Thursday, 16 January 2014

Sri Lanka: part 1: 4th - 8th January, Kegalle.

A 12 day visit to Sri Lanka to start the New Year seemed like a good idea, so off to Heathrow for the direct overnight flight with Sri Lankan air to Colombo. A 9 hour flight, plus time difference meant we were met by our driver, Ari at Colombo at 1pm Saturday morning. Then, a 2 hour drive east to our first residence. This was a fantastic place, way off the beaten track in thick hillside forests at a place called The Estate House, Rosyth.
Estate House setting

dining pavilion

estate house

ground squirrel

red vented bulbul and juvenile
We spent the first afternoon just recovering from the long journey and me sitting on the lawn with a beer and binoculars. purple rumped sunbirds visited the garden flowers as common mynas, rose ringed parakeets, large billed crows and red vented bulbuls were both heard and seen. Getting used to all the calls was tricky so I concentrated on the birds that seemed to be most prevalent, so that later on I could eliminate these when I heard other calls.
black headed oriole

common myna

purple rumped sunbird

large billed crow

the forest, with flying cattle egret

2 cattle egrets giving perspective.
The forest here held loads of birds as well as plenty of macaque monkeys, mongooses, local cattle and more ground squirrels. Latter were the most common mammals around.
The following morning, I took a walk along the lanes, chatting with locals who were all keen to share my cigarettes. Birds were to be found all along the telegraph wires, including yellow billed babblers, more red vented bulbuls, oriental magpie robins, black headed orioles and the occasional parakeet. Another bird, seen on several occasions was the brown shrike.
brown shrike
large billed crow

macaque

 
red vented bulbul and oriental magpie robin




mongoose
After a superb breakfast we set off for the local elephant orphanage. I had visited this in 1993 but was rather disappointed to discover that it had become very tourist based. Before it had clearly been there for the elephants. Now, young elephants were chained up to be bottle fed with 100's of tourists watching. The lane they were taken down to the river had become full of touristy shops and bars, so not quite what I was expecting. However, down at the river were great white egrets, little and indian cormorants and the ubiquitous white throated kingfisher. The afternoon was spent back at the estate house enjoying their hospitality and wandering around.





white throated kingfisher
The next morning we were again off for a visit to the amazing Botanical gardens at Kandy followed by a trip to the Temple of the Tooth. The gardens were superb, with more monkeys, huge numbers of fruit bats, yellow billed babblers and, at the drained lake, asian openbill, white breasted waterhen, cattle and little egret, more sunbirds and common tailor bird whilst overhead brahminy kites. The temple of the tooth was fascinating and a very peaceful place set amongst the hubhub that is Kandy. We then headed back to the Estate House for our last night and more wanderings. On this, I met several locals sitting enjoying some beer. Chatting, they pointed out that 2 of them had lost legs in the recent fighting. they showed me several of the local birds, giving me the local names for them.
 
asian openbill

cattle egrets

fruit bat

great white egret

local ex army lads on their day off

Sri Lankan grey hornbill

white breasted waterhen

yellow billed babbler
Back in the garden I watched more rose ringed parakeets coming into roost as well as my first endemic, a Sri Lankan grey hornbill.
The following morning we set off for a long drive south. It took 8 hours, with stops, to drive to the south east of the island to Yala. This is a National Nature Reserve I have wanted to visit since I first read about it sometime back in the early 70's. Our long drive gave views of plenty of birds en route, especially the last 10 miles as we approached the Jetwing Yala hotel, including beeaters, peacocks, waders and much more. We headed south through Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and then down the endless A2 trunk road through incredible scenery, tea plantations and plenty of poverty.

Bird list so far:
asian openbill, indian pond heron, grey heron, cattle egret, little egret, little cormorant, indian cormorant, brahminy kite, white breasted waterhen, spotted dove, rose ringed parakeet, chestnut winged cuckoo, asian palm swift, house swift, white throated kingfisher, crimson fronted barbet, sri lankan grey hornbill, brown shrike, black headed oriole, large billed crow, barn swallow, white bellied drongo, red vented bulbul, white browed bulbul, common tailorbird, white browed fantail, yellow billed babbler, common myna, oriental magpie robin, purple rumped sunbird, house sparrow.
Many of these birds were not photographable due to the sheer density of the vegetation, but not a bad start for a "non birding" holiday.

from the Estate House garden



cattle egret

as yet, not id'd

little cormorant

spotted dove
 
local lane side vegetation

No comments:

This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird

Caley Wood view

Caley Wood view
sunshine through the canopy 29.05.08

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007
Best birds on this walk: black and middle spotted woodpecker and short toed treecreeper

About Me

My photo
A primary school teacher for 30 years, I retired from teaching in July 2009 to set up my own science enhancement and communication company. The Primary Works offers science clubs, workshops and staged science shows nationwide. I have always been interested in bird watching since my early years. Apparently my first tick was after inquiring about a chaffinch and then receiving the Observer book of birds. By the age of 9 I had moved on to Tory Peterson's collins guide and was now involved on YOC birding holidays to Northumbria, Essex coast, Slimbridge and Yorkshire. My twitching rule is that I will willingly travel 1km for each gram the bird weighs. However, I have had many rarities just by being in the right place. I have travelled widely throughout Europe and also visited Australia and Sri Lanka. Further European destinations are planned and a bigger trip to The Crimea was planned for 2014 but now not possible. so 2014: Sri Lanka in January, Poland in April, Madeira in June and The Camargue in July. So far 2015 has been Sri Lanka in Jan, Poland in Feb, Sri Lanka in April and The Camargue coming up in 1st week of September.

Grey heron

Grey heron
Over the allotment 28.09.08

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker
Ridge footpath 27.08.08

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)
Note the stripes, denoting a bird fledged this year.

common blue

common blue
Ash Valley G.C. 15.08.08

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)
River Ash

azure damselfly

azure damselfly
River Ash 28.07.08

marbled white

marbled white
Discovered at Westland Green 22.07.08

ruddy darter

ruddy darter
Bush Wood 21.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08
growing in hedgerow in Chapel Lane

cinnabar moth caterpillar

cinnabar moth caterpillar
Photographed on ragwort 19.07.08

Bittersweet

Bittersweet
Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer
08.06.08

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly
06.06.08

River Ash

River Ash
looking south from the bridge at Hadham Ford

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)
in rape field 29.05.08

Caley Wood sunshine

Caley Wood sunshine
29.05.08

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox
24.05.08

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)
06.05.08 banks of the River Ash

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)
flowers, leaves and fruit edible . Good in salad and pesto

April showers

April showers
Double rainbow 30.04.08

Caley Wood bluebells

Caley Wood bluebells
22.04.08

Yellow Archangel

Yellow Archangel
Chapel Lane (20.04.08)

sunlight 16.04.08

sunlight 16.04.08
looking south west from Bush Wood

snowy buds

snowy buds
06.04.08 in Bush Wood

Looking north west

Looking north west
05.04.08 evening shower approaching

Back Garden

Back Garden
Easter Sunday (23.03.08)

Brick Kiln Hill

Brick Kiln Hill
Looking east (23.03.08)

No play today

No play today
The 2nd hole at Ash Valley golf course

Teasel head

Teasel head
Bush Wood (21.03.08)

Reflections

Reflections
daffodils at Bush Wood pond (21.03.08)

Swollen River Ash

Swollen River Ash
The river at the bottom of Winding Hill 16.03.08

Daybreak over the chapel

Daybreak over the chapel
Thursday 13th March

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)
growing in Bush Wood

January snowdrops

January snowdrops
Banks of River Ash, north of Much Hadham

Good Moon

Good Moon
From garden 24.01.08

Village Green

Village Green
Looking east towards Acremore Street

Looking south before Hadham Ford

Looking south before Hadham Ford
rare January blue sky

Useful sites

The following are some useful websites that may interest readers of this blog.
Firstly, Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society http://bsnhs.webplus.net/

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. http://hairybirders.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.hertsbirdclub.org.uk/ The official herts bird club website. Frequently updated, listing bird sightings around the county. Offers links to many other websites. Both of these sites also offer links to yahoo discussion groups.
http://www.birdforum.net/ An international site. You can enter as a guest but become a member( free) to post comments, bird sightings and just about anything to do with wild birds. Good news updates, classified section for binoculars, cameras etc.
http://www.guidedbirdwatching.com/ A new site set up where you can contact people worldwide who will help you find good birds in their country. UK section being set up presently.
http://www.britainsbirder.co.uk/
Fellow birders blog. Strtford resident, Graeme Smith regulary birds the area south of Stortford as well as around Spellbrook and the River Stort from Spellbrook to Twyford Locks. Some superb bird photography: Graeme uses a digital camera attached to his powerful telescope to get detailled images of the birds he sees. Well worth a browse.
Two local sites that may be of interest can be found at
http://www.thehadhams.com/ www.thepelhams.net/content/section/12/139/

South Easterly walk

South Easterly walk
black, normal, red extended walk

South Westerly route.

South Westerly route.
Black usual, red extended

North Easterly walk

North Easterly walk
black short, walk. Red, extended

North West Patch

North West Patch
black route regular. Red route the extended wander