Birds Sightings from Kuwait: owned and managed by AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan

India: Part 2: Andaman Island 22-26 March 2019

Part 2: Andaman Island 22-26 March 2019

Participants: Sajan Raju, Dr Saraswathivilasam S Suresh, Ajomon Thettekkad, AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan and our Guide Danish Trogon.

Andaman is an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal to the west of Mynamar and east of India, situated 1375 Km from mainland India. We took a domestic flight from Chennai, mainland India to Port Blair, the Capital City of Andaman Island.

The Andaman and Nicobar islands are home for a group of indigenous tribes including Jarawa and Sentinelese tribes. While Port Blair is open for visitors some of the islands can only be visited with permits, the North Sentinel island is the the home for the indigenous Sentinelese people whom are known to be hostile to visitors and have had little contact with other people and thus the island is banned for entry by law, to protect their privacy.

The British who occupied the island in 1879 had built a prison at Port Blair in 1910 which included 698 cells designed for solitary confinement. The prison served as home for the political Indian freedom fighters who fought to independence from Britain.

Andaman Island has 19 endemic bird species, which makes it a target for bird watchers.

We arrived at 10 AM in Port Blair, and it was only minutes to arrive at our hotel, Sea Lounge, at which we stayed for 5 nights.

Our rooms were in the second floor and as I was climbing the stairs, I saw a couple of swifts flying low as a Barn Swallows do, (they were later identified by Danish Trogon, our guide as Glossy Swiftlets). I soon picked my binoculars and my camera and tried to identify the birds, then soon I had my first sight of a couple of White-tailed Sea Eagles flying in a V-shape wings. The view of eagles was breathtaking, they then came low overhead as if greeting me to the island. A couple  brown-backed Needletails came circling overhead. In just 15 minutes I had three lifers. What a start! Within 45 minutes I recorded 8 species.

Lifers are shown in red font

Day 1: 22/03/2019

Port Blair, at our hotel (11.6546,92.7310)

Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus 3, Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta 4, White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster 5, Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 1, House Crow Corvus splendens 45, Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis 1, Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis 1, House Sparrow Passer domesticus 1.

At 3:30 PM we met our guide and off to our first birding site. As we drove along the coast south of Port Blair, we stopped for a while where we had a Slaty-breasted Rail running around a small pond close to road, a lifer. Then we had a Pacific Reef-Heron a nice bird to compare it with our resident species of Indian Reef Heron I am familiar with back in Kuwait. It had stronger legs and longer bill.

At Bambooflat (11.7046,92.7145) we found the following:

Slaty-breasted Rail Lewinia striata 1, Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva 2, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 2, Pacific Reef-Heron Egretta sacra 2, White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 1.

At another stop, 11.5630,92.7326 we had:

Pacific Reef-Heron Egretta sacra 1, Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis 1, Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris 1, Common Myna Acridotheres tristis 7.

Then  at 11.5282,92.7229 driving further south:

Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica 1, Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura 1, Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri 5, Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula longicauda 2, Green Imperial-Pigeon Ducula aenea 1.

Then stopped at 11.509928, 92.705347 to find:

 Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis 1, Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis 6 .

Then we stopped at 11.511873, 92.702896 when it became dark:

Our guide soon found us a Hume’s Boobook, and then Andaman Boobook. After searching for a while we finally located an Oriental Scops Owl. I was very satisfied with the result, as I have already had 13 lifers!

Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia 2, Andaman Boobook Ninox affinis 1, Hume’s Boobook Ninox obscura 1.

Then at 11.6129,92.6905 we had Andaman Nightjar Caprimulgus andamanicus 2.

Day 2: 23/03/2019

Early in the morning we left our hotel and drove north towards Shoal Bay, stopped along the road at a dumping yard at 11.7958,92.7115 for a couple of hours. We arrived at 6 AM, the sun had just risen but it was too foggy. The first bird to find was a pair of Andaman Wood-Pigeon, the most difficult to find endemic. Our guide Danish was most excited to find us the bird, a burden has been laid down. It stayed foggy for a couple of hours, I obtained some identifiable photographs. Then we had Andaman Wood-Pigeon, Andaman Green-Pigeon, Andaman Cuckooshrike, Andaman Drongo, Andaman Cuckoo-Dove, Andaman Treepie, Andaman Bulbul, and Andaman Flowerpecker. All the previous eight were endemics.

Birds at 11.7958,92.7115 were:

Andaman Wood-Pigeon Columba palumboides 2, Andaman Green-Pigeon Treron chloropterus, Andaman Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia rufipennis 2, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos analis 1, Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria magnirostrisScarlet Minivet Pericrocotus speciosus 1, Andaman Cuckooshrike Coracina dobsoni 1, Andaman Drongo Dicrurus andamanensis 1, Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea 1, Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 1, Andaman Treepie Dendrocitta bayleii 2, Andaman Bulbul Brachypodius fuscoflavescens 1, Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis 2, Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis 1, Andaman Flowerpecker Dicaeum virescens 3, Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus 1.

We continued north along the road and stopped at 11.8676, 92.7377, here we had 10 species:

White-nest Swiftlet Aerodramus fuciphagus 1, Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 6, Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta 6, Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura 1, Grey Heron Ardea eschena 4, Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia 3, Little Egret Egretta garzetta 3, Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda 1, Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria 5, Andaman Shama Copsychus albiventris 11.

We then drive south to stop along a small lake in a small village at 11.7274,92.7080 to find a large flock of Andaman Teals and  a common Kingfisher:

Andaman Teal Anas albogularis 270, Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 1.

 Back to the hotel for lunch and rest.

In the afternoon we went south to a small lake next to a park at 11.6229,92.7091 at the seaside, we had Chinese Pond Heron, a lifer for me, then at the opposite side there was a park with swaps scattered trees. There was a big flock of roosting Lesser Ducks, then in the reedbeds Danish alerted me to a skulking Oriental Reed Warbler, it was easy to identify as having faint gorget streaks, also we had a Baillon’s Crake, then suddenly a Black-browed Reed Warbler showed up which a bonus for the end of the day. 

In all we had the following list:

Lesser Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna javanica 34, White-nest Swiftlet Aerodramus fuciphagus 1, Grey-headed Swamphen Porphyrio poliocephalus 6, White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus 1, Baillon’s Crake Zapornia pusilla 1, Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva 2, Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis 2, Great White Egret Ardea alba 17, Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia 24, Cattle Egret Eastern Bubulcus ibis coromandus 45, Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii 2, Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus 2, Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps 1, Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis 1, Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus 1.

Day 3: 24/03/2019

We met Drogan at our hotel and drove towards Chidiyatapu Biological Park. En route we stopped at 11.5189,92.7155 to find Andaman Bulbul, Green Imperial-Pigeon, Orange-headed Thrush, Long-tailed Parakeet, Dollarbird, Red Collared Dove.

List of birds seen en route include:

Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica 4, Asian Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica 2, Green Imperial-Pigeon Ducula aenea 3, Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis 1, Andaman Woodpecker Dryocopus hodgei 1, Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria 1, Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri 1, Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula longicauda 1, Vernal Hanging-Parrot Loriculus vernalis 3, Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala eschena 1, Andaman Drongo Dicrurus andamanensis, Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus, Andaman Bulbul Brachypodius fuscoflavescens 2, Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 1, Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina 1, Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella 1.

We then stopped at 11.508170, 92.703846 to find the following:

Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica 10, Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus 2, Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta 4, Andaman Crake Rallina canningi 1, White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 1, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos analis 1, Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea 2, Thick-billed Warbler Arundinax aedon 1, Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus 6, Andaman Shama Copsychus albiventris 1.

We entered the Chidiyatapu Biological Park at and at 11.4965,92.7057,  to find the endemic Andaman Crake Rallina canningi 2.

Then at 11.4925,92.7080 found the following:

Vernal Hanging-Parrot Loriculus vernalis 1, Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis 1, Andaman Bulbul Brachypodius fuscoflavescens 2, Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus 1, Indian White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus 2, Andaman Flowerpecker Dicaeum virescens 2, Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella 1.

Day 4: 25/03/2019

Early in the morning we went to the same dumping yard that we visited early in the morning on day 2, that is at 11.7958, 92.7115, we encountered a wintering Arctic Warbler that also confirmed by its call/song, Andaman Flowerpecker, Blue-eared Kingfisher and on leaving stopped at mangrove swamps to find a Ruddy Kingfisher.

List of birds seen were:

White-nest Swiftlet Aerodramus fuciphagus 5, Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting 1, Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda 1, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos analis, Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus speciosus 1, Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis 1, Andaman Drongo Dicrurus andamanensis 4, Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus 1, Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis 1, White-headed Starling Sturnia erythropygia 2, Common Myna Acridotheres tristis 5, Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis 1, Andaman Flowerpecker Dicaeum virescens 2, Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus 1.

We then went to Mount Harriet National Park, but on our way we stopped at a small lake (11.7274,92.7080) the same at which we found the flock Andaman Teal on day 2 we found the following species:

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 5, Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura 1, Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis 1, Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1, Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus 1.

Later arrived at Mount Harriet National Park, the aim was to find Andaman Crake, but found only the following six species:

Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta 5, Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus andamanensis, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos analis 2, Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus speciosus 4, Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis 2, Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus 2.

We then took a ferry from Bamboo Flats to Chatham Ferry Jetty, before and after we had the following species:

Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta 5, White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster 2, Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica 2.

Back to the same lake we have been at this morning (11.7274,92.7080) to report the following species:

Andaman Teal Anas albogularis 45, Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis 1, Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis 1, White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 1, Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 6.

Then we drove in Wimberlygunj village north of the lake to find the following:

White-nest Swiftlet Aerodramus fuciphagus 5, White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 1, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops eschenaultia 1, Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus 1, Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis 5, Common Myna Acridotheres tristis 2, Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis 1.

Back to the dumping yard (11.7958,92.7115) to do some birding until dark to search for Andaman Scops Owl, we were glad to pin it down:

Andaman Wood-Pigeon Columba palumboides 1, Andaman Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia rufipennis 1, Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus 6, Andaman Scops Owl Otus balli 2, White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 1, Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus 1.

Day 5: 26/03/2019

Early in the morning we went directly to Chidiyatapu Biological Reserve. We arrived at 6:20 am. While walking inside the reserve, Ajomon came and asked to follow him, he found Andaman Serpent-Eagle a lifer for me on the last day of my visit. Birds found were the following:

Asian Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica 2, Green Imperial-Pigeon Ducula aenea 1, Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta 5   , Andaman Serpent-Eagle Spilornis elgini 1, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos analis 2, Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula longicauda 3, Vernal Hanging-Parrot Loriculus vernalis 2, Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus 7, Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus speciosus 2, Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis 2, Andaman Drongo Dicrurus andamanensis 2, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus 1, Andaman Treepie Dendrocitta bayleii 3, Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus 2, Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis 5, Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica 1, Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella 1.

We then left the reserve and drove towards the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (11.5321,92.7235), upon arrival we found the endemic Andaman Coucal

Andaman Coucal Centropus andamanensis 1.

While driving we stopped at 11.5639,92.7175 for a while to find the following:

Lesser Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna javanica 4, Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus 1.

We then went to a lake at 11.5974,92.6931 8.5 Km south of out hotel (Sea Lounge) to find the following:

Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta 2, Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura 2, Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida 1, Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica 3.

Then stopping at the same lake above at 11.6040,92.6901 to find the following:

Lesser Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna javanica 230, Cotton Pygmy-Goose Nettapus coromandelianus 28, Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 80, Grey-headed Swamphen Porphyrio poliocephalus 25, Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus 4, Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola 1, Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis 2, Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia 6, Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 1, Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 1, Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 1, Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica 2, Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava 1.

In the afternoon we drove for 30 minutes west of our hotel to a western beach at 11.6658,92.5953, in search of the Beach Thick-knee. We had to drive through the forest in a dirt track. We couldn’t find the Beach Thick-Knee.

Birds seen were:

White-nest Swiftlet Aerodramus fuciphagus 1, Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus 1, Greater Sand Plover Charadrius eschenaultia 1, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 1, Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 1, Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1, White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster 1, White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 1, Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris 1, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus 4, Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 1, House Crow Corvus splendens 1, Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus 1, White-headed Starling Sturnia erythropygia 2, Common Myna Acridotheres tristis 3, Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis 1, Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maurus 1. 

While passing close to the same lake (11.6043,92.6864), we found the following species:

Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica 35, Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva 1, Great White Egret Ardea alba 1, Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1, Striated Heron Butorides striata 3, White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster 1

We then stopped at 11.6129,92.6905 before dark, after some time we played Andaman Nightjar calls, we were then able to see it briefly before it took off.

Birds seen:

Lesser Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna javanica 24, Andaman Nightjar Caprimulgus andamanicus 1, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 2, Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata 1, Striated Heron Butorides striata 1, White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 1.

We have been visiting two schools at night for the last two nights in search of the Andaman Masked-Owl, without success. Today we took a written permission to enter the school at night. We finally saw the Andaman Masked-Owl in a hole in the false ceiling of a school building. It was an excellent finish of the trip.

Andaman Masked-Owl Tyto deroepstorffi 1.

At the end of this report I would like to thank our guide Danish Trogon whom found us all the endemics of island. His ability to find and identify the birds in the island was superb.