South Andaman
Trip Report

 
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South Andamans
by Anand Prasad
20 February - 6 March 2002

 

 


General

The islands make an ideal birding holiday. In two weeks you have plenty of time to see the birds and to relax with some snorkelling and swimming in a very beautiful, quiet environment. It would have been the perfect place to bring my non-birding girlfriend. The reason it is so unexploited is that it is difficult to reach. The only way is by ship or plane from Calcutta or Chennai. Soon however the international airport should be open and it will be easy accessible. Now or soon after the airport opens will be a good time to visit, before the inevitable commercialisation of the islands takes place.

Transport

On the first day I used a taxi but could see it would become quite expensive so I decided to rent a bike and see what the roads were like on my bad back. The first obstacle was that I had left my driving licence in India. The bike rental place was ok with a copy or even the number of the licence, so after considering the hassle of getting my girlfriend to fax a copy I just returned the next day with some numbers and that was enough. I found the roads extremely quiet except from the airport to Port Blair but I always went the long way around by the Corbyn’s Cove. They were also not too bumpy if I went slowly, which is anyway a good idea in India. The coast is very beautiful. The bike was 150 rps per day, not including petrol. >

> Ferry to Bamboo Flats
The car ferry leaves every morning soon after first light from Phoenix Bay, near the bus station. If you have a bike you can take it across the bay and drive to the top or bottom of Mt. Harriet. The passenger ferries are more frequent (also from Phoenix Bay) but I never had to wait long. There are also ferries from Chatham to bamboo flats. In the beginning I sailed from Chatham and got on the wrong ferry back, so make sure you are on the right ferry! If you don’t have a bike you can rent a rickshaw at Bamboo Flats to take you to the top or bottom of Mt. Harriet.

> Ferry to Havelock Island
I queued for an hour or so to buy a ticket on the same day as I went to visit the forest dept., only to find out that you can buy tickets for the next day, only. I explained that I didn’t want to waste more time and was there anything else I could do? Sure, I could buy my ticket on the boat itself but at a higher price (60 rps), was the satisfactory answer. This splendid arrangement was about to be stopped as I left, so check up on the latest. There are ferries going via Neil Island, which are very slow. Ask for the fast, direct ferry, which takes only 2 hours in fine weather. At beach # 7 there was a notice board with the sailing times and buses, which seemed to be accurate. The ferry to Havelock left from the first jetty, and was the ship farthest away. Boarding time was 6.00 am with a ticket and 6.15 without. In the busy season you might not get on board without a ticket. Times from Haverlock were 10.30 am, except Friday which was 6.15 pm. No sailings both direction on a Monday and a second sailing on Sunday at 2 pm. These times are boarding times but are probably changed seasonally so need to be checked.

Accommodation

Port Blair: Port Blair is quite handy as a base for exploring south Andaman. It was difficult to find a hotel when I arrived so I ended up with a less than ideal room at Paradise Lodge, Aberdeen Bazaar but it was clean and surprisingly quiet at night so I ended up staying there. Once I bought myself some mosquito coils it was fine. The open sewers beneath the pavement make being bitten a thing to avoid. The hotel looked after my luggage when I went to Havelock Island and also sold me my ferry ticket to Jolly Buoy Island. It was 250 rps per night. I tried various eating establishments and found the rice plate (thali) at Himalayan Restaurant was the best.
Just out of curiosity whilst eating one night at the Youth Hostel, I tried to see if I could get a room. Old trip reports wrote about how off putting the place was and they do seem to have a no foreigners policy. I was told there were no rooms available so I then asked when was the next available room and was again told there were none and when I persisted was told I would have to see the manager, who was of course unavailable. I got the message.
I also tried to book the Forest Rest House at Mount Harriet National Park and after about half an hour of watching the Commissioner of Forests trying to figure out what the latest ruling was, I was told that the National Parks were officially not open for overnight stay for foreigners and so permission could not be given but that as long as nothing was on paper no one would mind me camping there. I didn’t have camping equipment and was very attracted to the beautiful looking lodge so I gave up. It may however be possible to stay at the Forest -Rest House at Chiriya Tapu if you can find the official who will take the risk of giving you permission. I had wasted enough time for one day so I forgot to ask.

Havelock Island: I looked around beach # 7 and found the best place was the Jungle Resort but their cheaper rooms were full, so I stayed at the Harmony Resort for the first night and then moved to the Jungle Resort the next day. Both have nice cheap huts in nice settings but the Jungle Resort is surrounded, by littoral rainforest on one side and degraded rainforest on the hill behind. It also has a very beautiful restaurant, serves good food and is a great place for owls, so it is highly recommended. I took their claims of recycling with a pinch of salt, as there are also piles of plastic outside their boundary fence. Jungle Resort also has very beautiful cabins with showers and toilets. They are quite expensive but the price is negotiable in the off-season. Basic non lockable huts are only 100 rps., which was perfect as all my valuables were in Port Blair. Jungle Resort tel. # 0091 3192 3756. Fax # 0091 3192 37657. E-mail susheeldixit_at_yahoo.com
I wasn’t even sure if bottled water would be available on the island but times have changed and bottled water, beer, chocolate etc. are available. It is much better to drink boiled water. Jungle Resort boil some delicious water from their spring. The sometimes taste of wood fire convinced me it was safe. Otherwise water purification tablets are an option.

Neil and Long Island : It is also possible to sleep on these islands. I have no idea what the birding is like but it is probably similar to Havelock.

Money
There is now an ATM in Port Blair near the bus station.

Internet
Many places in Port Blair advertise Internet facilities but one near the bus station seemed to be the only one working.

Weather
There was no rain at all during my stay. It is however very hot and humid. It is necessary to drink a lot of water.

Snorkelling
I almost made the mistake of not doing any snorkelling. Luckily after I had walked around Jolly Buoy and still had some time to spare, some Germans persuaded me to borrow their mask. It was quite superb, and definitely not something to be missed, especially at Jolly Buoy Island where the water is very clear and the marine environment particularly rich. Even from the land you see shoals of tiny fish jumping out of the water closely followed by one of the peregrines of the sea. From beach # 7 I also snorkelled and although there was not the same quantity or diversity, there was for example a huge shoal of "Napoleon Fish" as the Italians call them, huge fish munching the coral. So it is advisable to take a mask with you although there were masks on sale in Port Blair and for rent at Jolly Buoy Island.

Ross Island
I didn’t make it to this small island next to Port Blair but I wanted to visit on the recommendation of some photographers who were raving about how beautiful it was. The attraction is the old colonial buildings with the invading trees and creepers, which apparently has an incredible effect. They actually came all the way back from Southeast Asia to photograph it before the government renovates it. The imminent renovation will save the buildings but destroy the magic of the place.

Trip Reports
I had the trip report of Brian Gee who visited in Feb ’95 on his tour of South India, Sri Lanka and the Andaman’s. It was good to have but everything you need to know is in "A Birdwatcher’s Guide to India" Prion 1998 by K. Kazmierczak and R. Singh. I also had an old report of Jon Curson’s from ’89. It was pretty dated but he did see some good birds at Manjeri (Jerdon’s Baza, although this may need confirming as it is not mentioned in any subsequent field guides). I also found some short notes from a trip by Bob Watts in April 1987 who saw Oriental Honey Buzzard, Pied Triller, Ruddy Kingfisher, Small Pratincole and Sanderling. Small Pratincole is not recorded in the distribution maps of the two new field guides and Sanderling which I also saw, is only shown on the map as having occurred on the Nicobar Island. No other trip reports could be found, even on the internet, although there are several articles in The Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society.

Site Details

Chennai
If your flight is from Chennai you will probably have some spare time here to do some birding.
Chennai is well represented in "A Birdwatcher’s Guide to India" by Krys Kazmierczak and Raj Singh. I was disappointed to find that Guindy National Park in the centre of the city is closed on Tuesdays so I couldn’t explore it. Malayan Night Heron, Black Baza, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Blue-throated Flycatcher, and Ashy Minivet are possible here.
Instead I spent the day around the Theosophical Society Gardens area. My taxi drive didn’t know where it was but I somehow figured it out from the map in "A Birdwatchers Guide to India", as it is only 2km east of Guindy. Elphinstone Bridge has the old bridge next to it and here is a good watch point except it is also the local toilet. I was happy to find refuge in the Theosophical Society Gardens. The place is supposed to close at 4pm but this is for entry only and once you are inside you can stay much longer. This was for me a very interesting place, especially as I have a great love for J. Krishnamurti, who was adopted by the Theosophists but finally rejected them, and their role for him as the World Messiah, to continue his own very simple individualistic and very human teaching. Here you walk amongst the Samadhi (shrines) of near mythical characters such as Madame Blavatsky, Annie Besant and Colonel Leadbetter. The place is a shadow of what it once must have been, you can easily imagine what a beautiful place it must have been, on the banks of the River Adyur in what must have been then, a very rural setting. The beauty of the place now, is that close as it is to the city, it is very quite with no local disturbance whatsoever.
Digression aside I didn’t however, see tremendous birds. Black-tailed Godwit (50+), Marsh Sandpiper, Pied Avocet (regular here), Yellow-billed Babbler, Rufous Treepie, Black-rumped Flameback, Asian Brown Flycatcher and Blue-tailed Bee-eater were, I am afraid, the most interesting species I saw. I also saw Jackal and Ruddy Mongoose. The eastern end of the garden has a gate in the wall, which is opened before dusk for the very civilised pastime of sea watching at sunset. I drove around and somehow found the way through the slum and drove along the track on the beach. Something could definitely turn up here but I didn’t see much of interest. Swinhoe’s Snipe, Broad-billed Sandpiper and Crab Plover are known to occur.

South Andaman
Except for the birding sites visited, the interior of south Andaman and Havelock Island are almost completely deforested. This doesn’t mean the islands are not beautiful. The coastline has been almost unspoilt and the police seem to be very strict about the proper use of the beaches so there are miles of unspoilt empty beach. There are however around the Port Blair coastline, some pretty ugly looking hotels (with garish painted concrete walls), springing up and with the opening of the international airport in the near future this trend is bound to continue.
The littoral rainforest forest has also been left intact so that from the sea and beach, the islands look like paradise islands. The islands have been massively overpopulated against the advise of several government commissions, British and Indian. The Andaman were used as a dumping ground for Bangladeshi and Sri Lanka refugees and with the law allowing squatters rights to reclaimed forest land the effect has been disastrous for the environment. I was told that the Government planned to keep 80% of the forest intact, but in the areas I saw, the figure is probably nearer 5%. Hopefully the other islands are more protected.
I was also told that a few years ago, dynamite fishing had destroyed the coral around Havelock island but that it is now recovering.

Port Blair
There is some good shore-watching habitat to the north of Phoenix Bay around to Chatham. The locals are sure that if you are alone in the middle of nowhere you must want company or at least to be honked at by every passing vehicle, so be prepared, if you want to scan the shore for mysterious waders you need to have the equanimity of a Buddha. I don’t!
Best birds: Collared Kingfisher, Greater Sand Plover (in breeding plumage), Terek Sandpiper, Great Knot, Little Tern (a relatively recent winter visitor), Pacific Reef Egret, White-bellied Sea Eagle.

Corbyn’s Cove
This site is probably not anything like what it used to be judging by the species, which used to be seen here. A road has been built through the middle of the marsh and it is not much more than a pool with some ferny looking marsh-vegetation on the near side. It still turns up some good birds. At first thought I heard a Black-browed Reed Warbler, but later couldn’t be sure. The much more extensive marsh at Sippighat (on the way to Wandoor), looks more promising for that species.
I did find Mangrove Whistler to be quite common here. It was seen at most visits and heard every morning and evening. It was always on the opposite side of the road to the marsh.
Best birds: Stork-billed Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, Watercock, Wood Sandpiper (only seen here), Pond Heron species, Yellow Bittern, Cinnamon Bittern, Mangrove Whistler, Pacific Swallow, Rusty-rumped Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warbler (but look for other large reed warblers).

Chiriya Tapu
This is still quite a good patch of forest. The beach is quite popular with the Indian tourists so the road can get a bit more busy at times (usually towards sunset) and weekend is probably to be avoided. I birded there all day and it was usually very quiet. I spent quite a lot of time looking for the pale Crested Serpent Eagle, which I failed to see. The highlight was an Andaman Crake, which was seen very quickly on the first day. It was seen foraging in the leaf litter on a steep hillside, just below the road, in a dry area. The site was in the beginning of the forest, just before a small concrete road culvert, marked ¾ on the left side as you head down toward the coast. It was just before the 2km road marker. The treat was that it stayed long enough to give great views.
The wet area directly behind the beach was only explored on the last visit but it turned up White-rumped Shama and Pale-footed Warbler and looked like a good place for Ruddy Kingfisher. (Beware! this is a rubbish and toilet hazard area).
Best birds: Andaman Crake, Andaman Woodpecker, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Collared Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Brown Coucal, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Alexandrine Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Long-tailed Parakeet, Brown-backed Needletail, Mangrove Whistler (heard), Black-naped Oriole, Large Cuckooshrike, Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike, a large flock of at least 10 Andaman Drongo and 20 Andaman Treepie, Asian Brown Flycatcher, White-rumped Shama, White-headed Starling, Common Hill Myna, Pacific Swallow, Black-headed Bulbul, Oriental White-eye, Pale-footed Warbler, (a possible Thick-billed Warbler), Dusky Warbler, Olive-backed Sunbird.

Mount Harriet National Park
This is a superb forest site. I spent most of the time concentrating on two most difficult species, Andaman Cuckoo Dove and Andaman Wood Pigeon.
The best place for Andaman Cuckoo Dove is supposed to be the path up from the aqueduct, which crosses the road at Panighat. It can get a bit dead at certain times of day but this is indeed the only place I saw this species. As you head up the path you very soon come to a fork. The right fork heads into a plantation so take the left fork, which runs along the wall of a small reservoir. I had fantastic views of a pair about 50 m beyond the last concrete fence post, on the far side of this plantation. They were seen quite late in the afternoon, after walking this path three times. I also saw Andaman Crake at the top of this path, just before it meets the paved road, again foraging in the leaf litter, and again giving great views. I am sure this species is not difficult to find, as long as you don’t presume that all the noises in the leaves are lizards.
I spent pretty much a whole day looking for Andaman Wood Pigeon and again a pair was seen late in the afternoon, this time in the forest just below the park entrance. They were low down much more tame than the Green Imperial Pigeons and gave superb views. That is a very pretty bird! On the main road a little up from the park entrance, I was watching a frugivorous flock when I heard a strange trill which was found to be coming from a Violet Cuckoo!
I intended to spend at least one evening looking for owls. I couldn’t get permission from the forest department to spend the night in the rest house. I then planned to spend the evening there and catch the last ferry back. Because it gets dark so early it should be possible to see some owls but I ran out of time to do this. It seems that no one would mind if you slept in one of the three watchtowers.
Best birds: Andaman Crake, Andaman Woodpecker, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Dollarbird, Violet Cuckoo, Brown Coucal, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Alexandrine Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Long-tailed Parakeet, Brown-backed Needletail, Andaman Wood Pigeon, Andaman Cuckoo Dove, Andaman Crake, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Andaman Treepie, Black-naped Oriole, Large Cuckooshrike, Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike, Andaman Drongo, Black-naped Monarch (nest building), Orange-headed Thrush, Asian Brown Flycatcher, White-headed Starling, Black-headed Bulbul, Dusky Warbler, Olive-backed Sunbird, Forest Wagtail.

Wandoor and Jolly Buoy Island
Another superb site. The forests on the islands are bursting with pristine forest. The best plan would be to share the private hire of a boat with 5 or 6 who would like to visit Redskin so you can avoid the exodus to Jolly Buoy. I realised this too late after I had haggled with the boat operators who were adamant that they were not going to drop me off at Redskin. The situation has changed so that instead of the government ran trip around the islands, the boats are all private and will only make a beeline to the island of their choice. I was told that they periodically change between visiting Jolly Buoy or Redskin. The island of the season was Jolly Buoy and no matter what boat you buy your ticket for they all leave on convoy together. When you arrive at the island you have to wait your turn while everyone is offloaded in a small glass bottom boat meanwhile the boat is leaking diesel onto the reef! Despite all this, the trip is really special, a tropical island paradise! Once offloaded (you could swim if it wasn’t for the bins) the majority of the tourists stay all together next to the beachhead and don’t seem interested in the coral and the snorkelling. You only need to walk 20m or so either direction to have your own stretch of beach and good coral. Masks are for rent on the beach if you haven’t brought your own. When the whistle goes for time to depart it takes ages to load everyone back aboard so there is still 30-40 minutes of snorkelling time, as I said earlier this is not an experience to be missed. I was high as a kite after walking the island. I thought I saw the fin of a shark but it may have been the nose of a "napoleon fish". Shoals of tiny fish were leaping away from larger fish and the high tide line was full of crabs, a "Blue Planet" experience. I caught a glimpse of some large birds flying on the far side of the island, which I was pretty sure were something special so I walked around the point to find two Beach Thick-knees out on the rocks. As I watched them through my bins taking notes but not sure what the hell they were, I honesty thought this was a first for India. Later of course I found out that are resident on the islands. The funny thing was that as I watched them and made a drawing one of them came running from about 100m away towards me and didn’t stop coming, it was almost as though it was trying to scare me away. As these birds are quite comical anyway the situation was one not to be forgotten. As the charging bird came closer its bluff had been called and it veered away and pretended it had other business to attend to. Not wanting to disturb it further I carried on around the island. When I returned there was still time to do 40 minutes of snorkelling (incredible).
Best birds: Andaman Woodpecker, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Brown Coucal, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Alexandrine Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Long-tailed Parakeet, Brown-backed Needletail, Watercock, Beach Thick-knee, Black-naped Tern, my only sighting of pale Crested Serpent Eagle from the ferry, Besra, Mangrove Whistler (heard), (a probable White-breasted Woodswallow), Large Cuckooshrike.

Manjeri
On the last day I visited here (where Jerdon’s Baza has apparently been seen in 1989) but I didn’t stay long as the forest was quite degraded and there was no shade so it became unbearably hot. So I decided to drive down to Chiriya Tapu with the last chance for Ruddy Kingfisher. In the morning it was a beautiful spot at the pier, with a view overlooking the straight to Rutland Island and no one around but it looked like there were plans to do something as the road was being overhauled (possibly paved) right up to the pier.
Best birds:
Collared Kingfisher, Brown Coucal, Red-breasted Parakeet, Long-tailed Parakeet, Glossy Swiftlet (seem to be nesting under the pier), 3 Andaman Serpent Eagle’s, Pacific Reef Egret, Little Heron, White-breasted Woodswallow, Olive-backed Sunbird.

Havelock Island
I only intended staying a couple of nights on Havelock but it was the most luxurious place I had visited and as the owl possibilities were also good, I ended up staying six nights (the last night was because there was no ferry on the Monday). I spent all of my time near Beach # 7.
The Jungle Resort compound is very good for owls. The open kitchen area behind the restaurant had an Andaman Hawk Owl perching very close, on every evening of my stay (let the kitchen staff know you are interested and they will help you). Around the garden area and from my hut I heard many owls calling. Brown Hawk Owl was heard but not seen and both Andaman and Oriental Scops Owl were seen. A good tip when looking for the owls with a torch is to remember that they are often much more close than you think and by bashing through the bush you can easily scare away birds that are right in front of you. Once I had cottoned on to this fact, I had some great views of the scops owls at Jungle resort.
The hill behind the resort has a pair of resident Andaman Serpent Eagles. This hill is worth exploring if you have time but make sure you take insect repellent. In the afternoon it was very bad for mosquitoes although it is apparently fine earlier in the day. Here I saw my only White-rumped Munia of the trip.
After misidentifying some swifts on the first day I did not get to see my first real Edible Nest Swiftlets until my fourth day on Havelock, but this is more to do with spending a lot of time relaxing rather than the absence of the birds. This one flock however was all I saw on Havelock although I later saw a small flock on the way back from Manjeri, on the main island.
White-breasted Woodswallow was seen on the electric wires along the road near the village but it was only seen in ones and twos and not every day. I met an American birder Howard Horvath, who told me they were common at Christine Beach south of beach # 3. He had also seen Andaman Cuckoo Dove at beach # 5, so perhaps there is some good forest there.
It took me a while to discover the beach pool where the road meets the beach, but here were five Sunda Teal which were present on every subsequent visit. Krys Kazmierczak saw one here in 1991 so it is obviously a good spot. In the mangroves here I also saw and heard Mangrove Whistler and in the evening beside the road an Oriental Scops Owl.
The site near the old solar power station (about 200m inland from Harmony Resort), used to be good for Brown Hawk Owl of the endemic race obscura, (Brian Gee 1996, reported it as common here) but I failed to see it after several attempts. There is a path here which runs through some cultivation and returns to the beach. One night I heard an owl calling near the solar power station but one of the locals was drunk and got nervous seeing me shining a torch up in the trees and his shouting scared it away.
There is some reserved forest on the way to the "Elephant Beach" to the north of Beach # 7. This is within easy walking distance. Coming from Beach # 7 after about 3 km there is a small group of huts next to a road marker with Rhadanagar 3 on the far side and 8 on the nearside. Opposite this road marker is a path to the left, which soon comes to the reserved forest and after about 2 or 3 km comes to some streams through the mangroves, which you need to cross to get to the beach. The path here can be very unclear depending on the tide when you may have to wade knee deep through the water, but it is a fairly popular with westerners so it should be easy to find. This mangrove area may be good for Ruddy Kingfisher. I saw White-rumped Shama ssp. albiventris, in the reserved forest. The forest around Beach # 7 is very degraded so the hard to find forest species such as Andaman wood Pigeon and Cuckoo Dove are unlikely to be found here.
Best birds: Sunda Teal, Andaman Woodpecker, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Dollarbird, Collared Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Blue-eared Kingfisher (west of the jetty), Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Brown Coucal, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Alexandrine Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Long-tailed Parakeet, Edible Nest Swiftlet, Brown-backed Needletail, Andaman Scops Owl, Oriental Scops Owl, Brown Hawk Owl (heard), Andaman Hawk Owl, Watercock, Common or Swinhoe’s Snipe, Sanderling, Black-naped Tern (from the ferry), Andaman Serpent Eagle, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Besra, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Mangrove Whistler, Andaman Treepie, White-breasted Woodswallow, Black-naped Oriole, Large Cuckooshrike, Andaman Drongo, Black-naped Monarch, Orange-headed Thrush, Asian Brown Flycatcher, White-rumped Shama, White-headed Starling, Common Hill Myna, Pacific Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Dusky Warbler, Olive-backed Sunbird, Yellow Wagtail (see list for description), White-rumped Munia.

Neil and Long Island
These islands are open for overnight stay.

Itinerary
20th Feb. Flew from Chennai. Arrive early. Rent room and hire taxi for trip to Chiriya Tapu.
21st Feb. Taxi to Corbyn’s Cove. Return Port Blair, rent motorbike. Mt. Harriet.
22nd Feb. Mt. Harriet
23rd Feb. Mt. Harriet
24th Feb. Corbyn’s Cove. Port Blair. Corbyn’s Cove.
25th Feb .Corbyn’s Cove. Try and fail to book Forest Rest House Mt Harriet. Chiriya Tapu.
26th Feb. Corbyn’s Cove, Wandoor and Jolly Buoy Island.
27th Feb. Ferry to Havelock. Beach # 7 Harmony Resort.
28th Feb. Havelock, beach # 7, Jungle Resort.
1st March. Havelock, beach # 7, walked to the beach to the north.
2nd March. Havelock, beach # 7.
3rd March. Havelock, beach #7.
4th March. Havelock, beach #7.
5th March. Havelock, beach #7 and ferry to Port Blair.
6th March. Corbyn’s Cove, Manjeri, Chiriya Tapu.
7th march. Flew to Chennai and then Bangalore.


LIST OF BIRDS OBSERVED

Key to Sites
PB = Port Blair; CC = Corbyn’s Cove; CT = Chiriya Tapu; MH = Mount Harriet;
Wa = Wandoor; JB = Boat trip To Jolly Buoy Island; Ma = Manjeri
Ha = Havelock Island (beach # 7 unless stated otherwise).
- = In transit between the given sites.

Sunda Teal Anas gibberifrons albogularis
Ha (5 on 2/3, 3/3, 4/3, 5/3). See site details.

Andaman Woodpecker Dryocopus hodgei
Not uncommon in forest areas. CT (1 seen daily on 2 out of 3 days), MH (1 seen on 1st visit, 3 on 2nd visit and 3 on 3rd visit), JB (1 on 26/2), Ha (1 seen daily, in 5 out of 6 days).

Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos macei andamanensis
Fairly common. CT, MH, JB, H.

Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis gigas
MH (one by the Forest Rest House on 23/2), Ha (up to 3 present throughout).

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
CC (only seen twice).

Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting rufigaster
Ha (one to the west of the jetty at # 1 on 5/3).

Stork-billed Kingfisher Halcyon capensis osmastoni
Fairly common. CC, JB, Wa, Ha, CT.

White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis saturatior
Fairly common. CC, CT, Ha.

Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris davidsoni
Common around the coast. PB-CT, PB-MH, CT, CC, Wa, Ha, Ma.

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops leschenaultii andamanensis
Not uncommon. The occasional sighting at CT, Ha, Wa.

[Common Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx varius
I thought I heard this species at Mt. Harriet but it is not on the Andaman list, so needs confirming.]

Unidentified Cuckoo
Ha (1 on 27/2).

Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
MH (one seen well on 23/2). Not shown on the distribution maps of Grimmskipp or Krys Kazmierczak field guides, but is listed in the Mt Harriet section in "A Birdwatcher’s Guide to India".

Brown Coucal Centropus andamanensis
Fairly common. MH, CC, Wa, Ha, Ma.

Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea
Occasional seen and heard at MH, Ha.

Vernal Hanging Parrot Loriculus vernalis
Fairly common. MH, JB, Ha, CT.

Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria magnirostris
Fairly common. CC, CT, MH, Wa, Ha.

Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri abbotti
Fairly common. CT, MH, Wa, Ha, Ma.

Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula longicauda tytleri
Fairly common. CT, MH, Ha, Ma.

Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta
Very common everywhere.

Edible nest Swiftlet Collocalia fuciphaga
Ha (3 on 2/3), Ma-Sippighat (5 on 6/3).

Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus
Not uncommon. Best seen at the summit of Mount Harriet. CT, CC, MH, Wa, Ha (flock of 30+).

Andaman Scops Owl Otus balli
Ha (1 seen on 3/3, heard on 1/3? and 3/3, all at Jungle Resort). The call of a duet heard on the 3/3 was uyk—uyk—croo, where one bird is calling uyk—uyk, and the other croo. These calls could be variously rendered as ock (as in clock), uk or ut and caroo or kro. Another pair heard dueting on the 1/3, possibly this species was rendered as cu—cu—kro (with the u soft as in up). Grimmskipp gives the call as hoot—hoot—cooroo and Krys Kaz. as wuúp—wuúp. On 4/3 I heard a quite loud and hollow "oo—up" repeated two or three times at about once per second. See site details.

Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia
Ha (first seen on 1/3 at Jungle Resort and seen on several occasions afterwards once I realised how close they were. Calling uk-o, and on 2/3 near the end of the paved road). The head was grey compared to the otherwise brown upperparts and brown and white streaked underside. I seem to remember Brian Gee heard unusual calls from this species but I don’t have his report with me right now.

Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata obscura
Ha (heard only). At Jungle Resort I heard the following calls. On 28/2 "oowuk—oowuk" with a one second pause, and on 3/3 a quite loud and pleasant "oo-uk—oo-uk" with a one second pause. Krys Kazmierczak gives the call of Andaman Scops as wuúp—wuúp, and Brown Hawk Owl as hoowúp. The given call for Brown Hawk Owl in Grimmskipp is a "soft pleasant oo—ok".

Andaman Hawk Owl Ninox affinis
Ha (superb views on every day I visited the kitchens of Jungle Resort from 27/2-4/3). Call "Wo" as in the word walk.

Other Owl calls
coo—oo and a screeching trill.
to-to-te
oooo wo-wo
ee—e—eee--eeee

Rock Pigeon Columba livia
PB.

Andaman Wood Pigeon Columba palumboides
MH (2 on 23/2).

Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea andamanica
Common. CT, MH, Wa, Ha, Ma.

Red-collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica humilis
Common. CC, CT, MH, Wa, Ha (up to a flock of c.20).

Andaman Cuckoo Dove Macropygia rufipennis
MH (2 on 22/2).

Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica maxima
Not uncommon. CT, MH, Wa, Ha.

Pompadour Green Pigeon Treron pompadora chloroptera
Not uncommon. CT, MH, Ha.

Andaman Crake Rallina canningi
CT (1 on 20/2), MH (1 on 22/2). See site details.

Unidentified Crake
CC on 25/2.

White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
Ha (single only once).

Watercock Gallicrex cinerea
CC (1 on 24/2, 3572, 26/2), CC-Wa (2 on 26/2), Wa (1 on 26/2), Ha (1 on 27/2, 2 on 2/2).

Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura
Probably not uncommon in suitable habitat. MH (in the stream at the bottom of the viaduct path), CC (fairly common).

[Possible Swinhoe’s Snipe Gallinago megala
Ha (2 birds at the beach pool had short legs and no white trailing edge to the wing, and another on 1/3 further inland was either this species or Common Snipe).]

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Ha (up to 5 on 3/3 and 1 on 1/3).

Unidentified Snipe
CC.

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Not uncommon. PB-CT, CT, CC, PB (up to 7), Ha.

Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
Singles at PB-CT, PB.

Common Redshank Tringa totanus
Small numbers at PB-CT, PB, JB.

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
CC (1 on 6/3).

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
CC (1 on 6/3).

[Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
CC (2 on 24/2). Not 100% sure as no further details were recorded.]

Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus
PB (3 on 24/2).

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Fairly common. PB-CT, PB-MH (a small flock at dusk), CC, Ma, Ha, CT.

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
PB-CT, PB (10 on 24/2), PB-CC.

Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris
PB (3 on 24/2).

Sanderling Calidris alba
Ha (1 on 28/2). This species is not mapped in the field guides as having occurred on the Andaman Islands but one was also seen by Bob Watts in April 1987.

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
CC (1 or 2 on three visits).

Beach Thick-knee Esacus neglectus
JB (2 on 26/2).

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
Fairly common along the coast. PB-CT, CT, CC, PB-CC.

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
BP-CT (at least one on 20/2).

Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus
Common along coast. PB-CT, PB, CT, Ha (50+), CC.

Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii
Small numbers along the coast. PB-CT, PB (1 in breeding plumage on 24/2), CC.

Unidentified seabird
Large brown seabird seen flying away from the ferry on 5/3 Only poor views were obtained due to the vibration of the boat but the jizz was like one of the largest tern species. The back was a paler brown than the upperwing. It was flying with elegant wing beats rather than the dash of a skua or the sheering glides of a shearwater. The water was fairly calm. It would be good to keep an eye out for possible boobies, shearwaters etc.

Black-naped Tern Sterna sumatrana
Not uncommon. CC (1), Wa-JB (3) JB (10), PB-Ha (10 probables), Ha-PB (18).

[Common/Roseate Tern Sterna hirundo/dougallii
PB-Ha (3 Common/Roseate on 27/2), Ha-PB (1 tern on 5/3 was slightly larger than Black-naped Tern). Only Roseate has been recorded so far on the islands (in the summer).]

Little Tern Sterna albifrons
PB (present throughout in the bay. Often roosting on the rocks. Highest count 29 on 24/2). Could Saunders’s Tern stray so far?

White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
Seen frequently on the coast. Especially visible at Bamboo Flats where they were seen very close to the landing and calling on 21/2. CC, PB, MH, Wa, Ma, Ha.

Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela davisoni
Ha (a pair seemed to be holding territory on the hill just behind Jungle Resort, seen most days), Ma, (3 on 3/3).

Andaman Serpent Eagle Spilornis elgini
Uncommon in the areas explored. Wa-JB (one seen on 26/2, about 1km south of Wandoor skirting the island opposite).

Japanese Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis
MH (1 on 23/2) Ha (1 on 2/3).

Besra Accipiter virgatus
Wa (1 on 26/2), Ha (1 on 2/3).

Unidentified accipiter
CC (1 on 21/2), MH (1 on 23/2).

Changeable Hawk Eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus andamanensis
Ha (2 on 27/2, 2 on 2/3, 1 on 3/3), CC (2 on 6/3).

Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra
Fairly common along the coast (mostly white phase). PB-CC, PB, PB-CT, Ma.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta
CC.

Great Egret Casmerodius albus
CC (up to 3).

Intermediate Egret Mesophoyx intermedia
CC.

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Wa.

Indian/Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola grayii/bacchus
Fairly common. (Some seemed different from mainland Indian Pond Herons at this time of year).

Little Heron Butorides striatus
Fairly common. PB-CT, CC (up to 7), Ma.

Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis
Fairly common CC, Ha.

Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus
CC (1 on 24/2, 25/2, 26/2), CC-Wa (1 on 26/2).

Asian Fairy Bluebird Irena puella
Fairly common (particularly easy to locate if the "raspberry" call is heard. CT, MH, Ha.

Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus lucionensis
Common particularly in transit. PB-CT, MH, PB-Wa, Wa, Ha, PB-Ma, Ma.

Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala grisola
CC (1 on 24/2, 2 on 25/2, 1 on 26/2, 1 on 6/3), Wa (1 on 26/2), CT (1 on 6/3), Ha (1 on 3/3).

Andaman Treepie Dendrocitta bayleyi
Fairly common in good forest. CT (on 6/3, at least 10 were seen in a flock with 20+ Andaman Drongos) MH.

Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
Fairly common. CC, CT, MH, Ha, Ma.

White-breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorynchus humei
Wa-JB (1 possible on 26/2), Ha (2 on 27/2, 1 on 28/2, 2 on 3/3), Ma (1 on 6/3).

Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis andamanensis
Common. CT, MH, Ha, Ma. Some have a very narrow nape band and seemed slender billed. Call rendered as kree or krek.

Large Cuckooshrike Coracina macei andamanensis
Fairly uncommon. MH (1 and 2 on 23/2), CT (1 and 2 on 25/2), JB (2 on 26/2), Ha (1 on 2/3, 2 singles on 3/3, 1 on 4/3). Female is un-barred on breast and throat.

Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike Coracina striata
MH (2 on 21/2, 1 or 2 on 22/2, 1 on 23/2), CT (1 on 6/3).

Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus vividus
Fairly common. Several flocks at CC, CT, Ha, Wa.

Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus andamanensis
Fairly common. Several flocks at CT, Mh, Ha, Ma.

Andaman Drongo Dicrurus andamanensis
Common. CT (on 6/3 20+ were seen in a flock with 10+ Andaman Treepie), CC, MH, Ha.

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus atiosus
Common. CT, MH, CC, Ha.

Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea tytleri
Small numbers. MH (nest building on 21/2), Ha.

Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrina andamanensis/albogularis
MH (1 on 21/2), Ha (1 or 2 on 27/2, 1 on 2/3). The two vertical head stripes were feint but more apparent than I had expected.

Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica
CT (1 on 20/2), MH (1 on 21/2), Ha (1 on 2/3, 1 on 3/3).

Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis andamanensis
Common. MH, CT (singing on 25/2), Ha (singing from 27/2 on), Ma, and in transit.

White rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus albiventris
Ha, on way to elephant beach (1 on 1/3). CT, behind the beach (1 on 6/3).

Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis tytleri
Common. CT, MH (flock of c. 100), Ha, Ma.

White-headed Starling Sturnus erythropygius andamanensis
Fairly common. CT, MH (flock of c. 50), Ha.

Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Common in transit and CT, CC, MH.

Common Hill Myna Gracula religiosa andamanensis
Fairly common at CT, MH, Ha.

[Sand/Pale Martin Riparia riparia/diluta
Ha (1 on 2/3). The tail fork was too deep for Plain Martin. No breast band could be seen.]

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Common.

Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica
Fairly common. Ones and twos seen at CC (all visits), CT, PB, Ha (5 out of six days).

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica
Ha (1 and 2 on 27/2, 1 and 2 on 2/3, 1 and 1 on 3/3). Not positively recorded from the Andaman Islands according to the latest field guides.

Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps fuscoflavescens
Small numbers in good forest. CT, MH.

Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus whistleri
Common. CT, MH, Ha.

Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus nicobarica
CT.

Pale-footed Bush Warbler Cettia pallidipes osmastoni
CT (1 on 6/3).

Rusty-rumped Warbler Locustella certhiola
CC (1 on 26/2).

Blyth’s Reed Warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum
CC (24/2 singing, 26/2 singing), MH (1 probable on 22/2).

Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus meridionalis
CC (fairly common, one had a streaked breast), Ha (1 on 27/2 had a streaked breast). Several times, came to the taped call of Oriental Reed Warbler.

[Thick-billed Warbler Acrocephalus aedon
CT (1 probable on 25/2).]

Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus
CC (fairly common), CT, MH, Ha (# 7 and #1).

Plain Flowerpecker Dicaeum concolor virescens
Common. CT, MH (20+ in fruiting trees), Ha.

Olive backed Sunbird Nectarinia jugularis andamanensis
Fairly common. CT, MH, CC, Ha, Ma.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus
PB.

Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus
MH (1 on 22/2).

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Not uncommon. CC, CT, Ha (up to 25 on 28/2). All birds had a dirty brown or grey breast, clearly demarcated. Most birds had a grey head with a pale supercilium, lime green mantle and yellow vent and throat (some with white belly, some yellow). A couple had grey head with no supercilium.

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
MH (1 on 21/2), CC (1 on 25/2), Ha (1 on 2/3).

White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata fumigata
Ha (c. 5 on 4/3 on hill behind the Jungle Resort).

Other animals
-
Many unidentified reptiles, especially in the rainforest.
- Glimpse of what looked like a weasel at Mt. Harriet.
- Many unidentified dolphins on returning from Havelock.
- Spectacular, flying fish were common on the ferry to and from Havelock.
- A huge Water Monitor opposite Harmony Resort Beach # 7 Havelock, which I had to try to stop the local boys from stoning. I suppose they could do it little harm as it could just swim away.

 © Anand Prasad
e-mail: swanandprasad_at_hotmail.com

 

   
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