Stephen Dean's Trip Report

Trip Report Title: 
Sri Lanka 4th – 18th January 2017
Tour Start: 
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Tour End: 
Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Trip Report Year:

2017-02-11 Stephen Dean &  Upali

Sri Lanka

4th – 18th January 2017

Introduction and logistics

Having been to several parts of the Indian Subcontinent on previous trips, Louise and I decided it was time to visit Sri Lanka.  We contacted Manoj Vardhan at Vardhan's Individual and Group Tours (VIGT), who had put five trips together for us before, and he liaised with Prasanjith (“Jith”) Caldera of 'Walk With Jith' to act as our ground agent.

We booked a package through Thomas Cook for return direct flights between Heathrow and Colombo, with Sri Lankan Airlines, two nights' accommodation at the Ozo Hotel in Colombo on 4th and 5th and one night's accommodation there on 17th.  The package included transfers between Colombo Airport and the Ozo Hotel.

The flights on the Airbus A330-300 were fine but on the return flight we had to check-in five hours before departure because of runway works at Colombo Airport, which meant that it was closed between 08.30 and 16.30, daily, for three months from 6th January.  This meant collection from the Hotel at 01.30 and a lot of waiting around at Colombo Airport, which didn't turn out to be as busy as we had been led to believe it would be.

The Hotel Ozo was clean, comfortable and modern, close to the coast, about 45 minutes from the Airport.

Trip summary


On 5th Jith met us at the hotel with our guide, “Tili”, and we set off for a morning trip to Talangama, on the outskirts of Colombo, in a clean and comfortable Mitsubishi MPV.  Talangama was a good introduction to the birds of Sri Lanka and we saw our first new birds of the trip: Yellow-billed Babbler; Tricoloured Munia; Indian Swiftlet; and wonderful views of a male Black Bittern, out in the open.  We also saw our first Purple-faced Leaf Monkeys there.


The next day Tili picked us up for the drive to Kithulgala, where we stayed at the new Palmstone Retreat (PR) hotel.  En route, we had good views of a single Black Eagle and a single Lesser Hill Myna (which is split from Common Hill Myna by Rasmussen and Anderton).

PR was very comfortable and well-appointed and well worth the 45-minute drive from the main road on a largely unmade track, with hair-pin bends.  No sooner had we arrived than Tili found a male Black-throated Munia and when we arrived at our room there was a Sri Lanka Blue Magpie (endemic) right outside.

An afternoon walk in the grounds produced further new birds: Yellow-fronted Barbet (endemic); Spot-winged Thrush (endemic); Square-tailed Black Bulbul (split by Rasmussen and Anderton) and Brown-breasted Flycatcher.  We also saw our first Giant Squirrels of the trip.

Tili was a very safe driver and great company.  He was also very good at finding and identifying the birds.


The following morning started with wonderful, prolonged, close views of a singing Chestnut-backed Owlet (endemic), further close views of two Sri Lanka Blue Magpies and prolonged views of our first Sri Lanka Hanging Parrots (endemic).  Black-capped Bulbul was new for me and we had further views of Yellow-fronted Barbet, Square-tailed Black Bulbul and Black-throated Munia.  After breakfast we had great views of my first Forest Wagtail (a bird that I had long wanted to see) and in the afternoon our first Toque Macaques and very good views of a Brown-capped Babbler (endemic), which was much darker on the crown and nape than the illustrations had led me to expect (putting me in mind of the swept-back look to the crown and nape of Brahminy Starling (Sturnia pagodarum).

At the end of the day we had inconclusive views of Sri Lanka Frogmouth (we could hear them calling and they were fairly close, but the views were just of silhouettes in flight).


On the morning of 8th we saw one Dusky Striped Squirrel and then on our way back to Kithulgala we had great views of four Sri Lanka Green Pigeons (split by Rasmussen and Anderton and treated as endemic to Sri Lanka) feeding in a fruiting tree close to the track.

At Kithulgala we said goodbye to Tili and met up with our guide for the rest of the trip, Upali, and headed off for Kandy.  For the rest of the trip we were transported in a clean and comfortable Toyota saloon car.

Again, Upali was good company, a very safe driver and good at finding and identifying birds.  In Kandy we stayed at the Riverside Villas (RV), which was a simple but comfortable hotel, overlooking the river.

On our first afternoon we visited the Botanical Gardens, where we heard and then saw Crimson-fronted Barbet (endemic) well, through the 'scope, and Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill (endemic), which we saw adequately, but only in flight.


The next morning Upali and I went to the Udawattakele Royal Forest Park, not far from the centre of Kandy, where we had wonderful, prolonged views of a Brown Fish Owl, perched on the top of a log by the edge of the lake.  Other notable birds there included White-rumped Shama, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Black-naped Monarch, two Velvet-fronted Nuthatches and my first Indian Blue Robin (a male).

In the afternoon Upali took Louise to see the Temple of the Tooth, where one of Buddha's teeth (salvaged from his cremation) is a much-revered artefact, but her visit was at a time of day when the casket is not on show (it is viewable three times a day).  During the evening at RV there were hundreds of Eastern Cattle Egrets and Indian Cormorants flying to roost.

2017-02-11 Temple of the Tooth
Temple of the Tooth

Int, Gt & Lt Egret

Int, Gt & Lt Egret


On 10th January we set off from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and on the way we visited the Ceylon Tea Museum at Hantane, near Kandy.  Set up in what was the processing and packing building at the plantation, the guided tour of the Museum was really interesting, with exhibits of tea processing equipment, a working model of the processing plant, lots of information about the history of tea cultivation in Sri Lanka and, most importantly, a cup of tea at the end of the tour!  Apparently, the quality of the tea increases with altitude and so that grown in the highlands is considered to be the best, which is what we were served, and very nice it was, too.

We then pressed on to Nuwara Eliya, which was established as a little bit of England in Ceylon, in the cooler hills, as a retreat from the very hot weather in the lowlands.  The quaint and quirky architecture put me in mind of Thorpeness in Suffolk and we stayed at the rather splendid Grand Hotel.

Not far from the Grand Hotel is Victoria Park, which we visited in the afternoon and very quickly saw Indian Pitta (the first one we'd seen since our first trip to India (Goa) in 1998).  Frustrating and inconclusive views of Pied Thrush were followed by good views of both Dull-blue Flycatcher (endemic), Yellow-eared Bulbul (endemic) and two more Forest Wagtails.

At the end of our visit we were treated to the spectacle of an Intermediate Egret alongside a Great Egret and a Little Egret.  The birds were close and provided a wonderful opportunity to compare the three species, literally side by side, which I don't ever recall having been able to do in the various places where we've seen these three birds.

2017-02-11 Model of Tea  Factory

Model of Tea  Factory


The next day, January 11th, was absolutely chock full of birds and began with a visit to the Horton Plains National Park, not far from Nuwara Eliya.  En route we saw our only wild Water Buffaloes of the trip and then had wonderful close views of four Sri Lanka Wood Pigeons (endemic), perched in roadside trees and coming down to drink in a gully.

Having dealt with the administrative formalities of entering the Park, we drove to an area where there was a roadside pool, an open grassy area and wooded hills.  Here we saw a total of six Sri Lanka White-eyes (endemic) and another pair of Sri Lanka Wood Pigeons that were building a nest in low trees next to the road.  Then, four Crimson-backed Flamebacks (split by Rasmussen and Anderton and treated as endemic to Sri Lanka) flew over, uttering their harsh calls and with their wings making a rhythmic purring sound.  Fortunately, two of these birds flew back and landed in a tree that we could see from the road, enabling us to watch one of them (a female) in the 'scope.

We then had good views of three Yellow-eared Bulbuls, a single Great Tit (completely monochrome, unlike the ones in Britain), a Common Tailorbird and a pair of Large-billed Crows, one of which was very close and gave great views through the 'scope.

Heading back to the Park entrance we stopped at another spot where Upali tried, again, for Sri Lanka Bush Warbler (which we never saw), but we did have wonderful views of four Dark-fronted Babblers.  These birds looked like outsize Sylvia warblers and were foraging amongst the moss-covered trunks and branches of the low roadside trees.  They responded well to my imitation of their contact call and came very close.  A little further along we had good views of two Sri Lanka Scimitar Babblers (endemic) and then a superb adult Brown Shrike, two Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and about 20 Indian Swiftlets.

Back in Nuwara Eliya, Louise and I took a 'tuk-'tuk' tour around the town, stopping at the quaint and quirky post office and Cargill's emporium with its wonderful wooden signs detailing the many and varied goods that were available there in its heyday.  Continuing on, we tootled around Lake Gregory, seeing the float-'plane landing stage and the military barracks

Later in the afternoon, Upali and I returned to Victoria Park, where we saw the Indian Pitta again and had the most wonderful views of a male Pied Thrush.  Perched for several minutes, close to the path, this bird afforded great views through the 'scope.

Then, Upali and I headed back to the far side of Lake Gregory where, in a vegetated gully behind a little parade of tin shack shops, we had wonderful views of a male Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush (endemic) and a female Indian Blue Robin.  I purchased a big bottle of pop from the shop as a gesture of thanks for allowing us access to look for the Whistling Thrush (and no doubt keeping an eye out for it for other birders).

2017-02-11 Nuwara Eliya Post  Office

Nuwara Eliya Post  Office


On 12th we set off on the long journey to Sinharaja Rainforest.  We stayed for one night at the Rock View Motel (RVM), where we saw our second Black Eagle and our only House Swifts and Indian Robins of the trip.

RVM is a bit basic and we stayed there just the one night.  For the next two nights we moved to the somewhat more comfortable – and slightly more expensive – Blue Magpie Lodge (BML).

2017-02-11 SL Blue Magpies

SL Blue Magpies


BML is set on a hillside overlooking the forest and on 13th its gardens were absolutely heaving with birds, including Black-hooded Oriole, Spotted Dove, Crested Treeswift, Crested Hawk Eagle, Square-tailed Black Bulbul, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Yellow-billed Babbler, Green Imperial Pigeon, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Yellow-fronted Barbet and Indian Swiftlet.  As well as the ubiquitous Palm Squirrels, we saw Layard's Striped Squirrel there.

We then headed for the Park HQ at Sinharaja Rainforest and we had wonderful views of a pair of Sri Lanka Spurfowls (endemic) and two Yellow-browed Bulbuls.  In the trees at the car park there we saw a pair of Legge's Flowerpeckers (endemic).

In the afternoon, Upali and I headed off into the forest with another driver and guide, Tilak, in an old Jeep, the very basic controls of which included a plunger that was pulled to stop the engine (like the mixture control in a light aircraft).  The Jeep was more than up to the uneven terrain and in the forest we came upon a feeding flock of birds that included Orange-billed Babblers (endemic), Red-faced Malkohas (endemic) and Sri Lanka Drongo (split by Rasmussen and Anderton and treated as endemic to Sri Lanka).

The next stop was a small house in the forest where there was a pair of Green-billed Coucals (endemic) nesting in the garden.  Whilst waiting for the Coucal to appear, which it duly did, we had great views of two Spot-winged Thrushes and a Tickell's Blue Flycatcher.

Whilst I was waiting for the Coucal the owners brought me a chair to sit in and then a cup of tea with biscuits!  This epitomized the friendly and helpful nature of the people of Sri Lanka we encountered.  We also watched a Yellow-fronted Barbet excavating a nest hole.

Palm Squirrel

Palm Squirrel


The next day, 14th January, the garden at BML was again alive with birds, including two White-bellied Drongos, a single Sri Lanka Green Pigeon and a superb male, white morph Asian Paradise-flycatcher, a female Oriental Magpie Robin and a White-breasted Waterhen.

Upali, Tilak and I returned to Sinharaja, to an area opposite the house we had visited the day before, in search of Ashy-headed Laughingthrush (which we heard but didn't see).  Back in the garden at the house, however, we had spectacular views of a male Sri Lanka Junglefowl (endemic), which was accompanied by two females, one of which had three young in tow.  The garden was alive with birds and we saw another pair of Sri Lanka Spurfowl, at least three Orange-billed Babblers, two Spot-winged Thrushes, two Emerald Doves, two Black-capped Bulbuls and close views of a Yellow-fronted Barbet.

Back across the track from the house we had nice views of five Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, a Pale-billed Flowerpecker, an Asian Brown Flycatcher, two Velvet-fronted Nuthatches and two Golden-fronted Leafbirds and an immature Oriental Honey-buzzard flew over.

Heading back to BML we found two Chestnut-backed Owlets that were being mobbed by two Sri Lanka Drongos, several Sri Lanka Scimitar Babblers and several Orange-billed Babblers.

In the late afternoon, we went back to the rainforest (not far from BML) and had good views of a pair of Sri Lanka Frogmouths, sat side-by-side in a low tree at the edge of a field.  Back in the forest proper we searched, unsuccessfully, for Serendib Scops Owl but did see several fireflies.


On 15th January it was time to leave Sinharaja and head for Galle in the south of the Island, but before we left BML we enjoyed the usual selection of birds, plus two Small Minivets, two Orange Minivets, lovely views of White-bellied Drongo and Brown-breasted Flycatcher, a male Purple-rumped Sunbird and three Layard's Parakeets (endemic), one of which we saw very well through the 'scope.  We also saw another Toque Macaque.

En route to Galle we saw two Asian Openbills, an adult Crested Hawk Eagle on roadside wires and at least three Sri Lanka Swallows (split by Rasmussen and Anderton and treated as endemic to Sri Lanka) with Barn Swallows over roadside fields.

In Galle we stayed for two nights at the Nature Trails Boutique Hotel (NTBH), which is a new and very well appointed small hotel with its own gardens.  We stayed in room 101(!), which opened out onto the gardens, where there was an impressively large Asian Water Monitor ambling along the border next to the pool.

Louise had looked up several shops and galleries that she wanted to visit in the guide book and we took a 'tuk'tuk' into the town in the afternoon.  In the evening, hundreds of Indian Flying-foxes were in the air over the garden as they came out of their daytime roost and headed off to feed.  These impressive 'fruit bats' have a 1.2m wingspan and to see so many of them was a wonderful spectacle.

Galle has a long history of European settlement, beginning with the Portuguese in the sixteenth century, and the Spanish, Dutch and British have all left their mark.  There are some impressive buildings and just outside the wall of the old town there is a Cricket stadium.  All in all, a very nice place to unwind.


On 16th we saw White-bellied Drongo, Spotted Dove, Red-vented Bulbul and three Small Minivets in the garden and a gorgeous male Oriental Magpie Robin flew up and perched on my 'scope!  Also there, the Palm Squirrels showed very well, feeding on fallen fruit.

DAY 13

On the morning of 17th, before we had to head back to Colombo, we saw a pair of rufous morph Asian Paradise-flycatchers, a pair of White-rumped Munias, several Asian Palm Swifts and an Asian Brown Flycatcher in the garden at NTBH.This report follows the taxonomy and nomenclature of the Helm Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka by Warakagoda, Inskipp, Inskipp and Grimmett, except where indicated, and the Photographic Guide to the Mammals of Sri Lanka by Gehan De Silva Wijeyeratne.

Only those species that were seen and positively identified are included; Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) and Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) were both heard at more than one location, but were not seen.  A Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis), which would have been a new bird for me, was seen very briefly, in flight, at Talangama on 5th but is not included in the total as it was not seen well enough.  An accipiter (probably Shikra (Accipiter badius)) was seen at Kandy on 8th.

Species seen for the first time are shown in bold and “(E)” denotes endemic to Sri Lanka.


001 Sri Lanka Spurfowl (Galloperdix bicalcarata) (E)

Pair, initially partly obscured in vegetated gully, seen extremely well, out in the open, at Sinharaja at the entrance to the Park on 13th and another pair seen very well in a garden in Sinharaja on 14th.

002 Sri Lanka Junglefowl (Gallus lafayetii) (E)

A male and two females (one of which had three chicks with it) seen extremely well in a garden in Sinharaja on 14th.  The male was calling and at least one other male was heard calling in reply.

003 Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans)

Seen at Talangama, 5th, where there is a nesting colony; and 2, between BML and Galle, 15th.

004 Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus)

1, Talangama, 5th; and 1, between BML and Galle, 15th.

005 Black Bittern (Dupetor flavicollis)

Male seen very well, out in the open, Talangama, 5th.

006 Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

1, Talangama, 5th; and 6, Kandy, 9th.

007 Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii)

Talangama, 5th; Kandy, 9th; 1, RV, Kandy, 10th; 2, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 10th with two Little Egret, one Great Egret and one Intermediate Egret; seen between Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains, several around Lake Gregory, and then 2, harassing a Great Egret that had caught a fish but couldn't manoeuvre in its bill so as to swallow it, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 11th; several flying to roost, RVM, 12th; and BML, 13th.

008 Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)

1, Talangama, 5th.

009 Eastern Cattle Egret (Bubulcus coromandus) [split by Rasmussen and Anderton]

Talangama, 5th; Kandy, 8th; hundreds flying to roost at RV, Kandy, in the evening on 9th; Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 10th; many seen between Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains and then others seen around Lake Gregory and in Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 11th; seen between Nuwara Eliya and RVM and then several seen flying to roost, RVM, 12th; and many, between BML and Galle, in roadside fields, 15th.

010 Great Egret (Casmerodius albus)

1, Kandy, 9th; 1, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 10th alongside two Little Egrets and one Intermediate Egret; 1, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 11th, which had caught a fish that it could not manoeuvre in its bill, so as to swallow it, was being harassed by two Indian Pond Herons.

011 Intermediate Egret (Mesophoyx intermedia)

1, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 10th, alongside one Great Egret and two Little Egrets.  I think this is the first time that I have been able to compare these three species, side-by-side, at close range, which was a wonderful opportunity.

012 Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

1, Talangama, 5th; 1, Kandy, 10th; 2, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 10th, alongside a Great Egret and an Intermeditate Egret; and 1, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 11th.

013 Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)

One seen perched on a street lamp between Colombo and Talangama, 5th, was the only one seen.

014 Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

Talangama, 5th; heard, Kandy, 9th.

015 Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger)

2, Talangama, 5th.

016 Indian Cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis)

Talangama, 5th; Kandy, 8th and 9th, when, in addition to some at the lake in the town centre, hundreds were seen flying to roost at RV; 1, RV and several on the lake in the town centre, Kandy, 10th; and Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya, 11th.

017 Darter (Anhinga melanogaster)

1, Talangama, 5th.

018 Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)

1, en route from PR to Kithulgala, 8th; and 4+, between Galle and Colombo, 17th.

019 White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus lecogaster)

1, RV, Kandy, 8th; 2, Botanical Gardens, Kandy, 8th; 1, RV, Kandy, 9th; 2, between Nuwara Eliya and RVM, 12th; and 5, between BML and Galle, 15th.

020 Oriental Honey-buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus)

One adult seen extremely well at Horton Plains on 11th (probably the best view I have had of this species); and one immature seen at Sinharaja on 14th.

021 Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela)

3, together in flight, PR, 7th; and adult, BML, 13th.

022 Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis)

One seen between Colombo and Kithulgala, 6th; and one seen at RVM, 12th.

023 Crested Hawk Eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus)

Immature seen well (through the 'scope), perched, BML, 13th; and adult, seen well on roadside wires, between BML and Galle, 15th.

024 White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus)

Talangama, 5th; 1, clambering around in a bush, RV, Kandy, 10th; 1, BML and 1, Sinharaja, 14th.

025 Grey-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio poliocephalus) [now split from Purple Swamphen (P porphyrio)]

Talangama, 5th.

026 Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus)

2, Talangama, 5th.

027 Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)

Talangama, 5th; and heard calling, RV, Kandy, 9th.

028 Whiskered Tern (Childonias hybrida)

1, RV, Kandy, 8th and 10th; and 1, Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya, 11th.

029 Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)

Colombo, 4th, 5th and 6th; Kandy, 8th and 9th; Nuwara Eliya, 11th; between Nuwara Eliya and RVM, 12th; and Colombo, 18th.

030 Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon (Columba torringtoniae) (E)

Four seen extremely well between Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains, 11th; and a pair nest building at Horton Plains the same day.

031 Spotted Dove (Stigmatopelia chinensis)

Talangama, 5th; 2, RV, Kandy, 9th; Nuwara Eliya, 11th; BML, 13th; BML, 14th; BML, 15th; NTBH, 16th; and 1, between Galle and Colombo, 17th.

032 Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica)

1, seen very well, PR, 6th; 1, seen very well (through the 'scope), PR, 7th; and 2, Sinharaja, 14th.

033 Sri Lanka Green Pigeon (Treron pompadora) [split by Rasmussen and Anderton and treated as endemic to Sri Lanka]

Four seen very well, feeding in a fruiting tree between PR and Kithulgala, 8th; and one seen very well at BML, 14th.

034 Green Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea)

3, Talangama, 5th; and 1, BML, 13th.

035 Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot (Loriculus beryllinus) (E)

Pair, seen very well (through the 'scope), PR, 7th.  After the male flew off the female remained perched at the top of a palm tree, in the early morning sunshine, for many minutes.  Pair, BML, 13th; 1, BML, 14th; and 2, BML, 15th.

036 Alexandrine Parakeet (Psittacula eupatria)

Kithulgala, 8th.

037 Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

Talangama, 5th; Colombo, 6th; and Kithulgala, 8th.

038 Layard's Parakeet (Psittacula calthropae) (E)

Three seen (one extremely well, through the 'scope), BML, 15th.

039 Red-faced Malkoha (Phynicophaeus pyrrhocephalus) (E)

Two seen well in mixed feeding flock, Sinharaja, 13th.

040 Green-billed Coucal (Centropus chlororhynchos) (E)

One seen very well, coming to its nest at a garden in Sinharja, 13th; and one seen at the same site the following day.  Heard calling there and another heard calling in reply.

041 Sri Lanka Frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger)

Heard and seen (but not adequately), PR, 7th; and pair seen well, perched side by side in a low hedge, Sinharaja, 14th.

042 Chestnut-backed Owlet (Glaucidium castanotum) (E)

One seen extremely well (through the 'scope), calling, in broad daylight, PR, 7th.  When calling, the bird's throat was puffed out.  In flight its short tail gave it an almost spherical shape.  Two seen very well, perched together and calling in broad daylight, while being mobbed by Orange-billed Babrbets, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babblers and one Sri Lanka Drongo, Sinharaja, 14th.

043 Brown Fish Owl (Ketupa zeylonensis)

One seen extremely well, perched out in the open in broad daylight, Kandy, 9th.

044 Indian Swiftlet (Collocalia unicolor)

Talangama, 5th; between Colombo and Kithulgala, 6th; between RV and Kandy town centre, 10th; c20, Horton Plains, 11th; and several, BML, 13th.

045 Asian Palm Swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis)

Talangama, 5th; BML, 15th; and NTBH, 17th.

046 House Swift (Apus affinis)

Several, RVM, 12th.

047 Crested Treeswift (Hemiprocne coronata)

7, BML, 13th; and several, BML, 14th.

048 Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)

3, Talangama, 5th; 2, Horton Plains, 11th; 5, Sinharaja, 14th; and 1, between BML and Galle, 15th.

049 Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti)

Four seen between Kithulgala and PR, 6th and 8th.

050 Stork-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis)

1, Talangama, 5th.

051 White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrensis)

1, Talangama, 5th; 1, Nuwara Eliya, 11th; and 1, between BML and Galle, 15th.

052 Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

1, Talangama, 5th; and female, Kandy, 9th.

053 Brown-headed Barbet (Megalaima zeylanica)

Seen well at Talangama, 5th and heard at other sites.

054 Yellow-fronted Barbet (Megalaima flavifrons) (E)

Seen very well at PR, 6th; 1 seen and others heard, PR, 7th; heard, Kandy, 9th; 1, BML, 13th; 1, BML and 1, Sinharaja, 14th; and 3, BML, 15th.  Heard at several other sites.

055 Crimson-fronted Barbet (Megalaima rubricapillus) (E)

Male seen well at Botanical Gardens, Kandy, 8th; heard at Kandy on 9th; heard between Nuwara Eliya and RVM on 12th; heard, Sinharaja, 14th; and heard, NTBH, 16th and 17th.

056 Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis) (E)

Two seen adequately at Botanical Gardens, Kandy, 8th.

057 Crimson-backed Flameback (Chrysocolaptes stricklandi) [split by Rasmussen and Anderton and treated as endemic to Sri Lanka]

Four flew over, calling, Horton Plains, 11th and then two came back, one of which (female) was seen very well, perched in a tree.  In flight, these birds' wings make a vibrating/purring sound reminiscent of African Broadbill (Smithornis capensis) in its display flight.

058 Indian Pitta (Pitta brachyura)

One, seen well, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 10th and 11th.

059 Small Minivet (Pericrocotus cinnamomeus)

2, BML, 15th; and 3, NTBH, 16th.

060 Orange Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus)

Male, female and juvenile seen together, PR, 7th; and 2, BML, 15th.

061 Pied Flycatcher-shrike (Hemipus picatus)

1, Kandy, 9th.

062 Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)

1, Talangama, 5th; and adult, Horton Plains, 11th.

063 Golden-fronted Leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons)

Male, singing, BML, 13th; 2, Sinharaja, 14th; and 2, BML, 15th.

064 Black-hooded Oriole (Oriolus xanthornus)

Singing male, seen very well, BML, 13th, which was being harassed by a Spotted Dove, that really would not tolerate it being perched on the same telephone wire.

065 Sri Lanka Blue Magpie (Urocissa ornata) (E)

Pair, seen brilliantly well at PR on 6th.  The male was perched on the railing immediately outside our room and even landed on the sofa on the deck.  Later it retreated a short distance, where it sang from a perch and was then joined by a female and the two birds spent some time preening one another.  Two, seen very well, PR, 7th, one of which was mimicking a Crested Serpent Eagle.

066 House Crow (Corvus splendens)

Colombo, 4th, 5th and 6th; Kandy, 8th; and hundreds coming out of roost at RV, Kandy 9th; Kandy, 10th; Nuwara Eliya, 11th; Galle, 15th; Galle 16th; and Colombo, 18th.

067 Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)

1, Talangama, 5th; several, Nuwara Eliya (where this species is the predominant corvid), 10th; close views (through the 'scope) of a pair, Horton Plains and then several in Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 11th; and Nuwara Eliya, 12th.

069 Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Talangama, 5th; between Colombo and Kithulgala, 6th; RV, Kandy, 9th; 4, between BML and Galle, 15th; and Colombo, 17th.

070 Sri Lanka Swallow (Hirundo hyperythra) [split by Rasmussen and Anderton and treated as endemic to Sri Lanka]

3+, between BML and Galle, 15th.

071 White-bellied Drongo (Dicrurus caerulescens)

2, Talangama, 5th; 2, BML, 14th; 1, BML, 15th; and 1, NTBH, 16th.

072 Sri Lanka Drongo (Dicrurus lophorinus) [split by Rasmussen and Anderton and treated as endemic to Sri Lanka]

1 in a mixed feeding flock, Sinharaja, 13th; and 1 (with Orange-billed Babblers and Sri Lanka Scimitar Babblers), mobbing two Chestnut-backed Owlets, Sinharaja, 14th.

073 Forest Wagtail (Dendronanthus indicus)

1 seen very well, PR, 7th.  This was a most welcome sighting as this is a bird that I was very keen to see, having somehow missed it on previous trips to South and South-east Asia.  2, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 10th.

074 Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)

1, Talangama, 5th.

075 Black-capped Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus)

2, PR, 7th; and 2, Sinharaja, 14th.

076 Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer)

Bulbuls are one of my favourite groups of birds in the Palearctic, African and Oriental tropical and sub-tropical regions and this charming bird is the “default” bulbul species in Sri Lanka.  We saw them at: Talangama, 5th; Kandy, 8th; Nuwara Eliya, 10th and 11th; 3+, RVM, 12th; 2, BML, 13th; 1, BML, 14th; 1, BML, 15th; and NTBH, 16th and 17th.

077 Yellow-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus penicillatus) (E)

1, seen well, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 10th; and 3, Horton Plains, 11th.

078 Yellow-browed Bulbul (Acritillas indica)

1, PR, 6th (seen in the same field of view as a Square-tailed Black Bulbul); 2+, PR, 7th; 2, BML, 13th; and 2 seen brilliantly well at the entrance to the Sinharaja Rainforest Park, 13th.

079 Square-tailed Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes ganeesa) [split by Rasmussen and Anderton and treated as endemic to Western India and Sri Lanka]

1, PR, 6th (seen in the same field of view as a Yellow-browed Bulbul); 2, PR, 7th; Kandy, 9th; 2, BML, 13th; 1, BML, 14th; and 2, BML, 15th.

080 Plain Prinia (Prinia inornata)

1, Talangama, 5th.

081 Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius)

Botanical Gardens, Kandy, 8th; and Horton Plains, 11th.

082 Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)

1, Talangama, 5th.

083 Blyth's Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum)

1, Kithulgala, 8th.

084 Black-naped Monarch (Hypothymis azurea)

1, Kandy, 9th.

085 Asian Paradise-flycatcher (Tersiphone paradisi)

Male, white morph, BML, 14th; and pair, rufous morph, Galle, 17th.

086 Brown-capped Babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillus) (E)

One, seen very well, PR, 7th.  When at close quarters this bird was heard uttering a quiet croaking call, somewhat reminiscent of Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos).

087 Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus melanurus) (E)

2, seen well, Horton Plains, 11th; and several (with Orange-billed Babblers and one Sri Lanka Drongo) mobbing two Chestnut-backed Owlets, Sinharaja, 14th.

088 Dark-fronted Babbler (Rhopocichla atriceps)

Pair and then four in total, seen extremely well, Horton Plains, 11th.  These birds were extremely confiding in response to an imitation of their purring contact call as they foraged in the moss-covered trees.

089 Orange-billed Babbler (Turdoides rufescens) (E)

Several in a mixed-species feeding flock, Sinharaja, 13th; and 3+ in garden and then several (with one Sri Lanka Drongo and several Sri Lanka Scimitar Babblers) mobbing two Chestnut-backed Owlets, Sinharaja, 14th.

090 Yellow-billed Babbler (Turdoides affinis)

2, Talangama, 5th; 2+, Botanical Gardens, Kandy, 8th; 3, RV, Kandy, 10th; 2, BML, 13th; 2, BML, 14th; 2, BML, 15th; and 2, Galle, 16th.

091 Lesser Hill Myna (Gracula indica) [split by Rasmussen and Anderton and treated as endemic to Sri Lanka and south-west India]

1, between Colombo and Kithulgala, 6th.

092 Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)

Pair seen between Colombo and Kithulgala, 6th; Kithulgala, RV, Kandy and Botanical Gardens, Kandy, 8th and 9th; Nuwara Eliya, 10th and 11th; BML, 14th; between BML and Galle, 15th; and Galle, 16th and 17th.

093 Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush (Myophonus blighi) (E)

Male seen extremely well in gully behind roadside shops near Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya, 11th.

094 Pied Thrush (Zoothera wardii)

After frustratingly inconclusive views on 10th, a male was seen very well (in the 'scope), as it remained perched on a low branch for several minutes, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 11th.

095 Spot-winged Thrush (Zoothera spiloptera) (E)

One seen adequately, PR, 6th; two seen extremely well in garden at Sinharaja, 13th and 14th; and heard singing, BML, 15th.

096 Indian Blue Robin (Luscinia brunnea)

Male seen well, Kandy, 9th; and female seen extremely well in gully behind shops near Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya, 11th.

097 Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis)

Male, singing, Talangama, 5th; male, Kithulgala, 8th; male, singing, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 10th and 11th; female, BML, 14th; male, BML, 15th; and male, perched on my 'scope, NTBH, 16th.

098 White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus)

1, Kandy, 9th.

099 Indian Robin (Saxicoloides fulicatus)

Pair, seen well, RVM, 12th.

100 Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica)

1, Talangama, 5th; 1, Sinharaja, 14th; and 1, NTBH, 17th.

101 Brown-breasted Flycatcher (Muscicapa muttui)

1, PR, 6th; 1, PR, 7th; 1, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 10th; and 1, BML, 15th.

102 Dull-blue Flycatcher (Eumyias sordidus) (E)

1, Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, 10th.

103 Tickell's Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae)

Pair, PR, 6th; 1, PR, 7th; 1, Kandy, 9th; and 1, Sinharaja, 13th.

104 Legge's Flowerpecker (Dicaeum vincens) (E)

Pair seen adequately, Sinharaja, 13th.

105 Pale-billed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum erythrorhynchos)

One seen well, Sinharaja, 14th.

106 Purple-rumped Sunbird (Nectarinia zeylonica)

Male and two females, Botanical Gardens, Kandy, 8th; pair, RV, Kandy, 9th; pair, BML, 13th; male, BML, 15th.

107 Purple Sunbird (Nectarinia asiatica)

Male, Kithulgala, 8th.

108 Sri Lanka White-eye (Zosterops ceylonensis) (E)

Four and then another two, seen well, Horton Plains, 11th.

109 Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis)

2, Kandy, 9th; and 2, Sinharaja, 14th.

110 Great Tit (Parus major)

1, seen very well, Horton Plains, 11th.

111 House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya, 10th, 11th and 12th; RVM, 12th; and between BML and Galle, 15th.

112 White-rumped Munia (Lonchura striata)

2, Talangama, 5th; and 2, NTBH, 17th.

113 Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)

2, Talangama, 5th.

114 Black-throated Munia (Lonchura kelaarti)

Male seen very well, almost immediately on arrival at PR on 6th and watched carrying nest material to a nearby tree.  Later, a pair were seen brilliantly well at another nest, right by the dining area.  3 seen extremely well, PR, 7th.

115 Tricoloured Munia (Lonchura malacca)

Several, Talangama, 5th.


Asian Water Monitor (Varanus salvator)

Single animals seen at Talangama, Rathnapura and very well in the garden at NTBH, Galle.

Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus)

Seen at PR, RV, RVM and NTBH.

Lizard sp. Other lizards, with long tails, short, triangular dorsal scales and angular heads, were seen at RVM (greyish individual) and BML (greenish individual).

Terrapin sp. Seen at Kandy, 9th.


Indian Flying-fox (Pteropus giganteus)

Hundreds (possibly a few thousand) flying out of roost in the evening at the NTBH, Galle, on 15th.

Toque Macaque (Macaca sinica)

2, PR, 7th; 2+, Kandy, 9th; 2, between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya, 10th; and 1, BML, 15th.

Purple-faced Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus vetulus)

Several, of the race nestor, seen at Talangama on 5th.  Heard and then 2, of the race monticola, seen, Horton Plains; 3, Sinharaja, of the race vestulus, 13th; heard, NTBH, 17th.

Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis)

3 seen between Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains on 11th.

Layard's Striped Squirrel (Funambulus layardi)

1, Horton Plains, 11th; 1, BML and 1, Sinharaja, 13th.

Palm Squirrel (Funambulus palmarum)

This is the common palm squirrel and we saw these animals at Talangama on 5th, Kandy on 8th and 9th, BML on 13th,14th and 15th; and NTBH on 16th and 17th.

Dusky Striped Squirrel (Funambulus sublineatus)

1, PR, 8th.

Grizzled Indian (Giant) Squirrel (Ratufa macroura)

2 together and then a third individual, PR, 6th; and 1, Sinharaja, 14th.

Tour Categories:

Author/s of the report: 
Stephen Dean
Group size: 
Members of the group (clients): 
Stephen Dean
Louise Baker
Tour Guide: