One of the most famous and picturesque lakes in Goa, this lake has the added attraction of also being a great place for bird-watching. This manmade lake plays host to a number of species of birds, both resident and migratory. The lake and the forested area around it are so famous for its avian population that it has since been declared the Carambolim Bird Sanctuary.
This peaceful and serene lake is counted not just as one of the best places for bird watching in Goa, but also one of the best places in India for bird watching. The birds here are of both aquatic and terrestrial types and although they are mostly herbivorous, there are also some avian fishers among them.
The manmade Carambolim lake near the village of Carmali in North Goa is situated in the Tiswadi Taluka, 2km southeast of Old Goa and 12km away from Panaji, the capital city of Goa.
Although the greenery and foliage around the lake is at its verdant best during the monsoon season, the bird watching, especially of migratory birds is at its peak a little later in the year and continues till the month of March.
The lake is a manmade fresh water lake that was originally intended for the irrigation of the surrounding paddy (rice) fields. The abundant vegetation around it, as well as the marshy land soon made it a haven for various species of herbivorous birds, some of whom make this their home all year round whilst others are more migratory. The lake gets its water supply only from rainwater.
A few years ago, conservationists of ornithologists noticed that the thick and abundant growth of a weed known as Salvinia was rendering the lake uninhabitable for certain migratory birds. When the Forestry Department was informed of this, they took immediate action, converting the lake into the Carambolim Bird Sanctuary and hiring people and equipment to clear the weeds off the lake’s surface.
Since then the government has undertaken a number of other projects to enhance the area as a habitat for birds, including adding mounds of vegetation and trees. They have also worked towards making it a good spot for bird watching by putting in a boardwalk on the southern edge of the lake and adding bird watching posts and watch towers.
There are a variety of birds that flock here. Some are more common, and upon reaching the site of the lake you’re sure to see cattle egrets, white breasted water hens and northern pintails who visit as part of their winter flight. In fact the ten most common birds in this area are the Pintal, Lesser Whistling Teal, Cattle Egret, Pond Heron, Purple Moorhen, Red-rumped Swallow, Little Egret, Bronzewinged Jacana, Pheasant Tailed Jacana and the Coot.
The keen observer would also see Shovelers, Garganeys, open-billed Storks, Cotton Pygmy Goose and Marsh Harriers.
The birds here are also sometimes only around during the winter months, if the species is migratory in nature. Among these are the pink flamingos that were seen wintering here in December 2012. The flamingos usually winter in Mumbai and the Rann of Kuchch, but it is hoped that they will make the Carambolim Lake one of their regular stops on their winter migrations.
The woods around the lake are also teeming with bird life. They are mostly known as being a great place to look for the Jungle Owlet and Brown Hawk Owl.
This beautiful lake is great way to get out of the more tourist overrun places in Goa, to relative solitude and peace. Although the birds are definitely the main attraction, the lake itself also exudes beauty and serenity with its water lily bedecked surface and plethora of colourful plants including Indian marsh snowflakes, water hyacinths and nymphs.
A trip to the lake is especially popular as a romantic getaway, or as a exploratory trek for nature lovers, birdwatchers and ornithologists.