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Our early morning birding was to look for two specific species, one was the Serendib Owl and the other was the, now mythical, Chestnut-backed Owlet.

We set off just after breakfast around 6:20am and it took ten minutes to get to the first site where we were due to miss the Owlet. We heard it all right, but it never came close to us. A second site proved even worse, we never even heard it there. I think we have put in 10 hours looking for this bloody Owlet that normally comes to bread if you offer it!!!

At our third site we were joined by a local warden of the rain forest reserve, he had a site that might be better. So we marched almost a mile up and down a dirt track and finally he stopped to call the owlet in. Lo and behold the bird answered his call and soon it came very close, but remained out of sight. Then a miracle occurred, the bird came into view, halle-flipping-luja. Boy has that bird given me some grief.

Finally we nailed the Chestnut-backed Owlet - it was distant and in very poor light but Tony managed a shot or two

After a quick cuppa in the village we were led along a dirt track to the edge of a forest which rose steeply above us. The warden said that if we climbed just a few meters we may see a Serendib Owl!!

So off we went! Ha!! It was ay steep climb and lasted forever, we all nearly blew a valve, we had the humidity and heat to put up with as well as leeches and flying insects. The ground was slippery and rocky and steep.

Finally, we got to the right place and there was the owl, sitting like a golden chalice in a very dark thicket, we had to bow to see it, thank you your royal highness. The return trip was worse than climbing up, two of us fell our backsides (me included) but we avoided and injury.

the prized Serendib Owl - Tony Moore

We got to the hotel at 9:30am a little late for our 8am breakfast!! We were on our way to Undawalawe at 10:30am. Our journey went uneventful we saw a few species but not too much, most of us were asleep! Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Black Eagle, Great Egret, cattle Egret and lots of common species.

After checking-in and taking lunch we were ready for local birding at 3pm., What a great time we had at the Causeway of the Udawalawe Reservoir. The whole mars area and shore of the huge reservoir was covered in birds and mammals. Dozens of species went onto the list and we had a few mammals too. We saw Storks, Egrets, Spoonbills, Herons, Ibis, Pelicans, Plovers, Stilts, Greenshanks, Sandpipers, Snipes, Pipits, Wagtails, Larks, Sparrow-larks, Munias, Bee-eaters, Kingfishers, Eagles, Fish Eagles, Terns and elephants..

Painted Storks and Spotted Deer - Tony Moore

Spotted Deer with a Peafowl - Tony Moore

Scaly-breasted Munia - Tony Moore

The marshy area was on one side of the road whilst an open wooded area was behind us on the other side of the road. From the bushy scrub behind us we picked out quite a few new species: including Coppersmith Barbet, Marshall’s Iora, Grey-bellied Cuckoo, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon and sveral others.

Pintail Snipe - Tony Moore

It was a birder’s paradise out there, I loved it! We added twelve waders to the list: Black-winged Stilt, Pacific Golden Plover, Lesser Sandplover, Little Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Common Snipe and Pintail Snipe, Common, Wood and Marsh Sandpipers, both Red & Yellow Wattled Plovers.

Grey-headed Fish Eagle - Tony Moore

White-bellied Fish Eagle - Tony Moore

The number of Yellow Wagtails was mind-blowing, probably a couple of thousand but maybe more! They were of various sub-species ranging from black-headed to Grey-headed and many in between.

Blythe's Pipit - Tony Moore

We left the area at dusk and drove to a site where we could search for Indian Nightjar. After a long walk we found several and had varying degrees of luck with our sightings. Good enough but could have been better. We got back to the hotel at 7:20pm and went to dinner after a quick showers. What a long  day we had had, good night!!!