On the western tip of the island of Chorao along River Mandovi, mangrove swamps cover this bird-watchers’ paradise aptly named after India’s best-known ornithologist.
This is Goa’s only bird sanctuary, 1.8 Sq Km in area. A variety of local and migratory birds can be found on this island.
From Panaji, one needs to take a bus or a cab to the Ribandar ferry wharf and then take a ferry across the Mandovi river to the island of Chorao. The sanctuary is within walking distance from the ferry wharf at Chorao.
Open throughout the year, the sanctuary can be visited with the permission of the Chief Wild Life Warden, Forest Department, Junta House, Panaji. Apart from a rich variety of coastal birds, one may spot flying foxes, jackals and crocodiles.
The area consists of mangrove vegetation. Mangrove ecosystems are among the most productive ones known to us. They provide refuge and breeding grounds for several varieties of fish and insects which fall at the base of the food-chain.
The “Mangrove Scrub” type of vegetation that is found here occurs in small isolated areas along the banks of Mandovi and Mapusa rivers and also along the Cumbarjua canal.
This Sanctuary is criss-crossed with a network of water channels. Hence movement is restricted to the duration of high tide, if one wants to go by boats. However for canoes, the creeks are accessible even during low tides.
A watch-tower has been erected in the Sanctuary for better viewing of birds. Apart from the several resident birds, the Sanctuary also has some winter visitors like coots and pintails.
The Wildlife Division of the Forest Department proposes to start conducted tours through the water channels. It is envisaged that a group of 8-9 persons could be taken at one time.
However, the exact modalities are yet to be worked out. Resource material and useful information could be acquired at the Range Forest Office at Campal, in Panaji.