Sinharaja forest reserve

Perhaps the most striking of all the endemics – Sri Lanka Blue Jay

We’ve spent the past couple of days at Sinharaja, staying at the excellent Birds Paradise Hotel. Sinharaja is a world heritage forest reserve and home to most of Sri Lanka’s endemic species – a fitting end to the trip and a great chance to hunt down those endemics which had evaded us during the earlier part of the trip. After an excellent first day, when we added six more endemics to the trip list including: Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Drongo, White-faced Starling – only found in this one location, Sri Lanka Hill Myna, Legge’s Flowerpecker and Ashy-headed Laughingthrush, we concluded the day with just three of the 34 endemics still to see. A tall order but doable on our final full day of birding. I’ve mentioned early starts before on this trip but our second day in Sinharaja began with a particularly early one, at 4.30 am with a strong cup of coffee and, armed with a packed breakfast, we climbed aboard our safari jeeps to drive us deep into hill country. Long before it got light we were having our pack-up on the lawn of a remote cottage, situated on the edge of the forest. We were there for one reason and one reason alone – to see the Sri Lanka Spurfowl another rare and difficult to find endemic. We had early success with another target, the Green-billed Coucal, but we suffered a severe set-back with the Spurfowl. After and hour of nothing, Dammi our guide heard the bird calling. Another hour and it was glimpsed in the dense dark undergrowth below our vantage point, but no-one really got on it. Minutes later a eagle came crashing through the canopy, probably in pursuit of Junglefowl chicks, and scattered everything. It was another hour before we got our first reasonable views and even then the bird took some finding in the shade. We arrived back at the hotel for lunch with just one omission from our list of endemic – the recently discovered Serendib Scops Owl. The afternoon had been ear-marked for travel to a property, twenty minutes up the road, which had a reliable internet connection for those who needed to complete their online Passenger Locator Forms. Whilst we were busy doing that Dammi got a phone call – the one we’d all been waiting for – the Serendib had been located at a roost site and we had less than three hours of daylight left in which to see it. How did we do – read my next blog!

Another not-so-boring pigeon – this is Emerald Dove
Ashy-headed Laughingtrush – another shade-loving species
Sri Lanka Drongo – endemic
Endemic and restricted to Sinharaja – White-faced Starling – record shot
Our reward after three hours patient waiting, Sri- Lanka Spurfowl, another endemic – record shot
This entry was posted in Birding.

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