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Day 5 (Tuesday, 31st March)


 

The earliest start so far - a 5.30am departure from the hotel - was with the intention of springing a surprise on the early rising Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush. So, back to the road corner with vegetable stall we headed, and peered into the morning gloom. Thankfully, this was worth the effort, since we did glimpse the bird in the open for a few seconds, albeit in the still rising light. Further searching down at the stream failed to provide a better look. While standing at the corner, the first of what proved to be many Yellow-eared Bulbuls put in an appearance. The stall also proffered its own little surprise - it doubled as a home, since a pair of folk emerged from it. A curious Mountain Squirrel found this to its taste, since it tried to venture a nose around the shack before common sense prevailed.

A short drive towards the hotel took a sharp right before the head of the lake in town. The target was the forest beyond, but the vegetable gardens en route provided a few interesting titbits. Some of the more common birds find the mix of cultivated carrots, beetroot and other edible goodies much to their liking, and we were stopped initially by a pair of Pied Bushchats on wires. Underneath, an active Ashy Prinia was both feeding and singing in rotation. 2 to 3 Scaly-breasted Munias, shared the lines at one time with the Bushchats.

Yellow-eared Bulbul

Yellow-eared Bulbul

Gardens

Pied Bushchat

Nuwaraeliya vegetable gardens

Pied Bushchat

Ashy Prinia

Indian Jungle Crow

Ashy Prinia

Indian Jungle Crow

After this short interlude, Jaya parked up at the start of the forest, and we proceeded along the tarmac track. Some of the birds from the botanical gardens the previous afternoon proved common here as well - Cinereous Tit, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher and White-eyes (although the majority here looked to be Oriental) were joined by Yellow-eared Bulbuls.

We took a cut up into the forest, disturbing an impressive stag Sambar Deer in the process. His wallow holes would be found during our wanderings here. The objective was to locate Sri Lanka Bush-Warbler, which is a task not to be taken lightly, due to its skulking habits and general silence. We wandered the forest looking close to the ground for some time without good fortune, but adequate recompense came in the form of Crimson-backed Goldenback and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo. Both were frustratingly brief, but much closer encounters were to be had with Grey-headed Canary-Flycatchers and Dull-blue Flycatchers, not to mention the multitude of busy Mountain Squirrels and small troop of Purple-faced Leaf-monkeys. We seemed to be out of luck with the target bird, so Jith decided to start back down and out of the forest. Providence prevailed - a pair of Sri Lanka Bush Warblers showed themselves, one in particular was on a log not far from us for enough time to scour its details, before reverting back to standard behaviour and appearing under cover occasionally.

Forest

Dull-blue Flycatcher

Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher

Dull-blue Flycatcher

Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher


A trip to Victoria Park followed breakfast - trip being an inadequate description of the few hundred metres to this next site. The park is a recreational garden, so we were to follow the paths through cut lawns and imported vegetation. Much of the birdlife here is of common species, even though there were one or two new to the trip, but the reason for the visit was to find Pied Thrush, a winter visitor which seems to have a sweet bill for some of the berry bushes. It was in one of these that we found our quarry, well hidden in the branches and leaves, sharing its doorstep feast with Red-vented Bulbuls and Common Mynas. A Brown Shrike on the way here was difficult to approach. A litter strewn stream through the park proved surprisingly good for one or two extra birds, notably an unexpected pair of Common Sandpipers, and 1-2 Forest Wagtails. Indian Pond Herons and Grey Wagtails found equal delight in this environment.

Victoria Park

Scaly-breasted Mannikin

Indian Pond Heron

Scaly-breasted Mannikin

Indian Pond-Heron

Oriental Magpie-Robin

Common Myna

Oriental Magpie-Robin

Common Myna

The intention of the afternoon session was to try to get better views of two species already seen - Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush and Kashmir Flycatcher. This was in the main due to our good fortune in seeing all the highland specialities by this morning.

So off we waltzed back to Hakgala Botanical Gardens for a second visit. Population distribution was as before, with a healthy number of humans frequenting the habitat, but with a bias towards the lower elevations. So we quickly circumvented them to find some peace and hopefully birds. At first, there seemed a lot fewer than yesterday, until a party consisting of Sri Lanka White-eyes, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatchers, Velvet-fronted Nuthatches, and Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrikes were chanced upon. But oddly, no Dull-blue Flycatchers amongst them (until a couple were seen later). Wandering to the top of the gardens only found a single Sri Lanka Junglefowl, so we headed diagonally over to a newer section. This was rewarded with a feeding band of Purple-faced Leaf-monkeys, spread in the middle canopy above. At least one Toque Monkey was with them.

We rounded a hut to a smallholding, where a young boy was sat on the top of a hut, apparently commissioned by his parents to keep the monkeys from thieving the crop of carrots. At the rear of the plot, a Greater Coucal flew in, and fed in the shade (and from view) until departing the scene. Jith called me over to pick out an Indian Blackbird, now separated from Eurasian Blackbird, and a scarce individual in these highlands.

But still no sign of Kashmir Flycatcher, but heading back towards the exit, a case of deja Bush-warbler vu, when I picked out the self same species just down from us, initiating a short feeding session around the small footbridge.

And so it was back to the Whistling Thrush location, with the usual band of brothers congregating around the vegetable stall. The hour before last light is reputed to be about the best for an appearance, but this didn't prove to be the case this time. Recompense in the form of Indian Blue Robin, this time with more prolonged views, was had.

Forest Wagtail

Indian Blackbird

Forest Wagtail

Indian Blackbird

Purple-faced Langur

Toque Monkey

Purple-faced Langur

Toque Monkey

Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

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Contact

Site map

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Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Species list

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