André Weiss Pryde's Trip Report

Trip Report Title: 
Trip report Sri Lanka, 31. December 2012 – 18. January 2013 -  André Weiss Pryde 
Tour Start: 
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Tour End: 
Thursday, January 17, 2013

Trip Report Year:

Trip report Sri Lanka, 31. December 2012 – 18. January 2013

André Weiss Pryde

Download original PDF from here: André-Weiss-Pryde/PRYDE_Sri_Lanka_1201_20122013.pdf 

After having explored the birds of India on several occasions, the endemic species of Sri Lanka finally called for me. I ended up seeing all of them and many other bird species and some great mammals. I can absolutely recommend this beautiful island: good birds, good food, nice people and very easy to organise.


31.12.2012      Flight from Chennai to Colombo, transfer to Kitulgala, some birding

01.01.2013      Full day birding around Kitulgala

02.01.2013       Morning birding at Kitulgala, drive to Nuwara Eliya, some birding around 

                        Nuwara Eliya

03.01.2013      Morning birding at Horton Plains NP, evening birding at Victoria Park 04.01.2013   Morning birding for the Whistling Thrush, drive to Tissamaharama, birding 

                        around Tissa

05.01.2013      Full day at Yala NP

06.01.2013       Morning birding at Tissa, drive to Sinharaja, birding from Martin’s Lodge

07.01.2013      Full day birding at Sinharaja

08.01.2013      Full day birding at Sinharaja

09.01.2013      Drive from Sinharaja to Mirissa, start of leisure part of holiday

11.01.2013      Whale-watching tour from Mirissa

15.01.2013      Morning birding in Udawattakele Forest Reserve, Kandy

18.01.2013      Flight from Colombo to Zürich


There are several local agents doing birdwatching tours. I chose “Walk with Jith” (see: and was not disappointed. The organisation was really good and everything worked out fine. My guide and driver Upali was very helpful and was able and ready to adapt the itinerary according to my wishes.             


Most of the accommodation was a bit posh, but usually quite pleasant:

  • Plantation Hotel Kitulgala: A very nice place, very good birding on the hotel grounds. Unfortunately not much vegetarian choice on the menu.
  • Binota Residency Nuwara Eliya: Friendly staff and good food. Unfortunately awful rooms and very noisy. Free Wifi.
  • Hibiscus Garden, Tissa: A perfect place. Very nice rooms, good food and good birding just behind my bungalow. Free Wifi.
  • Martin’s Lodge: Simple rooms, but an excellent location, very friendly people and good food.
  • Paradise Beach Club, Mirissa: A nice place to spend some days at the beach. Good food. Free Wifi.
  • Hilltop, Kandy: A rather posh hotel in Kandy, good food and friendly people. Why is there always a live band at diner?
  • Tamarind Tree, Negombo: Our last stay on the night before the flight. Nice hotel grounds but that’s about it. Much to expensive for what it offers.

Birding Sites

The mentionend birding sites are also found on this Google Map: c3c66b1&msa=0&ie=UTF8&ll=7.226249,81.941528&spn=3.999158,5.817261&t=h&z =8&vpsrc=6>


Here we did some birding on the hotel grounds of the Plantation Hotel, especially down at the river. Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Sri Lanka Swallow, Green-billed Coucal and many other birds were found there. A small tea farm further west holds Chestnut-backed Owlet, Spot-winged Thrush, Indian Pitta and Layard’s Parakeet. Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher can also sometimes be seen, however, we didn’t locate any bird. Ask for permission to bird on the grounds of the farm and give the farmer a tip. He doesn’t make much money! The Makandawa Rainforest Sanctuary is located on the south of the river. There is a small ferry crossing the river just beside the Kitulgala Rest House. However, birding in the forest here is not easy and we failed to locate the Serendib Scops Owl here. More information (written by me) here:

Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains National Park

Victoria Park in the centre of the mountain station Nuwara Eliya is famous for Kashmir Flycatcher and Pied Thrush. The park is open from 6am to 6pm (however, it may open later in the morning). We went in the evening and despite the rain we found Kashmir Flycatcher after some minutes, left from the entrance. The search for Pied Thrush was much more difficult. We eventually located a bird on the right side of the park, near to the toilets. This is also a nice place for Indian Pitta.

Along a road near the Bomburella Reservoir we found Sri Lanka Bush Warbler (see map). 

One morning was spent in Horton Plains National Park. As the computer at the ticket office was not working, we had to wait quite some time to enter the park and were late for the Whistling Thrush. The spot here seems also to be played out. However we found other good birds like Himalayan Buzzard, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon,

Crimson-backed Goldenback, Yellow-eared Bulbul and Dull-blue Flycatcher.

On the last morning we tried another spot for Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, south of Nuwara Eliya on the PBC Highway to Hagkala. There is an abandoned fruit stall in a bend. Follow a small path behind it down to a stream. We had nice views of a couple of Whistling-Thrushes on the path on the other side of the stream in early morning. More information: and here:


Tissamaharama (or in short Tissa) is the starting point for safaris to Yala National Park. Furthermore it’s surrounded by fine wetlands, which holds many bird species, including Black Bittern. I stayed in the Hibiscus Garden Hotel. Just behind the hotel are a small wetland and some paddyfields, holding various species. Other good spots around the town are marked on the map.

More information:

Yala (Ruhuna) National Park

This park can only be visited with a safari jeep. Unfortunately it’s rather crowded with tourists, usually driving around like crazy until they find a Leopard. We had our own car for a full day and saw many birds (102 species) and mammals. We also had a very cooperative Leopard, self found by us.

More information:

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

I stayed at Martin’s Lodge, which is located in the forest. Sri Lanka Blue Magpie and

Spot-winged Thrush were breakfast birds and White-faced Starling, Legge’s Flowerpecker and Legge’s Hawk-Eagle were all seen from the lodge. The forest is incredibly beautiful and most endemics of the island can be seen here. Serendib Scops Owl was hard to detect and all known roosting sites were abandoned. Finally a local guide found one down in the valley and we could see it at the roosting site. A guide is compulsory after the park entrance. Ask for a guide who knows the birds. More information:

Udawatta Kele

This small reserve is located very close to the centre of Kandy. I visited it at one morning. However, advised by a local tuk-tuk driver, I went there the day before and asked to be left in in early morning, which was possible. Otherwise the gate would have been closed. I found Brown Fish Owl at the Royal Pond and many other good species, walking the paths.

More information:

Used books in the field:

  • Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp & Tim Inskipp (2011): Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Helm Field Guides.
  • Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne (2008): A photographic guide to Mammals of Sri Lanka. New Holland.


For any questions, suggestions and comments please contact:

André Weiss Pryde, Breitestrasse 127, CH 8400 Winterthur, andre_weiss (at)           

Systematic list

Names and taxonomy follow IOC 3.2 ( 194 species recorded. Endemic species in bold.

Sri Lanka Spurfowl       

Galloperdix bicalcarata 

Sinharaja, one female seen, often heard

Sri Lanka Junglefowl 

Gallus lafayetii               


Indian Peafowl               

Pavo cristatus                

common Yala and around Tissa

Lesser Whistling Duck 

Dendrocygna javanica 

lowlands around Tissa and Yala

Cotton Pygmy Goose    

Nettapus coromandelianus

lowlands around Tissa and Yala


Anas querquedula           

one female Yala

Little Grebe                    

Tachybaptus ruficollis 

some around Tissa

Painted Stork                

Mycteria leucocephala 

common Yala and around Tissa

Asian Openbill               

Anastomus oscitans       

Kitulgala, Yala and Tissa

Woolly-necked Stork      

Ciconia episcopus          

2 Udawalawe

Black-headed Ibis          

Threskiornis melanocephalus

common Yala and around Tissa

Eurasian Spoonbill         

Platalea leucorodia         

some Yala

Yellow Bittern                

Ixobrychus sinensis        

some around Tissa

Black Bittern                  

Dupetor flavicollis           

several around Tissa

Black-crowned Night Heron

Nycticorax nycticorax     

some around Tissa

Striated Heron               

Butorides striata             

1 Mirissa

Indian Pond Heron         

Ardeola grayii                 


Eastern Cattle Egret       

Bubulcus coromandus 

very common

Grey Heron                    

Ardea cinerea                 

some lowlands

Purple Heron                 

Ardea purpurea               

some lowlands

Great Egret                    

Ardea alba                     

several Tissa, Yala

Intermediate Egret          

Egretta intermedia          

several Tissa, Yala

Little Egret                     

Egretta garzetta              


Spot-billed Pelican         

Pelecanus philippensis 

some around Tissa and Yala

Little Cormorant             

Microcarbo niger             


Oriental Darter               

Anhinga melanogaster 

common around Tissa and Yala

Western Osprey             

Pandion haliaetus           

1 Uduwalawe

Brahminy Kite                

Haliastur indus               


White-bellied Sea Eagle

Haliaeetus leucogaster 

Kitulgala, Yala, Kandy

Crested Serpent Eagle 

Spilornis cheela              



Accipiter badius             


Himalayan Buzzard         

Buteo burmanicus          

1 Horton Plains

Black Eagle                   

Ictinaetus malayensis 

2 Kitulgala

Changeable Hawk-Eagle

Nisaetus cirrhatus          

some Yala and Uduwalawe

Legge’s Hawk-Eagle      

Nisaetus kelaarti            

1 Sinharaja

Slaty-breasted Rail         

Gallirallus striatus           

1 Tissa

White-breasted Waterhen

Amaurornis phoenicurus



Gallicrex cinerea            

some Tissa

Purple Swamphen          

Porphyrio porphyrio         

several around Tissa and Yala

Common Moorhen         

Gallinula chloropus         

1 Tissa

Eurasian Coot                

Fulica atra                     

some around Tissa

Great Stone-curlew         

Esacus recurvirostris      

some Yala

Black-winged Stilt          

Himantopus himantopus

common lowlands

Yellow-wattled Lapwing 

Vanellus malabaricus      

common Yala

Red-wattled Lapwing      

Vanellus indicus             

common lowlands

Pacific Golden Plover 

Pluvialis fulva                

some Yala

Grey Plover                   

Pluvialis squatarola        

some Yala

Little Ringed Plover        

Charadrius dubius           

some Uduwalawe

Kentish Plover               

Charadrius alexandrinus

common Yala

Lesser Sand Plover        

Charadrius mongolus      

common Yala

Pheasant-tailed Jacana 

Hydrophasianus chirurgus

common lowlands

Pin-tailed Snipe             

Gallinago stenura           

3 Tissa

Black-tailed Godwit        

Limosa limosa                

common Yala

Common Redshank       

Tringa totanus 

some Yala

Marsh Sandpiper           

Tringa stagnatilis

several Yala

Common Greenshank

Tringa nebularia

some Yala

Wood Sandpiper

Tringa glareola 

some Uduwalawe


Tour Categories:

Author/s of the report: 
André Weiss Pryde


Group size: 
Tour Guide: