<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Sunbird Tour reports

Tour calendar

Tour Reports:

Central Asia
South Africa
Sri Lanka

Contact us:

PO Box 76,
Bedfordshire SG19 1DF.

Tel: +44 (0)1767 262522
Fax: +44(0)1767 262916

E-mail: sunbird@sunbirdtours.co.uk


“For the first time in years Serendib Scops Owl, or ‘Deepal’s Scops Owl’ as it’s often affectionately known, was seen during the daytime with Deepal showing us a roosting bird on our very first afternoon in the field!

Inclement weather (which in Sri Lanka means rain) meant that we still had to work hard however for some of the island’s other birds and a couple of Sri Lanka’s recently reclassified 33 endemics proved remarkably recalcitrant.  The ever-elusive Green-billed Coucal had us visiting Ingiriya for the first time in several years but the trip was certainly worth it and as usual Red-faced Malkoha gave us the run-around before we finally saw it well at Sinharaja.

Among the early stars of the tour was a nesting Chestnut-backed Owlet and the first of several co-operative Indian Pittas, both right in the garden of the first of our two Kitulgala Guest Houses.  Several gorgeous Sri Lanka Mynas, Malabar Trogons and a posing Spot-winged Thrush were also enjoyed there while the tea estate immediately behind our next hotel held numbers of Plum-headed Parakeets and more. 

Sinharaja, often Sri Lanka’s crowning jewel as far as birds are concerned, lived up to expectations.  Deepal found us a party of Ashy-headed Laughingthrushes minutes into the park, then a pair of cavorting Red-faced Malkohas and shortly afterwards a large flock of White-headed Starlings.  A Mountain Hawk-eagle sat long enough for us all to appreciate it fully and then there was the Sri Lanka Frogmouth on its nest right over the main path and within minutes of that we were watching a party of three Ceylon Blue Magpies. 

From there we took a jeep drive through Uda Walawe National Park.  Elephants were in abundance and Malabar Pied Hornbills in similar profusion.  Other goodies included a fine male Pallid Harrier, no less than nine well-seen Barred Button-quails, Indian Roller, Blyth’s Pipit and our first encounter with several, very elusive, Blue-faced Malkohas.

The following morning saw us watching a couple of Watercock,  lots of breeding plumaged Pheasant-tailed Jacanas and then a myriad of shorebirds and terns on a couple of bird-thronged roadside pools on route to Tissa.  After another hearty meal we headed out to arguably Sri Lanka’s most famous national park, Yala.  Despite the jeeps having to be covered, Yala was enormous fun with good numbers of both birds and mammals.  Deepal even treated us to fine views of an Indian Nightjar on the drive back to the hotel!

The next morning our third and final jeep drive took us through Bundala Wildlife Sanctuary.  Greeted by more Mugger Crocodiles and more Great Thick-knees, we went on to log impressive numbers of both shorebirds (including two Red-necked Phalaropes and several nesting pairs of Small Pratincoles) and terns.  A daytime roosting Brown Fish Owl (we’d see another bird equally well later in the tour near Kandy) and a pair of Indian Scops Owls contributed to the afternoon’s entertainment, as did yet another posing Indian Pitta.

Climbing up into the hills we reached Nuwara Eliya and Victoria Park where we saw both Slaty-legged Crake and a couple of male Pied Thrushes, while the following morning saw us searching for the island’s remaining endemics up in the magnificent forests of the Horton Plains. 

The resident Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush (second only to Deepal’s Owl in terms of rarity status) performed superbly, as did Dull-blue and Kashmir Flycatchers and Sri Lanka Bush Warbler.  Descending from Nuwara Eliya our next port of call was the historic city of Kandy.  Our journey took us via an enjoyable guided tour around a tea factory while that evening Deepal led us on an equally informative tour around the Sacred Temple of the Tooth.

Our second Brown Fish Owl, plus memorable encounters with Indian Blue Robins and Brown-capped Babblers ensued the following morning and then we were into shopping mode.  Stops at a batik factory and spice garden were enjoyed before lunch, which we shared with a mischievous troop of Toque Macaques at the foot of Sigiriya rock.

Moments after arriving at our hotel in Polonnaruwa, Deepal took us back out on a successful final trip in search of Jerdon’s Nightjar and the following day’s excursion around the old city was fun – and interspersed with some good birds such as Alexandrine Parakeet and Grey-headed Fish Eagle. Then all too soon it was time to head back to Colombo for the following day’s flight home.”  Paul Holt



Website by Birdtours.co.uk