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Sri Lanka, 2 day trip in May 2015

SRI LANKA

April 2015

I suddenly saw myself on a plane to Colombo, Sri Lanka, when my wife asked if I wanted to visit some friends and acquaintances.

Direct flight from Bangkok was a breeze and since I had gotten my visa online I also sailed through immigrations and customs.

Cab to downtown Colombo cost 30US which is a lot more then Bangkok.
Generally transportation was a little higher here then Thailand but the food was cheaper and portions more generous.

1st morning at our friend’s place got me out of bed to the familiar sounds of Asian Koel and Brown-headed Barbet (lifer), the latter sounding just like Lineated Barbet in SEA.

Big flocks of Rose-ringed Parakeets noisily made themselves known. Common Tailorbird was obvious and another lifer, Red-vented Bulbul showed well.

So what does one do when one only have a couple of days on hand for birding? Either visit some local wetland patches on my own or hire someone for some wooded area. I much prefer the last option as Sri Lanka has so many potential lifers for me and the hassle of doing it on my own didn’t quite appeal.

Going through the internet I found very few trip reports outside of the regular full tours. Eventually I ended up on http://birdwingnature.com/ where Amila Salgada has not only trip reports but also offered day trips from Colombo. Since it was Singalese New Year it was not easy to get hold of Amila but someone gave him a call for me and things quickly were arranged.

Amila with driver picked me up at 6:00 AM. We did a quick stop at some wetlands but I encouraged him to keep going to the hills of Kithulgala. At the wetlands there were loads of Black-faced Ibisis, Indian and Little Cormorants, a few Spot-billed Pelicans and lots of various Heron/Egrets.

Our destination wasn’t very far away but the road is only a 2 lane road and with all the traffic it did take quite some time. Still, I enjoyed the scenery and getting to see a bit of the landscape.
We stayed at a very nice hotel by the name Plantation Hotel. The room was rustic, had great AC and working WiFi. The food was excellent, both the buffet with local cuisine as well as the a la carte for the dinner meal. Sri Lanka also has some excellent beers produced by Lion Brewery.

The restaurant was located next to the river so great views while dining.

Amila took me to his birding spots and we kept adding both endemics as well as birds also found in India. Bird density was good so there were not many quiet moments. The monsoons had started and the predictable rains set in on the dot. Back to the hotel for some rest and then back out again once it stopped. The 1st day we birded on the same side of the river as the hotel. The 2nd day we crossed the river which soon opened up into a rural area with lush plantations and birds buzzing around. In the end I ended up with a good haul of lifers and some excellent birding. 17 out of 33 endemics!

Some of the highlights:


1. Serendip Scops Owl: Only recently discovered this little owl is a magnet for most birders. Thankfully it tends to perch on regular roosts so it was a pretty strait forward find.
2. Spotted Thrush: Such a lovely song this endemic zoothera has. As most zootheras it prefers the ground but came in to play back and sang for the longest from a bush at eye level about 4 meters from me.
3. Red-faced Malkoha: A cracking looking bird that unfortunately prefers it high in the canopy. Hard to get good looks at.
4. Chestnut-backed Owlet: Endemic bird with some color to it. One seen well in the scope early morning.
5. Sri Lankan Grey Hornbill: Showed well on many an occasion.

Amila speaks fluent English, is well educated and extremely extroverted. We had many an interesting conversation covering everything from A to Z.
Thank you Amila for an enjoyable trip.

1. Sri Lanka Spurfowl – endemic
2. Sri Lanka Junglefowl – endemic
3. Indian Pond Heron
4. Grey Heron
5. Little Egret
6. Cattle Egret
7. Gr
House Crow
House Crow
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Indian Scops Owl
Indian Scops Owl
Serendib Scops Owl
Serendib Scops Owl
Chestnut-backed Owlet
Chestnut-backed Owlet
Square-tailed Black Bulbul
Square-tailed Black Bulbul
White-bellied Drongo
White-bellied Drongo
Sri Lanka Crested Drongo
Sri Lanka Crested Drongo
Yellow-bibbed Babbler
Yellow-bibbed Babbler
Yellow-bibbed Babbler
Yellow-bibbed Babbler
Orange-billed Babbler
Orange-billed Babbler
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
Lesser Yellownape
Lesser Yellownape
Lesser Yellownape
Lesser Yellownape
Black-rumped Flameback
Black-rumped Flameback
Spot-winged Thrush
Spot-winged Thrush
Spot-winged Thrush
Spot-winged Thrush
Spot-winged Thrush
Spot-winged Thrush
Loten's Sunbird
Loten's Sunbird
Purple-rumped Sunbird
Purple-rumped Sunbird
Purple-rumped Sunbird
Purple-rumped Sunbird
Kangaroo Lizzard
Kangaroo Lizzard
Kangaroo Lizzard
Kangaroo Lizzard