Woke early next morning for a wander around before heading off at midday to the Sacred City a few miles away. Absolutely stunning place, some 2500 years old. Also, came across a few lakes, or tanks as they are called locally and spent some time checking the birds: Black headed ibis, black winged stilt, Lesser whistling duck and many egrets and grey herons. Several Brahminy kite overhead, too. Highlight was a distant marsh sandpiper, too far for a heat haze effected photo but its needle like bill was visible. An unusual bird to see here in high summer, usually found further north at its breeding grounds.
|Just a monkey crossing the road at The Scared City|
|2000 year old Stipa|
|Well, 2000 years old cut into the shape of a key|
|Black headed ibis|
|BasawakkulamaTank with Lankararoa stipa in the distance|
|Indian pond heron|
|Juvenile black winged stilt|
|white throated kingfisher|
|Gray langur monkey|
|Juvenile Brahminy kite|
|Indian pond heron in breeding plumage|
However, upon arriving I got 2 new Sri Lankan birds for me in the car park: Sri Lankan woodshrike and Small minivet. Also, a Malabar hornbill was present before we climbed into the jeep and off for a 4 hour drive around. In reality we should have arrived here at 6.30am but after the long flight the thought of getting up at 4.30am was none too appealing.
Into the park and immediately, a pair of Ceylon (or red) jungle fowl giving me the chance to improve on the photo of the last one I saw, in Yala National Reserve back in 2014. Then, superb views of 2 Crested hawk eagles, a juvenile right next to the track. Great photo opportunity. Little green bee eaters were everywhere as we continued along very bumpy and dry tracks. Indian spotted deer, Barking deer (muntjac) and Sambur deer.
|Sri Lankan woodshrike|
|Male Ceylon jungle fowl|
|Female Ceylon jungle fowl|
|Crested hawk eagle juvenile|
|Crested hawk eagle just taking off|
|Little green bee eater|
|Little green bee eater portrait|
|Grey headed fish eagle|
|Adult crested hawk eagle|
|Black headed bulbul, another bird for my Sri Lanakan list!|
|Spot billed pelican|
|Overhead spot billed pelican|
|Ceylon Spotted deer|
|Red wattled lapwing|
|Black headed ibis|
|Great egret with prey|
|As yet, unidentified lizard sp|
|The only elephant of the day|
|White rumped shama|
We completed the tour and got back to the car park. A search for a previously heard but not seen woodpecker species was unsuccessful before our driver invited us back to his house for a mucj needed cup of tea before the trip back to Lievi's Guest House in the city. A brilliant bird watching session.
|Crested serpent eagle|
|Ceylon spotted deer|
|Sign in the car park showing the Sloth bear that is present in Wilpattu but not seen today.|
The following morning I was up early and headed off to check a small tank the otherside of the road. Pleased I did as a Black crowned night heron was another new Sri Lankan bird for me along with regular species such as Little cormorant, red wattled lapwing, Asian Koel etc. Lovely little habitat.
|red wattled lapwing|
|Black crowned night heron|
|Asian Koel with a large fruit|
|Same night heron.|
Anoma oversees a learning centre, MidGarden and I hoped to pop in to see students at work. It was only last November that I was there, leading sessions for these students so really looking forward to seeing those from previous lessons along with new ones who have just started to come along to MindGarden.
On the Tuesday, following visiting the session, Anoma and I headed off to Koggala some 15 miles east of Galle where I have previously stayed and bird watched. Coincidentally, the tracks I followed back in 2017 were the very ones Anoma drives along to collect his wife Anusha from work at a Managerial College. Some regular Sri Lankan birds along this track before a quick visit to Kogalla Lake. By now it was heading up to 35C so we beat a hasty retreat to the splendid Fortress hotel for a cool beer and I also took the opportunity to catch up with Siri. He used to run a lovely little roadside fish restaurant, but no tourists in the area for a while have, sadly, put him out of business.
Lovely to be back in this area again before we returned to Galle. On the Thursday I had planned to take the afternoon train to Colombo for my final night, but a train strike meant Navinda was press ganged into service and drove me all the way.
Just great to be back in Sri Lanka again and to visit several new places and also record a few new bird species. My species list for the country in just over 150 species now. Awinter trip North to Jaffna and a visit over to the east along with a visit to Sinharja National Reserve will push the list way past 200! I'll just have to go back again!!
|Brown headed barbet|
|female Loten's sunbird|
|Plain tiger butterfly|
|Juvenile little egret|
|Red vented bulbul, one of the most common of Sri Lankan birds|
|Lesser whistling duck|
|White bellied drongo|
|female Lesser flameback|
|Regular sight at the Jetwing Lighthouse hotel swimming pool|
|Purple rumped sunbird|
Friday meant a taxi to the airport and a 10 hour flight home followed by over an hour on a National coach before Wendy met me at Stansted airport near 11pm, some 19 hours after I had left the hotel in Colombo. I slept well!