Goa, known for its beaches and wild nightlife, has another feather in its cap; this is the land rich in flora and fauna making it a haven for all nature lovers. The tropical flora of Goa gives cover to a rich fauna and thus Goa is home to not one but four wildlife sanctuaries and the one bird sanctuary - the Dr.Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.
Location: Chorao Island on the Mandovi River, Goa
Highlights: 400 species of birds, local and migratory
Best Time to Visit: October to March
How to Reach: From Panaji, one can take a cab, auto or bus till the Ribandar ferry dock and take a ferry across the Mandovi River to the island.
The Dr.Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary has been named after the renowned ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali, and it is unique in its own way. The flora here consists of the rare mangrove shrub is found only along the banks of the Mandovi and Mapusa rivers and along the Cumbarjua canal. The unique feature of the mangrove is that it supports some varieties of fish and insects which fall at the bottom of the ecosystem. Here it deserves a mention that mangrove vegetation is one of the most productive vegetations.
Though Dr.Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary lies in a small area of 1.8 square kilometres, it is home to many species of birds and some wild animals as well. Including the migratory birds there are about 400 species of birds seen at the Dr.Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. One can sometimes catch a glimpse of wild jackals, foxes, crocodiles and flying foxes. Some of the rare sightings have been of panthers feasting on its prey and tigers drinking water from a water hole. All these animals are seen here due to the dense forest and the Mandovi river water, which acts as the chief source of drinking water for these animals.
To visit the sanctuary, you have to get permission form the chief wildlife warden, at the forest department at Panaji. The sanctuary is open throughout the year, but is best avoided during the monsoon when it can get rather dangerous due to the rough sea. And in the summer it's too hot and humid. The sanctuary has a network of water channels and movement is restricted due to high tide. If one wants to travel by boats one can take small canoes, which can move through the creeks even during low tide. The Dr.Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary has a watch tower to see the birds and some interesting and rare winter migratory birds here include coots and pintails. The mangrove ecosystem supports the growth of many small insects and fish which act as prey for the birds, thus attracting many birds here. This just shows us how nature works symbiotically and simply, thus establishing a relationship between the birds and the mangrove shrubs. All in all, it's a great experience for ornithologists as well as commoners due to the number of birds, the dense mangroves, and the small canoes, which are used to move about in the sanctuary.
The sanctuary is rich in flora growth and one can see a thick covering of mangrove vegetation here. The flora cover is very fertile over here the mangrove ecology is considered to be the best for birds, fish and insects to multiply. They provide thick shelter for the birds and are their natural abodes.
Here one can find local as well as migratory birds. The best time to see the migratory birds is right after the monsoons around the month of October to March. The weather is quite pleasant then and the birds come here in plenty. One can find kingfishers, pintails, coots, egrets, etc. among the birds. If you are observant you may also spot crocodiles, jackals and foxes.