Although this was a holiday, (honeymoon in fact), rather than a specific birding trip, Sri Lanka has a wealth of easily seen birds to keep a birder happy. Being mainly a Buddhist country there is no hunting, (it's a years imprisonment for killing a water monitor!), making the birds and wildlife tame and approachable.
For this trip with Kuoni we did a seven-day tour, (the cultural triangle, Kandy and the Hill country), followed by five nights at a beach resort, during which time we did a day trip to Sinharaja. A trip list of 130 species with 14 endemics was a good total.
I would certainly recommend Sri Lanka for a cultural-non-birding/birding holiday, friendly people, great food, fantastic scenery and temples, and plenty of good birds.
22nd August 2002, Colombo
23rd, Pennewalla, Sigiriya
24th, Habarana, Polnnaruwa
25th, Habarana to Kandy via Dambulla and Aluvihara
27th, Kandy to Nuwara Eliya via Devon bungalow
28th, Nuwara Eliya to Hambantota via Uda Walawe
29th, Hambantota to Bentota via Galle
30th-2nd Sept, Bentota with Sinharaja on the 1st
1 Spot-billed Pelican, one on Topa Wewa at Polonnaruwa 2 Little Cormorant, frequent throughout 3 Great Cormorant
4 Oriental Darter, 2 Habarana, one Polonnaruwa 5 Grey Heron
6 Purple Heron
7 Intermediate Egret
8 Little Egret
9 Great Egret
10 Cattle Egret
11 Indian Pond Heron
12 Black-crowned Night Heron, 2 Habarana, one Citadel Hotel, Candy 13 Striated Heron, one Bentota 14 Painted Stork, 70+ at waterhole, and 20 in flight, Uda Walawe 15 Asian Openbill, 10+ north of Colombo, lots at reservoir Polonnaruwa (100+) 16 Woolly-necked Stork, 12 Topa Wewa, Polonnauwa, 4 Uda Walawe 17 Black-headed Ibis, seen regularly in the paddies with many at Polonnaruwa and 20 at Uda Walawe 18 Eurasian Spoonbill, 12 Uda Walawe 19 Little Grebe, 5 Habarana 20 Lesser Duck Whistling, 30 Habarana, 20 near Hambantota 21 Oriental Honey Buzzard, one Devon waterfall on 27th Aug 22 Brahminy Kite, seen Colombo, Habarana, Kandy, Hambantota, Bentota 23 Black Kite, one Colombo 23rd Aug 24 Rufous-bellied Eagle, sub-ad and ad from Martin's, Sinharaja on 1st Sept 25 Shrika, juv Sigiriya, 3 juvs Citadel hotel, one Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy 26 Black-winged Kite, seen twice on journeys and Uda Walawe 27 Crested Serpent Eagle, one Devon waterfall 28 Black Eagle, one distant near Aluvihara, one Sinharaja 29 Changeable Hawk Eagle, one Habarana, 3 Uda Walawe 30 White-bellied Fish Eagle, ad over res Polonnaruwa, one imm Royal Bot Gardens, and one ad Citadel, Kandy, pair Uda Walawe, one near Bentota 31 Grey-headed Fish Eagle, ad and juv seen very well Habarana 32 Shaheen, one cruised past summit, Sigiriya, one high over Citadel Hotel, Kandy 33 Barred Buttonquail, lots (20-30), on trails after rain at Uda Walawe, 28th Aug 34 Sri Lankan Junglefowl, several males and one female, Sinharaja 35 Indian Peafowl, many at Uda Walawe 36 White-breasted Waterhen, seen at Habarana, Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy and Bentota 37 Pheasant-tailed Jacana, lots in non-br/juv at Habarana 38 Black-winged Stilt 39 Red-wattled Lapwing, first 2 seen north of Colombo, then 8 Habarana, pair Citadel, Kandy, several Uda Walawe, 2 pair Hambantota 40 Kentish Plover, 2 Hambantota 41 Lesser Sand Plover, one Uda Walawe 42 Whimbrel, odd birds on the coast 43 Greenshank, one Uda Walawe 44 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Uda Walawe 45 Common Sandpiper, 2 Pennewalla, 3 Uda Walawe 46 Great Crested Tern, 8 feeding offshore from Bentota beach 47 Bridled Tern, steady passage south well off shore from Bentota beach 48 Spotted Dove 49 Emerald Dove, one male very close on track, Sinharaja 50 Pompadour Green Pigeon, several small flocks near Habarana, 8 H.Citadel, Kandy 51 Green Imperial Pigeon, 20+ Sinharaja 52 Sri Lankan Hanging Parrot, one in flight from Martin's, Sinharaja 53 Alexandrine Parakeet, 2 & 6 seen Uda Walawe 54 Rose-ringed Parakeet, Habarana, many small groups going to roost over Hotel Citadel, Kandy, smaller numbers elsewhere. 55 Layard's Parakeet, 2 seen in flight, H.Citadel, Kandy, good view of male and several in flight, Sinharaja 56 Blue-faced Malkoha, one seen from elephant, Habarana 57 Asian Koel, 1f Polonnaruwa, 1f, overs heard Hotel Citadel,1m Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy, 1f Uda Walawe, 3 Hambantota, Bentota beach hotel 58 Greater Coucal, Uda Walawe 59 Pied Cuckoo, one Habarana 60 Malabar Pied Hornbill, 2 pairs Uda Walawe and a group of 10 seen towards Hambantota 61 House Crow
62 Large-billed Crow
63 Malabar Trogon, one female seen well, Sinharaja 64 Stork-billed Kingfisher, Habarana 65 White-throated Kingfisher, common and widespread 66 Common Kingfisher, Habarana, Kandy 67 Pied Kingfisher, Habarana 68 Little Green Bee-eater, regularly seen, Sigiriya, Habarana, Uda Walawe 69 Indian Roller one Pennewalla, 2 Uda Walawe 70 Coppersmith Barbet, seen at Sigiriya, Kandy 71 Brown-headed Barbet common seen at Pennewalla, Kandy, Uda Walawe
After the initial excitement of my first, this proved to be a common bird in the lowlands. It's distinctive call echoing around the plantations and gardens.
72 Yellow-fronted Barbet, one seen from restaurant, Aluvihara 73 Lesser Yellownape, pair Aluvihara, several Sinharaja 74 Black-rumped Woodpecker, one male golden-backed race seen from elephant, Habarana, one male red-backed race Uda Walawe, one red-backed race seen very well Sinharaja 75 White-naped Woodpecker, one male Uda Walawe 76 Rufous-winged Lark, lots Uda Walawe 77 Paddyfield Pipit, one along edge of tank, Habarana, 2 Hambamtota 78 Crested Treeswift, several Sigiriya, Aluvihara 79 Asian Palm Swift, regular, seen at Sigiriya, Habarana, Kandy, Devon waterfall 80 Brown-backed Needletail, 3 Sinharaja 81 Little Swift, 100's Sigiriya, Habarana, Devon waterfall 82 Indian Swiftlet, 2+ Sinharaja 83 Barn Swallow, 20-30 Uda Walawe 84 Red-rumped Swallow, 2 Sigiriya, Habarana, Uda Walawe 85 Common Woodshrike, one Habarana 86 Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, 2 Aluvihara 87 Small Minivet, 3 Habarana 88 Flame Minivet, pair on way too, and a pair at Sinharaja 89 Black-headed Cuckooshrike, 1m Habarana, 90 Large Cuckooshrike, 3 in trees near resthouse at Sigiriya 91 Black-headed Yellow Bulbul, several Habarana,7 Sinharaja 92 Red-vented Bulbul, common 93 Yellow-eared Bulbul, pair near golf course Nuwara Eliya, and another pair on journey
A Hill Country endemic this colourful bulbul was found around the golf course along with Sri Lankan White-eyes, just outside the slightly faded colonial grandeur of the Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya.
94 Yellow-browed Bulbul, 3 Sinharaja 95 Black Bulbul, 2 seen in flight in hill country, 2 Sinharaja 96 Common Iora, seen Sigiriya one female, Habarana 97 Jerdon's Leafbird, male Habarana, male Uda Walawe 98 Black-hooded Oriole, common Habarana, Kandy, Bentota 99 Oriental Magpie Robin, Habarana, Kandy 100 Pied Bushchat
101 Black-backed Robin, 3m, 1f around base of Sigiriya, Habarana, Uda Walawe 102 Spot-winged Thrush, one seen very well in the rain along stream, between HQ and Martin's 103 Brown-capped Babbler, one H.Citadel, Kandy 104 Indian Scimitar-babbler
105 Dark-fronted Babbler, 2 in bird flock Sinharaja 106 Orange-billed Babbler, 30+ leaders of the bird flocks, Sinharaja 107 Yellow-billed Babbler, flocks seen at Habarana,Aluvihara, Kandy, Bentota beach hotel 108 Ashy-headed Laughingthrush, one seen briefly Sinharaja 109 Grey-breasted Prinia, one Devon bungalow 110 Plain Prinia, one seen between Habarana and Polonnaruwa 111 Ashy Prinia, common in scrubby grass, Uda Walawe 112 Common Tailorbird, one Devon bungalow, Bentota beach hotel 113 Black-naped Monarch, one male Sinharaja 114 Asian Paradise-flycatcher, 2 seen from coach near Habarana 115 White-browed Fantail, 2 Sigiriya 116 Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, one Nuwara Eliya 117 Great Tit, 2 Aluvihara, Devon bungalow, Nuwara Eliya 118 Pale-billed Flowerpecker regular, seen at Pennewalla, Habarana, Sinharaja 119 Thick-billed Flowerpecker, 1+ Uda Walawe 120 White-throated Flowerpecker, one male seen well, others briefly, a nest in view from Martin's, Sinharaja 121 Purple-rumped Sunbird common, seen at Pennewalla, Sigiriya, Habarana, Kandy, Sinharaja, Bentota 122 Long-billed Sunbird, pair Aluvihara, pair H.Citadel, Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy, Devon bungalow, Nuwara Eliya , Uda Walawe, Bentota 123 Purple Sunbird, eclipse male and female, Uda Walawe, the only ones seen 124 Oriental White-eye, 4 Aluvihara, 6 Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy, Devon bungalow 125 Sri Lankan White-eye, 10 around golf course, Nuwara Eliya 126 White-rumped Munia, one Habarana, 12 H.Citadel, Kandy 127 Scaly-breasted Munia, 2 around base of Sigiriya. One Habarana, 3 H.Citadel, Kandy 128 House Sparrow 129 Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, 2 crested, pos split, Sinharaja 130 White-bellied Drongo, 2 white-vented race Aluvihara, 2 white-bellied Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy,one white-bellied Devon bungalow 131 White-faced Starling, one seen extremely well low down and close, another seen high, Sinharaja
A day trip to the rainforest at Sinharaja with Amila from Jetwing Eco proved a fantastic experience for me, if less so for Sally who came down with the travel bug that had been going around our group. The endemic starling is usually a canopy bird so we were very lucky to get some great eye-level views. Other highlights were Spot-winged Thrush, Legge's Flowerpecker and Malabar Trogon.
132 Sri Lankan Myna, 15+ scoped from Martin's, Sinharaja 133 Hill Myna, pair and 5 seen from Hotel Citadel, Kandy, one Devon bungalow 134 Common Myna