Thursday, January 24, 2019

Sri Lanka

We arrived in Colombo the evening before my birthday and ate at the fabulous restaurant Chutney's in our hotel in the city centre.

The following morning we walked to the nearby lake visiting the Buddhist and Hindu temple before walking to the park.   There's a much grander statue to the Buddha there:

Dinner was again at Chutney's, a fabulous curry with an outstanding bottle of Aussie Shiraz marked the event in style.

The next day we were collected promptly by our bird guide, contracted through Kalypso Adventures (our fourth trip to the sub-continent with them and not our last).  First stop was Kandy, this is the lake with the Royal Bath House on the far side:

The lake attracts numerous shore and water species, this breeding-plumage Great White Egret caught the eye:

The following morning we visited the Botanic Gardens in the city and i was so happy to finally see any species of Pitta, in this case the Indian Pitta, having been hoping for such a sighting for years:

Given the amount of travel we're doing over the next few years i've decided rather than the previously granular accounts i'm going to provide a much more 'highlight' driven blog, starting with this trip.  This will also explain some larger gaps between postings.

One notable highlight of this trip was the highly-range restricted Green-billed Coucal:

A Square-tailed (or Black) Bulbul was also spotted in the same village:

As was this Yellow-browed Bulbul:

The landscape in Sri Lanka is stunning and everywhere is the obvious colonial heritage of the country, including this home-from-home sign seen on a tea plantation slop as we ascended into the hill country of Sri Lanka:

Another notable species, the Sri Lanka White-Eye, a cute bird:

One of Helen's targets was the Kashmir Flycatcher which is known to winter in Sri Lanka, we saw this in Victoria Park in Nuwara Eliya:

And quite remarkably there was a Scaly Thrush on the path there, a famously hard bird to see in deep forest, it's normal abode:

The landscape continued to delight the eye as we travelled around:

The birding was consistently good too, here a hard to see Chestnut Owlet put in an appearance for us at Hakgala Botanic Garden:

On the road to Yala we saw Malabar Pied Hornbill, a species we'd tried repeatedly to locate in India, finally sighted in Sri Lanka:

We spent a very productive (and early) morning visiting Horton Plains where we saw the Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush:

as well as the Sri Lanka Dusky Bush Warbler and this endemic Yellow-eared Bulbul:

Back at the gate a near-tame Sambar Deer was having a scratch:

Next stop was the Grand Tamarind Lake resort, which was great for wildlife including this Toque Monkey:

Blue-tailed Bee-eaters hunting over the wetland:

Purple Heron:

And both a sunset:

and a glorious sunrise to enjoy:

The Purple-faced Leaf Monkey got a shock when we emerged on to the balcony of our room right next to his tree:

The last spot we visited for birding was the Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve, wonderful for birding though very poorly served by accommodation.

We enjoyed really good views of the Spotted Ground Thrush:

And finally saw number 33 of the 33 endemic species, the Sri Lanka Spurfowl, sat in someone's kitchen just after dawn on the edge of the forest:

From there it was back to our favourite hotel we've stayed in anywhere ever, the Grand Cinnamon, Colombo, to rest-up, clean-up and prepare for the journey home.

Sri Lanka was outstanding.   We loved it, the people, the birding, the food, the countryside, a magic visit that will live long in the memory.  Go visit.


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