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WINGS Birding Tours – Narrative

Sri Lanka

2018 Narrative

The tour began with everyone meeting up at the airport hotel. We spent the night at the hotel and the following day we headed north to reach our first destination in the dry zone. A couple of short birding sessions during our stay in the airport hotel gave us some good birds amongst many others seen, such as endemic Lesser Sri Lanka Flameback, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, a Black-hooded Oriole and a pair of Southern Hill Mynas. We spent two nights in the dry country mainly exploring dry forests. We saw a good number of important birds here including Wooly-necked Stork, nesting White-bellied Sea Eagles, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Indian Pitta, Sri Lanka Woodshrike, Brown-capped Babbler, Orange-headed Thrush, Indian Blue Robin, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, White-rumped Shama, Large-billed Leaf Warbler, Lesser Whistling Ducks, Purple Heron, Purple Swamphen, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Crimson-backed Flameback, Drongo Cuckoo, Common Iora, Large Cuckoo-Shrike, Small Minivet, Jerdon’s Leafbird, Black-capped Bulbul, Green Warbler, Dark-fronted Babbler, and Thick-billed Flowerpecker.

Our next stop was in the lower hills near Kandy in the wet zone where we looked for birds in forest habitats. Here it was a one-night stop and we had a successful birding sessions before we proceeded further high up in the hills. During our stay in the cool climate in the high hills of the country our search for highland specialities was very successful. We had very good views of Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Dull Blue Flycatcher, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler, Sri Lanka White-eye, Pied Thrush, Kashmir Flycatcher, Cinereous Tit and Forest Wagtail.

After three days in the hills we climbed down and back in the dry zone but this time it was southern dry lowlands. Parts of our journeys into and from the high hills were through extensive tea plantations, and we experienced spectacular views of distant mountains and valleys. The next three days we mostly spent exploring some of the country’s most popular national parks. Amongst the many birds we saw the following are some of the interesting species encountered, Painted Stork, Black-headed Ibis, Yellow Bittern, Black Bittern, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Black-winged Kite, Crested Hawk Eagle, Indian Peafowl, Small Pratincole, Plum-headed Parakeet, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Grey-bellied Cuckoo, Green Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Coppersmith Barbet, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Marshall’s Iora, Jungle Prinia, Yellow-eyed Babbler, and Jerdon’s Bushlark.

Over the next five days we explored rainforests in the wet zone. There were quite a number of important birds including several endemic to Sri Lanka and also to India to be found during our excursions in the forests. We encountered Green-billed Coucal, Serendib Scops Owl, Spot-winged Thrush, Malabar Trogon, Chestnut-backed Owlet, White-faced Starling, Sri Lanka Hill Myna, White-throated Flowerpecker, Ashy-headed Laughing-thrushes Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush and Sri Lanka Blue Magpie amongst many other rainforest birds.

On our last day in the rainforest we looked for birds in the morning before we had lunch and left for the airport hotel where we had started on Day One. At the dinner table we worked out the bird of the trip with votes of the participants. 16 species have been voted as their favourite birds during the tour and amongst them Serendib Scops Owl stood at the top while three other spectacular birds tied for second place: Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Indian Pitta, and Sri Lanka Blue Magpie.

During the tour in two weeks we encountered 234 bird species including 33 endemics and a further 44 Indian Subcontinent endemics. Twelve species of owls, frogmouth and nightjars were seen and we also encountered 21 species of mammals on the tour, including an Indian Giant Flying Squirrel, a Sloth Bear, and Asian Elephants.

 

Created: 05 July 2018