Thursday 11 April 2024

Sri Lanka with Bird's Wildlife & Nature - Day 9 : 24th March 2024

Some pre and post breakfast birding at our hotel in Tissa saw 72 Indian Pond Herons come out of the tree in the pond while on the roof a male Peafowl puffed himself up to his full glory and managed to attract three females and two other males within ten minutes.  Interestingly they make no sound at all while the feathers are up and fanned out.  The Indian Roller was once again on the pylon and several Zitting Cisticolas bounced around before we moved on and north towards our next base in the hill country. The call of these Zitters is still bugging me…

White-throated Kingfisher

Indian Pond Heron

Indian Pond Heron

Indian Peafowl - what a bird!

Yellow-billed Babblers

Red-wattled Lapwing

Red-wattled Lapwing

Common Kingfisher

We stopped in the town first to watch the thousands of Indian Flying Foxes dangling around before something spooked some of the roost, affording us a superb fly round too. Stork Billed Kingfishers also put on a show at last as three birds squabbled over a potential nest cavity and a Malabar Pied Hornbill popped into the top of the same tree.  Looking through to vegetated lake I could see Swamphens and a Little Grebe with a chick while two tiny white bellied ducks with pied wings became my first Cotton Pygmy Geese although none of the party saw either of these as the bats were somewhat distracting!

Indian Flying Foxes

Stork Billed Kingfishers 

Malabar Pied Hornbill

We paused on our journey up into the misty hills to stretch our legs at the waterfalls at Rawana where Gossamerwings danced below us and young Toque Macaques play fought on high overhanging limbs and the views from the stacked hotel/houses up the road where we used the facilities was superb. Barbets sang and Oriental Magpies flicked across the view below where more Macaques were seen.

On again and up higher still passing our first Hill Swallows on roadside wires and a couple of low down Oriental Honey-Buzzards before we reached the Surrey Estate where Saman went off to look for a roosting Brown Wood Owl. We amused ourselves in the interim and found Cinereous Tits and Indian White-eyes feeding in the stands of bamboo with Purple Rumped Sunbirds singing from the palm tops.  Yellow-fronted and Brown-headed Barbets were serenading and Asian Koels whistles bounced around the wooded valley.

Tulip Tree

Huge wild Bee nest

Purple Rumped Sunbirds

Cinereous Tit - the black belly band is especially broad at the top. Upperparts are grey green

Great Eggfly

female Oriental Darter

Saman returned and had located the sleepy owl but it required another off piste excursion although not to Serendip severity!  Stealth mode was once again put in place and the crew did a grand job of creeping into position one at a time to watch this relaxed and soulful looking Owl.  The walk out did not feel half so bad!

Brown Wood Owl

By late lunch we were at our Heaven Seven hotel in Nuwara Eliya looking down over the valley and town below (where a Hindu festival was well underway) with its perfectly arranged and tended vegetable plots.  House Sparrows were once again common along with the Magpie-Robins, Tailorbirds, Loten’s Sunbirds and Jungle Crows.

look at those Carrot plots!

Hill Swallow

Oriental Magpie Robin

Loten's Sunbird after the rain

Planting leeks

The rain arrived just before we headed out to Victoria Park and largely held off for us as we ambled around this traditional colonial era park – in fact it looked like many of London’s parks albeit with Cattle Egrets strutting around.  With a little patience we glimpsed a female Indian Blue Robin and heard a male singing, found a dapper male Kashmir Flycatcher and glossy Indian Blackbirds but the stars were several gleaming male Pied Thrushes that were seen lurking alongside the unfortunately polluted stream that runs through this beautiful park. The rain went from light to very heavy in a few seconds and cut things short but we all returned for dinner happy.

Pied Thrush

Another very early start beckons...

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