Wednesday 3 April 2024

Sri Lanka with Bird's Wildlife & Nature - Day 4: 19th March 2024

Kithulgala and the bouncy bridge was our pre-breakfast walk spot once again and I think the lure of fresh hoppas was enough to get everyone up early!  It was a shorter walk but started well with a party of mixed Bulbuls by the road along with Yellow-fronted Barbets and both Pale-billed and Legge’s Flowerpeckers before we bounced our way over. 

Banded Bay Cuckoo joined the list of invisible singing birds along with the Hawk-Cuckoo once again and at the clearing, the Fishtail Palm instantly attracted SL Hanging Parrots, Alexandrine Parakeets and SL Green Pigeons and a dazzling flock of Orange Minivets with the yellow females equally brilliant.

SL Green Pigeon

Square-tailed Bulbul family

SL Red-backed Woodpecker

SL Red-backed Woodpecker

Orange Minivet

The Green Billed Coucals were heard and seen well again and in the same spot we found a singing  Brown Capped Babbler which sat motionless watching us for five minutes.  In the trees above, two Black-capped Bulbuls (endemic #17) were feeding looking like arboreal Black-headed Wagtails with distinctive white tail tips.

Brown-capped Babbler

Black-capped Bulbul (endemic #17)

The Golden Fronted Leafbirds were once again seen and Indian White-eyes foraged with them high up – both species blending in well.

Peppercorns on the vine - do not try one!

The hoppa lady once again fed us well before crossing back over and we were even greeted by a family sound back at the bus when a pair of Cinereous Tits (Great Tits in disguise) ‘teacher teacher’ed us from the verge.

She was waiting for us!

 And we soon descended

Breakfast #2 and then off we went for the long journey to Sinharaja and the Blue Magpie hotel.  We spent the rest of the day close to the hotel and had White-rumped, Scaly-breasted and the scarce Black-throated Munias coming to feed on grass seed heads below the dining room balcony.

Scaly-breasted Munia

Square-tailed and Red-vented Bulbuls were on the bird table with Spotted Doves and SL Hanging Parrots zipped overhead.  Eyes on the skies produced Crested Serpent Eagles, various Swifts and a fine Rufous-bellied Eagle.  This is a difficult to find species and Saman was very pleased when I shouted it out.

Yellow-billed Babbler

Spotted Dove

Oriental Magpie-Robin

Oriental Magpie-Robin

Rufous-bellied Eagle

Rufous-bellied Eagle

We followed the road down through the village getting wonderful views of the Hanging Parrots and White-browed Bulbuls and a quiet little ‘tac’ call made me think (and hope) for Syke’s Warbler.  After a couple of minutes it popped into view and proved me right. A nice sloped forehead and big dagger bill and another of Asian vagrants I hoped to connect with.

SL Hanging Parrot

SL Hanging Parrot

immature Black-hooded Oriole

Sri Lankan Hill Mynas (endemic #18) noisily called overhead as they crossed the valley and White Bellied Drongos watched us from the wires and SL Green Pigeons put on a great low level show.

SL Green Pigeon

Bronze-backed Tree Snake

Bronze-backed Tree Snake - that crossed the road

Fishtail Palm with ladder to the top where the precious multipurpose nectar will be collected to make spirit, treacle and jaggery

Dark Grass Blue - Zizeeria karsandra

Oriental Cupid - Everes lacturnus - very worn

Three Spot Grass Yellow

Tiny Grass Blue - Zizula hylax

Tea on the move

We followed the road up into a side valley and before too long we had found a family party of Sri Lanka Blue Magpies (endemic #19) decked out in mahogany, red, white and blues. They are big birds and despite the colours still manage to blend into the foliage.  One bird came to some Papayas to feed but the Square-tailed and Yellow-browed Bulbuls took offence.

Sri Lanka Blue Magpies  (endemic #19)

A SL Grey Hornbill flew into the tree above and quickly found the biggest Long-horn Beetle I have ever seen and it spent the next ten minutes trying to despatch it. It kept rubbing it up and down the branches to remove the antennae and legs but it was a very tough beast and at one stage had its legs wrapped around the bird’s bill! Eventually it dropped it but with amazing speed and dexterity it followed it and deftly recaught it before heading back into the trees.  Layard’s Parakeets and SL Green Pigeons flew through as we started our downhill route back to the hotel. 

SL Grey Hornbill

Layard’s Parakeet

A Little Cormorant was down at the river bridge and another invisible Banded Bay Cuckoo was singing while a three note whistle was tracked down to a Changeable Hawk-Eagle with its crest blowing in the breeze.

The amazing Basket Fern - Drynaria rigidula 

Basket Fern - Drynaria rigidula 

The winged seedpod of - Dipterocarpus zeylanicus

Giant Taro - Alocasia macrorrhizos

Gliricidia sepium - seems to be used as shade for the Tea plants

Rangoon Creeper - Combretum indicum

A Land Monitor was around the back of the hotel and two greeny Land Snails were climbing a tree.  As dusk fell the Frogs got going and at least eight different species could be heard in the marshy area out front although we never saw even one while Fireflies danced the night away.

 Land Monitor 

Land Snails - Aqus penix

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