NUWARA ELIYA AND ELLA, A GLIMPSE OF ENDEMIC BIRDS.SRI LANKA

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From Kandy, i took the train through the beautiful route to Ella.The views are superb and a must for those travelling there.After 3 hours i stopped in Nuwara Elliya.Nuwara Elliya is the highest town in Sri Lanka, at 1889 m.It’s popular known as ” Little England”  due to the weather and some of its colonial style houses.

I wasn’t impressed by this town.It’s fully crowded of tourists and the town doesn’t have the old flavour and charm of Kandy or Ella.However my porpouse of visit was Victoria’s Park,one of the best places in Sri Lanka to get a glimpse of some of the most beautiful endemic birds there.

Accommodation is a bit overpriced,but there are some affordable guesthouses.I paid 2500 rupees for a decent guesthouse beside the lake.I spent the afternoon relaxing on a restaurant while watching a Brahminy Kite soaring the clear skies above the crystal waters of the lake.

Next day,i woke up at 6 o clock, being eager to find new species of birds at Victoria’s park.The park is quite beautiful indeed and very well mantained.I roamed around the paths for a while when one of the endemics popped up and showed its stunning greenish-yellow and white pattern.It was an Sri Lanka White-eye.It appeared to be a bit common here.Another nice bird to see was the great Tit,that catched my sight many times along the park.

After one hour, another endemic, a Dull blue Flycatcher,appeared on a tree on the main path through the park.

Opposite the gate,there is a board with pictures of the endemic specialities of the place.There it starts a small path through the forest,where i spent most of the time.Just behind the board,on the thick shadow i could spot the magnificent Sri Lanka Bush Warbler,skulking on the ground.Forest wagtail was a common sight along this small path.At the end of the path,there is a small house, where behind it i could catch a glimpse of one of the most beautiful bulbuls i have ever seen, a Yellow-eared Bulbul.Unfortunately my camera battery was charging at that time.

After spending 5 hours in the park, i felt pretty satisfied.I saw 4 endemics easily in a short period of time !!

I packed my things and did my next stop in my trip: Ella.The route from Nuwara Eliya to Ella by train offered me the best views of the tea plantations.

Ella is a beautiful town with stunning views of the countryside.Although it s a tourist town and new hotels are being built in hurry,the town still preserves its hill-country village appearance.Accomodation is plentiful and offers great quality for the price.I choose a guesthouse beside Eeshani Guest Inn,that lays beside a small forest, and has superb rooms at a great price ( 2000 rupees ).

I was surprised that the forest that it’s beside the guesthouse it’s an excellent place for bird watching.Just walking around,I got an excellent view of the Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler,just one meter in front of me !!

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Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill was another good bird to see in that forest.Loten’s Sunbird is a superb bird that i spotted easily while walking there.Scarlet Minivet,a female of Sri Lanka Junglefowl and Lesser Goldenback were nice birds seen in that area as well.

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Another good spot for birdwatching was Eeshani’s garden. Loten’s Sunbird and Purple-rumped Sunbird were found feeding  on nectar on its colourful flowers.Black-hooded Oriole was singing from a banana tree,next to the garden.

Early in the morning i went to explore Little Adam’s Peak road.After the junction,just 100 m further,there is a big fig tree on the left side of the road,that was an excellent site to spot some incredible birds.Crimson-fronted Barbet is a great endemic bird that i spotted in this tree.Even more, there were plenty of Lesser Hill Myna here.

Just a few meters after,there is a water source on the left side.Here I could see White-bellied drongos perched on leafless trees and a White-Rumped Munia flying on a small bush.

On the right side of the road,there is a short trail that goes through a tree plantantion.Here I got a incredible view of the Yellow-fronted barbet,an endemic barbet,nesting on a hole of a tree ( see picture at the top of the post and below ).

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Continuing walking along the road,on the right side,a group of Layard’s parakeet came to feed on a tall tree.This is an excellent endemic Sri Lanka bird to see on the wild.

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A small Sri Lanka Vernal Hanging Parrot flew nervously across the road.Great Tits were a nice addition found as well around this area and a Loten’s Sunbird appearance made a great day for bird watching !!

My next stop was Tissamaharama, the  ideal base town to explore Yala and Bundala National Parks !! See you soon my friends !! 😉

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ELLA BIRD CHECKLIST.SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka Junglefowl*

Indian Pond Heron

Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot*

Layard’s Parakeet*

Greater Coucal

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

White-throated kingfisher

Yellow-fronted Barbet*

Crimson-fronted Barbet*

Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill*

Lesser Goldenback

Scarlet Minivet

Brown Shrike

Black-hooded Oriole

Large-billed Crow

White-bellied Drongo

Red-vented Bulbul

Common Tailorbird

Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler*

Yellow-billed Babbler

Lesser Hill Myna

Common Myna

Oriental Magpie Robin

Purple-rumped Sunbird

Loten’s Sunbird

Sri Lanka White-eye*

Great Tit

House Sparrow

White-Dumped Munia

 

* endemic birds

 

NUWARA ELIYA BIRD CHECKLIST.SRI LANKA

Indian Pond Heron

Cattle Egret

Brahminy Kite

White-breasted Waterhen

Spotted dove

Large-billed Crow

Grey Wagtail

Yellow-eared Bulbul*

Common Tailorbird

Sri Lanka Bush Warbler*

Common Myna

Oriental Magpie Robin

Dull blue Flycatcher*

Forest Wagtail

Pale-billed Flowerpecker

Sri Lanka White-eye*

Great Tit

Scaly-breasted Munia

 

* endemic birds

KANDY LAKE, SRI LANKA

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After exploring Wippattu National Park, I went to visit the majestic temples and stupas in Anuradhapura.Even there, specially around a lake near the temples,nature still manifests in any possible ways.Tufted Grey Langurs and Cattle Egrets are embedded  in this particular landscape of  precious and defiant temples !!

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Afterwards i got into a bus and head towards Nilaveli.Nilaveli is a small town,near Tricomalee, that can be reached by bus or tuk tuk from Tricomalee ( 800 rupees ).Accomodation here seems to be somehow expensive,but Pigeon Island View Guesthouse gives some decent rooms with reasonable prices.

My main reason to stay there was to visit Pigeon Island National Park,a small island located 1 km offshore that offers a great  chance to see beautiful corals,reef fish, blacktop reef sharks ( not dangerous ) and turtles.Further offshore,Sperm Whales can be spotted in its peak season ( April-May ).
Next day i went by boat to the island.It took me only 15 minutes.Once there there are 2 areas to snorkel.You need a guide to bring you to the shark area,in case you are not enough fit to swim for a long time.In that area,i have clear views of 2 blacktop reef sharks swimming very close to me and one sea turtle that appeared a meter deep.On the other side of the island,there is an excellent area where you can snorkel spotting great coral fish of stunning colours.

From there i got a private bus to Dambulla,where i visited its fantastic caves and Sigiriya,a massive rock which on top lays the remains of an old civilization.

Finally, after 3 hours driving from Dambulla i arrived in Kandy,the gate to the mountain area of Sri Lanka.Kandy seemed a bit disappointing, crowded with cars.However,the superb lake and its old town and temples help to maintain its old flavour and charm.

Once there,I stayed in Expeditor Guest House,a great value accommodation which owners are expertise in birds and organise trips to Knuckles Range,a birdwatching hot spot worth to explore.Near Kandy,just north of the lake, there is a forest called Udawattakelle Sanctuary, good for birdwatching, that offers good chances to spot Layard’s Parakeet,an endemic bird that seems quite common in this forest,among other bird specialities of that area.

Surprisingly,i found a roosting area on the trees that hang around the lake.Indian Pond Herons(see picture above ),Black-Crowned Night Herons,Little Egrets and Little Cormorants choose this lake as a roosting place.It offers plenty of opportunities to take close pictures of these birds,that seem not disturbed by human activity.I got some poo of the roosting birds when taking photographs,so a cautious “warning” is advised ! 😉

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From Kandy, train is the most recommended mode of transportation to visit and get excellent views of the mountainous part of this beautiful island, where you can enjoy the sights of the famous tea plantations.

Nuwara Ellya and Ella were my next stops, ( explained on my next posts ) that are excellent locations to spot some of the endemic bird specialities of the island !!