Monday, January 21, 2019

Bird Watching in Andaman

A trip that was pending and in-plan for more than 3 years, finally came to fruition. Our primary birding happened only in South Andaman and our base camp was Port Blair. Although we also planned to visit the Little Andaman (for the Mandarin duck) but the ferry timing did not work out for us. In a way it was good, as we didn't have a single day that went without lifers.

Total Days of Birding: 8
Location: Only South Andaman
Total Lifers: 54
Guide Help: Shakti Vel
Place of Stay: Hotel Coral Cove, Port Blair

Some tips for birding enthusiasts:
  • Shakti is an amazing guide, young and enthusiastic. Knows his terrain well and is very hard working. There are other guides available for Andaman too, but we were very happy with Shakti on our side. 
  • South Andaman is great for birding and if you want you can arrange your own stay as well, in your own choice of Hotel in Port Blair. It feels nice to be back to a good hotel after the gruelling day of hard work and trekking. 
  • We stayed at Hotel Coral Cove which is a 4-star property right beside the airport. A great place to relax after birding. They are very particular about your needs and take care of your stay in the best possible manner. 
  • Port Blair is completely commecialized, so 3 star properties are not worth it. They are unhygeinic and don't treat you well. Better avoid any kind of 3-star hotel stay. 
  • Trekking is moderate but be ready for some hard work under the sun in humid weather.  
  • Be prepared for rain and leaches - ponchos and leach guards are a must.
  • Visit to Nicobar or Little Andaman is advisable only if you have enough time in your hands (minimum 15 days). For South Andaman, a week long trip should be sufficient. 
  • Better arrange for a chopper instead of ferry if you plan to go to other lesser known islands for birding (it will be expensive but you will save a lot of time) 

Day 1:
Landed at Port Blair (thanks to direct flight from Hyderabad)
Day starts early in Andaman (almost every day at 4-30 AM) and ends late (almost 7 PM) as we do a lot of Owling after dark.
Total lifers spotted: 5
Location of birding: Around Sippighat Wetlands
Oriental Scops Owl (lifer)

Hume's Hawk Owl (lifer)

Hume's Hawk Owl (lifer)

Whimbrel (lifer)

Striated Heron (lifer)

White-bellied Sea Eagle (lifer)

White-bellied Sea Eagle (lifer)

White-bellied Sea Eagle juv (lifer)

Pacific Golden Plover

Grey-headed Lapwing

Brown Shrike

Cotton Pygmy-goose 

Day 2:
Total lifers spotted: 11
Location of birding: Around Chidiyatapu and other common wetlands
Changeable Hawk Eagle pale morph (lifer)

Changeable Hawk Eagle dark morph (lifer)

Alexandrine Parakeet male (lifer)

Alexandrine Parakeet male and female (lifer)

Black-naped Oriole male (lifer)

Black-naped Oriole juv (lifer)

Pacific Swallow (lifer)

Long-tailed Parakeet female (lifer)

Long-tailed Parakeet male (lifer)

Andaman Drongo (lifer)

Red-breasted Parakeet female (lifer)

Red-breasted Parakeet male (lifer)

White-headed Starling (lifer)

Andaman Bulbul male (lifer)

Collared Kingfisher 

Eastern Jungle Crow (lifer)

Edible nest Swiftlet (lifer)

Red-collared Dove

Green Imperial Pigeon

Common Sandpiper

Yellow Bittern

Oriental Pratincole

Day 3:
Total lifers spotted: 9
Location of birding: Around Shoal Bay, Bambooflat and Sippighat Wetlands
Asian Fairy Bluebird male (lifer)

Asian Fairy Bluebird female (lifer)

Asian Fairy Bluebird female (lifer)

Andaman Woodpecker female (lifer)

Andaman Woodpecker male (lifer)

Black Baza (lifer)

Black Baza (lifer)

Ashy Minivet (lifer)

Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike male / Andaman Cuckooshrike (lifer)

Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike female  / Andaman Cuckooshrike (lifer)

Broad-billed Sandpiper (lifer)

Watercock (lifer)

Slaty-breasted Rail (lifer)

Spot-breasted Woodpecker (lifer)

Common Snipe 

Brown Shrike 

Chestnut-headed Bea-eater 

Andaman Tree Nymph

Yellow Wagtail

Crested Serpent Eagle

Stork-billed Kingfisher

Day 4:
Total lifers spotted: 6
Location of birding: Around Chidiyatapu and Badabalu beach
Pacific Reef Egret (lifer)

Asian Glossy Starling (lifer)

Andaman Water Monitor Lizard 

Glossy Swiftlet (lifer)

Glossy Swiftlet (lifer)

White-breasted Woodswallow (lifer)

Brown-backed Needletail (lifer)

Andaman Hawk Owl (lifer)

Andaman Hawk Owl (lifer)

Emerald Dove

Vernal Hanging Parrot

Day 5:
Total lifers spotted: 7
Location of birding: Around Shoal Bay Bambooflat
Blue-eared Kingfisher (lifer)

Andaman Green Pigeon (lifer)

Andaman Shama (lifer)

Andaman Cuckoodove (lifer)

Andaman Cuckoodove (lifer)

Andaman Flowerpecker (lifer)

Andaman Treepie (lifer)

Mangrove Whistler (lifer)

Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo

Common Myna on a ride

Day 6:
Total lifers spotted: 7
Location of birding: Around Mt. Harriet National Park
Sunda Teal / Andaman Teal (lifer)

Olive-backed Sunbird male (lifer)

Olive-backed Sunbird female (lifer)

Long-toed Stint (lifer)

Chinese Pond Heron (lifer)

Indian Pond Heron

Red-necked Stint (lifer)

Cinnamon Bittern (lifer)

Andaman Nightjar (lifer)

Lesser Whistling Duck

Day 7:
Total lifers spotted: 5
Location of birding: Around Chidiyatapu
Large Cuckooshrike (lifer)


Common Hill Myna (lifer)

Andaman Serpent Eagle (lifer)

Brown Coucal / Andaman Coucal (lifer)

Asian Brown Flycatcher

Eurasian Curlew

Purple Swamphen

Pin-tailed Snipe (lifer)

Black-tailed Godwit

Water Lily

Day 8:
Total lifers spotted: 4
Location of birding: Around Bambooflat
Forest Wagtail (lifer)

Ruddy Kingfisher (lifer)

Red-throated Pipit (lifer)

Andaman Scops Owl (lifer)


  1. can you share Guide contact details and charges it will be very helpful... for our next visit...

    1. Guide was Shakti Vel, you can easily find him in facebook. I prefer not to put phone numbers on the public forum as that can lead to spam. Guide charges completely depend on the type of birding that you wuld want to do and the type of hotels where you would like to stay. It is totally customizable based on your requirements and it would vary between every individual.

  2. Noted... thanks for sharing info... is there any birder group in Hyderabad with whom i can learn more about birding... as i am a beginner...

    1. There are many birding groups in Hyderabad, some of them are quite formal and organised. BSAP is one, the other one is HBP. Personally, I don't like doing birding in groups, that nullifies the purpose of birding. It is easier to click the bird in the filed and then come back home and refer to birding books to identify the species. That way the learning is far more. If you need help in identifying the location of birding, then I can help you with that. You can anyday gather 2-3 friends and go to these locations for birding. You can even go alone, all the locations are pretty safe.

  3. and best period to visit Andaman...

    1. Best time to visit is Nov-Dec-Jan-Feb. Since, Andaman is hot and humid always, so these 4 months are a little better than others.

  4. Such a delightful blog, helpful in several ways. The fact that these islands have such an amazing diversity of avian life never ceases to surprise me. Hope I cud bird here some day.

  5. Thanks for the input Sumeet. Very helpful info.