How is Bird watching in the Andaman Islands?

Azhar
June 6, 2019

The sense of equanimity that the Andaman Islands shower on the travellers is breathtaking and recharges one’s body and mind. Every year many people plan a vacation to the sandy beaches of Andaman in search of solitude, natural beauty and adventure but very few are aware that the Andaman Islands are known as the paradise of Birds. It is said that the Andaman Island is home to 270 species of birds including migratory and endemic birds. Every year many species of birds migrate to these enchanted islands and travellers can enjoy bird photography which in itself is a soulful experience.  In this blog, we will discuss ideal locations to go for bird watching in Andaman, best season to go for bird watching and different species of the birds.

andaman bird watching

Islands to explore the different species of birds in Andaman

Mount Harriet:

Mount Harriet National Park is known as the tropical evergreen forest in Port Blair which was originally a reserve. It is a home to seven endangered species including the Andaman wood pigeon, Andaman Cuckoo Dove, Andaman Scops Owl, Andaman Boobook, Andaman Woodpecker, Andaman Drongo and Andaman Treepie. Apart from these endangered species one can see Dollar bird, Olive backed Sunbird, Pintail Snipe and many other birds that make a perfect sight for photography.

It is suggested to visit the park early in the morning as the birds are active at that time and as the day proceeds, they will be in their nests lazing around. At evening also one can see the birds before 5 pm but after darkness, there is no point visiting the park.

Sippi Ghat:

It is located in the south of the Andaman and is primarily a wet land. One can see many water birds and waders here and by evening one should return to the hotels. Most of the birds here include Brown Hawk Owl, Collared Kingfisher, Sunda Teal, Black-napped tern, Andaman Hawked Owl, Orange headed thrush and Olive backed sunbird, Fulvous Breasted Woodpecker and many other birds that are a rare sighting in the urban city. It is a welcoming silent adventure as travellers are instructed to maintain silence so that birds do not fly away. Again the ideal time to watch birds is an early morning but after sunset shots are also worth taking in this area. The afternoon is the time when birds are least active so either visit the place early in the morning and stay overnight to enjoy the beautiful click during sunset and sunrise.


Chidiya Tapu

Located towards South of Port Blair this track is the most popular one for trekking and birding. It is normally said that trek to mount Harriet from Chidiya Tapu is the perfect track for bird sighting and bird photography. The 4km stretch of evergreen moist forest offers a different variety of birds to watch and click including Andaman Serpent Eagle, White Throated Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Alexandrine Parakeet, Andaman Drongo, Black naped Oriole and many more that makes the trek exciting. If you want to enjoy birding to the maximum then visit the place early in the morning as the bird photography done with sunrise is simply spectacular and you get to see different types of birds chirping and flying.


Farar Ganj

This is an ideal place to watch endemic birds. One needs to stay overnight as the trip can be exhausting but the birds can be photographed here in the morning and afternoon. Though birds are inactive in the afternoon but here one can vouch on their sighting even at noon and after sunset. Here one should not miss the adventurous night birding where one can watch night owls like Andaman Barn-owl, Hume’s Hawk Owl, Andaman Scops-Owl, etc that can be seen in open fields. It is an experience one should not miss and is an ideal setting for night birding photography.

Havelock Islands

Undoubtedly, this white sand island cannot be missed as it is a hub to rich flora and fauna in the Andaman Islands. The island is a reservoir of mangroves, forests and variety of birds that are extinct from urban cities but are living a peaceful life here amidst the blue water and open sky. Morning in this island starts with the chirping of birds of various species and if you are a bird lover then you will get to watch many exotic birds on the island. Some of the species that cannot be missed are the endemic one’s like a green pigeon, emerald dove, hanging parrots, long-tailed parakeets and many other. These birds can be seen early in the morning and at the time of sunset.

After discussing the different location where one can sight different species of birds and the types of birds in the Andaman. Next, we will discuss the ideal time and season for bird watching. Well, Andaman is the collection of islands where the summer never ends and winter never begins. The tropical weather of the islands has made it a year round destination for vacationing and is congenial for birds to stay. Though migratory birds keep visiting and leaving the island but the majority of the species can be found on the island that may not be seen at any other place.

Having said that, the ideal season to visit the island, especially for bird watching is pre or post monsoons as the monsoons are the time when bird watching is a rare sight. So from February to May one should definitely plan a vacation to the islands and opt for bird watching or bird photography package as the experts will guide the travellers to remote locations where birds can be observed.

A Tour Itinerary For Bird Watchers

On the Andaman Islands during the Endemic Birding Tour, we will be visiting the Andaman Island in search of these birds especially the endemics – total of 20 in number. But since five occur only on the Nicobars (currently off-limits to foreigners), only 15 would be sighted. The notable areas visited during the Andaman Endemic Birding Tour are Mount Harriet, Sippighat, Chidiyatapu, Ferrargunj & Wandoor. The endemics include four owls and other species such as Andaman Woodpecker, Andaman Crake and Andaman Serpent Eagle. 

Day 1: Port Blair

Arrive at Port Blair by the early morning flight to start the Andaman Endemic Birding Tour. Meet & assist with the Experience Andaman team at the airport. We will watch birds around Mount Harriet National Park, a tropical moist evergreen forest. See Andaman Woodpecker, Andaman Wood Pigeon, Andaman Cuckoo Dove , Andaman Crake, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Dollarbird, Collared Kingfisher, Brown Coucal, Alexandrine Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Pintail Snipe, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Andaman Treepie , Black-naped Oriole Andaman Drongo, Orange-headed Thrush, Olive backed Sunbird, White-headed Starling.

Day 2:  Port Blair

Early morning, we drive towards Sippighat, located towards the South of Port Blair. The area is a marshy wetland and good for sightings of water birds & waders. Should sight the Andaman Scops Owl , Andaman Hawk Owl, Sunda Teal,  Blue-eared Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Indian Pond Heron, Yellow Bittern, Andaman crake, Lesser Whistling ducks, Swamphen and some migratory birds.

Thereafter proceed back to North wandoor, wherein we will do birding form the shore end to the village area covering almost all sort of habitat where we should see Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Brown Coucal, Red-breasted Parakeet, Oriental Scops Owl, Brown Hawk Owl, Edible nest Swiftlet, Common Snipe, Black-naped Tern, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Black-Naped Oriole, Andaman Drongo , Orange-headed Thrush, Olive backed Sunbird, White Rumped Munia.

Day 3: Chidyatapu

Early morning trip to Chidiya Tapu, a patch of moist evergreen forest located to the South of Port Blair and excellent for birding. The track for birding starts 4 km before Chidiyatapu and 2 km along the seashore forest. Should sight the Andaman Woodpecker, Andaman Crake, Andaman Treepie, Andaman Serpent Eagle, Black-Naped Oriole, Andaman Drongo, Olive backed Sunbird, White-headed Starling, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Stork-billed Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Brown Coucal, Alexandrine Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Long Tailed Parakeet. 

Day 4: Port Blair

Birding at Ferrargunj and in the afternoon visit areas for Andaman endemics missed out during earlier trips. 

Day 5: Flight back to mainland

The Andaman’s Endemic Birding Tour ends 

PLACES FOR BIRDING AS RESEARCHED BY BIRDWATHCHING IN ANDAMAN TEAM:

  1. South Andaman
  2. Havelock Island
  3. Neil Island Island
  4. Little Andaman Island (Hut Bay)
  5. Cambell Bay Island (Great Nicobar)

Arun Singh, an eminent bird watcher and his team will be there with you during the birding tour program.

To conclude, apart from the high tidal time of monsoons one can visit the islands any time and will be able to watch birds but summer time pre monsoons is the ideal time to come for bird photography and make the most of your vacation at the Andaman Islands.

Written by Azhar

Azhar

Hey, thanks for reading my post. Do let me know what you think about my insights about the Andaman Islands. Also, if you have any inputs for me then do write to me at azhar@experienceandamans.com. I will be happy to assist you. Wish to see you in the islands soon 🙂

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