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WEST INDIA: Tansa: Forest Owlet and More

A 3-day birding mammal tour to Tansa in the outskirts of Mumbai, focusing on the secretive and localised Forest Owlet, plus other Western Ghats specialities in lush deciduous forest.
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Our tour is an exploration of the Teak and Sal forests of Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary on the eastern edge of Mumbai. This short itinerary, which can be taken as a standalone tour or an extension to a longer tour, focuses on finding the rare and localised endemic, Forest Owlet. Though to be extinct for over one hundred years, this species was rediscovered as recently as 1997, and Tansa is perhaps the best place in India to find it. With two days in this densely forested reserve, we have a good chance of seeing this diurnal species, alongside other owls including the restricted range Mottled Wood-Owl. Tansa is also home to several restricted range specialities of peninsular India or the Western Ghats, including Malabar Trogon, Malabar Whistling-thrush, and most notably Vigors’s Sunbird, a Western Ghats endemic restricted to these northern reaches of the range and not available in the far south. Besides this, Tansa holds an interesting selection of forest birds, many of which will complement those seen in the southern Western Ghats or desert environment of western India, including Indian Grey Hornbill, Ultramarine Flycatcher and Tickell’s Thrush.
  • A standalone short tour or extension that would complement a longer tour of the Western Ghats of south India or the desert environment of west India.
  • Enjoyable and productive forest birding in extensive Teak and Sal woodlands at the foot of the northern Western Ghats.  
  • Realistic chances of the rare and localised endemic Forest Owlet, a diurnal species rediscovered in 1997 after being thought to be extinct for over a hundred years. 
  • Several peninsular Indian and Western Ghats endemics including Vigor's Sunbird, Malabar Trogon, Malabar Whistling-thrush and Malabar Parakeet, among a diverse selection of other species, such as Mottled Wood-Owl, Jerdon's Nightjar, Indian Grey Hornbill and White-naped woodpecker.
  • A small selection of mammals, including Rhesus Macaque and Ruddy Mongoose.
  • Good opportunities for bird photography while exploring the forests on foot.
Day 1: Mumbai to Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary

Arrivals into Mumbai airport this morning. From here, we drive east out of the city to Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary for a two-night stay, spending the afternoon and following day exploring the reserve’s extensive Teak and Sal forests. Our main target here will be the rare and localised endemic Forest Owlet, which was rediscovered as recently as 1997 after being feared extinct for over a hundred years. Tansa is perhaps the best place to see this oddly diurnal species, and we have a very good chance to find it perched out in the open both morning and late afternoon. We may also come across Spotted and Jungle Owlets, Jerdon's Nightjar, and the uniquely cryptic Mottled Wood-Owl, a sought-after restricted range species that is seen reasonably regularly at Tansa despite being difficult elsewhere.


Day 2: Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary

A full second day at Tansa. If we are yet to see Forest Owlet this will be our focus today, however while we do so we will no doubt encounter many other species of the region. These deciduous forests host a diverse selection of birds, including White-eyed Buzzard, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Black Eagle, White-naped Woodpecker, Tickell’s Thrush, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Black-hooded Oriole, Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Ultramarine and Taiga Flycatchers, Indian Grey Hornbill, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Asian Emerald Dove, Yellow-throated Sparrow and Crested Treeswift, many of which may not be so readily available further south in the Western Ghats, and will be entirely new following a tour of the desert environments of other parts of western India.  We should also see several restricted range species endemic to peninsula India or the Western Ghats, including Malabar Trogon, Malabar Whistling-Thrush, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Jerdon’s Leafbird and Malabar Parakeet. In particular, we hope to see Vigors’s Sunbird, a species restricted to the northern Western Ghats, from mainland Gujarat down as far as Goa, that does not extend into the southern ghats that host most other Western Ghats endemics.


Day 3: Depart Mumbai

Drive to Mumbai for departures from Mumbai international airport today.

FOCUS: Birds
GRADING: Easy to Moderate

BEST TIME: Year-round


Day 1: Mumbai to Tansa
Day 2: Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary
Day 3
: depart Mumbai 
PHOTOGRAPHY: Good to Excellent


Combine this tour with The Western Ghats [SI001], Goa: Sunbirds, Sea-Eagles and Sandplovers [SI002] or The Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat [WI001], or ask us for a custom extension anywhere in India.
Forest, Jungle and Spotted Owlets, Mottled Wood-Owl, Jerdon's Nightjar, Indian Grey Hornbill, Vigors's and Loten's Sunbird, Malabar Trogon, Malabar Whistling-thrush, Malabar Parakeet, Jerdon's and Golden-fronted Leafbirds, White-naped Woodpecker, Indian Golden, Black-naped and Black-hooded Orioles, Ultramarine, Tickell's and Taiga Flycatcher, Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Western Crowned Warbler, Tickell's Thrush, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Asian Emerald Dove, Yellow-throated Sparrow, Crested Treeswift, Alpine Swift, White-eyed Buzzard, Black Eagle, Crested Serpent-Eagle.


Rhesus Macaque, Golden Jackal, Sambar, Indian Muntjac, Wild Boar, Small Indian Civet, Ruddy Mongoose.
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