Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary

Located within a driving distance of just 2 hours, Tansa is the best place to photograph the elusive Forest Owlet near Mumbai city.

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Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary, nestled 90 km northeast of Mumbai, finds its home in the foothills of the Sahyadris, a part of the Western Ghats. It spans across Wada, Shahapur, and Mokhada talukas within the Thane district. The sanctuary derives its name from the Tansa River, which gracefully divides it into two distinct parts. It serves as the primary catchment area for Tansa Lake, encompassing the surrounding forests of Khardi, Vaitarna, Wada, and Shahapur ranges. Tansa Dam is the source of water from Mumbaikar. The sanctuary’s terrain predominantly features hills, with Suryamal Hill in Palghar district to the northeast and Mahuli Hill in Thane district at its southern extremity. Notably, in 1986, local tribals and Forest Department personnel reported two tiger sightings near Suryamal, underscoring the sanctuary’s ecological significance. The Tansa forest, an integral part of the northern Western Ghats, stands as a treasure trove of biodiversity, with the towering Teak Tectona grandis as its dominant tree species. Notably, this sanctuary is home to the elusive Forest Owlet, a species that has eluded discovery for over seven decades. Previously considered extinct, it was later found in the Melghat tiger reserve in the late 1990s. In Tansa, this remarkable bird made its debut appearance in 2014, offering birdwatchers a unique opportunity to photograph this enigmatic species. Additionally, the sanctuary hosts approximately 280 bird species, including uncommon migratory ducks such as the Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, and Eurasian Wigeon, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise. Furthermore, Tansa provides an ideal setting for capturing images of the Malabar Trogon, White-naped Woodpecker, Western crowned Warbler, Vigor’s Sunbird and Jungle Owlet, adding to its allure as a remarkable destination for both wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.

Birding in Sanctuary: Permission from the forest department is mandatory to visit the sanctuary, as it road that leads to the birding site is under the jurisdiction of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and is restricted. Quarry Padi which is a small village located in the heart of the sanctuary is the best place to photograph Forest Owlet. The dam backwaters are also the best place to photograph migratory duck species, but be careful, as photography or birding near the dam area or backwater is strictly prohibited. Private vehicles are a must to explore the park.

eBird Hotpsot : https://ebird.org/india/hotspot/L7372768

Nearest Train station: Vasai

Target species expected: White Eyed Buzzard, Forest Owlet, Jungle Owlet, Malabar Trogon, Brown Capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Plum Headed Parakeets, White Bellied Drongos, White Naped Woodpeckers, Cinereous Tits, Mottled Wood Owl, Small Minivet, Black Redstart, Crested Serpent Eagle are some of the resident birds that are seen in this area along with a good number of winter migratory birds.

Best time to visit: Oct-March