Birds are liked by most of us and we like to explore all those never seen before birds in front of us. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is such a sanctuary with mangrove trees all around where lots of national and international birds are found. It is at the western stretch of Charao Island beside Mandovi River in Goa. The sanctuary is dedicated to the Indian ornithologist, Salim Ali and so named after him. It is one of the well known bird sanctuary in the whole country and is spread over an area of 440 acres. Low mangrove trees cover most of the area of the forest.
Most of the birds in the sanctuary are western reef heron and striated heron. There are other species too that have been recorded in the sanctuary. These include little and black bittern, red knot, and pied a vocot. Apart from migratory birds there are other mangrove habitat species like fidder crabs, mud skippers etc. There is a watchtower that stands within the sanctuary for viewing the birds in a better way.Winter birds like pintails and coots can also be spotted there along with other residential birds. You can spot birds like kites, kingfisher, parrots, herons,egrets, fish- eagle, sea and river hawks, whim brels if you keep yourself alert and eyes open. Other than birds, you may spot common forest animals like fox, jackals,rock python and crocodiles.
The sanctuary is at a distance of 5 km from Panaji. Buses and taxis are available from Panaji to Ribander ferry spotand then cross the river Mandovi. Ferry services are available between Charao and Ribander frequently. There is a paved walkway through the forest of mangrove species and others. It is within walking distance from Chorao ferry wharf. Water passages make a criss-cross channel through the forest. Visitor scan go by boats when there is a high tide. However water is available during low tides for taking the canoes inside. The first bus leaves at 6:15 in the morning from Panjim Bus Stand. You need to catch this bus if you want to reach early and spot the extraordinary birds. It takes around 15 minutes to reach Riabander and then Charao Island. There it takes 20 minutes to reach the sanctuary.
The bird sanctuary can be visited with prior permission of chief wild life Warden of the Junta House Forest Department in Panaji. Tours are conducted by the forest Department through thewater channels in boats. A group of 10 persons is taken at a time in the boat.A single boat is hired at 750 INR. That means each person needs to pay 75 INR for the boat ride. Entering the forest is 10 INR per person.
The winter season from November to February is the best time to visit the sanctuary as most of the migratory birds arrive here from different countries. And if you are planning to visit here try to make it early in the morning as the surrounding remains peaceful and small, big and colorful birds are seen all around. Before entering the forest you can have your breakfast at the nearby stalls close to the entry gate. You can also get glimpse of colorful birds when there is a low tide as they come to catch fishes.
Goa is not only a place with lots of sea beaches but there are also hills, waterfalls, forts, temples, churches and forests. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is the one and only bird sanctuary in Goa. Rather small it is extremely adventurous and you would feel awesome to explore the forest and birds. The forest is dense inside and many birds and animals could be spotted if you prefer walking through the forests rather than boat riding. Although taking the boat is useful as the boat driver works as a guide too and helps in spotting wild life around the forest. It is great experience to have the boat ride through the enchanting forest early in the morning as birds feel themselves safe when the environment is calm. It feels nice to hear the birds chirping while visiting around the forest through narrow passages.
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