Saturday 25 February 2023

Species List from Essex Coast Day 24.02.23.

  1.  Little grebe
  2. Great crested grebe
  3. Cormorant
  4. Little egret
  5. Mute swan
  6. Greylag goose
  7. Canada goose
  8. Brent goose
  9. Shelduck
  10. Mallard
  11. Gadwall
  12. Wigeon
  13. Pochard
  14. Teal
  15. Shoveler
  16. Tufted duck
  17. Pintail
  18. Marsh harrier
  19. Kestrel
  20. Pheasant
  21. Moorhen
  22. Coot
  23. Oystercatcher
  24. Avocet
  25. Ringed plover
  26. Grey plover
  27. Golden plover
  28. Lapwing
  29. Turnstone
  30. Dunlin
  31. Redshank
  32. Black tailed godwit
  33. Bar tailed godwit
  34. Curlew
  35. Ruff
  36. Black headed gull
  37. Herring gull
  38. Common gull
  39. Lesser black backed gull
  40. Great black backed gull
  41. Wood pigeon
  42. Collared dove
  43. Green woodpecker
  44. Great spotted woodpecker (heard)
  45. Skylark
  46. Pied wagtail
  47. Wren
  48. Dunnock
  49. Robin
  50. Black redstart
  51. Song thrush
  52. Blackbird
  53. Redwing
  54. Cetti's warbler (heard)
  55. Great tit
  56. Blue tit
  57. Long tailed tit
  58. Magpie
  59. Jay
  60. Jackdaw
  61. Rook
  62. Carrion crow
  63. Starling
  64. Hpuse sparrow
  65. Chaffinch
  66. Linnet
  67. Goldfinch
  68. Reed bunting
Black tailed godwit


Black redstart

Black redstart

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Sri Lankan visit. 1st - 12th February.

 Overnight flight from Heathrow saw me arriving at Colombo airport midday 12noon after an 11 hour direct flight.

Met friend of many years, Anoma who drove me to my room at the Back Pack and Reggae Bar in Pittiwella Boossa along the south west coast of the island.

I had planned to catch up with friends, do a spot of local bird watching and photography as well as see how a Learning Centre I helped establish was getting on called MindGarden. Towards the end of my stay, I headed back to Colombo airport to collect Rob and Rachel Jones and their 3 daughters to accompany then to their hotel in Bentota. Later in the week we had arranged that I give them a tour of Galle Fort, Mahamodara village, a Buddhist temple and also drop into a turtle hatchery where student volunteers from MindGarden also help out. It was also planned that Anoma and I would take the family on the long trip to the wonderful National Reserve some 3 hours away at Udawalawe.

I also took my trail camera with me so on my first full day I took it to a site where there have been reports of the elusive Sri Lankan Fishing cat. I set the camera up on a palm tree near a path, but over the 3 nights it was present, no video evidence.

Spare time was spent wandering the local lanes bird watching as well as a morning trip to Matara and popped into Koggalla Lake where there are good birds. Another site I dropped into, via a bus trip, was on the outskirts of Galle where many common species can be observed and photographed.

All in all a great 12 day trip, returning yesterday, Mon 13th Feb, departing Colombo at 12.55 and landing 7.20pm. There is a 5.5hour time difference, so again, an 11 hour+ flight time.

Below, a selection of photos taken over the time I was there, concluding with a view of some of the nature seen at Udawalawe.

Typical railway line scene in Pittiwella Boossa

Common Tailorbird

Scaly breasted munia

small monitor lizard, about 4 foot long

Yellow billed babbler, a very common bird

White throated kingfisher, another common species

Water monitor lizard, about 7 foot long

Hibiscus species, possibly Spider hibiscus

Spotted dove, common

7 - 8 foot Water monitor

Amazing sunsets

A very distant White bellied sea eagle, Sri Lanka's largest eagle

Swallows at Mahamodora

Another white throated kingfisher

Red wattled lapwing

Red vented bulbul

Peacock at Mahamodora

Peahen close to the male (above and below)

Dis[laying Peacock

Drongo species can be tricky. Think this is Pale bellied drongo

Green Imperial pigeon

Gull billed tern in Galle harbour

Jungle crow at Galle Harbour

House crow. Possibly the most common bird for Sri Lanka

Looking west at Koggalla beach

Little cormorant along the River Mahamodora

Small monitor lizard

Local fishermen

Common mynah

Ceylon crested drongo (I think!)

Brown shrike at Koggalla

Brahminy kite, common BoP.

Blue-tailed bee-eater under a sports ground

Oriental magpie robin

Black monkey

Black hooded oriole

Another superb Blue-tailed bee-eater

On a couple of occasions I popped into Galle cricket ground where I watched the England Lions take on Sri Lanka A in a 4 day test. I got chatting to a couple who were watching and it turned out that their son, Jack Carson was playing and I offered to take a few shots of him batting. Unfortunately, his innings didn't last too long but I fired off a few shots and emailed them to his mum.

Quick single

Ducking under a bouncer


text book defensive shot.

Udawalawe Reserve.

A super reserve. Anoma and I set off with Samaan, our minibus driver from Pittiwella to collect Rob and family from their Bentota hotel and then a 3 hour drive to the reserve. First stop was the Elephant Rehabilitation Centre where young elephants are called in at 10 am, and then every 3 hours, for milk feeding. A viewing terrace gives great views of this before we jumped into a 6 seater jeep for a 3 hour safari with a driver Nandu. He stopped on the way to buy fruit which we enjoyed half way around the safari. So many birds and mammals. This is the only Reserve in the world where views of elephants are absolutely guaranteed and we had some superb views. Highlight was an elephant walking along the track towards the Jeep and then strolling right by the vehicle. Amazing. Highlights for me were several new species for the island including Sirkeer malkoha, Yellow eyed babbler and Plum headed parrot.

All these photos taken from the Jeep, sometimes whilst it was bumping along the dusty tracks

Record shot of my 1st Yellow eyed babbler

Wood sandpiper

White bellied sea eagle

Same bird

heat hazed Whiskered tern

water snake species

Water buffalo

the flooded valley for Hydro electric

Sikeer Malkoha, a good sighting

Red wattled lapwing

Ceylon Junglefowl, the National Bird of Sri Lanka

Purple faced Macaque

More purple faced macaques


Lizard sp

Distant Plum headed parrot, a first for me.

Island in the reservoir: Grey heron, Black winged stilts, Painted stork and Indian pond heron

Oriental darter and Little cormorant.

Orange breasted green pigeon

Submerged crocodile

Malabar hornbills

Little ringed plover

Little egret

Lesser whistling ducks

Jackal after a wash

Grey heron

Painted stork

Green imperial pigeon

Asian elephant at the rehabilitation centre

Common kingfisher

Cattle egret

Blue tailed bee eater in perfect light

same bird

Black winged stilt

Black winged stilt and Wood sandpiper

Black shouldered kite

Yellow wagtail, sub species thunbergi

Asian elephant

Elephant coming towards us.

And passing right by the Jeep

Rehab centre

Black hooded oriole behind a branch

Feeding time

Adult Little green bee-eater

another stunning Little green bee-eater, first year bird

feeding in the wild.

Species list for the whole trip:

  1. Ceylon Junglefowl
  2. Indian Peafowl
  3. Lesser whistling duck
  4. Painted stork
  5. Black headed ibis
  6. Indian pond heron
  7. Grey heron
  8. Cattle egret
  9. Great white egret
  10. Little egret
  11. Spot billed pelican
  12. Little cormorant
  13. Oriental darter
  14. Black shouldered kite
  15. Brahminy kite
  16. White bellied sea eagle
  17. Shikra
  18. Crested serpent eagle
  19. White breasted waterhen
  20. Black winged stilt
  21. Red wattled lapwing
  22. Wood sandpiper
  23. Little riunged plover
  24. Gull billed tern
  25. Little tern
  26. Great crested tern
  27. Whiskered tern
  28. Spotted dove
  29. Orange breasted green pigeon
  30. Green imperial pigeon
  31. Rose ringed parakeet
  32. Plum headed parakeet
  33. Pied cuckoo
  34. Asian koel
  35. Sirkeer malkoha
  36. Greater coucal
  37. Crested treeswift
  38. Indian swiflet
  39. Green bee-eater
  40. Blue tailed bee-eater
  41. White throated kingfisher
  42. Common kongfisher
  43. Brown headed barbet
  44. Malabar hornbill
  45. Lesser goldenback woodpecker
  46. Brown shrike
  47. Black headed oriole
  48. House crow
  49. Jungle crow
  50. Barn swallow
  51. Sri Lankan swallow
  52. Pale bellied drongo
  53. Ceylon crested drongo
  54. Yellow wagtail ssp thunbergi
  55. Paddyfield pipit
  56. Red vented bulbul
  57. Common tailorbird
  58. Asian paradise flycatcher
  59. yellow billed babbler
  60. Common mynah
  61. Oriental magpie robin
  62. Indian robin
  63. Purple rumped sinbird
  64. Pale billed flowerpecker
  65. Loten's sunbird
  66. Scaly breasted munia.
Not too bad for a trip that was not a dedicated bird watching visit.

This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird. September 2009

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. In 2016 I spent time at Portland Bird Obs and two trips to Aviero, Portugal. 2017 found me back in Sri Lanka in Feb/March, then July and back for New Year's Eve celebrations in December. Also returned to The Camargue in May for a 4 day trip. Few plans for 2018, but nothing yet booked apart from a trip to the IOW.

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


Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly

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

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox

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

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)


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

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. 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. 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. 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.
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

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