Forest Owlet. Photo: Tony Sawbridge
Thought to be lost to the world, the Forest Owlet was rediscovered in 1997 in northwest Maharashtra, India following some impressive detective work by Pamela Rasmussen and others. Despite extensive searching there was a gap of a remarkable 113 years between the collection of a few specimens in the late 19th century and Dr Rasmussen’s rediscovery. The Forest Owlet remains a rare and little-known bird but there are some good sites for it and Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary northeast of Mumbai is arguably the best, and certainly most accessible.
This short trip can be taken on its own or as a pre-tour extension to either our South India and the Andaman Islands tour in 2019, or our West India: Gujarat tour in 2020. It is also possible to join this extension from our Goa tour (details below).
Days 1-2: The tour begins early this morning in Mumbai, India’s largest and arguably most vibrant city. Following our arrival, we’ll drive about three hours north to our guest house on the edge of Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary. Once there we’ll immediately head out in search of our prize, the elusive Forest Owlet. The dry teak forest here are where Forest Owlets can be found and the early morning and early evening are the best times to see it. A variety of other species can be found here including the range-restricted Vigors’s Sunbird, vociferous Red-naped Ibis, Malabar Trogon and Indian Paradise Flycatcher. Sulphur-bellied Warbler is common, while Western Crowned Warbler and Tawny-bellied Babbler are less so. Other nocturnal birds we stand a good chance of seeing include Jungle Nightjar, the magnificent Mottled Wood Owl and both Jungle and Spotted Owlets.
Short-toed Snake Eagle and Changeable Hawk-eagle are fairly common, as are White-eyed Buzzard and Yellow-footed Green Pigeon. More elusive species such as Painted Francolin, Jungle Bush Quail and Red Spurfowl all occur and, assuming we see find the Forest Owlet fairly quickly, we’ll spend time searching for those as well. A supporting cast of other interesting species includes Striated Heron, Crested Treeswift, Alpine Swift, Red-breasted and Taiga Flycatchers and both Thick-billed and Pale-billed Flowerpeckers. We’ll spend the nights in a guest house close to the wildlife sanctuary.
Day 3: After a final morning in Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary we’ll return to Mumbai mid-afternoon where the tour ends. Those staying on to join the South India and the Andaman Islands tour would fly from Mumbai to Kochi this evening and spend two nights and one day there before the start of the South India tour.
Note: For those joining the Southern India tour after the Forest Owlet tour, the flight from Mumbai to Kochi and the extra nights’ accommodation in Kochi are not included.
Those wishing to join the Forest Owlet tour from Goa would fly to Mumbai early on the last day of the Goa tour. The Forest Owlet tour price does not include flights from Goa to Mumbai.
Updated: 13 February 2019