Martin and Mary Leathwood's Trip Report

Trip Report Title: 
Travel Report by Mary and Martin Leathwood - Sri Lanka - March 2009
Tour Start: 
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Tour End: 
Friday, March 27, 2009

Trip Report Year:

See more photos of the tour by Mary and Martin here:

09th March – Arrival

10th March – Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Birding stops on the route to Anuradhapura – Pleasant tailed Jacanas (saw many later but never tired of watching this stunning bird), White throated Kingfisher (same), Grey Hornbill (endemic).

11th March
– Cycling around Anuradhapura – Easily the best way to see this scattered site. (Easy cycling) Jith found Indian Paradise Flycatcher & Crested Serpent Eagle – great views. At hotel Black hooded Oriole & Coppersmith Barbet. Drive to Tank – Painted Stork, Darter & Brown Shrike.

12th March – Early birding in hotel grounds – Orange breasted green Pigeon, Pompadour green Pigeon, Green Imperial Pigeon & Asian Koel.
Bird drive near Sigiriya – elephant shelters near paddy fields, three Adjutant next in the same tree – Great Cormorant, Oriental Darter, Great Egret – all with young – wonderful sighting.

13th March
– Early birding in hotel grounds – great view of Indian Pitta, Tailor bird & Tickell’s Flycatcher.
Sigiriya Fortress/Palace visit & climb 200 m. to palace on high. Fabulous views but Shaheen (a dark Peregrine) didn’t appear – Well, we aren’t win them all.
Afternoon to Polonnnaruwa. Superb museum & the temples, carvings & palaces are very impressive but hit by torrential rain.

14th March – To Knuckles range & old tea plantation bungalow – breathtaking views until clouds come in. Lit and fire in the late afternoon !!

15th March – Dressed leech stockings for the day hike after buffalo curd and palm honey for breakfast. Visited two villages amongst beautiful paddy fields walking along irrigation canals then crossed river & climbed mountain peak for bird’s eye view of the villages & paddy fields. Dropped down to a river perfect for a swim with many Sri Lankans weekending. Jungle Fowl & huge Tree Nymph butterfly. Ending on lawn of Longville Estate Bungalow. Black rumped Falmeback, both Leafbirds, Scarlet Minivet plus Giant Squirrel.

16th March – To Kandy – Thousands of Fruit Bats, Water Monitors & a sole Spot billed Pelican. Cultures show rather too much drummers for our taste but costumes stunning.
British Garrison Cemetery – fascinating, started 1817 & filled with early colonials dying in their 20s also many babies. Mr. Carmicheal the old Sri Lankan caretaker has a fond of stories. Great electric storm. Fantastic lightning

17th March – Udawattekelle forest early – Hanging Parrot, Velvet fronted Nuthatch, Brown capped Babbler, Yellow fronted Barbet & Greater Flameback
Botanical garden in afternoon – excellent tour with botanist but only Forest Wagtail plus two Rat snakes.

18th March – Buddhist Tooth Relic. Fascinating to watch the ritual & see the story of the Tooth evolve.
Drove past ….. of tea plantation – extremely attractive scenery to Adam’s Peak. Excellent driver then a very early night. Busloads of pilgrims arriving for the event. Many stalls to cater to their needs open all night. Climb 800 m. , 5200 steps.

19th March
– Climbed Adam’s Peak, starting at 1:45 so arrived an hour too early but sunrise at the temple stunning. Wonderful experience.
To Nuwara Eliya & Hakgala gardens – Kashmir & Dull blue Fly catchers, Sri Lanka White-eye, Yellow eared Bulbul, and Whistling Thrush

20th March – Horton plains – super walk to World’s End & Bakers falls. Really attractive scenery – great sighting of Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Scimitar Babbler & a Rhynohorn Lizard ! We arrived at info centre just before downpour.
Interesting visit to a Tea factory.

21st March – Victoria park & found Pied Thrush. Loved the vegetable farms around Nuwara Eliya. Drove to Tissa. Excellent hotel.

22nd March
- Fantastic day – 92 species! In morning Water cock, Black Bittern & Fish Owl then a visit to Bundala national park – birders paradise plus also encounter with elephants. Painted Snipe, Pelican, Spoonbill plus 5 Terns, Pied Cuckoo, Small Pretincole, Curlew Sandpiper plus Sandpipers & other Waders.

Jeep Safari May Martin and Prasanjith
23rd March – Drove to Udawalawa national park. Wonderful views of elephants including young. Crested Hawk Eagle, Black headed Munia, Plum headed Parakeet & Wooly necked Stork. Rain heavily after 04 pm.

24th March – Elephant transit camp. Far better than the Pinnawala orphanage Martin’s Lodge in Sinharaja forest. Incredible drive up from village saw Malabar Trogon, White throated Flowerpecker and Sri Lanka Myna.
Lodge fabulous place to stay. Eccentric but comfortable.

Blue Magpie
25th March
– Sinharaja walk – Astounding! Mixed flock 12 species including Trogon, Red faced Malkoha, Lesser Yellow naped Woodpecker, Scimitar Babbler, Orange billed Babbler, Ashy headed laughing thrush, Black naped Monarch, Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Crested Drongo, Layard’s Parakeet and Chestnut winged Cuckoo. Incredible! watched for 1:30 hours. Also saw Sri Lanka Magpie, Kangaroo Lizards and Terentura.            

26th March – What a start to the day. One of Jith’s friends showed a great view of Green billed Caucal and a pair of Frogmouth. Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery. The two and three days turtles were very attractive but the bid turtle was after dinner we were able to walk along the beach and watch a 50 years old Green Turtle over a meter long laying 140 eggs before filling in the hole and returned to the sea.

27th March - Mr. Silva showed us the aftermath of the tsunami – a rail road with its sleepers vertical and wrecked fishing boats.
Saw a coir mill working.
Arrival to Ranweli Resort & saw Dolphins with the sunset.      

Black headed Kingfisher
28th March
– Early morning boat trip. Excellent boatman who is knows his birds. Saw Common, White throated, Pied & Stork billed Kingfishers then taken by chief naturalist, birder to see Black capped Kingfisher. Excellent sighting and great finished to a fabulous holiday.

Total bird species seen - 202

Author/s of the report: 
Martin Leathwood
Mary Leathwood
Group size: 
Members of the group (clients): 
Martin Leathwood
Mary Leathwood
Tour Guide: 
Prasanjith Caldera