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Day 7 (Thursday, 2nd April)



First task of the day, following the early morning cup of tea, of course, was to track down and obtain good views of Indian Pitta. One or two of these set up a small camp within Sisira's Lodge grounds for the winter, so they are regularly seen. One was duly found within a few sips of tea, although the light was still in its infancy.
 

Indian Pitta

Blue-naped Monarch

Indian Pitta

Black-naped Monarch

Yellow-billed Babbler

Orange-billed Babbler

Yellow-billed Babbler

Orange-billed Babbler

The rest of the morning was spent wandering through the village to the forest beyond. Incredibly, the village stretches for some way into the forest, which must make receiving supplies a nightmare, although there is a canoe "ferry" service for small goods and people. The positive aspect for birding is that the presence of the village and the small cultivations has opened up the habitat for a greater variety of birds, even though they are the more common suspects. For the Sri Lankan specialities, the secondary growth forest beyond the habitation is preferred.

Many of the birds around the village had been seen yesterday - Lesser Yellownape, Sri Lanka Hanging-Parrots, White-rumped Munias, and the usual plethora of Bulbuls and Babblers (both Yellow- and Orange-billed of the latter). Additional gems were a handful of Black-hooded Orioles, one of which took a dislike to a seemingly innocent immature Yellow-browed Bulbul. Greater Coucal and Lesser Goldenback proved hard to separate from the leaves, but a preening Common Tailorbird was nowhere near as shy. Early raptors were a Shikra and Crested Hawk-Eagle passing over in unison, with a circling brace of Black Eagles over the hills later.

Village

Village

Kitungala village

Track through village to forest

Yellow-browed Bulbul

Spotted Dove

Yellow-browed Bulbul

Spotted Dove

Once replenished with a packed breakfast at the end of the village, we headed into the forest proper, which in size is only a fraction of Sinharaja. Despite donning the leech socks, the ground appeared far too dry for the little blighters, so the discomfort could have been avoided. The forest proved to be very quiet, and after a little while we crossed a stream to enter some semi-derelict paddy fields. Sri Lanka Spurfowl, one of the last of the endemics still to fall, were calling tantalisingly from the nearby cover, but would not give away their location. The small open glades of the disused paddies were apparently sometimes good for passing flocks - our haul was Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, White-throated Kingfisher, Sri Lanka Drongo, and Black Bulbuls.

Forest

Clearing

Kitungala Forest

Paddies and clearing in the forest

Common Emerald Dove

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

Common Emerald Dove

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater


 

The afternoon, and thus last, session of the trip was to be a wander around the River Lodge area, but was greeted by a deluge from the skies - the first rain I had seen here since arriving yesterday. Unperturbed by this minor setback, Jith and I soldiered on with umbrellas deflecting the pouring rain. Some of the birds seemed to be enjoying the opportunity for a wash and brush up, with both White-bellied Drongo and Yellow-billed Babblers showering and rinsing. In the clearing at the top of the track to the lodge, a pair of Lesser Goldenbacks doubled into four, with 3 on the same trunk at one time.

The rain didn't last long, which increased the showing birdlife, despite the lingering dark thunderclouds and occasional lightning. Layard's Parakeets were as yesterday, with constant flypasts and some feeding on the fruiting trees. A quartet of overflying Parakeets were Alexandrine - much slower wingbeats than the other congeners, with an elongated if not pointed crucifix shape. A trio of Southern Hill Mynas kept to the tops of the palm trees.

Layard's Parakeet

Layard's Parakeet

We ambled down to the open rice paddy meadows, where an Openbill Stork was joined by a single Yellow-billed Egret. This was the first of the white egrets that I had bothered to give any consideration to! A Brown Shrike watched over the marsh as a Cinnamon Bittern gradually emerged from a clump clump of grasses, and this eventually also proved to be the hideout of a family of White-breasted Waterhens, with a single chick in tow.

Returning to the lodge grounds failed to turn up the Chestnut-spotted Owlet or Indian Pitta, but the comical vision of a Sri Lanka Junglefowl in the canopy, apparently a favoured roosting site, perhaps made some amends. I had just thought that the only Spot-winged Thrushes seen in the area was the pair in the twilight the previous evening outside of my room, when another appeared, again in the sinking light. A Brown-breasted Flycatcher was the only one seen since we had left Sinharaja. Last bird of the trip was Stork-billed Kingfisher, seen flying along the edges of the river after we had followed the calls.

Brown Shrike

Yellow-billed Egret

Brown Shrike

Yellow-billed Egret

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Day 7

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