Monday, 30 April 2018

Sri Lanka February 2018

Sri Lanka February 2018


We joined a tour of 16 days run by Mike and Jenny Jarvis, owners of Experience the Wild, NT Birdwatching and Nature Tours. In addition we had the best local bird tour guide in Sri Lanka, Upali Ekanayake. The on ground logistics were organised by Starron Tours, who supplied our bus and driver plus his off-sider. Mike and Jenny ensured we got the most out of the tour and took charge of the tipping, which is part of Sri Lankan culture. An organised tour is the only way to get the best out of Sri Lankan birding as logistically it is difficult to get around the country, especially to the good birding spots. Upali was fantastic as he knew the right birding areas to go, had spotters out reporting back to him on latest sightings as well as seemingly knowing everyone in Sri Lanka! If you want the best birding and wildlife experience Upali is your man, everywhere we went he only had to say a few words and everything happened for us. Starron Tours organisation went off without a hitch, our accommodation was good throughout and the food excellent. The species recorded are the ones we saw (242), the total seen by the group was 248. Some of the bird names may differ from our supplied IOC list as we are using Clements taxonomy through the eBird database to record our sightings. We did see one species, Indian Silverbill that the rest of the group missed. Of the 34 endemics we saw 32, due once again to Upali’s and Mike’s skills. We missed the Seredip Scops Owl because we decided not to climb up a sheer cliff! The Sri Lanka Thrush is a difficult species to track down, we tried without success. We went with no aspirations as to what we would see so we were really pleased to see so many good birds. The tour was made all the more enjoyable by our fellow birders who provided great company. Finally we were pleased to note electronic means (call back) was not used to attract birds. Images are © K & L Fisher 2018. Any corrections are welcome.

Useful Publications:-

There are a few publications you can download,
Sri Lanka Endemic BirdsSri Lanka The Leopards IslandSri Lanka National Parks and Reserves (2nd edition)The Primates of Sri LankaLeopards and Other Wildlife Of YalaBirds of Sri Lanka - A Pictorial Guide and ChecklistButterflies of Sri Lanka and Southern IndiaDragonflies of Sri Lanka and Southern IndiaButterflies of Sri LankaThe Gathering of Elephants. While most of these publications are not right up to date they are useful.

We used the "Birds of Sri Lanka” (Helm Field Guides) Deepal Warakagoda; Richard Grimmett; Carol Inskipp; Tim Inskipp. 2013 reprint. We found it a good manageable field guide.

The Diary

3/2/2018

Arrived at Columbo Bandaranaike International airport at 12.00 midnight from Singapore. We were to be met at the airport but after 30 minutes nobody appeared so we ended up getting a taxi to our hotel the Tamarind Tree Hotel arriving at 1.30am. This was the only glitch in the entire holiday.

Tamarind Tree Hotel
Day 1 4/2/2018

Up early after at least 4½hrs sleep! Met the rest of our tour party of which four were friends, Mary, Peter, Chris and Andrew, two others were Sally and Fiona plus Mike and Jenny, 10 of us which was just the right number. To get an overview of Sri Lanka and it’s wildlife and flora click this link here. Anyway back to birding!

We met at 6.15 to go birding around the grounds and to familiarise ourselves with Sri Lanka birds. We did know a few species and families from our Malaysian travels but there was a lot to learn. The Red-backed Woodpecker Dinopium psarodes (also known as Lesser Sri Lankan Flameback) we saw was previously a sub-species of the Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense, (also known as Black-rumped Goldenback, Black-rumped Woodpecker, Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker, Lesser Golden-back, Lesser Goldenback, Ceylon Golden-backed Woodpecker, Ceylon Red-backed Woodpecker, Golden-backed Woodpecker, Lesser Flame-backed Woodpecker, Lesser Flameback) but now considered a full Sri Lankan endemic species. No wonder we got confused, we may still be confused! Best and most unexpected bird was an Indian Golden Oriole, a migrant species. Other good birds were Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Long-billed (Loten's) Sunbird and Pale-billed Flowerpecker.

Purple-rumped Sunbird
4/2/2018 Tamarind Tree Resort


Asian Brown Flycatcher






TOC Accomodation

























White-bellied Sea-Eagle





4/2/2018 The Other Corner, Harbarama


1 Little Grebe
3 Little Cormorant
6 Indian Cormorant
1 Oriental Darter
2 White-bellied Sea-Eagle
6 Pheasant-tailed Jacana
4 Red-wattled Lapwing
2 Crested Treeswift
4 Blue-tailed Bee-eater
2 Sri Lanka Woodshrike
1 Small Minivet
2 Black-hooded Oriole
2 Barn Swallow (White-bellied)
2 Plain Prinia
9 Oriental White-eye
1 Asian Brown Flycatcher
2 Jerdon's Leafbird
1 Thick-billed Flowerpecker
4 Purple-rumped Sunbird
5 White-rumped Munia


After lunch and a short rest we went up onto the bund wall to check out the Lake and surrounds properly. Spent just over 2hrs birding along the wall seeing 39 species including the spectacular Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Spot-billed Pelican, whose status is near threatened with a declining population, Orange-breasted and Sri-Lanka Green Pigeon, Stork-billed and White-throated Kingfisher, Coppersmith Barbet, Tawny-bellied Babbler and Baya Weaver.

4/2/2018 The Other Corner, Harbarama – Lake Habarama

Pheasant-tailed Jacana
2 Lesser Whistling-Duck
2 Cotton Pygmy-Goose
1 Indian Peafowl, male
2 Little Cormorant
2 Indian Cormorant
2 Oriental Darter
1 Spot-billed Pelican
3 Great Egret
2 Brahminy Kite
6 Grey-headed Swamphen
4 Red-wattled Lapwing
7 Pheasant-tailed Jacana
2 Whiskered Tern
2 Spotted Dove
1 Orange-breasted Pigeon
11 Sri Lanka Green-Pigeon
1 Crested Treeswift
1 Stork-billed Kingfisher
2 White-throated Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
3 Blue-tailed Bee-eater
2 Coppersmith Barbet
2 Brown-headed Barbet heard.
2 Brown-capped Woodpecker
17 Alexandrine Parakeet, flyover
2 Rose-ringed Parakeet
1 Common Iora
1 Small Minivet
1 Orange Minivet
2 Black-hooded Oriole
8 Barn Swallow (White-bellied)
3 Red-vented Bulbul
1 Grey-breasted Prinia
6 Ashy Prinia
4 Tawny-bellied Babbler
1 Indian Robin
1 Oriental Magpie-Robin
3 Baya Weaver
1 White-rumped Munia
2 Scaly-breasted Munia

Looked for Indian Pitta, which we heard and Orange-headed Thrush, which we dipped again. After a very good evening meal we had bird call and an early night to bed after a great days birding.

Day 2 5/2/2018

Breakfast at 6.30 and a search for the elusive Orange-headed Thrush, which did not make an appearance however we did see Green Imperial Pigeon and a family of Brown-capped Babbler.


Green Imperial Pigeon
5/2/2018 The Other Corner, Harbarama

2 Spotted Dove
4 Green Imperial-Pigeon
3 Brown-headed Barbet
3 Red-vented Bulbul
2 Brown-capped Babbler


Left just after 7.30 and once on the main road we immediately saw a couple of Malabar Oriental Hornbill fly over and land in a tree. The bus screeched to a halt and everyone got to see these birds. We stopped along the way to Mannar for a comfort stop and saw some Sri Lanka (Celylon) Swallow plus a few other species flying around.
Green Bee-eater


5/2/2018 Kandy-Jaffina Hwy, North Central Province

2   Little Egret 
4   Spotted Dove 
2   Green Bee-eater 
2   Rose-ringed Parakeet 
20 Sri Lanka Swallow, estimate.
5   Red-vented Bulbul 
1   Oriental Magpie-Robin 
4   Common Myna

Then further on we had Black Drongo just past Tirappane. 

5/2/2018 Tirappane, Vidyalaya, North Central Province

2  Malabar Pied-Hornbill
1  Rose-ringed Parakeet 
1  Black Drongo

Further along the Kandy - Jaffina Hwy we had a few more birds including a Shikra (small falcon like raptor) perched beside the road, other birds seen were foraging beside the road, perched on powerlines or soaring overhead.
Indian Roller

5/2/2018 Kandy - Jaffina Hwy, north of Vidyalaya, North Central Province

1 Asian Openbill
1 Great Egret
6 Little Egret
1 Crested Serpent-Eagle
1 Crested Hawk-Eagle
1 Shikra
1 Indian Roller
1 Ashy Woodswallow


We also stopped to check out an odd eagle, which did not have a crest, it was thought at the time it could have been a Changable Hawk Eagle but this has yet to be confirmed.

About 16 km before Mannar we stopped at Giant's Tank, where we had the great experience of seeing an estimated 8,000 Asian Openbill along with other good birds including 100 Spot-billed Pelican, 8 Glossy Ibis, a few Painted Stork, some shorebirds and a Paddyfield Pipit.

5/2/2018 Giant's Tank Sanctuary, Northern Province

6        Garganey

6        Northern Pintail 
Painted Stork
8000  Asian Openbill, estimate.
8        Painted Stork 
100    Spot-billed Pelican, estimate
30      Eurasian Spoonbill, estimate.
13      Brahminy Kite 
4        Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian) 
2        Pacific Golden-Plover 
2        Little Ringed Plover 
3        Eurasian Curlew 
3        Black-tailed Godwit 
6        Wood Sandpiper 
20      Brown-headed Gull estimate.
3        Gull-billed Tern 
5        Caspian Tern 
8        House Crow 
1        Plain Prinia 
2        Paddyfield Pipit


Continued on to Mannar Island via the causeway from the mainland, passing through the town of Mannar to arrive at our next accommodation, Palmyrah House


We did see a Eurasian Hoopoe on the powerlines along the way, which was a bird we were particularly hoping to see. We were looking forward to staying at Palmyrah House as we had met the owner of the accommodation, whilst we were running Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge here in Australia a few years ago. He is an avid birdwatcher and photographer and has built this very comfortable eco accommodation. The construction is up to very high standard and local resources have been used where possible. The local Palmyrah tree has been used in the construction of the floor and supporting pillars and the leaves have been dried and used in constructing the boundary fence. The location is in a great birdwatching area with a wetland adjacent aswell as the nearby shorelines of Mannar Island, which attract many shorebirds and migratory waders. Other wetlands are not far away and the sides of the causeway into Mannar from the mainland are a fantastic area. 

African Wild Donkey



One thing that is quite noticeable is the African Wild Donkey, which roam around the island and in the town. They are descendants of those brought over by Arabian traders very many centuries ago and introduced to Sri Lanka from Somalia. A fuller summary of the donkey’s history can be found here.

We checked into our accommodation and had lunch. During and after lunch we saw good birds such as Jacobin (Pied) Cuckoo, Jerdon’s Bushlark and Eurasian Hoopoe, properly this time. Unfortunately the Jacobin (Pied) Cuckoo lurked around in the bushes for a poor photo.

Jerdon's Bushlark




Jacobin (Pied) Cuckoo
5/2/2018 Mannar Island--Palmyrah House, Northern Province

2 Indian Pond-Heron
1 White-breasted Waterhen
2 Eurasian Collared-Dove
1 Pied Cuckoo
20 Asian Palm-Swift
2 Eurasian Hoopoe
1 Common Kingfisher
2 Blue-tailed Bee-eater
1 Indian Roller
2 Black Drongo
1 Jerdon's Bushlark
1 White-browed Bulbul
2 Plain Prinia
1 Indian Robin

1 Paddyfield Pipit


Mid-afternoon we set out to tour the area. First up we stopped at the wetland next door, good waders here, Ringed and Little Ringed Plover were particularly good to see.


Birding at the Wetland













(Common) Ringed Plover


5/2/2018 Wetland 500m NW of Palmyra House, Northern Province

1 Brahminy Kite
1 White-bellied Sea-Eagle
8 Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
2 Pacific Golden-Plover
1 Lesser Sand-Plover
7 Ringed Plover
1 Little Ringed Plover
6 Ruddy Turnstone
1 Little Stint
1 Common Sandpiper
1 Common Greenshank
3 Wood Sandpiper

17 Common Redshank
   

Next we headed to Mannar and stopped near Erukkalampiddy at some mudflats, lots of Common Redshank here.

Common Redshank




5/2/2018 Erukkalampiddy Islet, Northern Province

1 Western Reef Egret
1 Brahminy Kite
12 Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
8 Lesser Sand-Plover
2 Greater Sand-Plover

30 Common Redshank, estimate.

Grey Heron
Then it was onto the causeway to look for flamingos. Upali found a group estimated at 300 way off in the distance but with scopes we could clearly see what they were.

 
5/2/2018 Mannar Causeway, Northern Province

300 Greater Flamingo, estimate.
1 Painted Stork
1 Grey Heron
1 Great Egret
20 Brown-headed Gull, estimate.

After this excitement we kept going across the causeway onto the South Coast Road where the low vegetation was punctuated by small wetlands. Stopping at one we had two Grey Francolin, great bird, plus a few ducks and waders.

Red-wattled Lapwing
5/2/2018 South Coast Road (1), Northern Province

2 Garganey
1 Northern Shoveler
3 Northern Pintail
2 Grey Francolin
2 Intermediate Egret
8 Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
11 Pacific Golden-Plover
3 Red-wattled Lapwing
6 Black-tailed Godwit
1 Wood Sandpiper

Further south along the road nearer the coast we had a pair of Saunders Tern (three black outer primaries prominent, pale grey upperparts and brownish legs. No white supercillium) and a group of over 50 Marsh Sandpiper we have never seen so many in one place.


Little Egret
5/2/2018 South Coast Road (2), Northern Province

1 Garganey
10 Northern Shoveler
3 Northern Pintail
4 Grey Heron
1 Great Egret
1 Little Egret
1 Eurasian Curlew
1 Black-tailed Godwit
50 Marsh Sandpiper, estimate -

2 Saunders's Tern

We then had a slow journey in the twilight back to Palmyrah House for a 30 minute break before an excellent dinner at 7.30. Afterwards bird call highlighted another great days birding.

Day 3 6/2/2018


Up Early for a 6.15am start birding around the grounds. Good birds here were Green Imperial-Pigeon, Greater Coucal, Grey-bellied Cuckoo, Jerdon’s Bushlark and Zitting Cisticola.
Indian Pond Heron

6/2/2018 Mannar Island--Palmyrah House, Northern Province

1 Little Cormorant

Zitting Cisticola
1 Indian Cormorant
1 Spot-billed Pelican, flyover
1 Intermediate Egret
1 Indian Pond-Heron
1 Black Kite, flyover
1 Brahminy Kite, flyover
1 White-breasted Waterhen
30 Brown-headed Gull, estimate, flyover
1 Gull-billed Tern, flyover
1 Caspian Tern
1 Spotted Dove, flyover
2 Green Imperial-Pigeon
1 Greater Coucal
1 Grey-bellied Cuckoo
6 Asian Palm-Swift
1 Eurasian Hoopoe
8 Rose-ringed Parakeet, flyover
1 Brown Shrike
1 Black-hooded Oriole
1 Black Drongo
6 House Crow
1 Jerdon's Bushlark
4 Red-vented Bulbul
1 Zitting Cisticola
3 Indian Robin
2 Oriental Magpie-Robin
5 Common Myna


Back for breakfast before heading off at 8.45 for a mornings birding. Started off at the adjacent wetland where we had good views of Indian Roller and a variety of waders.

Little Egret
6/2/2018 500m NW of Palmyra House, Northern Province

4 Little Egret
6 Cattle Egret
30 Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian),estimate.
3 Pacific Golden-Plover
3 Red-wattled Lapwing
3 Ringed Plover
15 Black-tailed Godwit
9 Common Sandpiper
8 Marsh Sandpiper
8 Wood Sandpiper
6 Common Redshank
5 Brown-headed Gull
6 Indian Roller


We then went up to the extreme North-East corner of Mannar Island at Talaimannar (Adam’s Bridge area) and checked out the pier, which is the closet point to India and was once the terminus of a ferry service to India across the very shallow Palk Bay. The ferry service was part of the Indo-Lanka Railway service, where passengers were ferried between Talaimannar and India. The pier was served by a station of the Sri Lanka Government Railway but is currently discontinued and the track abandoned up to Medawachchiya junction. Presently, work is being done to resume the service by rebuilding the rail line from Talaimannar to Medawachchiya. A 23km Palk Strait bridge was proposed in June 2015 to link mainland India to Mannar but this project has since been abandoned.

The birding here was good with flocks of gulls, terns and waders. The highlights were were a Terek Sandpiper. One Pallas’s Gull and a Heuglin’s Gull. Not sure of the photos (heavily cropped), leaning towards Pallas's Gull.







6/2/2018 Mannar Island, Talaimannar, Northern Province
Terek Sandpiper

1 Grey Heron
1 Great Egret
1 Grey Plover
1 Lesser Sand-Plover
5 Eurasian Curlew
3 Ruddy Turnstone
1 Terek Sandpiper
3 Common Greenshank
4 Marsh Sandpiper
2 Wood Sandpiper
20 Brown-headed Gull, estimate.
1 Pallas's Gull
1 Lesser Black-backed Gull (Heuglin's)
21 Gull-billed Tern
46 Caspian Tern
30 Crested Tern, estimate.
100 Lesser Crested Tern. estimate.

 
Great Crested Tern, Lesser Crested Tern, Caspian Tern and Brown-headed Gull
On the drive from the North-East corner we saw four Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark  (2 male, 2 female).

Another wetland on the road back to the hotel produced many ducks and a few waders including a Small Pratincole. By now it was mid-day and very hot, the sparse shelter under a tree was not enough to keep us cool so we headed back to the hotel for lunch.
Brahminy Kite

6/2/2018 Medawachiya Hwy, Northern Province

200 Garganey, estimate.
2     Northern Shoveler
100 Eurasian Wigeon, estimate.
30   Northern Pintail, estimate.
1     Indian Cormorant
1     Brahminy Kite
10   Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
2     Greater Sand-Plover
2     Ruddy Turnstone
20   Marsh Sandpiper, estimate.
1 Small Pratincole
6 Asian Palm-Swift



After lunch we had a break as it was too hot to go birding, instead we relaxed in the air conditioning! Later in the afternoon some of us got back on the road to check out a few more areas, a few remained behind to test out the swimming pool. Once again we stopped at the very productive Mannar Causeway and had better views of the flock of Greater Flamingo, still through the scopes.

House Crow

6/2/2018 Mannar Causeway, Northern Province


200 Greater Flamingo, estimate.
3 Great Egret
6 Little Egret
2 Indian Pond-Heron
1 Eurasian Spoonbill
1 Grey Plover
2 Whimbrel
1 Eurasian Curlew
6 House Crow



Pin-tail Snipe
From here we went down the Thiruketheewaram Road stopping to check out some wet vegetation and found a Pin-tail Snipe.
Blyth's Reed Warbler



















Long-tailed Shrike


6/2/2018 Thiruketheewaram Rd, Northern Province

2 Red-wattled Lapwing
1 Pin-tailed Snipe

1 Wood Sandpiper

Our final destination along this road was Paalavi Tank, adjacent to Our Lady of Lourdes Statue, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Long-tailed Shrike and Rosy Starling were good sightings as were all the other waterbirds. We saw an Indian Silverbill, which nobody else saw as they were looking out of the other side of the bus at a Pin-tail Snipe!








Grey-headed Swamphen
6/2/2018 Paalavi Tank, Manthai, Northern Province

17 Lesser Whistling-Duck
1 Grey Heron
1 Cattle Egret
7 Indian Pond-Heron
2 Grey-headed Swamphen
14 Pheasant-tailed Jacana
1 Green Bee-eater
3 Blue-tailed Bee-eater
24 Rose-ringed Parakeet
1 Long-tailed Shrike
1 House Crow
1 Blyth's Reed Warbler

100 Rosy Starling, estimate.
1 Indian Silverbill

Day 4 7/2/2018

A quick look up the driveway of Palmyrah House gave us good views of four Grey Francolin.

Day 4 7/2/2018 Mannar Island--Palmyrah House, Northern Province

4 Grey Francolin
1 Indian Pond-Heron
20 House Crow, estimate.

On the bus at 6.30am for the mornings birding. First stopping off at the nearby wetland, not so much variety of waders today.

Cattle Egret
7/2/2018 Wetland 500m NW of Palmyrah House, Northern Province

1 Great Egret
8 Cattle Egret
1 White-breasted Waterhen
30 Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
3 Common Redshank
3 Brown-headed Gull
12 Blue-tailed Bee-eater
3 Black Drongo
7 Common Myna


Then back to Mannar and out to the causeway, where the highlight was 13 Crab-Plover in the distance but we had good views through the scopes. Much larger bird than we imagined. This was another species we had hoped to see. Not much else as the tide was high.

Eurasian Curlew




7/2/2018 Mannar Causeway, Northern Province

1 Little Egret
6 Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
6 Eurasian Curlew
23 Black-tailed Godwit
6 Marsh Sandpiper
1 Wood Sandpiper
8 Common Redshank
13 Crab-Plover

Then back through Mannar again observing one of the many introduced donkeys, which was again standing in the middle of a roundabout, not sure if it was the same one we had been seeing each time we had passed by! Stopped at the same wetland beside the Medawachiya Highway we had been to the day before, Yellow-wattled Lapwing and a Common Kingfisher were good sightings.


Black-winged Stilt


7/2/2018 Medawachiya Hwy, Northern Province

16 Garganey
2 White-breasted Waterhen
40 Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian), estimate.
2 Yellow-wattled Lapwing
1 Red-wattled Lapwing
4 Greater Sand-Plover
1 Ringed Plover
1 Black-tailed Godwit
1 Pin-tailed Snipe
3 Common Sandpiper
2 Whiskered Tern
1 Asian Koel, heard.
1 Common Kingfisher
2 Green Bee-eater
1 Black Drongo






It was now time to return to Palmyrah House for a late breakfast before going back out again onto the road to Mannar to call into the Mannar Wetlands. Plenty of ducks, Spot-billed Pelican and the highlight an Oriental Honey-buzzard.


Garganey


7/2/2018 Mannar Wetlands, Northern Province
20 Garganey, estimate.
50 Eurasian Wigeon, estimate.
5 Painted Stork
3 Little Cormorant
35 Spot-billed Pelican
16 Grey Heron
1 Oriental Honey-buzzard
50 Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
3 Whiskered Tern



Back to Palmyrah for a rest before lunch. After lunch another rest then back on the bus for an afternoons birding. Along the Navathkuli-Karativu-Mannar Highway we saw a Marsh Harrier, stopped to take a few photos.
Eurasian Marsh Harrier
 


7/2/2018 Navathkuli-Karativu-Mannar Highway, Northern Province

1 Eurasian Marsh-Harrier
2 Black Kite

1 Eurasian Curlew


Booted Eagle
Further along this road we had two Booted Eagle and a Brahminy Kite soaring over a paddock being ploughed. 
Booted Eagle


A small detour onto the Thiruketheewaram Road to check out a flooded area beside the road produced a few birds including 3 Pin-tail Snipe.

Scaly-breasted Munia
7/2/2018 Thiruketheewaram Road, Northern Province

2 Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
8 Yellow-wattled Lapwing
3 Pin-tailed Snipe
4 Eurasian Collared-Dove
1 Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark, 1 male
1 Scaly-breasted Munia








Yellow Bittern

Back along the  Navathkuli-Karativu-Mannar Highway we saw a Yellow Bittern hiding in the reeds beside the road. Back to Palmyrah we had dinner and bird call. Lindsay heard a Jerdon's Nightjar calling at the back of our accommodation so we did some spotlighting to find it but we did not see it.








Day 5 8/2/2018

6.30am start to bird the Palmyrah grounds and adjacent wetland. Then headed across the road to look in the area between the road and coast. Plenty of birds in the area but nothing new for us but better looks at some species, after 2hrs went back for breakfast.


Common Sandpiper




Yellow-billed Babbler



















 8/2/2018 Mannar Island--Palmyrah House and Surrounds, Northern Province
 
Zitting Cisticola
5 Indian Pond-Heron
1 Eurasian Spoonbill, flyover
1 Black Kite
3 Brahminy Kite
2 White-breasted Waterhen
1 Common Sandpiper
2 Brown-headed Gull, flyover
1 Eurasian Collared-Dove
13 Asian Palm-Swift
3 White-throated Kingfisher
6 Blue-tailed Bee-eater
14 Rose-ringed Parakeet
1 Brown Shrike
2 Black Drongo
30 House Crow, estimate.
1 Jerdon's Bushlark
2 Red-vented Bulbul
1 Zitting Cisticola
1 Ashy Prinia
1 Indian Robin
2 Brahminy Starling

8 Common Myna
4 Scaly-breasted Munia

 8/2/2018 Wetland 500m NW of Palmyra House, Northern Province


Red-wattled Lapwing
Wood Sandpiper
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Cattle Egret
Indian Pond-Heron
1 Black Kite
Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
Red-wattled Lapwing
Ringed Plover
Common Sandpiper
Common Greenshank
Marsh Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Common Redshank
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Whiskered Tern
Greater Coucal
White-browed Bulbul
Yellow-billed Babbler
Common Myna
Purple Sunbird



Checked out from Palmyrah House and set off for our next destination, another visit to The Other Corner (TOC). Stopped at the Giant's Tank Sanctuary for another look, not so many Openbill as last visit, 3 huge flocks but probably underestimated true numbers. There were some good birds including Northern Pintail, Glossy Ibis, Brahminy Starling and Grey-headed Fish-Eagle.
Asian Openbill
Grey-headed Fish-Eagle

8/2/2018 Giant's Tank Sanctuary, Northern Province

Gargany
Northern Pintail
1000 Asian Openbill estimate
1 Purple Heron
14 Glossy Ibis
Eurasian Spoonbill

1 Grey-headed Fish-Eagle 
 50 Brahminy Starling


Continued on stopping at a hotel to use the facilities and another stop to pick up bananas. Arrived at TOC and was allocated a cabin next to the Orange-headed Thrush site. We decided to walk down town, which according to a nameless person was only 200 m. away. After 500m we gave it away as it was warming up and the town was not in sight! Back to TOC for some afternoon birding in the grounds and up on the bund wall. Plenty of birds as usual, good views of Sri Lankan Green-Pigeon, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Stork-billed Kingfisher and Red-backed Woodpecker.

Plain Prinia

























White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Stork-billed Kingfisher











8/2/2018 The Other Corner, Mawatha, North Central Province

2 Lesser Whistling-Duck
1 Indian Peafowl
6 Little Cormorant
12 Indian Cormorant
1 Grey Heron
1 Intermediate Egret
2 Brahminy Kite
2 White-bellied Sea-Eagle
5 Grey-headed Swamphen
1 Red-wattled Lapwing
2 Pheasant-tailed Jacana
1 Sri Lanka Green-Pigeon
1 Green Imperial-Pigeon
1 Malabar Pied-Hornbill
1 Stork-billed Kingfisher
4 Brown-headed Barbet
1 Black-rumped Flameback
8 Rose-ringed Parakeet
1 Black-hooded Oriole
1 Indian Paradise-Flycatcher adult male
1 Plain Prinia, carrying food
1 Asian Brown Flycatcher, flyover
1 Oriental Magpie-Robin
2 Pale-billed Flowerpecker

1 Purple-rumped Sunbird
1 White-rumped Munia



By now it was getting dark and a pair of Jerdon's Nightjar started to call so we went in search of them. An Indian Pitta was also calling and a glimpse was had as it flew between bushes. Tracked down the nightjars in the grounds and only had brief views of them so we went back to the bund wall, where we heard nighjars calling. This time we got great views in the spotlight. 

Our bags were packed for an early get away before a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast, which included Hoppers. The Hoppers are basically bowl-shaped pancakes made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk - other ingredients such as eggs were added for breakfast. We did have some time after breakfast to do last minute birding. Lindsay found a Tickle's Flycatcher at the elusive Orange-headed Thrush site, it hung around long enough for everyone to get good views. Alas the Orange-headed Thrush did not make an appearance so we had to leave without seeing it.

Tickle's Blue Flycatcher

Day 6 9/2/2018


9/2/2018 The Other Corner, Mawatha, North Central Province


2 Small Minivet
1 Indian Paradise-Flycatcher
5 Oriental White-eye
1 Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
2 Thick-billed Flowerpecker



Back on the road we traveled towards Kandy, stopping at Sigiriya, which is the site of an ancient rock fortress that's over 1600 years old. Tourists come here to climb the rock (nearly 200m high) and walk what is regarded as one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. We did not climb it.

Sigiriya Rock
We stopped short of the main tourist area to check out a wetland beside the road. Whilst there was not many birds here we did get to see our only Wooly-necked Stork of the tour. From here we wandered down to the Sigiriya gardens, which are at the foot the rock. Upali set up his scope and we had a view of a Brown Fish Owl in a tree hollow - Upali had been here before! Grey-bellied Cuckoo and Crimson-fronted Barbet were also good to see. A common Iora adult with three recently fledged young was also a nice sighting.

9/2/2018 Sigiriya Rock and Water Gardens, Central Province
Purple-rumped Sunbird

6 Lesser Whistling-Duck
3 Sri Lanka Junglefowl
1 Woolly-necked Stork
3 Indian Pond-Heron
1 Brahminy Kite
3 Grey-headed Swamphen 2 adult, 1 immature
2 Pheasant-tailed Jacana
2 Eurasian Collared-Dove
1 Spotted Dove
1 Grey-bellied Cuckoo
1 Brown Fish-Owl, in tree hollow.
1 Green Bee-eater
1 Crimson-fronted Barbet
4 Common Iora 1 adult, 3 recently fledged young
3 Black-hooded Oriole
1 Indian Paradise-Flycatcher
2 Red-vented Bulbul
1 Grey-breasted Prinia
1 Jungle Prinia
1 Indian Robin
1 White-rumped Shama
1 Thick-billed Flowerpecker
1 Purple-rumped Sunbird
1 White-rumped Munia
1 Tricolored Munia (Black-headed Munia).



After spending most of morning here we drove to Danbulla, 30 minutes away, where we found a bakery to buy a few goodies for lunch. We had previously stopped to fuel up and get a few bananas from a roadside stall. Then we arrived at the suburbs of Kandy to be greeted with a seemingly chaotic scene. Cars, trucks, buses and tuk tuk’s (3 wheel motorised rickshaws) jostling for road space resulting in a giant traffic jam.

We slowly moved along, at least we got to view the shops and the temples. Eventually arrived at our accommodation, the Swisse Hotel alongside Kandy Lake (Bogambara Lake), booked in and had a short break before heading out into the traffic again.

We traveled to the lovely Peradeniya Botanic Gardens on the outskirts of Kandy. The gardens were once reserved exclusively for Kandyan Royalty but now it is open to the public. The gardens cover 60 hectares making them the largest botanic garden in Sri Lanka. We managed to do some birding dodging the showers of rain. Saw a troupe of Long-tailed Macaques and good birds including Sri Lankan Hanging Parrot, Alexandrine Parakeet, Crimson Flanked Barbet and Hill Myna.

Black-hooded Oriole

9/2/2018 Kandy--Royal Botanic Gardens (Peradeniya), Central Province

Indian Pond-Heron
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Spotted Dove
White-throated Kingfisher
Brown-headed Barbet
Sri Lankan Hanging-Parrot
Alexandrine Parakeet
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike
Common Iora
Black-hooded Oriole
House Crow
Large-billed Crow
Red-vented Bulbul
Yellow-billed Babbler
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Southern Hill Myna
Common Myna


Then back to the hotel for a smorgasbord dinner.
Day 7 10/2/2018

Up for a 6.30am breakfast before getting onto the bus, saw two Black-crowned Night-heron roosting in a tree beside the Kandy Lake (Bogambara Lake) as we were leaving the Swisse Hotel. A short trip took us to the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary (Royal Forest Park of Kandy), a 257 acre historic forest reserve on a hill-ridge in Kandy. We wandered through the forest seeing more good birds, Asian Openbill with a freshwater mussel, Crimson-backed Flameback, Layard’s Parakeet, Brown-breasted Flycatcher and Cinereous Tit, formally a sub species of Great Tit but now a separate species.


Cinereous (Great) Tit
10/2/2018 Kandy--Udawatta Kele Sanctuary, Central Province
Asian Openbill

1 Asian Openbill
2 Spotted Dove
2 Crimson-fronted Barbet
2 Yellow-fronted Barbet
2 Crimson-backed Flameback
4 Alexandrine Parakeet, flyover
3 Rose-ringed Parakeet
6 Layard's Parakeet
2 Orange (Scarlet) Minivet (m and f)
6 House Crow
2 Cinereous (Great) Tit
1 Yellow-browed Bulbul
2 Square-tailed Bulbul
4 Sri Lanka White-eye
1 Brown-breasted Flycatcher
1 White-rumped Shama
2 Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
8 Southern Hill Myna
1 Pale-billed Flowerpecker
1 Purple-rumped Sunbird



After wandering around Udawatta Kele Sanctuary for 2½ hrs. we boarded the bus for the trip to Nuwara Ellya up in the hills at nearly 2000m. Stopped along the way get a takeaway lunch before taking a very windy road through tea plantations. Stopped at the Glenloch Tea Factory, which was busy with tourists (not like us!) and a tour of the factory organised, which was interesting. Upali worked his magic again and got us permission to eat our lunch in their cafe. Continue up the windy road, getting good views down into the valleys, until we reached the Stamford Star Hotel in Nuwara Ellya.

Had a 2 hr break before setting off to Victoria Park. Had good views of Indian Pitta, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Pied Thrush and Forest Wagtail. Met a birding tour group from Naturetrek who we had seen a few times before on our travels.

Indian Pitta
10/2/2018 Victoria Park, Central Province

3 Cattle Egret
6 Indian Pond-Heron
1 White-breasted Waterhen
3 Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon)
1 Spotted Dove
1 Indian Pitta
15 House Crow, estimate.
1 Yellow-eared Bulbul
1 Common Tailorbird
1 Brown-breasted Flycatcher
3 Oriental Magpie-Robin
1 Pied Thrush
14 Common Myna
1 Forest Wagtail
1 Grey Wagtail
2 House Sparrow







Returned to the hotel for a smorgasbord dinner, tried not to eat too much! Then back to the room to get organised for a 4.45am start the next morning.



Searching for Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Dull-blue Flycatcher and Sri Lanka Whistling-Thrush. 

Day 8 11/2/2018
Sri Lanka Bush Warbler
Dull-blue Flycatcher

Had a restless night due to a loud speaker blaring out local election results all night at 10 minute intervals, so getting up at 4.00am was difficult! We were met at 4.45 by two mini-buses, which were to take us up to Horton Plains National Park. We had the usual chaos at the park entrance with what must have been at least 100 mini-buses jostling for space. The gates opened at 6.00am and the rush began, most of the people were here to go walking so were not stopping at our birding areas. We stopped at a small wetland and waited for our target species. The mini-bus drivers were great at spotting birds without the aid of binoculars (young eyes!), and getting us on to them. We eventually got good views of Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Dull-blue Flycatcher and Sri Lanka Whistling-Thrush. 


Sri Lanka Whistling-Thrush

Further along the road we had our packed breakfast before going to the end of the road car park, seeing Samba Deer and a Wire-tailed Swallow, perched on powerlines with a flock of Barn Swallow. The wire-tail had an all white breast and throat with chestnut crown, long tail streamers, one broken (much longer than Barn Swallow). At the car park we had Hill Swallow. 


11/2/2018 Horton Plains N.P. 

1 Sri Lanka Junglefowl, heard.
1 Brahminy Kite
1 Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon
2 Small Minivet, male & female
6 Large-billed Crow
3 Hill Swallow
2 Barn Swallow
1 Wire-tailed Swallow,
1 Yellow-eared Bulbul
1 Sri Lanka Bush Warbler
1 Common Tailorbird
2 Sri Lanka White-eye
1 Oriental Magpie-Robin
2 Dull-blue Flycatcher
1 Sri Lanka Whistling-Thrush
2 Pied Bushchat, male & female.
2 Pale-billed Flowerpecker
Hill Swallow
1 Grey Wagtail



On the way back down to Nuwara Eliya we stopped at a roadside tea house for tea and spicy snacks as well as an area to do some birding. Found some good birds including Sri Lanka Wood-Pigeon, Brown-breasted Flycatcher and a pair of Kashmir Flycatcher.

11/2/2018 PBC Hwy, near Toppass, Central  Province

  1 Sri Lanka Wood-Pigeon
Sri Lanka Scimitar-Babbler
  3 Hill Swallow
  1 Plain Prinia
  1 Brown-breasted Flycatcher
  2 Kashmir Flycatcher m & f
  2 House Sparrow


Back to the hotel for an extended morning break.
Torque Macaque









3.00pm we were off from the hotel to visit the Botanic Gardens at Hakgala, 16 km from our hotel and established in 1861. This is another great birding location, standouts being Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Sri Lanka Scimitar-Babbler and Chestnut-backed Owlet, thanks to Upali for hearing it call and finding it. Also saw Torque Macaque Macaca sinica opisthomelas, which is a recently described sub-species from this area.






Chestnut-backed Owl
11/2/2018 Nuwara Eliya--Hakgala Botanical Gardens, Central Province

 Yellow-eared Bulbul

3 Sri Lanka Wood-Pigeon
2 Spotted Dove
1 Chestnut-backed Owlet
2 Yellow-fronted Barbet
1 Crimson-backed Flameback
2 Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher
6 Cinereous Tit
1 Yellow-eared Bulbul
6 Sri Lanka White-eye
2 Sri Lanka Scimitar-Babbler
2 Oriental Magpie-Robin
1 Dull-blue Flycatcher



Day 9 12/2/2018

6.30am breakfast and off to the lowlands. We wound our way down the road passing terraced hillside where it looked like mainly vegetables were being grown. Reached Ravana Falls for a morning snack stop, rice rolls and coffee. Wandered down to the falls before getting back onto the bus but we did not get far before some sharp-eyed person yelled out raptor, which bought us to a standstill and spilling out onto the road. It was a Black Eagle soaring overhead. Then back on the bus to continue the 2 hr journey to Pannegamuwa Lake. Best bird here was two Great Thick-knee.

Great Thick-knee

12/2/2018 Pannegamuwa Lake, Southern Province

Lesser Whistling-Duck
Little Cormorant
Oriental Darter
Spot-billed Pelican
Grey Heron
Great Egret
Little Egret
Cattle Egret
Indian Pond-Heron
Black-headed Ibis
Great Thick-knee
Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
Red-wattled Lapwing
Common Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper
Whiskered Tern


Jungle Owlet
Indian Scops Owl

It was then off to book into our accommodation at Hibiscus Gardens Hotel , Tissamaharama and have lunch. Had time to catch up on some sleep before we took off again at 3.00pm. Upali had three young boys checking out locations for owls in the area, a call from him confirmed they had found them. We duly met up with them and they guided us through the back ally’s and gardens and riverside to show us 2 Indian Scops-Owl, 2 Jungle Owlet and 1 Brown Fish-Owl, which took off down the river before we got a good look. No problem the boys knew where it went so we followed and got good looks without disturbing it any further. 

We then returned to Debarawewa Lake where we had good views of Mugger Crocodile lounging around in the lake. Good birds here were Yellow Bittern and good views of Green Imperial-Pigeon.

Mugger Crocodile
Cattle Egret
Black-headed Ibis

12/2/2018 Debarawewa Lake, Southern Province

Lesser Whistling-Duck
Cotton Pygmy-Goose
Painted Stork
Little Cormorant
Oriental Darter
Spot-billed Pelican
Yellow Bittern
Purple Heron
Great Egret
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Cattle Egret
Indian Pond-Heron
Black-headed Ibis
White-breasted Waterhen
Grey-headed Swamphen
Eurasian Moorhen
Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
Red-wattled Lapwing
Pheasant-tailed Jacana
Whiskered Tern 
Rock Dove
Spotted Dove
Green Imperial-Pigeon
White-throated Kingfisher
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Black-hooded Oriole
Barn Swallow
Yellow-billed Babbler
Common Myna

Day 10 13/2/2018

Left the hotel with our packed breakfast just after 5.00am to rendezvous with our Mahindra 4 x 4 safari jeeps at a temple. From here they took us to the Yala National Park. It was absolute chaos at the approach to the park entrance with safari jeeps as far as the eye could see jostling for position. Eventually got into the park at 6.20am and started to look for birds. We did see plenty of birds despite the presence of so many jeeps, mainly looking for Leopard, Sloth Bear and Elephants. Good views of Crested Serpent-Eagle, Crested Hawk-Eagle, Orange-breasted Pigeon, Crested Tree Swift, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Malabar Pied-Hornbill and Streaked Weaver. In addition our jeep saw a distant Leopard over the sea of other jeeps, Elephants, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, a huge Indian Python and a few Ruddy Mongoose.


Yala Traffic Jam

Asian Elephant

Leopard
Crested Hawk-Eagle
13/2/2018 Yala National Park (General), Southern Province

Brown Fish-Owl
Lesser Whistling-Duck
Sri Lanka Junglefowl
Asian Openbill
Painted Stork
Little Cormorant
Spot-billed Pelican
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Indian Pond-Heron
Eurasian Spoonbill
Crested Serpent-Eagle
Crested Hawk-Eagle
Brahminy Kite
White-breasted Waterhen
Grey-headed Swamphen
Red-wattled Lapwing
Pheasant-tailed Jacana
Whiskered Tern
Spotted Dove
Orange-breasted Pigeon
Sri Lanka Green-Pigeon
Green Imperial-Pigeon
Greater Coucal
1 Pied Cuckoo
1 Asian Koel (1F)
Brown Fish-Owl
Asian Palm-Swift
Crested Treeswift
Malabar Pied-Hornbill
Green Bee-eater
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
White-browed Fantail
Yellow-billed Babbler
Indian Robin
Common Myna
Purple Sunbird

Paddyfield Pipit
Streaked Weaver

Malabar Pied-Hornbill

Back for lunch and a Black Eagle flying over, a Blue-faced Malkoha and two Asian Koel. The afternoon was spent at Palatupana Salt Pan an internationally recognised area for migratory waders (shorebirds). Being off the tourist route we had the place to ourselves and were rewarded with some great birds such as Great Thick-knee, Kentish Plover, Pied Kingfisher and a Western Yellow Wagtail. Also seen were two Saunders Tern in a flock of Little Term, they showed a much larger area of black in the flight primaries than the Little Tern.

 
Pied Kingfisher


Lesser Sandplover
13/2/2018 Palatupana Salt Pan, Southern Province
Garganey
Little Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Indian Cormorant
Oriental Darter
Little Egret
Black-headed Ibis
Eurasian Spoonbill
Brahminy Kite
Great Thick-knee
Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
Grey Plover
Yellow-wattled Lapwing
Lesser Sand-Plover
1 Kentish Plover
Black-tailed Godwit
Eurasian Spoonbill
Ruddy Turnstone
Common Greenshank
Marsh Sandpiper
Common Redshank
Little Tern
2 Saunders's Tern
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
White-winged Black Tern
Whiskered Tern
Spotted Dove
1 Pied Kingfisher
Common Myna
1 Western Yellow Wagtail
1 Paddyfield Pipit
From here we visited a garden, which had a pair of breeding White-naped Woodpecker who were attending a nest in a palm tree. Great views. 

White-naped Woodpecker

Then another visit to Debarawewa Lake, where we had good views of Purple Heron,  Lesser Yellownape and a Shikra.

Purple Heron
Shikra

























White-breasted Waterhen




13/2/2018 Debarawewa Lake, Southern Province 

Purple Heron
1 Shikra
White-breasted Waterhen
Pheasant-tailed Jacana
Green Imperial-Pigeon
1 Asian Koel (1F)
Stork-billed Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Brown-headed Barbet
Lesser Yellownape
Black-hooded Oriole
Common Myna
Scaly-breasted Munia




Day 11 14/2/2018


Another early start at 5.30am to meet the safari jeeps for a visit to Bundala National Park, nowhere near as frenetic as Yala NP. First bird we saw was a Black Bittern, what a great start. This was followed by lots of good birds including Black-crowned Night-Heron, Grey-headed Fish-Eagle, Watercock and Indian Thick-knee. Stopped at the  information viewing platform to look over a small wetland.


Viewing Platform

We also saw one Pale Sand Martin, perched on powerlines with Barn Swallow for a good comparison. It had a brown-breast band and distinct notched tail when it flew. No tail streamers, no red around the face and throat as in Barn Swallow. We also saw Philippine Shrike, which is considered a sub-species of the Brown Shrike and a regular winter migrant to Sri Lanka. The taxonomy of these species is still trying to be resolved. Philippine Shrike has an overall lighter colour, grey nape and crown with more noticeable rufous rump whereas the Brown Shrike has a brown crown and nape. 


Brown (Philippine) Shrike
                            
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Barn Swallow

Indian Thick-knee


















 
14/2/2018 Bundala National Park (General), Southern Province

Painted Stork
Lesser Whistling-Duck
Indian Peafowl
Little Grebe
Painted Stork
Spot-billed Pelican
Black Bittern
Purple Heron
Cattle Egret
Indian Pond-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-headed Ibis
Brahminy Kite
Grey-headed Fish-Eagle
White-breasted Waterhen
Watercock
Indian Thick-knee
Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
Yellow-wattled Lapwing
Red-wattled Lapwing
Lesser Sand-Plover
Greater Sand-Plover
Pheasant-tailed Jacana
1 Eurasian Curlew
Spot-billed Pelican
Black-tailed Godwit
Pin-tailed Snipe
Common Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Common Redshank
Gull-billed Tern
Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon)
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Spotted Dove
Greater Coucal
Little Swift
White-throated Kingfisher
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Philippine Shrike.
Jerdon's Bushlark
1 Pale Sand Martin,
Barn Swallow
Red-vented Bulbul
Clamorous Reed Warbler
Yellow-billed Babbler
Indian Robin
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Rosy Starling
Common Myna
Purple Sunbird
Western Yellow Wagtail
House Sparrow
Scaly-breasted Munia


Rose-ringed Parakeet
Rose-ringed Parakeet





















The Yellow colour mutation of this wild Rose-ringed (Ring-necked) Parakeet did not prevent it from socialising with the normally coloured birds

Osprey (Western)
Adjacent to Bundala NP is the Hambantota Salt Pans, this extensive area of evaporation salt pans attracts huge numbers of migratory waders (shorebirds). We were not disappointed with such good birds as 6 Ruff, 9 Red-necked Phalarope, Kentish Plover, Green Sandpiper and a Western Osprey. Lots of other waders to challenge our identification skills!

Birding at Hambantota Salt Pans
14/2/2018 Hambantota Salt Pans, Southern Province

Kentish Plover
Painted Stork
Little Cormorant
Grey Heron
Great Egret
Little Egret
Eurasian Spoonbill
1 Osprey (Western).
Grey Plover
Pacific Golden-Plover
Lesser Sand-Plover
Greater Sand-Plover
Kentish Plover
Ringed Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Black-tailed Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
6 Ruff
Curlew Sandpiper
Little Stint
9 Red-necked Phalarope
Little Stint
Marsh Sandpiper
Common Redshank
Small Pratincole
Brown-headed Gull
Little Tern
Caspian Tern
White-winged Black Tern
Crested Tern
2 Pied Kingfisher
Barn Swallow

Eurasian Hoopoe
We returned to the bus in the jeeps and headed off to our next destination Uda Walawe stopping along the way to pick up some fruit. We arrived at our destination and checked into the Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort. It was grand, not like our usual hotel stays which are a bit more down market! Despite being an up market resort they did not deal in A$ so we could not change any money. The only dealt in $US, £ sterling, € euros and Japanese yen. Had a 30 minute break before traveling to Undawalawe National Park to pick up our jeeps. Plenty of Elephants in the park along with more great birds such as Jungle Prinia and Sirkeer Malkoha plus great views of two Hoopoe hopping around on the ground. 


Eurasian Hoopoe
Grey Langur






Beside the birds we also saw Torque Monkey, Gray langur (Hanuman langur), Spotted Deer and lots of Water Buffalo. The jeeps took us back to the resort, where we had a welcome shower before a smorgasbord dinner.








Water Buffalo


14/2/2018 Udawalawe National Park

Painted Stork
Little Cormorant
Indian Cormorant
Oriental Darter
Spot-billed Pelican
Grey Heron
Great Egret
Little Egret
Black-shouldered Kite (Eurasian)
Crested Serpent-Eagle
Crested Hawk-Eagle
Brahminy Kite
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Black-shouldered Kite (Eurasian)
White-breasted Waterhen
Red-wattled Lapwing
Greater Sand-Plover
Ringed Plover
Marsh Sandpiper
Whiskered Tern
Spotted Dove
Sri Lanka Green-Pigeon
Sirkeer Malkoha
Eurasian Hoopoe
Malabar Pied-Hornbill
Indian Roller
Coppersmith Barbet
Alexandrine Parakeet
Black-headed Cuckooshrike
Jerdon's Bushlark
Barn Swallow
Red-vented Bulbul
Jungle Prinia
Sirkeer Malkoha
Plain Prinia
Indian Robin
Common Myna
Purple Sunbird
Western Yellow Wagtail
Richard's Pipit

Day 12 15/2/2018
Coppersmith Barbet

Another early start, up at 5.00 and away by 5.15am to meet up with the jeeps to get into Udawalawe National Park. Once we got over usual chaos to get in we quickly lost most of the other jeeps as they were intent on tracking down Elephants. We headed down different tracks seeing Grey-headed Fish-Eagle, two Barred Buttonquail (m&f) on the road, Sri Lankan Swallow, Indian Swiftlet and three White-tailed Iora (also known as Marshall's Iora). These birds had broad white tertials, which stood out giving an appearance of two stripes in the wing. Black cap in male rather than black cap extending onto the back as in Common Iora. A good mammal sighting was a Golden Jackal slinking across the road and into the undergrowth and more sightings were had of Mugger Crocodile. Peacocks were particularly spectacular as they fanned out their tails to display to the peahens. They did not look quite so elegant up in the trees with their long tail hanging down though. We stopped to have our breakfast overlooking a wetland that had many birds in and around it aswell as Water Buffalo and Elephants. Continued looking 
Barred Buttonquail (m & f)
for birds until about 11.00am before we got back on the bus.







15/2/2018 Udawalawe National Park 

Indian Peafowl
Asian Openbill
Painted Stork
Oriental Darter
Spot-billed Pelican
Grey Heron
Great Egret
Barred Buttonquail (m)
Intermediate Egret
Cattle Egret
Indian Pond-Heron
Black-shouldered Kite (Eurasian)
Crested Serpent-Eagle
Brahminy Kite
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Grey-headed Fish-Eagle
White-breasted Waterhen
Black-winged Stilt (Eurasian)
Yellow-wattled Lapwing
Common Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper
Common Redshank
2 Barred Buttonquail (m & f)
Whiskered Tern
Spotted Dove
Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark
Sri Lanka Green-Pigeon
Greater Coucal
1 Asian Koel (1F)
Grey-bellied Cuckoo
Indian Swiftlet
Asian Palm-Swift
White-throated Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
Indian Roller
Coppersmith Barbet
Common Iora
3 White-tailed Iora,
Brown Shrike
Phillapine Shrike
Black-hooded Oriole
Large-billed Crow
Jerdon's Bushlark
Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark
Barn Swallow
Sri Lanka Swallow
Grey-breasted Prinia
1 Yellow-eyed Babbler
Yellow-billed Babbler
Indian Robin
Purple Sunbird


Indian Peafowl 

Sri Lanka Swallow





















Called into the carpark at the Elephant Transit Home to see an Indian (Collared) Scops Owl roosting in a tree before heading to Sinharaja. 



Indian Collared Scops Owl
Indian Paradise Flycatcher
It is about 65km to Sinharaja from Udawalawe along a very windy road through the mountains, which took around 2hrs. We stopped along the way to get lunch snacks. Arrived at Sinharaja Birders Lodge and checked into our basic but adequate accommodation. Had a rest before walking down the road to the Blue Magpie Lodge and stopping here to bird their grounds. Good birds seen here included Crested Tree Swift, Brown-capped Woodpecker, Plum-headed Parakeet, Golden-fronted Leafbird and white morph Indian (Asian) Paradise Flycatcher. Also had an Oriental Garden Lizard.

Crested Treeswift












15/2/2018 Sinharaja Birder's Lodge and Blue Magpie Lodge, Ratnapura, Sabaragamuwa Palata

Oriental Garden Lizard
Cattle Egret
Spotted Dove
Asian Palm-Swift
Crested Treeswift
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Yellow-fronted Barbet
Brown-capped Woodpecker
2 Plum-headed Parakeet (m & f)
Small Minivet
White-bellied Drongo
Indian Paradise Flycatcher
Red-vented Bulbul
Yellow-browed Bulbul
Oriental White-eye
2 Golden-fronted Leafbird
Pale-billed Flowerpecker

White-rumped Munia



Day 13 16/2/2018





Sri Lanka Frogmouth
Wow a lie in for a 6.00am breakfast. Left in two very secondhand jeeps at about 6.40 for a 10 minute drive to Sinharaja National Park office to organise paperwork. A parks ranger then took up up a short steep track to show us a Sri Lanka Frogmouth at it’s daytime roost. It was very small in comparison to our Australian frogmouths. 

The jeeps then drove up the narrow rocky track to the park gates at 1100m, had a rain shower along the way. At the gates we were met by our National Parks ranger who guided us along the track to a research station in a rainforest clearing. Birds along the way were challenging as they usually are in the rainforest but with our eagle eyed ranger and Upali we found many good birds including Sri Lanka (Crested) Drongo, Malabar Trogon, Ashy-headed Laughingthrush, White-throated (Legge’s) Flowerpecker and tantalising glimpses of Spot-winged Thrush. Near the research station we looked unsuccessfully for the Scaly Thrush. We did however find a highly venomous Hump-nosed Viper, also known as Merrem's Hump-nosed Viper, which I nearly trod on, luckily the ranger saw it and pulled me back. Then back to the gate for our packed lunch, which was delivered to us. 

Hump-nosed Viper


Ashy-headed Laughingthrush
Giant Forest Millipede







Black-tipped Flashwing



















Celon Tree Nymph
















A great view was had of a Palm Squirrel.


Palm Squirrel

Sri Lanka Junglefowl
16/2/2018 Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sabaragamuwa Palata (morning)



Sri Lanka Junglefowl
Green Imperial-Pigeon
1 Sri Lanka Frogmouth - male on nest.
Malabar Trogon
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Small Minivet
1 Brown Shrike (Philippine)
White-bellied Drongo
1 Sri Lanka Drongo
Sri Lanka Blue-Magpie
Red-vented Bulbul
Yellow-browed Bulbul
Square-tailed Bulbul
Orange-billed Babbler
Ashy-headed Laughingthrush
Asian Brown Flycatcher
1 Spot-winged Thrush
8 Sri Lanka Myna, flying over.
Southern Hill Myna
White-throated Flowerpecker
Green Garden Lizard

After lunch we started along the track again and saw a female Green Garden Lizard digging a hole to lay her eggs in, nearby was an endemic Hump-nosed Lizard, (also known as Hump Snout Lizard or Lyreshead Lizard) clinging to the side of a tree. It started to rain when we were about ⅔ way to the research station so decided to go back to the park gate. However before the rain we did see Red-faced Malkoha and White-faced Starling. The Green Garden Lizard had finished digging the hole and was laying eggs on our return back to the gate, where the rain turned monsoonal. Once it eased off the jeeps picked us up. We returned to the park office in the rain before sheltered on the veranda to watch the feeder. A Grey Hornbill came in to entertain us. Then it was back to the lodge for dinner.

Hump-nosed Lizard
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill

Asian Emerald Dove

16/2/2018 Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sabaragamuwa Palata (afternoon)

Asian Emerald Dove
Red-faced Malkoha
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
Sri Lanka Drongo
Yellow-eared Bulbul
Orange-billed Babbler
White-faced Starling







 

Day 14 17/2/2018

The two jeeps arrived at 5.30 to take us up into the mountains to “Spurfowl House”, a private home in the jungle owned by a bird friendly family. We were made to feel welcome in the very basic house, along with two other birding groups from the UK. We were peering through the small windows and door watching Sri Lanka Junglefowl as it started to get light. Then one of our target species appeared a Slaty-legged Crake shot across the garden path. Another crake appeared but out of view from our vantage point, this was a Ruddy-breasted Crake seen by some of our group but dipped by us. A Spot-winged Thrush started to forage within arms length from us – easy after yesterdays hard won glimpses. Then a magnificent male Spurfowl appeared, wow what a great bird, one of the hardest birds to see in Sri Lanka. 

Sri Lanka Spurfowl (m)
Spot-winged Thrush





After this excitement we all went outside, where we saw a Green-billed Coucal in the vegetation, a Sri Lanka Blue-Magpie, White-faced Starling and Sri Lanka (Hill) Myna.  Then we had our packed breakfast with tea from the lady of the house. This is a great example of eco-tourism, the owners of the property making some money to supplement their small income, which in turn is benefiting the continued preservation of the habitat for the birds.




Green-billed Coucal



Yellow-browed Bulbul






















Spurfowl House Birders
17/2/2018 Siharaja Forest Reserve (private property - no access), Sabaragamuwa 

1 Sri Lanka Spurfowl male
Sri Lanka Junglefowl
Slaty-legged Crake
Asian Emerald Dove
Green Imperial-Pigeon
Green-billed Coucal
Sri Lanka Blue-Magpie
Yellow-browed Bulbul
1 Orange-billed Babbler
1 Spot-winged Thrush
Sri Lanka Myna
White-faced Starling

Great mornings birding once again. Back down to the Lodge in the jeeps to collect our luggage. Saw 1 Yellow-fronted Barbet, 1 Square-tailed (Black) Bulbul, 1 Grey Wagtail as we were boarding the bus for the next destination, Kitulgala.

Yellow-fronted Barbet
Traveled north west to Ratnapura and then on to Avissawella before heading east, north, east, south, east, south, east, a circuitous route to Kitulgala to avoid the mountains. We stopped along the way at a tea house for some snacks and a coffee (2 days without one!), Booked into the Kitulgala Rest House, situated alongside the Kelani Ganga River. Very colonial feel with signs such as Cloak Room, a throw back to its British heritage. Kitugala is in the wet zone rainforest, which gets two monsoons each year, and is one of the wettest places in the country.

 Kelani Ganga River from Kitulgala Rest House
Square-tailed (Black) Bulbul



Birded around the grounds seeing Stork-billed Kingfisher on powerlines over the river, Layard’s Parakeet feeding in a tree plus Square-tailed (Black) Bulbul and Sri Lanka Hanging-parrot coming into a feeder.





17/2/2018 Kitulgala Rest House, Sabaragamuwa Palata 


Yellow-billed Babbler
Crested Hawk-Eagle
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Spotted Dove
Stork-billed Kingfisher
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Layard's Parakeet
Sri Lanka Hanging-Parrot
Black-hooded Oriole
Indian Paradise-Flycatcher
Red-vented Bulbul
Square-tailed (Black) Bulbul
Yellow-billed Babbler
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Common Myna
Pale-billed Flowerpecker
White-rumped Munia



Day 15 18/2/2018


Red-backed Woodpecker
Started birding around the rest house grounds and the river for 50 minutes at 6.15. Birds included Red-backed Woodpecker, which used to be a sub-species of Black--rumped Flameback (also known as lesser golden-backed woodpecker or lesser goldenback), Indian Swiftlet and Pale-billed Flowerpecker.

18/2/2018 Kitulgala Rest House, Sabaragamuwa Palata

Cattle Egret
Spotted Dove
Green Imperial-Pigeon
Indian Swiftlet
Asian Palm-Swift
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
Black-rumped Flameback
Red-backed Woodpecker
Layard's Parakeet
Sri Lanka Hanging-Parrot
Black-hooded Oriole
Red-vented Bulbul
Square-tailed (Black) Bulbul
Yellow-billed Babbler
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Common Myna
Pale-billed Flowerpecker
Purple-rumped Sunbird
White-rumped Munia

After breakfast we drove a short distance to the Police Station and birded along the road, passing several houses and ending up at a guest house under construction. Once again missed out on a Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, which some of the group saw. So continued along the road passing a small shop and hearing a familiar bird call, closer inspection reveal a cage in a backyard that was full of budgerigars! Found Tickles Blue Flycatcher, Crimson-fronted Barbet and the best bird of the morning a Black-backed (Oriental) Dwarf-Kingfisher, which everyone got to see well. We then went back to a cleared area to watch for raptors thermaling above the mountains. Saw 2 Oriental Honey-buzzard, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Shikra and Brahminy Kite. Whilst waiting for the raptors we noticed a Chestnut-backed Owlet going into hole in palm tree, probable nest, good views were had of this bird.
Oriental Honey-buzzard

18/2/2018 Kitulgala (General), Sabaragamuwa Palata

2 Oriental Honey-buzzard flyover
1 Rufous-bellied Eagle flyover
1 Shikra flyover
1 Brahminy Kite flyover
1 Chestnut-backed Owlet
Asian Palm-Swift
1 Black-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Crimson-fronted Barbet
Aleandrine Parakeet
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Red-vented Bulbul
Yellow-browed Bulbul
Square-tailed (Black) Bulbul
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
Oriental White-eye
Brown-capped Babbler
Orange-billed Babbler
Asian Brown Flycatcher
1 Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
Common Myna
White-rumped Munia

After lunch we went down a narrow road leading to the Maskeliya Oya (a tributary of the Kelani Ganga River) to the location, where the filming of "Bridge on the River Kwai" took place. There is now a Hydro-electric project being built here now. Despite this there were plenty of birds in the roadside vegetation, including Lesser Yellownape sub-species Picus chlorolophus wellsi, Green Warbler, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Long-billed Sunbird and our first sighting of a Black-capped Bulbul (also known as Black-headed Yellow Bulbul or Black-crested Bulbul).
White-bellied Drongo


18/2/2018 Kitulgala (General), Sabaragamuwa Palata 

Brahminy Kite
Asian Emerald Dove
Little Swift
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
White-throated Kingfisher
Lesser Yellownape
Sri Lanka Hanging-Parrot
Orange Minivet (m&f)
Black-hooded Oriole
White-bellied Drongo (White- vented)
Large-billed Crow
Black-capped Bulbul
Red-vented Bulbul
White-browed Bulbul
Yellow-browed Bulbul
Green Warbler
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Common Myna
Golden-fronted Leafbird
Long-billed Sunbird
White-rumped Munia

Day 16 19/2/2018

Birding around the grounds of the guest house at 6.30 am for an hour. Mainly checking out the river, where we had Asian Openbill, Little Egret Little Cormorant, Indian Pond Heron and 2 Grey Wagtail. Brahminy Kite flew over and Green Imperial Pigeon were in the riverside vegetation before flying over. Sri Lanka Hanging-Parrot along with Yellow-billed Babbler were at the rest house feeder again.

Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot

19/2/2018 Kitulgala Rest House, Sabaragamuwa Palata 

1 Asian Openbill
2 Little Cormorant
1 Little Egret
1 Indian Pond-Heron
1 Brahminy Kite flyover
6 Green Imperial-Pigeon
1 Greater Coucal
30 Indian Swiftlet estimate.
4 Asian Palm-Swift flyover
1 Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill flyover
1 Stork-billed Kingfisher
8 Aleandrine Parakeet flyover
3 Layard's Parakeet flyover
2 Sri Lanka Hanging-Parrot
5 Red-vented Bulbul
2 Square-tailed (Black) Bulbul
7 Yellow-billed Babbler
1 Oriental Magpie-Robin
4 Common Myna
2 Grey Wagtail
2 White-rumped Munia

Then breakfast before getting on the bus to leave at 8.15 am to go to the excellent Tamarind Tree Resort, where the tour had begun. Started off along winding roads through rubber plantations and small towns but as we neared Colombo the towns became larger, until it was one giant suburb. Called into the Tamarind Tree Resort to use their facilities then headed further into the suburbs. Some of the group wanted an opportunity to do some souvenir shopping so we stopped at a tourist area. We found a nice restaurant for lunch before we all met up and went back to the Tamarind Tree Resort. Later in the afternoon some of us went for a bird walk around the resort, nothing new but good looks at Brown-headed Barbet, Black-rumped Flameback (Lesser Flameback) and Small Minivet.

19/2/2018 Tamarind Tree Resort, Western Province 


Small Minivet (m)
1 Indian Pond-Heron
2 Black-headed Ibis flyover
4 Pheasant-tailed Jacana In adjacent wetland.
2 Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon)
6 Spotted Dove
1 Greater Coucal
1 Asian Koel
1 Blue-tailed Bee-eater
1 Brown-headed Barbet
1 Black-rumped Flameback
2 Small Minivet (m & f)
1 Black-hooded Oriole
1 White-bellied Drongo
3 House Crow
9 Large-billed Crow
1 Red-vented Bulbul
13 Yellow-billed Babbler
1 Oriental Magpie-Robin
8 Common Myna
4 Long-billed Sunbird 


Purple-rumped Sunbird (Juv)
 Day 17 20/2/2018

Last Day was to be a rest day for us as we were getting a late flight out of Colombo at 10.00 pm. In the morning did a walk around the grounds and adjacent wetland. This wetland only had a family of Pheasant-tailed Jacana and the grounds had the usual species we had seen on previous days.


20/2/2018 Tamarind Tree Resort, Western Province

1 Asian Koel
1 Rose-ringed Parakeet
1 Black-hooded Oriole
13 Large-billed Crow
1 Red-vented Bulbul
4 Yellow-billed Babbler
4 Purple-rumped Sunbird
3 Long-billed Sunbird

Black-rumped Flameback
(Lesser Goldenback)
An afternoon walk found a pair of Black-rumped Flameback nesting in a palm tree in the resorts vegetable garden. This was a great finish to a most enjoyable tour.

20/2/2018 Tamarind Tree Resort, Western Province

2 Indian Pond-Heron
2 Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon)
2 Spotted Dove
1 Greater Coucal
1 Brown-headed Barbet
2 Black-rumped Flameback
1 Black-hooded Oriole
17 Large-billed Crow
7 Red-vented Bulbul
6 Yellow-billed Babbler
1 Asian Brown Flycatcher




Caught a 10.00pm flight out of Colombo to Singapore, then back to Cairns.



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