Transfer from Tissa to Udawalawe – afternoon visit to Udawalawe National Park
We had a lie-in today, hoo-rah!! We checked out of the wonderful Hibiscus Hotel at 9am and headed for the forest at Udawalawe. Along the way we stopped several times to view ‘Tanks’ or reservoirs to look for new species, but before we got to the first ‘Tank’ we stopped to look at a pair of Indian Stone Curlews in a small paddock, a mew bird for the list.
Our time spent searching the large stretches of water in the reservoirs was rewarded with views of Pygmy Goose and, wait for it…………..Little Grebe, ha! This bird has to be rare somewhere?
I can't resist taking pictures of this beauty - Pheasant-tailed Jacana
We arrived at our hotel in Udawalawe at lunch time, so we ate lunch there. The grand hotel has magnificent grounds, a lovely pool and is not too far from the National Park. At 2:30pm we boarded our 4-wheel drive jeep for a safari of the park. The safari lasted 4 hours and was wonderful. This national park is about a third of the size of Yala and encircles a huge man-made lake which has many inlets and swamp areas.
Before we entered the park we stopped to view a large open area of wet meadow which, as usual, was covered in birds. We list about 30 species and found 3 more good species for our list. First we found a Citrine Wagtail, then a Temminck’s Stint and finally we found two Oriental Skylarks.
same goes for the Crested Treeswift
In the park birding was slow which was due mainly to the temperature, today was over 30C and was quite humid. We did fond a couple of new listers, first we found a couple of Marshall’s Iora (just after we were watching Common Iora), then a Rufous-winged Cuckoo flew across the track in front of the jeep. I missed the bird but fortunately we tracked it down and got better, but brief, views of it.
Lastly, and it was just before the park closed, we found our main target bird of the day, the Grey-headed Fish Eagle, we found a perched bird, wonderful. On the way out of the park we saw lots of small flocks of Rosy Starlings, these winter migrants we off to a roost, some of them perched high in the trees for a while so we had good scope views.
Many raptors were settled on top of dead trees ready for the night, we saw Serpent Crested Eagle, Crested Hawk-Eagle, Black Winged Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle and Brahminy Kite. One last sighting deserves a mention and that was of Plum-headed Parakeet, this bird was seen by John on day 2 which I missed, now we were on equal terms, ha!
juvenile Crested Hawk-Eagle
Our total sits at 214, we have 5 days left to find 9 more endemics and a handful of over species, tomorrow we are heading into the forest to the perfect place to find the endemics.
UNFORTUNATELY FOR THE NEXT TWO DAYS I WILL BE WITHOUT THE INTERNET, SO NO BLOG!!
Cheers from sunny Sri Lanka, hope it’s not too cold wherever you are.