Sunday, 18 January 2015

Sri Lanka Part 3: Negombo

So, after 5 nights at Galle we were on our way north to Negombo. A 3 hour drive with plenty of brahminy kites seen once again along the southern expressway as well as the regular birds associated with paddy fields. We were only going to be at the Jetwing Beach hotel for 2 nights and the reason for staying here was that it is handy for the airport, just half an hour away.  Upon arrival I found the resident hotel naturalist who organised a morning tour of Muthurajawela Marsh, some 20 minutes away, for the final morning of our holiday. Good way to finish the trip.
A wander around the hotel and beach area gave views of usual suspects. A pond opposite the hotel looked interesting. Out to see, terns and cormorants headed north and south and a white bellied sea eagle went directly over our balcony, too fast for me to grab the camera.
The following morning I was out by 7 and heading to the marshes. Upon arrival it was clear it was a good area, with herons, barbets, kites and cormorants all around. This area is good for stork billed kingfisher and pied kingfisher, both of which would be new birds for me.
Within 5 minutes of setting off in the motor boat we stopped and Hemantha, the hotel naturalist, pointed out a stork billed kingfisher. A shy bird, but nevertherless, excellent views. It flew over the canal and was lost to view. As we headed towards the lagoon a white bellied sea eagle came into view and numerous brahminy kites. Both indian and little cormorants were perched on every available stick whilst on the side of the canal, a purple heron. This was the first of about 10 that we encountered. We entered the lagoon and made our way around the mangroves, disturbing whiskered, common and little terns as well as a purple swamphen. The latter was very camera shy!
Brahminy kite

Indian pond heron

Canal, heading towards the lagoon

my 1st stork billed kingfisher!

Retiring purple swamphen

white bellied sea eagle
Other birds around the marsh were hard to see apart from the ubiquitous blue tailed bee eaters. Lesser whistling teal took off before I could get a photo as 2 more swamphens darted for cover and were lost from view. We stopped in the shade of the mangroves so that I could have my packed breakfast before another trip around the lagoon edges and back to the canal. Soon after we entered the canal a black and white bird rose in front of us. A pied kingfisher. Superb bird that alighted upon wires so we could get good views. Excellent. Also in the trees Asian koels, rose ringed parakeets and cattle egrets.
Second stork billed kingfisher

blue tailed bee eater

Indian cormorant

red wattled lapwing

whiskered and common terns

purple heron

pied kingfisher

another of this stunning bird

Business end of a purple heron
A second stork billed kingfisher was noted in the shade of the trees, so not easy to photo from a moving boat and also along the footpath, a red wattled lapwing. A superb purple heron posed above us in a palm tree before we arrived back at the Visitor's Centre. A most worthwhile trip. As we headed along the coast road into Negombo I noted a solitary whimbrel on the beach.
Wendy was happy on the beach, so I headed off to check out the pond opposite. Cormorants, bee eaters, red vented bulbuls were all present, before my attention was drawn to a small bird flitting in the bushes near the vegetable garden that supplies the veg for the hotel. A plain prinia, my final new bird for the trip
Indian cormorant

Plain prinia

Plain prinia
After an excellent buffet and a few gin and tonics, a final beach walk, it was time to retire as we had an early 7.30 start for the airport. Another packed breakfast and we were on our way with just enough time to get to the airport, without having to hang around too long. Well, that was the plan, but we hadn't factored in The Pope! He was travelling to visit Negombo in the morning and as we approached the main dual carriageway that links Negombo to the airport we joined a very long traffic jam, where engines were off and the occupants had left the car. Our driver managed to negotiate the randomly parked vehicles and we got to the front of the jam, with just a couple of 100 mopeds and motorbikes in front of us. There was no other route to take and time rapidly slipped by.Our flight was at 9.50 and it was now approaching 8.30, still no Pope!
I began to plan my letter to The Vatican, requesting reimbursement for the extra plane tickets we looked like having to purchase when a convoy of cars sped past, accompanied by endless police cars. We were first on to the dual carriageway, travelling past police who were stationed at every 100 yards along the road at speeds in excess of 100km/h. Time drifted on as we finally pulled up outside the airport and, with a porter leading the way, we joined the queue to check our bags in. Just time to get to the departure gate only to discover all was 15 - 20 minutes behind schedule.
room view

catamarans on the beach

Looking north

hotel entrance

local house crow
After a 4 hour flight to Dubai and then 7 hours to Heathrow, we arrived home at 8.30pm having had a superb 12 day break, seeing some great birds, eating fantastic food, meeting some very wonderful people and seeing some great sights. Excellent time.

Species for the "non birding" trip
Indian peafowl, lesser whistling duck, wedge tailed shearwater, asian openbill, yellow bittern, indian pond heron, grey heron, purple heron, cattle egret, great egret, (10 sp) intermediate egret, little egret, little cormorant, indian cormorant, common kestrel, brahminy kite, white bellied sea eagle, shikra, crested serpent eagle, changeable hawk eagle,(20sp) white breasted waterhen, purple swamphen, red wattled lapwing, whimbrel, heuglins gull, gull billed tern, common tern, little tern, whiskered tern, rock pigeon (30sp) spotted dove, orange breasted green pigeon, Sri Lankan green pigeon, rose ringed parakeet, alexandrine parakeet, Layard's parakeet, Asian koel, greater coucal, Asian palm swift, crested treeswift (40 sp) blue tailed bee eater, stork billed kingfisher, white throated kingfisher, pied kingfisher, brown headed barbet, Sri Lankan grey hornbill, lesser goldenback, brown shrike, common lora, Jerdon's leafbird, (50 sp) black hooded oriole, house crow, large billed crow, barn swallow, Sri Lankan swallow, White bellied drongo, Sri Lankan drongo , paddyfield pipit, red vented bulbul, white browed bulbul, ( 60 sp) grey breasted prinia, plain prinia, common tailorbird, green warbler, asian paradise flycatcher, yellow billed babbler, common mynah, oriental magpie robin, asian brown flycatcher, pale billed flowerpecker, (70 sp) purple rumped sunbird, Loten's sunbird, white rumped munia, scaley breasted munia, Sri Lankan hanging parrot 

For a non birding holiday, 75 species is a most pleasing total. Ones in bold are new birds for me, so also, a satisfactory total.

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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