk owl was found perched 5 meters away from us.  We again went back to see the walden’s, this time it starred down on us from close range. On our way back, we stopped inside the forest patch to search for the andaman scops owl which prefers to dwell inside forest. We heard at least 4 individuals calling but from inside the canopy. After waiting for some time, we thought of trying our luck in another location. We heard another pair which sat overhead and kept calling but couldn’t locate them in thick canopy. We called it the night and returned back to Port Blair by 2015hrs.

Click here for the complete checklist.

Hume's Hawk Owl-Andaman-Shakti-Tribesmen.in-Birdwatching in South Andaman
Hume's Hawk Owl

Over the course of the day, we spotted around 90 species which included 14 of the 20 endemics found in Andaman Islands including some uncommon birds like eurasian wryneck and white-browed crake.

Click here for details about our full day and half day tour or email us to learn more.