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WEATHER: Sunny most for the day, cloudy late afternoon. High humidity 94% after yesterday’s rains.

Bedecked in rain forest gear including leech-socks we set off for the rain forest after our 6am breakfast. Our first walk involved a 1500 meter hike uphill to the main park entrance. We did it this way to try to locate the Sri Lanka Spurfowl on the seldom used track.

Our first bird was an endemic species, a Black-capped Bulbul, bright yellow with a black-cap extending below the eye (a black hood really), that was nice to see. For the next hour we climbed up to the park entrance and saw nothing much at all during our walk and certainly not a Spurfowl.

All photos on today's blog were taken by Tony Moore - bless his cotton socks! Black- capped Bulbul

Next we walked to Martin’s Lodge where they had reported a Spurfowl visiting their feeding station not 30 minutes ago. We arrived and, of course, the bird had gone. Nevertheless, we stayed for another hour or so drinking tea and enjoying the other species in the garden and around the feeding areas.

Brown-breasted Flycatcher taken at Martin's Lodge

 A pair of Blue Magpies came down a few times, along with Yellow-fronted Barbet, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Black Bulbul and a Dusky three-striped Palm Squirrel.  A Brown-breasted Flycatcher flitted about below us, whilst the beautiful Spot-winged Thrush darted about below us on a track.

It was 9am when we left Martin’s Lodge, we had information that a Spurfowl had appeared at a feeder in front of the main Reserve Buildings so off we dashed, uphill!! The bird was there, hooray!! One of our four most wanted species in the bag. We also saw Sri Lanka Junglefowl and few more Bulbuls.

I know it looks like a type of chicken but check-out those spurs on each leg. Sri Lanka Spurfowl

Next we walked to the forest entrance and set off looking for a feeding flock which we hopefully would hold a Red-faced Malkoha, another of our four most wanted. We took a quick look at the roosting Sri Lanka Frogmouth which was still in the same position as yesterday.

It got very warm and humid as we walked the main track, we found more Black-capped Bulbuls, Orange-billed Babblers, Asian Paradise Flycatcher and a few more species. We never bumped into a flock as such, in fact, we probably logged more butterflies than birds. Dammi our guide is a butterfly expert and pointed out many species including the enormous Birdwing Butterfly, elegant, colurful and graceful, what a beast.

We also noted many other animals including three different snakes: Green & Brown-headed Vine Snakes and Keel-backed Water Snake. We saw Leaf Monkeys, a Giant Squirrel, Green Garden Lizards and several dragonfly species.

Keeled Water Snake

Back at the entrance to the reserve we took another tea break at the café, and before we left to walk back down the hill, we took a little detour to watch a mixed flock of birds behind the café.  A fly-over Laughing Thrush joined a flock of about fifty birds, most of which were common bulbul species and common Babbler species.

the secretive Dark-fronted Babbler seen during the forest walk

Our walk back down to the village was pretty much devoid of sightings, once again many butterflies filled the air, the Tree Nymph glides around like a graceful paraglider looking for a landing spot. The Blue Mormon is a huge Blue and White species that never settles, it reminds me of the Blue Morpho in Central America.

Back at the ticket office we waited for our bus to collect us, whilst waiting a pair of Blue Magpies came down into the car park area, one even sat on the saddle of a motorbike.

A Blue Magpie on a bike!

We took a late lunch at a local hotel, it was 2:30pm as we ate our food, but there was no time to relax afterwards because Dammi had received news of owl sighting just a few meters up the road for where we were.

We marched up the main road and was met by a local who told us that just 75 meters further on we could see a Bay Owl!! Wow, that would be great, only one thing was wrong! The 75 meters was in height not length, we had to climb through a forest along a non-existent footpath, scrambling over rocks and through dense vegetation. I’m surprised we all made it! In the end it was worth it, because the owl was magnificent, we really loved the sighting. Getting back down the ‘path’ was another challenge but we made it.

Sri Lanka Bay Owl

Chasing around for a sighting of a Chestnut-backed Owlet was how we spent the last hour or so of daylight. We visited several local sites and spent a lot of time scanning woodland. A nice side-effect was that we saw a lot of birds, in one tree alone we saw eight species: Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Crimson-fronted and yellow-fronted Barbets, Pale-billed and White-throated Flowerpeckers, Small Minivet, Red-vented and Black Bulbuls and a Hanging Parrot.

Small Mivivet with a Yellow-fronted Barbet

Suffice is to say that we did not connect with the owlet, we never even heard one. As the light was fading we called time on our efforts and set off back to the bus for our short drive back to the hotel.