GOING BIRD-WATCHING IN GOA
It may not surprise you to learn that Goa has begun to promote itself as a tourist destination for bird-watchers. After all, if you go to any beach in Goa, you’re likely to come across tourists talking about birds.
British tourist: “Oh look, that’s a nice bird.”
American tourist: “So beautiful! Looks like a native of India.”
British tourist: “I wonder if I can get a close-up photo.”
American tourist: “Be careful. You might ruffle her feathers.”
Yes, bird-watching is already a popular activity in Goa, but the tourism ministry hopes to attract many more tourists on the promise of spotting hundreds of interesting birds.
“Goa accounts for 400 out of the 1,100-odd bird species in India,” Goa tourism minister Dilip Parulekar told the Indo-Asian News Service. “This is a fact which is not known to many.”
These 400 birds include the flame-throated bulbul, grey-headed bulbul, and red-whiskered bulbul. Tourists will be able to see all these birds in their natural environment, especially in places known as IBAs (Important Bird Areas), where Goans sometimes carry umbrellas and warn tourists: “Watch out! That’s not rain falling from above.”
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, as its name implies, is among the places in Goa where birds congregate. Tourists visiting the sanctuary can stay overnight nearby, as guests at the 45-room Old Goa Residency, which is being transformed into prime lodging for bird-watchers. Every room in the hotel is being named after a Goan bird and if that’s not enough, bird books and catalogs will be sold on the ground floor, along with the two most important items for bird-watchers: binoculars and a straw hat.
If you spot a man carrying binoculars and wearing a straw hat, you can be certain he’s a bird-watcher, even if he happens to be on the beach. Please don’t jump to conclusions if you see his binoculars pointed toward a woman in a bikini. They’re probably focused on a bird in the distance.
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