A peaceful drive through old Goa will bring you to Carambolim Railway Station located in Carambolim Village of Tiswadi Taluk, southeast of Old Goa. Bang opposite the railway station is a lake encircled by a cobbled footpath in whose cracks grass grows; your birding escapade begins to the left of the footpath.
Carambolim is a manmade lake that is enclosed and teeming with greenery; water lilies blossom delicately on the lake's surface as resident and migratory birds color the skies above; Carambolim is one of two bird sanctuaries in Goa. Start walking on the footpath that will lead you into the sanctuary as it gradually transforms into a mere foot trail enveloping the lake's edges.
Since civilization is so nearby, substantial disturbance is felt from traffic and motor vehicles on the road. Still, the birds have adapted to live among the chaos, their very existence token to Carambolim Lake Sanctuary and nothing else.
No sooner than you arrive, you quickly start to spot moorhens in countless numbers, cattle egrets, white breasted water hens and northern pintails who visit as part of their winter flight.
The trail enters canopy at the periphery of the lake where you can see terrestrial birds. The same path leads to a watchtower inside a well-maintained park.
Carambolim Lake is cloaked with floating weed called Salvinia (scientific name) that have adversely affected this habitat and rendered it uninhabitable for certain migratory birds that otherwise could have been expected. It seems that this overgrowth of Salvinia concerned some birders and conservationists who presented the issue to the Forest Department. The latter took immediate measures to convert Old Carombolim Lake into Carambolim Bird Sanctuary.
Their swift action has also thought to engage locals with the removal of the weed. The department has conducted themselves with such impressive levels of transparency and efficiency that they've even made provisions for all infrastructure (including boats and nets) for the locals who they pay a fair daily wage for the removal of Salvinia. This has taken care of the weed's management to a large extent and is rather impressive.
Carambolim is known especially for its dense population of herbivorous birds. Birds that twitter in the early morning sun at Carambolim Bird Sanctuary are pond herons, lesser whistling teal, cattle egret, pheasant tailed jacana, red-rumped swallow, bronze winged jacana and more.
In winter, you can watch male pintails feed in oryza rich areas, around the shallow portions of Carambolim whilst the females flock to the flowers and tender leaves in the middle. Coots have a preference for the hydrilla and invertebrates that surface as a consequence of the activity of other birds. Moorhens eventually feed off the remains left by the coot's agitated attempts to fish. Lesser whistling teals make a feast of the benthic animals they happen to dislodge as they dive in and out.
For a quiet day spent away from the hustle and bustle of Goa's commercial destinations, head to Carambolim Lake. Its serenity is a sedative that is sure to help you take your first steps into the wonderful world of Goa's birds.