Ian Hillery's Trip Report - Day 1

Trip Report Title: 
Bird Watching trip report by Ian Hillery, Durham, UK.
Tour Strat: 
Friday, March 27, 2009
Tour End: 
Friday, April 3, 2009

Trip Report Year:


This report consists of 9 parts: Introduction | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Species List


Day 1 (Friday, 27th March)

The 2 leg journey via Kuwait City, following the overnight drive to London Heathrow and kip in the car, were uneventful, although I didn't trust to my research and judgement as to the visa requirements while shuffling slowly along in the immigration queue. The sign indicated the necessity for a valid visa, but this must have been the interpretation given to the embarkation card. No need to have been concerned, however, since I was eventually tucked up in the back of Jith's hired car (courtesy of Jaya, the driver).

Jith had decided on a change to the itinerary sent originally, with Sinharaja being first on the menu, apparently due to booking conditions. This meant a 5 hour journey along winding and particularly busy roads, with one or two enforced stops en route. First blood surprisingly went to Colombo itself, with a litter strewn mini marsh offering Whiskered Tern, a small collection of Little Cormorants on a wire, and Indian Pond Heron. Stopping at a bank to cash Jith's travellers cheques produced a circling trio of Shikras, matched by an Ashy Woodswallow opposite the supermarket provision pull in.

First birding proper was a mile or two before the entrance to Sinharaja. I woke up from a not so restful 40 winks to be ushered along a poorly defined track into the woods next to a village. This had been the site for Frogmouths recently, although not today, which made Jith's flippant remark about there being leeches here even more pointed. Back at the car, Jith's phone call allowed me to pick out a small offering of perched Pale-billed & Legge's Flowerpeckers, White-bellied Drongo, Black-hooded Oriole, Brown-headed Barbet, and Crested Serpent Eagle overhead.

White-bellied Drongo
White-bellied Drongo

Sinharaja Forest

Sinharaja Rain Forest

The Sinharaja rainforest preserve seems to be very carefully managed and controlled, including signing in, paying an entrance fee, and leaving the hire car in the village where the reception is located to be transferred to a 4x4 for the trek up to Martin's Lodge. This was probably by design - no ordinary road car could have withstood the assault of the rough track through the forest. Martin's Lodge was the initial goal at the end, where we found a small collection of basic but adequate rooms a literal stones throw from the reserve entrance. No sooner had I put my luggage in the room, than the heavens opened for the first time. They continued to do this until just after three, when my guide was due to take me for an initial sortie into the forest.

Only sporadic trickles of rain followed, leaving a good 2 hours to be introduced to a handful of the local delicacies. The main track into the reserve is manned at its entrance by a a small group of local lads entrusted with the task of signing visitors in. Both endemics and more widespread morsels were picked off, although many more were heard but not seen. The former bunch was headed by a Sri Lanka Junglefowl, parading and feeding on the path ahead. Sri Lanka Mynas & Woodpigeons preferred to keep a low profile, conversely keeping to the canopy cover. A Sri Lanka Blue Magpie was glimpsed flying over the clearing. Chief star of the latter group was an Indian Pitta, picked out by Danu, the forest guide, in the undergrowth. In addition, appearances were made by a reluctant group of Dark-fronted Babblers, more obliging Yellow-fronted Babblers, and a Brown-breasted Flycatcher.

Sri Lanka Junglefowl
Sri Lanka Junglefowl

Sri Lanka Woodpigeon
Sri Lanka Woodpigeon


This report consists of 9 parts: Introduction | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Species List


 

Author/s of the report: 
Ian Hillary
Members of the group (clients): 
Ian Hillary
Tour Guide: 
Prasanjith Caldera