My Goa isn’t all sun-kissed beaches and flea markets. Though the smallest state in the Indian union, Goa is the wellspring of natural beauty. Unfortunately, most visitors tend to stick to the beaches, missing out on the wealth of natural beauty in other parts
Most of Goa is utterly invisible to the tourist’s eye, and if I’m honest, I like it that way. But, I am going to tell you about one little gem because it would be a crime not to share it with the world.
Nature’s Nest is an eco-resort with just ten mud lined cottages. Very frugal in design and construction, they provide all the basic amenities to make your stay comfortable without taking away the feel of living in a forest. Situated on 4 acres of mixed plantations of areca nut, cashew and coconut this resort is partially isolated from human activity. Nature’s Nest is located in Tamdi Surla in the village of Sacordem. The village is not very densely populated, and there is the occasional vehicle most of the property remains isolated. The closest town, Ponda is about 25 km away. A genuine Birder’s paradise.
In an earlier post, I wrote about how Goa is home to about 450 bird species and that the best time to sight migratory species is from November to February. Nature’s Nest is one of the top five birding hot spots in Goa. Which are the others? Well, that’s for another day, another post.
I made a day trip down to Nature’s Nest recently, arriving early in the morning. Driving in Goa is always such a delight. Well paved roads with lush green paddy fields or thick forest vegetation on either side. I’m not showing off, but I believe with all my heart that Goa’s roads are the best anywhere in India. Okay, well, maybe I’m showing off. As I arrived at the gates of Nature’s Nest, I was welcomed by birdsong. The FM radio playing in my car paled in comparison. What a welcome indeed.
A hot cup of black tea revived me after my 70-minute drive down. Gajanan was my naturalist for the day. Unlike me, he is adept at identifying bird species. The sun had started to gently thaw my tired bones. We went off in search of sunbirds and almost immediately spotted a Purple-rumped Sunbird, and a Crimson-backed Sunbird pecking furiously at powder-puff flowers. These birds are tiny and expecting them to stay still is like stringing a thousand prayers together. Hyperactive, they can test your patience as well as skill with the camera. But, I did get some lovely shots in.
Gajanan led the Glutton off to The Kokum Tree, the restaurant at Nature’s Nest to be watered and fed. The restaurant has a thatched roof and is open from all sides giving you a sense of being one with nature. Well, that’s what I came for.
I didn’t waste time in making a ‘Ross Omelette’ with my masala omelette, Goan bhaaji and Goan poi. Hunger pangs sated, it was time to take pictures again.
My next location was the bird bath. I sat behind a makeshift partition of dried palms with a small opening to accommodate my lens. As flimsy as this barrier was, the birds were oblivious to my prying. Life is all about having a win-win situation. They quenched their thirst and I was trigger happy.
I saw a whole bevvy of birds including the Orange-headed Thrush, Flame-throated Bulbul, Puff-throated Babbler; Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, Indian Yellow Tit, Oriental Magpie Robin – they all showed up for me. I sat as still as I could, ensuring I didn’t disturb the birds. I heard a rustling sound in the bushes to my left and turned to see the thrush practically walk up to me as it foraged for food. Had my camouflage passed the test or was I bird friendly? Your guess is as good as mine. A good three hours of picture taking later I realised the Glutton was more than a little upset and I went off in search of sustenance.
The birds of Nature’s Nest
The Kokum Tree does not disappoint. They serve traditional, healthy, simple meals. I feasted on a nachni bhakri, a traditional delicacy that has all but disappeared from our lives.
Pankaj who runs Nature’s Nest is an avid birder himself. It’s a lovely place to spend a leisurely weekend, enveloped in the best fusion music. All natural too. They also have an evening bonfire that is not to be missed. You can also visit Tamdi Surla and the Dudhsagar waterfall which are both close to Nature’s Nest.