TRANSFER FROM UDA WALAWE TO SINHARAJA RAIN FOREST AT MAGPIE HOTEL/LODGE
WEATHER: very hot and humid most of the day, cooler late afternoon
We had another comparatively late start to our day, we met at 7:30am for breakfast. Some of us walked around the grounds beforehand and up onto the roof garden. Lots of common ‘garden’ birds were around with the colourful White-throated Kingfisher and the Common Iora being the most popular sightings.
After breakfast we took a walk along the main road outside the hotel where a causeway enables you to scan a large area of marsh and part of the huge Uda Walawe Reservoir, on the other side of the road an area of open scrub is good for a number of species.
The view from the causeway towards the reservoir
The area of grass and marshland on the shore of the reservoir was covered in birds, ranging from the huge Spot-billed Pelican to the tiny Plain Prinia. Birds on the grassland included a variety of Yellow Wagtails, Jerdon’s Bushlark, Oriental Skylark, Richard’s Pipit, Green and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and a nice selection of waders. Pacific Golden Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Marsh, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Greenshank, Little Stint and Black-winged Stilts.
Little Ringed Plover
The Sky was full of hirundines and swifts, we saw Barn & Sri Lanka Swallows, Asian Palm Swifts and a couple of huge White-bellied Sea Eagles. In the scrub on the other side of the road we saw Coppersmith Barbet, Black-hooded Oriole and several common species. We returned to the hotel in good time for our 10:30am departure.
During the transfer to Sinaharaja we only noted a few species, the main one being Indian Black Eagle, for the rest of the trip we traveled through some wonderful scenery but we did not see much else. On arrival at Sinharaja, it was lunchtime so we took a long break and met up again at 3pm.
From our balcony at the lodge we found our first new endemic, the Black-capped Bulbul and we got great views of the endemic Yellow-fronted Barbet. Hanging Parrots seemed to be everywhere and lots of birds flitted around the lodge, including White-bellied Drongo, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Asian Paradise Flycatcher and Asian Palm Swifts.
our first Black-capped Bulbul
For our afternoon birding we drove to a quiet track not far from the hotel, it was quiet with traffic and, at first, quiet with bird-life, our sightings were few but most of them were important finds. The first was Black-capped Bulbul, quickly followed by the endemic Sri Lanka Drongo. We searched for the Sri Lanka Hill Mynah without success but then we found the most-wanted bird of the trip, the BLUE MAGPIE. This bird gave us the run-around until it finally decided to stop hopping about and eat some fruit, what a show stopper, a great endemic and a real crowd pleaser.
Poor shot of a great bird - the Sri Lanka Blue Magpie
Next came the Greater Flameback Woodpecker, this bird showed well for a very short period and then only glimpses, it a pity as not all of the group got to see it well. We returned to the lodge after about 1 ½ hours and in the field behind the hotel we found Black-throated Munia, our first of the trip and the tiny Crimson-fronted Barbet, another endemic.
Finally we tracked down a couple of the Sri Lanka Hill Mynahs, they perched high in the canopy of tree down below the lodge, we all had great scope views of the birds, four new endemics went on the list in that short endemic-watching period.