This morning's breakfast was to be without the Sri Lanka Blue Magpies, but the upside was that I was now wise to the feast of curry that was to be had from kitchen (in addition to the obligatory omelette and toast of course). Jith and I set off, at a snail's pace, to the information centre just up from the lodge. We didn't spend quite as much time here as yesterday, but enough to pick up singing Golden-fronted Leafbird above us, and perched White-bellied Drongo to the side.
Danu had called in sick earlier in the morning (or was a day and a half of me more than he could manage?) to be replaced by Kandu, the very person who inhumanly guided us to the Serendib Scops Owl the previous afternoon. As we ambled off, Jaya calmly mentioned to Jith that he had just seen a Green Vine Snake. Not much to him, but this was hovering around the top of my wish list. Regrettably, minutes of hard standing still next to the allotted tree proved fruitless.
We set off into the reserve, with Jith mumbling his wish list of local specialities missed up until now to Kandu. No pressure from me, I have to say, since all would be nice, but any missed would in no way detract from enjoyable birding. The initial part of the track was quiet, although I did manage to get slightly longer video shots of the frustratingly common yet skulking Dark-fronted Babbler clans. Then the nadir - Kandu pointed out a Green Vine Snake right next to the path. It was worth the wait, showing as an incredibly slender, lime green visage with a pointed face. Some time just had to be spent taking in this little beauty!
Next stop of note was the research station, where a collection of Orange-billed Babblers was found to contain 3 Red-faced Malkohas. Unfortunately favouring the canopy, they were still easy to discern - this is one of the endemics which is more or less a speciality of the reserve. A lone Malabar Trogon was also in attendance, but was more of a bystander than member of the gang of Babblers. Just over the stream adjacent to the station was a Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, with a further 2 in the minor track taken looking for additional species.
We rejoined the main track to a singing Golden-fronted Leafbird and agitated Scarlet Minivets. The object of their scorn was a perched and totally nonplussed Crested Goshawk. Faint drumming was heard further along, but it took some time, and a perched Malabar Trogon, before a pair of Crimson-backed Goldenbacks flew into view. They flitted back and forth and scaled trunks constantly within a small area before disappearing. A Sri Lanka Scimitar-Babbler was next to the track, but no less easy to pin down for any appreciable length of time.
The final stretch of the track back to the lodge was quiet, but good enough to introduce another of its endemics, yet another skulker par excellence in the form a rather warmly plumaged Brown-capped Babbler.
The afternoon session was to take us away from the reserve itself for the first time, and walk the 1.5 km to the village below. This was the very same which had housed Jaya's car for the last couple of days, but we forsake the rather easy if not bumpy 4x4 for 2xfeet. As is only expected for the afternoon, our descent was heralded by the onset of the day's rain, although it wasn't particularly heavy (yet).
The track down to the village was uneventful, save for a pair of Sri Lanka Grey Hornbills, one of which was directly over the track itself. Once at the bridge, a pair of White-throated Kingfishers were patiently weighing up the possibility of fish suppers, and a Little Cormorant was still on the same rock it had occupied during our arrival previously. The village started to darken with the thickening and threatening rain clouds, leaving the Greater Coucal and pair of roaming Sri Lanka Swallows to be perused in very poor light.
The prime objective of the walk was for Green-billed Coucal, which is reputed to be a better bet here than the forest further up. Time needs to be devoted to this task, so the deluge that welcomed our search did not help at all. Suffice to say that we abandoned this fruitless soaking after only a cursory look along the road.