Sri Lanka - 4th January to 11th January 2010

Published by Ray Kite (raymond.kite AT

Participants: Ray Kite, Raja Gnanam, Guide Upali Ekanayake


Arrived Colombo from London very early morning 5th January 2010. I was met by my guide Upali Ekanayake. I would start by saying that this trip was made by the birding guide I had. Upali Ekanayake ( whose ability to recognise bird calls and make them was amazing.

His knowledge of the birds and where to find them was fantastic and I would recommend him for any birding trip to Sri Lanka.

We set off for from the airport for SINHARAJA RAIN FOREST. It took nearly 5 hours. We checked into our hotel the Rainforest Edge, a small hotel with seven rooms. In the afternoon we went up to the forest which was about an hour from the hotel, in kilometres quite near but the road was very bad and only a jeep can make it. Be prepared for a very uncomfortable ride.

Here we saw mainly endemic species, the highlight was a male Sri Lankan Frogmouth on a nest near the research station, quite close to the path. The Ceylon Blue Magpies also near the research station are show offs and seem to enjoy being photographed.

We repeated the trip the next morning and our Sinharaja guide found another Frogmouth very close to the path and we were able to get some really close shots.

I had a disaster slipping and banging my telephoto lens so I could not focus it and the longest lens I had was 100mm Macro lense not very good for bird photography. In the afternoon as I could not use my camera we decided to stay around the Lodge and look at the birds through Upali’s scope.

The area is open with some large trees with dead branches so we were able to see a lot of different birds.

The next morning we left early for YALA NATIONAL PARK a journey of about four hours. We arrived at Yala Village the hotel we were staying at (the nearest hotel to the park). Here Upali arranged for me to borrow another lens from a friend of his, which was very kind. I had had visions of not being able to take any more photographs.

This is a great spot the hotel has an access road of about 10k with lots of water to see waders, (the water level was very high due to unusual heavy rains) and in front of the hotel is a large lake with many different birds. There is also a good observation deck above the restaurant. We arrived before lunch and took a jeep tour in the afternoon. This is the only way, as you must remain in the vehicle at all times (stop as many times as you like though) and a National Park guide is with you at all times.

We did not see any leopards that afternoon, although there was a recent kill but no leopard to eat it. We saw many birds and other fauna. (I will list them at the end of report for the 8th including birds we saw around the hotel and its environs).

On the 8th January 2010 we got into the jeep at 0530 to be one of the first into the park, hoping to see a leopard out for his morning stroll and we were rewarded. It was still not fully light and we saw a large male lying in the road, he slowly moved into the brush but only a few yards off the road so could be clearly seen, it was very exciting.

In the afternoon we went to BUNDULA NATIONAL PARK and again went via jeep with a BNP guide and driver. The highlight of this afternoon and possibly the whole trip (this vs Leopards) was watching a Grey-headed Fish Eagle scanning the water before taking off, dropping into the water, struggling to take off again with a large fish in its talons, landing on a log on the shore to dry its wings before taking its catch into a tree to eat, the fish still wriggling. All at close quarters.

We left after Breakfast on 9th January 2010 to go to NUWARA ELIYA where we stayed at the Hill Club and arrived at lunch time and we visited some local birding hotspots in the afternoon

On the 10th January 2010 we visited HAKGALA BOTANICAL GARDENS in the morning (Just 10 kms away from Nuwara Eliya City, it is the place where flora from far and wide are seen at home as well as many different types of birds. The site has a mythical connotation with many believing that it was once the pleasure garden of the demon king Ravana of the epic Ramayana epic and the very place where the beautiful Sitha was hidden. It was only in 1860 that the present botanical garden was founded by the British botanist Dr. G.H.K. Thwaites).

After lunch we set off back to Colombo just under a five hour journey.
At my hotel in Colombo (Hilton) was a White-throated Kingfisher who used the bush just outside the restaurant as a fishing perch.

At the end of the trip I had seen 134 different species.

Species Lists

Indian Pond Heron, Ceylon Jungle Fowl, Asian Brown and Brown-breasted Flycatcher, Dark-fronted Babbler, Ceylon Rufous Babbler, Yellow-billed Babbler, Scaly-breasted Munia, Common Myna, White-bellied Drongo, House and Jungle Crows, Spotted Dove, Emerald Dove, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Layards Parakeet, Green-billed Coucal, Greater Coucal, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Indian Swiftlet, Brown-throated Needletail, Grey-rumped Treeswift, Malabar Trogon, Brown-headed Barbet, Barn Swallow, Orange Minivet, Black-capped Yellow Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, White-browed Bulbul, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Himalayan Black Bulbul, Spot-winged Ground Thrush, Bright Green Warbler, Pale-billed Flowerpecker, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Long-tailed Sunbird, Ceylon Scimitar Babbler, Ceylon Hanging Parrot, Crested Drongo, White-rumped Munia, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Black Hooded Oriole and Common Iora, Brahminy Kite, Great Thick-knee, Black-winged Stilt, Green Imperial Pigeon, Little Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Oriental Darter, Spot-billed Pelican, Grey Heron, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Eurasian Spoonbill, Hoopoe, Malabar Hornbill, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Black-backed Robin, Oriental Magpie Robin, Brahminy Starling, Paddyfield Pipit, Indian Nightjar, Plaintive Cuckoo, Rock Pigeon, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Greater Painted Snipe, Pintail Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Mongolian Plover, Grey Plover, White-bellied Fish Eagle, Lesser Whistling Duck, Black-headed Ibis, Painted Sork, Asian Open-billed Stork, Intermediate Egret, Western Reef Egret, Oriental Darter, Collared Scops Owl, Crested Serpent Eagle, Yellow Bittern, Common Kingfisher, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Rosy Starling, Streaked Weaver, Ashy Prinia, Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark, Indian Roller, Whiskered Tern, Caspian Tern, Great Crested Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Brown-headed Gull, Eurasian Curlew, Great Thick-knee, White-breasted Waterhen, Common Moorhen and Purple Heron, Oriental White eye, Sri Lankan White Eye, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Dull Blue Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Pied Bushchat, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Brown Shrike and Stork-billed Kingfisher, Sri Lankan Wood Pigeon, Black-throated Munia, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Flame Minivet, Black-rumped Flameback and Greater Flameback, Indian Pitta, Brown-breasted Flycatcher and Hill Myna.