We will also cross the Kelani River in a dugout canoe to reach the Kelani Valley Forest Reserve, a lowland tropical rainforest rich in endemic fauna and flora. This reserve is ideal for Sri Lanka Myna, Green-billed Coucal, magnificent Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Brown-capped Babbler, Red-faced Malkoha and the regal Black Eagle. There are also many more regional specialties and by the end of our stay we should have a found a good number of these.
Journeying southwards, we ascend the cooler highlands of central Sri Lanka to the Nuwara Eliya area, home to numerous exciting species. Our first port of call is the stunning Horton Plains National Park where we will search for one of Sri Lanka’s most endangered endemics, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush. Other specialties include Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, stunning Kashmir Flycatcher, endemic Dull-blue Flycatcher, Sri Lanka White-eye, Loten’s and Purple-rumped Sunbirds and Sri Lanka Scimitar-Babbler. We also visit Victoria Park to look for the beautiful Indian Pitta, Pied Thrush, Indian Blue Robin, Forest Wagtail, Yellow-eared Bulbul and, with a bit of luck, Slaty-legged Crake.
We then make our way into the lowlands of Sri Lanka. First we will explore the reservoirs and saltpans of Tissamaharama, home to an amazing variety of water-associated birds. These include Spot-billed Pelican, Little and Indian Cormorants, Greater Flamingo, Yellow and Black Bitterns, Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Black-headed Ibis, Lesser Whistling Duck, Pheasant-tailed Jacana and hopefully Saunders’ Tern and Lesser Adjutant.
We also spend a full day’s game viewing and birding in fabulous Yala National Park, which supports healthy numbers of Asian Elephant, Water Buffalo, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, Golden Jackal, Hanuman Langur, Bonnet Macaque and even Leopard. Birding the woodlands here we will search for the rare White-naped Woodpecker, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, beautiful Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Chestnut-headed and Green Bee-eaters, Sirkeer Malkoha, Jerdon’s Bush Lark, White-browed Bulbul and Rosy Starling, to name just a few. Indian Peafowl are common and we hope to see the males in full display, one of nature’s most spectacular events! Wetlands and coastal areas literally teem with birds, including Great Thick-knee, Greater Painted Snipe, Small Pratincole and Black-necked Stork.
Continuing westward to the saltpans of Bundala National Park, we look for the impressive White-bellied Sea Eagle, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Gull-billed Tern, a variety of mammals and Swamp Crocodile. In nearby Uda Walawe National Park some of the birds we search for are Malabar Pied Hornbill, striking Blue-faced Malkoha and Barred Buttonquail.
Next on the agenda is the Sinharaja Rainforest, which hosts the widest variety of forest-associated birds in Sri Lanka. Some of the specials in this extensive forest include Dark-fronted and Orange-billed Babblers, outrageous Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Serendib Scops Owl (only officially described in 2004!), Layard’s Parakeet, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Green-billed Coucal, Red-faced Malkoha, Malabar Trogon, Ashy-headed Laughingthrush, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Crimson-backed Goldenback, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, White-faced Starling, Sri Lanka Hill Myna, Sri Lanka and Scaly Thrushes, Orange Minivet, Sri Lanka Drongo, Indian Scimitar-Babbler, Legge’s Flowerpecker and Brown-backed Needletail. All in all, this birding and wildlife adventure promises a whole host of delightful endemic birds and exciting mammals and reptiles in a country famous for its awesome scenery, vibrant culture and super-friendly people!
Day 1: Colombo and transfer to Kitulgala.
Day 2: Kitulgala Rainforest.
Day 3: Kitulgala to Nuwara Eliya.
Day 4: Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains.
Day 5: Nuwara Eliya to Yala via Tissamaharama.
Day 6: Yala National Park.
Day 7: Yala to Embilipitiya and Uda Walawe NP via Bundala NP.
Day 8: Embilipitiya to Sinharaja Rainforest.
Day 9 & 10: Sinharaja Rainforest.
Day 11: Sinharaja to Colombo.
Sri Lanka - Endemic Birds & Big Game: 21 Nov - 01 Dec (11 days):
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