Water and Waterside birds. Goa's marshes form an enormously rich bird habitat. Cormorants abound, the commonest, the Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger, 50 cm) is an almost entirely black bird with just a little white on the throat. It has a long tail and hooked bill, and is seen both on the water and in colonies in waterside trees. The Coot (Fulica atra, 40 cm), another black bird, is found on open water, especially in winter. It sits much higher in the water than the cormorant and has a noticeable white shield on the forehead.

The Openbill Stork (Anastomus oscitans, 80 cm) and the Painted Stork (Ibis leucocephalus, 100 cm) are two of the commonest storks of India. The Openbill stork is a white bird with black wing feathers, and a curiously shaped bill. The Painted stork is also mainly white, with a pinkish tinge on the back and greenish black marks on the wings and a broken black band on the lower chest. The bare yellow face and yellow down-curved bill are conspicuous.

By almost every swamp, ditch or rice paddy up to about 1,200m you will see the Paddy Bird (Ardeola grayii, 45 cm). An inconspicuous buff-coloured bird, it is easily overlooked as it stands hunched up by the waterside but as soon as it takes off, its white wings and rump make it very noticeable.

Goa is also home to wonderful kingfishers. The most widespread of the Indian kingfishers is the jewel-like Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis, 18 cm). With its brilliant blue upperparts and orange breast it is usually seen perched on a twig or a reed beside the water, or just a flash of eye-catching blue in flight. The much larger black and white Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) is adept at fishing from the air and can sometimes be spotted hovering over water.

Kingfisher

Kingfisher