Visit your favourite destinations
Western Europe
North America
Eastern Europe
South America
Middle East
East Indies

A Report from

Sri Lanka, 26 Feb – 10 Mar 2009,

Mark Easterbrook


My wife and I travelled with Voyages Jules Verne on the Grand Tour of Sri Lanka.  Whilst full-on birding was not possible, this report attempts to illustrate what is possible with limited birding time, restricted site access and a little pre planning and reading.  All in all, considering the constraints mentioned I had a fairly successful time seeing 25 of the 33 endemics.  The obvious exceptions being the Owls and two Thrushes, which I could have encountered with luck, however needed a more focussed effort.

Day 1 – 26 Feb

We flew from Heathrow to Colombo direct with Air Sri Lanka overnight and arrived in Colombo the following day.

Day 2 – 27 Feb

After an overnight flight and clearing immigration at Colombo we made for our coach to drive to Habarana for a 3 night stay.  In the gardens of the airport I encountered my first Yellow-billed Babblers, with the usual suspects of Jungle Crow, House Crow and Cattle Egrets putting in an appearance.

Whilst driving, White-breasted Kingfishers were common and a Greater Coucal flew into the undergrowth.  Stopping at a café mid-morning gave me an opportunity to birdwatch for about half an hour, which led to good views of Brown-headed Barbet, the ubiquitous Indian Pond Heron, a female Asian Koel and several other common species.

Figure 1 Grey-headed Fish Eagle at Habarana Tank

We arrived at Habarana, Chaaya Village at lunchtime and I was delighted to note that it was situated directly overlooking the well documented Habarana Tank – a great result.  The tank is an exceptional birdwatching location being bordered by a great deal of habitats including paddyfields, forest, secondary undergrowth not to mention the tank itself.

After settling into the room and taking lunch, there was no time to be lost.  I agreed with my wife prior to departure, that whilst not visiting cultural sites and other tourist attractions I would birdwatch where possible and when at such sites I would birdwatch in an ad-hoc manner – this approach kept the peace and proved to be a successful formula.

An afternoon wander around the local area produced several good birds including 2 Jerdon’s Leafbird, a (Ceylon) Common Woodshrike, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, several Forest Wagtails and 2 Crimson-backed Greater Flamebacks.  With a Spot-billed Pelican and Cotton Teal on the tank and a roosting (Sri Lanka) Pompadour Green Pigeon near to the swimming pool – the holiday had started well.

Day 3 – 28 Feb

Prior to an early morning departure for Namal Uyana Forest and a Buddha visit, I quickly walked around the grounds of the hotel adding, Indian Swamphen, Red-wattled Plover and Indian Robin to the list.  We arrived at Namal Uyana and headed off through the forest to the hill adorned by the Buddha.  I heard a Nightingale type song and quickly located a cracking male White-rumped Shaama followed by 2 others as I proceeded through the forest, Large-billed Warblers were quite common here and a White-bellied Sea Eagle drifted overhead along with an Oriental Honey Buzzard.  Working my way back to the coach I spotted 2 yellow birds in the canopy which proved to be Crested (Black-capped) Bulbuls.  Later at the Aukana Buddha, I photographed another Oriental Honey Buzzard, Brahminy Kite and saw several Purple-rumped Sunbirds.

The afternoon was free which allowed me to explore the paddyfields and scrub on the Eastern side of Habarana tank.  I walked for about four hours in the afternoon.  Not the ideal time, however the walk was very successful and took advantage of a birding opportunity that had availed.  A Stork-billed Kingfisher was the first new bird and as I walked around a nearby dwelling, a White-browed Fantail flew to my left.  As I approached and explored a sewage pipe with some leaf litter, the expected Indian Pitta flew up and perched in a tree above me, providing excellent views.  The nearby paddyfields and scrub produced Oriental Pipit, Jungle Prinias, Zitting Cisticolas, and a Yellow-eyed Babbler.  Black Headed and Scaly-breasted Munias consorsorted with Baya Weavers and three Indian Silverbills also joined the throng.  As I continued to walk, a Common Iora and two Oriental White-eyes showed themselves and as I arrived at the hotel pool, relaxed with a beer and my bins, a Small Minivet perched above me – the end of a successful and enjoyable day.

Day 4 – 1 Mar

This morning was the day of the elephant ride along the side of Habarana tank and a great birding opportunity.  As we loafed along atop the elephant, two Sri Lanka Swallows were perched on a telegraph wire, whilst a Thick-billed Flowerpecker fed in a nearby tree.  Several Green Imperial Pigeons flew overhead and a Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill did a fly by.  The Guide took the elephant into the water below a Wooly-necked Stork’s nest and several Pheasant-tailed Jacanas flew from its wake.  A Golden-fronted Leafbird and several White-rumped Munias fed actively and whilst returning two Black-headed Ibis circled overhead.

After the elephant ride and breakfast we headed off to the famous Sigyiri Rock.  The grounds and gardens produced the usual birds, although during the climb and at the summit a male and female Shaheen (Peregrine) Falcon put on a fantastic flight display showing its red underside.

I decided to walk the elephant route we had taken this morning during the afternoon and although very hot, as the sun began to go down; several birds came to roost in the wet forest.  A brief stop in an overgrown forest area produced a Large Cuckoo Shrike, three Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrikes, a Common Tailorbird and four Coppersmith Barbets.  The highlight of the afternoon was a pair of Black Bitterns at the end of the track where the tank flows into the forest stream.  An Orange-headed Thrush also came down here to drink and the only White-browed Bulbuls of the trip were noted.

Figure 2 Oriental Pipit at Habarana Paddyfields

Day 5 – 2 Mar

No birding was done today during a long drive to Kandy although the usual common species were noted throughout and along the roadside.  In Kandy the site of hundreds of Flying Foxes over the central Lake was truly astonishing.

Day 6 – 3 Mar

The first House Sparrows were added at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy and then we drove to the elephant sanctuary at Pinnawala.  The only Asian Openbill of the trip was noted here with more Sri Lanka Swallows, the first Indian Swiftlets accompanied by Little Swifts and Asian Palm Swifts. 

In the afternoon a walk around the Botanical Gardens in Kandy (where scenes from the Bridge over the River Kwai were filmed produced the only Purple Sunbirds with their Willow-warbler like song and two White-bellied Drongos.

Day 7 – 4 Mar

The ground of the Chaaya Citadel Hotel in Kandy provided an opportunity to catch up with the only four Crimson-fronted Barbets of the trip and several other commoner bird species were also observed.

The train journey from Kandy to Nawalapitiya was truly memorable and enjoyable and produced an excellent opportunity to photograph a perched White-breasted Kingfisher as we stopped for some signalling.  The coach journey from the train station through the tea plantations to the tea factory, where we stopped for lunch was tiring.  Lunch was short lived as I discovered a pair of nesting Hill Swallows, a Grey Wagtail and the first of only two Great (Cinereous) Tits.  Another Greater Coucal skulked in the undergrowth and a Brahminy Kite drifted overhead.

We arrived at the Hill Club in Nuwara Eliya and I was very keen to utilise what little time I had to visit the famous Victoria Park which held the prospect of several very difficult to see wintering species.  As my wife and I walked past the Golf Club, I had an extraordinary stroke of luck.  A local asked me if I was birding and he replied that he was a local naturalist called de Silva – I can’t remember his first name.  He mentioned that he had guided for all of the well-known Island companies.  I was a little sceptical; however he agreed to take me to Victoria Park for two hours and was aware of the birds on the hitlist.  In any event two hours of fantastic birding ensued and in the park the guide quickly put me in the right areas of the park where we saw a fantastic singing male Pied Thrush, two Sril Lanka White-eyes, two Yellow-eared Bulbuls, a male and female Kashmir Flycatcher, an Indian Pitta and a cracking male Indian Blue Robin showing down to five foot.  I caught a glimpse of a running Slaty-legged Crake but not enough for a lifer.  When entering the park, stay to the left and cross over one of the bridges, the stream is easier to view from the other side.  Scan the stream and surrounding bushes and scrub constantly – all the birds encountered occurred in about a 200 m stretch along here – it was a magic place to spend two hours.  After taking an auto rickshaw to St Andrews to look for another Slaty-legged Crake that was uncooperative I offered the guide 1500 Ruppes (about £10), he was happy and so was I - I couldn’t believe my luck.  He mentioned that he lived in the hills and could take me to a Whistling Thrush the next morning but I simply didn’t have the time unfortunately.

Figure 3 Pied Thrush Nuwara Eliya - Victoria Park

Day 8 – 5 Mar

Although the early start prohibited me from attempting the Thrush, I did wander around the golf course briefly, which produced a Dull Blue Flycatcher that I was really pleased with along with a Loten’s Sunbird, Forest Wagtail, another four Sri Lanka White Eyes and a Cinereous Tit at the Hill Club.

We journeyed through the hill country south to Udawalawe National Park for an afternoon elephant safari – a painful and long journey.  On arrival at the National Park we mounted our jeeps.  This safari was not without incident becoming bogged in several times, however it did provide the opportunity to birdwatch and see several species that were not encountered elsewhere.  We had very close views of a perched Changeable Hawk Eagle, flushed two Jerdon’s Bushlarks, saw two Oriental Skylarks in songflight, photographed a Pied Cuckoo and disturbed two Lesser Adjutant Storks.  Whilst viewing a crocodile four Pacific Golden Plovers were noted whilst several Painted Storks fed unperturbed.  Several other wader species were seen along with a Black-shouldered Kite.

Figure 4 Painted Stork at Udawalawe NP

Day 9 – 6 Mar

Not much birding was done today, as we had to travel from the Mandara Rosen Hotel in Katarogama to Kalutara.  We obviously stayed here because the tour used to visit Yala National Park, which we were unable to on this occasion, which was a pity.  In any event another day in the coach was less than enjoyable.  Before departing the hotel, I recorded several species in the hotel’s garden including another Indian Pitta, a Forest Wagtail, Thick-billed Flowerpecker and several Yellow-billed Babblers.

Day 10 – 7 Mar

Before departing the UK, I had arranged a birdguide to pick me up at the hotel and drive me to Sinharaja rain forest for the day.  I arranged this through Baur’s and it proved to be a very wise decision.  Departing the hotel at 0400 we were in Sinharaja viewing a Sri Lanka Frogmouth by 0530.  The guide was MR P.R. Chaminda Dilruk (Chammy), who was very knowledgeable, had a good sense of humour, new his onions and most importantly was a very safe driver – a major consideration to bear in mind.

I concur with several other people’s trip reports that mention, “If you have limited time and wish to birdwatch ensure that you visit this location”.  It’s an excellent site and provides great opportunities to see many of the endemics in a short space of time.  With only a day visit and having to wait for the reserve to open, followed by the jeep ride up the hill, breakfast at Martin’s Simple Lodge, birding started a little later than I would have liked and consequently ended the day with several dips as a result.  If you have the opportunity, definitely stay here for at least one night as it gives you the opportunity to make a really early start when the birds are most active on the second morning.  The lodge is comfortable but basic and the Sri Lankan curry at lunchtime is excellent!

In any event a little birding at the bottom of the hill near the reserve entrance prior to its opening produced two Spot-winged Thrushes, several Black Bulbuls, two Ashy Drongos a Pale-billed Flowerpecker and our first White-throated Flowerpecker.  The jeep ride up the hill allowed close views of Emerald Dove, Layard’ Parakeet, a couple of fly-by Hanging Parrots, our first Yellow-fronted Barbet and Sri Lanka Blue Magpie.

During breakfast at Martin’s a Sri Lanka Crested Drongo flew over and an Asian Brown Flycatcher perched nearby.  As we entered the reserve another superbly marked male Spot-winged Thrush revealed itself and a Malabar Trogan jumped amongst the trees.  The guide found a well-camouflaged Ceylon Scimitar Babbler’s nest with a bird sitting and although we heard several birds this was the only view.  A female Indian Cuckoo perched high in the canopy, which was a bonus, a Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl walked down the track in front of us and several very small Dark-fronted Babblers fed actively in the vegetation.  The only Besra of the trip darted overhead but eyes quickly turned to a movement low down in a tree that, upon closer inspection turned out to be a Brown-breasted Flycatcher.

Figure 5 Sri Lanka Blue Magpie at Sinharaja

We soon encountered our first feeding flock, which allowed a great photographic opportunity of a Sri Lanka Blue Magpie whilst a Blue-naped Monarch was not so confiding.  Another Crested Drongo and several Orange-billed Babblers were in the group, however it was a fairly small flock compared with some that can be encountered.  A small clearing produced a Lesser Yellownape and two Brown-backed Needletails performed high above.  A Blue Morman butterfly posed for the camera before we moved on to an area to search for the Serendip Scops Owl – which proved unsuccessful.  However, during the search the guide flushed a Cinnamon Bittern and I managed to secure a perched view of a Red-faced Malkoha after having only had flight views previously.

Another feeding flock was encountered being led by at least four Ashy-headed Laughing Thrushes, more Orange-billed Babblers and a close view of a male Lesser Yellownape.  As we proceeded along the track retuning for lunch two Indian Black Eagles soared above us, a Yellow-browed Bulbul flitted across the track and near to the entrance to the reserve on a distant dead tree perched a Dollarbird. 

An enjoyable lunch and a hot sticky walk afterwards, in less than ideal conditions produced an excellent bird in the form of a Crested Serpent Eagle and several more Dark-fronted Babblers but little else.  On descending in the jeep we paused to view two perched Sri Lanka Hanging Parrots, and in the village, a Orange Minivet, Jerdon’s Leafbird and Common Iora were in the same tree.  The final lifer of the day was the last Babbler – a Dark-capped Babbler expertly mimicked by the guide ensured that it showed itself nicely.

Day 11 – 8 Mar

My wife had booked a boat trip in my absence along the Maduwa River and then a visit to a Turtle rescue sanctuary for today.  Although the boat trip allowed several views of monitors and some good photographic opportunities nothing new was encountered apart from two Striated Herons.  Later at the coast, two Lesser Crested Terns, a Saunder’s Little Tern, Brown-headed Gull and several Common Terns were noted.

Figure 6 Blue-tailed Beeater at Maduwa River

Day 12 – 9 Mar

A quiet day by the pool, although a malodorous pond at the back of the Tangerine Beach Hotel – Kalutara (Don’t stay here – it’s grim) did ensure good close views of a skulking Black Bittern, a Common Tailorbird and several more Purple-rumped Sunbirds.

Figure 7 Common Tailorbird at Kalutara

Day 13 – 10 Mar

The journey home via Male in the Maldives was long and dull.  Air traffic control kept us on the ground at Male for an inordinately long time; however I did see several Cattle Egrets on the grass between the runways.  We arrived at Heathrow late on the 13th and as I write, I am still suffering the effects of the jet lag.

Consolidated Species List  (Bold – Sri Lankan Endemics)

Little Grebe

1s & 2s in suitable habitat

Great Cormorant

1 At Habarana Tank

Indian Cormorant

Common in wetlands

Little Cormorant

As above

(Oriental) Darter

1 at Udawalawe National Park

Spot-billed Pelican

3 individuals seen on separate occasions at Habarana tank only

Grey Heron

1s & 2s seen on wetlands

Purple Heron

Common at Habarana Tank and 1 at Udawalawe NP

Striated Heron

2 on the Maduwa River mangroves

Indian Pond Heron

Widespread and very numerous

Cattle Egret

Widespread and numerous

Great White Egret

As Above

Intermediate Egret

Individuals positively identified, however seemingly very numerous

Little Egret

Fairly common but not as numerous as Cattle Egret

Cinnamon Bittern

1 at the Sinharaja Rain Forest

Black Bittern

2 at Habarana Tank and 1 at the Tangerine Beach Hotel - Kalutara

Painted Stork

Several at Udawalawe NP

Woolly-necked Stork

1 at Habarana Tank on the nest and 2 soaring over Sigyiri Rock

Asian Openbill

1 at Pinnawala elephant orphanage

Lesser Adjutant Stork

2 at Udawalawe NP

Black-headed Ibis

2 flying over Habarana Tank

Lesser Whistling Duck

Several at Habarana Tank

Cotton Teal

1 at Habarana Tank

Crested (Oriental) Honey Buzzard

1s seen on several dates at various locations

Black-shouldered Kite

1 at Udawalawe NP

Brahminy Kite

Very common throughout

White-bellied Sea Eagle

1s seen throughout the Island

Grey-headed Fish Eagle

1 seen on 2 separate occasions at Habarana Tank

Crested Serpent Eagle

1 adult at Sinharaja Rain Forest


1 at Habarana Tank


1 in Sinharaja Rain Forest

Indian Black Eagle

2 over Sinharaja Rain Forest

Changeable Hawk Eagle

1 at Udawalawe NP was photographed


1 near to Colombo Airport

Peregrine Falcon (Shaheen)

A male and female displaying over Sigyiri Rock


1 seen hovering in Udawalawe NP

Ceylon Junglefowl

2 seen at Sinharaja

Indian Peafowl

Several at Habarana Tank and common at Udawalawe NP

White-breasted Waterhen

1s & 2s at wetlands

(Grey-headed) Purple Gallinule

4 to 5 at Habarana Tank

Pheasant-tailed Jacana

Common at Habarana Tank

Black-winged Stilt

3 at Udawalawe NP

Red-wattled Lapwing

Small numbers at suitable wetland habitats

Pacific Golden Plover

4 or 5 at Udawalawe NP

Little Ringed Plover

2 at Udawalawe NP


1 at Udawalawe NP

Green Sandpiper

1 at Habarana Tank

Wood Sandpiper

5 or 6 at Udawalawe NP

Common Sandpiper

common in various locations – numerous in Victoria Park – Nuwara Eliya

Little Stint

3 at Udawalawe NP

Brown-headed Gull

2 at the coast near Kalutara

Lesser Crested Tern

2 flying at sea near Kalutara

Common Tern

2 or 3 seen along the coast at Kalutara

Saunder’s Little Tern

1 seen along the coast at Kalutara

Whiskered Tern

Common at Habarana Tank and Udawalawe NP

Ferral/Rock Dove

Widespread and numerous (if you want to tick them)

Eurasian Collared Dove

1 near to Colombo airport

Spotted Dove

Common throughout

Emerald Dove

At least 3 on the approach to Sinharaja Forest from the jeep

Pompadour (Sri Lanka) Green Pigeon

Several at Habarana tank and 1 at Sinharaja

Green Imperial Pigeon

4 at Habarana, 5 at Sinharaja and 1 at Maduwa River which was photographed

Ceylon Hanging Parrot

5 at Sinharaja

Ring-necked Parakeet

Numerous and common throughout

Layard’s Parakeet

5 or 6 at Sinharaja gave excellent close views

Jacobin Cuckoo

1 at Udawalawe NP

Indian Cuckoo

1 female at Sinharaja


Single males and females seen throughout

Red-faced Malkoha

2 at Sinharaja Rain Forest only

Greater Coucal

Singletons seen at widespread locations

Sri Lanka Frogmouth

1 at Sinharaja

Indian Swiftlet

Widespread in small numbers

Brown-backed Needletail

2 over Sinharaja

Little Swift

Widespread and numerous the most common Swift

Asian Palm Swift

Common at widespread locations

Malabar Trogan

1 female and at least 4 males at Sinharaja

Common Kingfisher

2 at Habarana Tank and 2 during the Maduwa River boat trip

Stork-billed Kingfisher

2 at Habarana Tank

Smyrna Kingfisher

The most common seen everywhere

Indian Roller

Singles at Udawalawe NP


1 distant perched bird at Sinharaja

Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill

2 at Habarana

Blue-tailed Bee-eater

Common throughout

(Little) Green Bee-eater

Widespread in small numbers

Brown-headed Barbet

2s or 3s seen throughout – very vocal

Yellow-fronted Barbet

Numerous at Sinharaja – very vocal

Crimson-fronted Barbet (Ceylon Small Barbet)

4 only at Chaaya Village Citadel Hotel - Kandy

Coppersmith Barbet

Many birds noted at widespread locations

Lesser Yellownape

A male and a female at Sinharaja

Crimson-backed Greater Flameback

3 at Habarana Tank and 2 at Sinharaja Forest.

Indian Pitta

3 birds seen, 1 at Habarana Tank, 1 in Victoria Park and 1 at Mandara Rosen Hotel gardens

Jerdon’s Bushlark

2 flushed at Udawalawe NP

Oriental Skylark

2 in song flight at Udawalawe NP

Barn Swallow

Numerous at Habarana Tank

Hill Swallow

2 nesting at a tea factory in the hills at Romboda

Sri Lanka Swallow

2 at Habarana Tank and 5 at Pinnawala elephant orphanage

Red-rumped Swallow

3 birds at Udawalawe appeared to be this species as opposed to the endemic form

Richard’s Pipit

1 at Udawalawe NP

Oriental Pipit

3 in Paddyfields near Habarana Tank

Forest Wagtail

Fairly common in suitable habitat in small numbers

Syke’s Yellow Wagtail

Common at Udawalawe NP

Grey Wagtail

Common in the hills around Nawara Eliya and in Victoria Park

Large Cuckooshrike

1 at Habarana Tank

Small Minivet

1 at the Chaaya Village Hotel - Habarana

Orange Minivet

1 at Sinharaja village

Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike

3 at Habarana Tank

Black (crested)-capped Bulbul

2 at Namal Uyana and 2 at Sinharaja

Red-vented Bulbul (including benghalensis form)

Common and numerous throughout

Yellow-eared Bulbul

2 in Victoria Park – Nuwara Eliya

White-browed Bulbul

Only 2 seen at Habarana Tank

Yellow-browed Bulbul

2 at Sinharaja

Black Bulbul

Common at Sinharaja

Common Iora

Common and widespread in small numbers

Blue-winged (Jerdon’s) Leafbird

2 at Habarana Tank and 2 at Sinharaja Village

Golden-fronted Leafbird

1 male at Habarana Tank

Indian Blue Robin

1 striking individual in Victoria Park

Oriental Magpie Robin

Common in 1s & 2s near habitation

White-rumped Shama

3 in the forest at Namal Uyana

Indian Robin

Common on in 1s & 2s throughout

Pied Thrush

1 fantastic singing male in Victoria Park

Orange-headed Thrush

1 drinking at dusk at Habarana Tank

Spot-winged Thrush

3 individuals in Sinharaja Forest

Zitting Cisticola

At least 3 in paddyfields bordering Habarana Tank

Jungle Prinia

Several around Habarana

Ashy Prinia

Common in scrub habitat

Plain Prinia

Small numbers at Habarana Tank area

Blyth's Reed Warbler

1 in trees at Habarana Tank

Common Tailorbird

Seen in 1s & 2s at various locations

Greenish Warbler

1 in trees at Habarana Tank

Large-billed Leaf Warbler

3 in the forest at Namal Uyana

Asian Brown Flycatcher

1 from Martin’s simple Lodge - Sinharaja

Brown-breasted Flycatcher

2 in the Sinharaja Forest

Kashmir Red-breasted Flycatcher

A male and a female in Victoria Park – Nuwara Eliya

Dull-blue Flycatcher

1 near the golf club opposite the Hill Club – Nuwara Eliya

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher

1 female at Habarana Tank

White-browed Fantail

1 at Habarana Tank

Black-naped Monarch

2 in a feeding flock at Sinharaja

Asian Paradise Flycatcher

Common and widespread throughout with one 1 morph being noted at Habarana Tank

Ashy-headed Laughing Thrush

At least 4 in a feeding flock in Sinharaja

Brown-capped Babbler

1 at Sinharaja

Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler

1 on the nest in Sinharaja – others heard

Dark-fronted Babbler

Small parties in Sinharaja

Yellow-eyed Babbler

1 or 2 in scrub bordering paddyfields at Habarana

Orange-billed Babbler

Common in mixed feeding flocks in Sinharaja

Yellow-billed Babbler

The most common Babbler throughout in small family groups

Great (Cinereous) Tit

1 at a tea factory in the hills and one at the Hill Club – Nuwara Eliya

Purple-rumped Sunbird

The most common throughout

Loten's Sunbird

Several at higher elevations

Purple Sunbird

2 in the Kandy botanical gardens

Pale-billed Flowerpecker

1 at Udawalawe NP

Thick-billed Flowerpecker

1 at Habarana and 2 at Sinharaja

White-throated Flowerpecker

Good close views of several birds at Sinharaja

Sri Lanka White-eye

2 in Victoria Park and 4 at the Hill Club Golf Club

Oriental White-eye

Several near Habarana and 2 in the Mandara Rosen hotel garden at Katarogama

Black-hooded Oriole

Common in 1s & 2s throughout

Common (Ceylon) Woodshrike

1 male at Harbarana Tank

Brown Shrike

1 at Udawalawe NP and 1 at Sinharaja

Ashy Drongo

2 at Sinharaja Rain Forest

White-bellied Drongo

1s & 2s at lowland sites

Crested (Sri Lanka) Drongo

Several at Sinharaja Forest

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie

At least 6 in Sinharaja Forest were seen well

House Crow

Widespread and numerous

Jungle Crow

Widespread and numerous

Ashy Woodswallow

1 or 2 roosting at Habarana Tank

Common Mynah

Widespread and numerous throughout

Sri Lanka Mynah

At least half a dozen in Sinharaja Forest

House Sparrow

2 at the Temple of the Tooth and several at N Train Station

Baya Weaver

A small flock in the paddy field and surroundings of Habarana Tank

Indian Silverbill

3 near Habarana Tank

White-rumped Munia

2 at Habarana Tank

Scaly-breasted Munia

Fairly common around Habarana Tank

Indian Black-headed Munia

As above


Sri Lanka is an excellent destination to combine winter sun, cultural visits and some very good birding.  Obviously if you want to “clear-up” with the endemics in one trip, ad hoc birding as and when is not the thing for you.  However, I think a great deal is possible and this destination suits an independent trip.  The country is friendly and easy to get around, although I would advise against car hire.  It is far easier and cost effective to pay a driver/birdguide combination to achieve the distances.  Although nowhere looks particularly far on the map, the standard of the roads and driving precludes getting anywhere quickly.  Local knowledge is definitely required for some of the more tricky endemics and the language barrier also provides considerable constraints to independent travel and negotiations without a local guide.  I can thoroughly recommend "Chammy" as a guide (, whether you book him freelance or via Baur’s.

Figure 8 (Sri Lanka) Pompadour Green Pigeon - Habarana


Why not send us a report, or an update to one of your current reports?