Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Highlands and Dry South-East - Birding Sri Lanka Part 1

Sri Lanka Green Pigeon
Our trip to Sri Lanka began with Glenn Scherf and myself teeming up with travelling companions Ketil and Bente Knudsen, of Norway, at Colombo Airport on February 6. We were met by Chandima Jayawerra, our driver-guide ( Chandima proved to be an excellent choice, offering very good service at a reasonable cost. We cleaned up all the endemics.
Our first morning saw us in the Botanic Gardens of Kandy, the country's second city - a fine introduction to Sri Lankan birds. Among those seen was a male Sri Lanka Green-Pigeon (above) attending a nest on which its mate was sitting.

Orange Minivet
We had several Orange Minivets, a recent split from Scarlet Minivet in the gardens.

Sri Lanka Small Barbet
We saw the first of quite a few Sri Lanka Small Barbets, a species encountered at various places on the island; this is a recent split from Malabar (Crimson-fronted) Barbet of southern India.

Sri Lanka Hanging-Parrot
Also about the park were small numbers of Sri Lanka Hanging-Parrots, which we were to see repeatedly though not always well.

Yellow-fronted Barbet
We saw our first Yellow-fronted Barbet outside our Kandy hotel before moving on to the highlands town of Nawara Elia. It proved to be common throughout the island.

Kashmir Flycatcher
We visited Victoria Park, where a small number of rare Kashmir Flycatchers overwinter each year. We were able to track down a young male, and later in the day a Pied Thrush, another rare overwintering species that is at home in this noisy public park, at its evening roost.

Yellow-eared Bulbul
We encountered quite a few Sri Lanka White-eyes in the park along with another highlands endemic, Yellow-eared Bulbul.

Dull-blue Flycatcher
In a small forest patch outside Nawara Eliya, we saw our first Dull-blue Flycatcher, another highlands specialty, along with a furtive Sri Lanka Bush-Warbler in dense thickets.

Sri Lanka Wood-Pigeon
The next day we spent at Horton Plains National Park, a pleasant area of moist highland rainforest interspersed with open grasslands. It took us a good while to snatch brief views of a female Sri Lanka Whistling-Thrush at a traditional stake-out for this difficult endemic, but Sri Lanka Wood-Pigeon was more co-operative.

Sri Lanka Junglefowl
We saw a distant Mountain Hawk-Eagle, our first Tri-coloured (Black-throated) Munias and several Sri Lanka Junglefowl, which proved to be common in well-vegetated parts of the island.

White-browed Bulbul
The next day we visited a forest patch on the Surrey teal plantation while heading south from Nawara  Eliya. We encountered White-browed Bulbul, a species I had seen the previous week in India, along with Layard's Parakeet, an endemic we were to see occasionally but not commonly, and nice views of Crested Hawk-Eagle were enjoyed.

A skulking Brown-capped Babbler was tracked down in the thick undergrowth.

A Brown Wood-Owl was found at a traditional day-time roost, located by noisy mobbing flock which included a Sri Lanka Scimitar-Babbler.

Spot-billed Pelican
Moving on the town of Tissa in the relatively dry lowlands of south-east Sri Lanka, we checked some of the extensive wetlands in the area, seeing Spot-billed Pelican, the first of quite a few recorded over the following days.
Lesser Whistling-Duck, Great Thick-knee
Lesser Whistling-Duck, Great Thick-knee and Indian Thick-knee were among the waterbirds present.

Pheasnat-tailed Jacana
Along with Pheasant-tailed Jacana.

White-naped Woodpecker
 A pair of White-naped Woodpecker was found in their favoured coconut grove. We had our first sunset at Tissa on the roof of our hotel, the Peacock Reach, enjoying the spectacle of huge numbers of parrots and waterbirds flying to their roosting places past us at eye level.

Sri Lanka Wood-Shrike
We spent a full day exploring Yala National Park from the back of a jeep. In the Africa-like Acacia woodland here the specialties included Sri Lanka Wood-Shrike.

Jerdon's Bushlark
Jerdon's Bushlark was reasonably plentiful.

Malabar Pied-Hornbill
While a couple of Malabar Pied Hornbills were nice to watch.

Yellow-wattled Lapwing
Yellow-wattled Lapwing was another species easily approached in the jeep.


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