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Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Frogmouth Batrachostomus moniliger ©Amila Salgado Website

Birding Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a continental island of the Indian subcontinent, shaped like a teardrop falling from the southern end of India, situated between longitudes 79º 39E and 81º 53E and latitudes 5º 54N and 9º 52N. It's 437km long from north to south and only 225km at its widest. Its area of 66,000sq km is about the same size as Ireland. The south-central region is mountainous and has an elevation ranging from 900m to 2440m. This is surrounded by an upland belt of 300-900m elevation. The coastal plains hardly exceed 100m in elevation. This plain is most extensive in the north and east, and the continental shelf ends fairly close to the shoreline except in the northwest where it is continuous with that of India. Today Sri Lanka is considered one of the most bio-diverse areas in South Asia. Recent scientific evidence indicates that many of the plants species in the southwest of the country have a Deccan-Gondwana ancestry.

The drainage pattern of the country is almost entirely governed by the central highlands, with all the perennial water courses originating in the mountains and winding their way down to the plains below.

Climate
Sri Lanka's equatorial position gives its lowlands a tropical climate, with year round temperatures of 27-28ºC and a relatively constant day length. It is always the right season somewhere on the island Rainfall is largely governed by monsoonal winds, which occur during two seasons of the year. From mid-May to September, the monsoon blows from the southwest direction and brings in a greater amount of moisture than during December to February when the wind blows from the northeast. The distinct inter-monsoonal periods receive convectional rains at times cyclones. During the southwest monsoon, the position and dramatic relief of the southwestern side of the central highlands forces the moisture-laden air upwards. The rapidly cooled air condenses, causing precipitation mostly on the windward slopes of the island’s southwest. During this time the northeastern and southeastern parts of the island hardly get any rain. On the other hand, the northeast monsoon winds rise over the central highlands more gradually, and the rain shadow effect is not nearly so distinct, allowing precipitation to fall on the entire island. This has resulted in the division of the country in to two major climatic zones; the wet zone, which receives rain from both monsoons, and the dry zone, which receives rain from only one. The gradual change from the wet zone to dry zone allows an intermediate zone to exist. In addition, two small areas at the extreme northwest and southeast of the country have a very dry climate and known as arid zones.

Vegetation types
Vegetation reflects the combined effect of topography, climate and soils. In Sri Lanka the natural vegetation is predominated by a diversity of forest types. Only a small fraction of land is under non-tree-dominated vegetation. This is mainly grassland, and coastal and fresh water wetlands.

The most extensive type of forest in the island is the dry mixed evergreen forest found in the dry zone (also called semi-evergreen forests). In the intermediate zone, the vegetation gradually changes to moist semi-evergreen forests. Although these forests have a fair proportion of deciduous species, they are essentially evergreen. In the wet zone vegetation has been largely categorised by elevation with wet-evergreen forests or rain forests in the lowlands and hills, lower montane forests on the lower slopes of mountains between 1,000m and 1,500m, and montane forests above 1500m. Also in the coastal areas mangroves and salt marshes colonise inundated bays while areas inundated by fresh water have swamp and floodplain forests.

Within each climatic zone, the presence and extent of specific habitat types determine the occurrence and prevalence of particular species of birds. Within dry zone, for example, habitats such as forests, marshes, grassland, man-made lakes, coastal mudflats etc. harbour certain species of birds, which are restricted to that specific habitat or are most often associated with it. While some species of birds occur in both zones at all elevations (e.g. Junglefowl) the distribution of many others is more limited. Many species and subspecies of birds are endemic to Sri Lanka and a significant number of these are more or less restricted to and characteristic of the rain forests of the wet zone. Some of this wet zone endemics are further restricted to the higher hills.

Avifauna of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has a total list of over 430 species of birds. Of these, 233 are resident and these include the most important 26 species that are recognised as endemic to the country. Most of the resident species are shared with the Asian mainland. A further 198 species have been recorded as migrants to the country. The majority of these migrate to Sri Lanka during the northern winter and are present from about August/September to April/May. In contrast, pelagic species of seabirds like Shearwaters, Petrels, Storm-Petrels etc migrate to Sri Lankan waters from southern oceanic islands during the southern hemisphere`s winter. Of the migrants, about 100 species regularly visit the country. The rest are occasional visitors and vagrants.

When to go
Any period between October to late April or early May is best for visiting birders. This period is best because all the winter visitors to the country are present and there is a very good chance of seeing a load of wintering waders and some spectacular migrants such as Indian Pitta, Pied Thrush, Kashmir Flycatcher, Orange-headed Thrush etc. If the visitor is not so much interested in the migrants, May, June and July are also good time to arrive in the island.

Birding sites
There are many good birding sites but Sinharaja World Heritage Wilderness area, Bundala Ramsar site, Yala and Uda Walawe National Parks; Horton Plains are imperative for any birder. These will give all the endemics plus some other spectacular species. A 12 to 14 day tour of the island will give about 225 species, if the visitor is with the right person who knows his birdcalls and the places.

Top Sites

Bundala National Park

Information

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This NP is a Ramsar Site and is situated in the dry zone and borders the Indian Ocean. This comprises of dry semi-evergreen forest, scrub jungle and shallow water holes. The beaches in this are important sites for nesting Turtles. Birds likely to be seen: Little Grebe, Little Cormorant, Indian Shag, Great Cormorant, Indian Darter, Spot-billed Pelican, Night Heron, Little Green Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Median Egret, Large Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Painted Stork, Openbill, White-necked Stork, White Ibis, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Hawk-Eagle, Little Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Large Sand Plover, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Red-wattled Lapwing, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Pintail Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Brown-headed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern , Large-Crested Tern, Lesser-Crested Tern, Little Tern, Saunders's Tern, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Black Tern

Horton Plains National Park

Information

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A highland plateau comprising of montane forest and grassland. Famous among the birders for the highland endemics like the Dull-blue Flycatcher, SL Wood Pigeon, Bush Warbler, Yellow-eared Bulbul and the most elusive crepuscular Whistling Thrush also called Arrenga.. Other birds of interest are the Pied Bush Chat, Grey Tit, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Spot-winged Thrush.

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Information

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The Sinharaja Man and Biosphere Reserve, which was declared a World Heritage site in 1988, is arguably the best site in Sri Lanka for it harbours 21 out of the 26 endemics. This is one of the hot spots for biodiversity. This reserve contains some of the few remaining sizeable tracts of undisturbed lowland rain forest. Much of the bird watching is done in the area where once selective logging was carried out. Be prepared for leeches in this forest. Birds likely to be seen: Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Layard's Parakeet, Red-faced Malkoha, Green-billed Coucal, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Crimson-fronted Barbet (Ceylon Small Barbet); Black-crested Bulbul (Black-capped Bulbul); Spot-winged Thrush, Brown-capped Babbler, Orange-billed Babbler (Ceylon Rufous Babbler); Ashy-headed Laughing-Thrush, Legge's Flowerpecker, Sri Lanka White-eye (Ceylon Hill White-eye); Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, White-faced Starling Sturnus senex, Sri Lanka Myna (Ceylon Hill-Myna); Black-throated Munia. (Ceylon Hill Munia); Malabar Trogon, Black Bulbul, Dark-fronted Babbler, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Greater Raquet-tailed Drongo, Green Imperial Pigeon, Ceylon Frogmouth, Crested Honey Buzzard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Shikra, Black Eagle, Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, Mountain Hawk-Eagle.

Uda Walawe National Park

Information

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This is another dry zone area which is the catchment of a very large man made reservoir. A mixture of abandoned Teak plantation, grassland, scrub jungle and some riverine frests. This is also a very famous site for Elephants. Birds likely to be seen: Apart from seeing most of the waterbirds in the Bundala NP it is very likely that the following also be seen. Spot-billed Pelican, Lesser Adjutant, Black-winged Kite, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fishing Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Hawk-Eagle,Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Green Imperial Pigeon, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Green Imperial Pigeon, Blue-faced Malkoha, Red-faced Malkoha, Sirkeer, Little Green Bee-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Crimson-breasted Barbet, Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Yellow-fronted Pied Woodpecker

Contributor

Upali Ekanayake

Ornithological Tour Leader (Sri Lanka Tourism (SLTDA) Approved Tourist Guide & Lecturer)

84, Amunugama South, Gunnepana, Sri Lanka

ubekan@gmail.com

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 441

(As at January 2019)

National Bird: Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl Gallus lafayetti

Endemics

Number of endemics: 33

Sri Lanka Spurfowl Galloperdix bicalcarata, Sri Lanka Junglefowl Gallus lafayettii, Sri Lanka Woodpigeon Columba torringtonii, Pompadour Green Pigeon Treron pompadora, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot Loriculus beryllinus, Layard’s Parakeet Psittacula calthropae, Red-faced Malkoha Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus, Green-billed Coucal Centropus chlororhynchos, Serendib Scops-Owl Otus thilohoffmanni, Chestnut-backed Owlet Glaucidium castanonotum, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill Ocyceros gingalensis, Yellow-fronted Barbet Megalaima flavifrons, Sri Lanka Small Barbet Megalaima rubricapillus, Crimson-backed Flameback Chrysocolaptes stricklandi, Sri Lanka Swallow Hirundo hyperythra, Sri Lanka Woodshrike Tephrodornis affinis, Black-capped Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus, Yellow-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus penicillatus, Sri Lanka Whistling-Thrush Myophonus blighi, Spot-winged Ground-Thrush Zoothera spiloptera, Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush Zoothera imbricate, Sri Lanka Bush-Warbler Bradypterus palliseri, Dusky-blue Flycatcher Eumyias sordidus, Brown-capped Babbler Pellorneum fuscocapillus, Sri Lanka Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus (schisticeps) melanurus, Sri Lanka Rufous Babbler Turdoides rufescens, Ashy-headed Laughingthrush Garrulax cinereifrons, Legge’s Flowerpecker Dicaeum vincens, Sri Lanka White-eye Zosterops Sri Lankaensis, Sri Lanka Crested Drongo Dicrurus lophorinus, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie Urocissa ornata, White-faced Starling Sturnia albofrontata, Sri Lanka Hill-Myna Gracula ptilogenys

Some authorities consider the Sri Lanka Stilt Himantopus ceylonensis to be an endemic too - but most do not. As for the Black-throated Munia Lonchura kelaarti the jury is still out until vocalisation can be fully studied.

Checklist

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Useful Reading

* Field Guides & Bird Song

For a comprehensive list of recommended titles covering Asia as a whole - please see the Asia page of Fatbirder

A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka

By John Harrison a& Tim Worfolk | Oxford University Press | 2011 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 208 pages, 49 plates with colour illustrations |

ISBN: 9780199585670

Buy this book from NHBS.com

A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka

By Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne | John Beaufoy Books | 2015 | Paperback | 176 pages, 300 colour photos |

ISBN: 9781909612464

Buy this book from NHBS.com

A Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh

By Bikram Grewal, Sumit Sen, Sarwandeep Singh, Nikhil Devasar & Garima Bhatia | Princeton University Press | 2017 | Paperback | 792 pages, 4000+ colour photos, 1300+ colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9780691176499

Buy this book from NHBS.com

A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka

By Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne | John Beaufoy Books | 2017 | Paperback | 296 pages, 650 colour photos, colour distribution maps, 2 colour maps |

ISBN: 9781909612839

Buy this book from NHBS.com

An Illustrated Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka

By Sarath Kotagama & Gamini Ratnavira | Field Ornithology Group Sri Lanka | 2010 | Hardback | 356 pages, 52 plates with colour illustrations; colour & b/w illustrations, colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9789558576267

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birding Sri Lanka

By Malcolm Rymer | Malcolm Rymer | 1999 | All Region DVD | Runtime 120 Minutes |

ISBN: #194348

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Sri Lanka

By Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne | National Trust Sri Lanka | 2009 | Hardback | 208 pages, colour photos, b/w illustrations |

ISBN: 9789550093007

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Sri Lanka

By Deepal Warakagoda, Carol Inskipp, Tim Inskipp & Richard Grimmett |Christopher Helm | 2012 | Paperback | 224 pages | 104 colour plates | colour photos | 350 colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9780713688535

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Sri Lanka - An Illustrated Guide

By Sarath Kotagama & Gamini Ratnavira | Field Ornithology Group Sri Lanka | 2017 | Paperback | 540 pages, plates with colour illustrations; b/w illustrations, colour maps |

ISBN: 9789558576434

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of the Indian Subcontinent

By Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp & Tim Inskipp | Christopher Helm | 2012 | Softcover | Edition: 2 | 528 Pages | 226 Colour Plates | Colour Distribution Maps | Black & White Illustrations |

ISBN: 9781408127636

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Common Garden Birds of Sri Lanka

By Pathmanath Samaraweera | Pathmanath Samaraweera | 2017 | Paperback | 60 pages, colour & b/w illustrations |

ISBN: 9789553832405

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Endemic Birds of Sri Lanka

(Complete and Unabridged Accounts From a History of the Birds of Ceylon) | By W Vincent Legge | Tisara Prakasakayo | 2011 | Hardback | 183 pages, colour plates, colour illustrations, colour maps |

ISBN: 9789555641272

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Ceylon Bird Club

Website

The objective of the club widened over the years to promoting the protection of bird species and subspecies, and the conservation of their habitats, in Sri Lanka. Towards this, the club strives to find out which bird taxa are threatened, monitors their sur­vival and habitats, and conducts surveys. The Bundala National Park, the Annaiwilun­dawa Sanctuary and the Vankalai Sanctuary were designated as such and/or Ramsar Sites mainly owing to the club’s pro­posal, information and per­suasion. Other sites are presently receiving similar attention by the CBC.

Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka

Website

The Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka, established in 1976 is a non-profit, non-governmental organization attached to the Department of Zoology, University of Colombo. An organization dedicated towards birding, ornithology, and conservation of nature, FOGSL provides a platform on which people from all wakes of life interact. FOGSL also aims to establish and strengthen links with similar organizations in foreign countries.

Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society

Website

Twenty-five centuries ago Mahinda, a Buddhist monk and son of Emperor Asoka of India told the King of Ceylon: O Great King, the birds of the air and the beasts have an equal right to live and move about in any part of the island as thou. The land belongs to the people and all other beings; thou art only the guardian of it. Acting on these words, King Devanampiyatissa established the world's first wildlife sanctuary.

Wildlife Heritage Trust

Website

Sri Lanka's leading biodiversity exploration and research institution and natural history publisher…

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

BR Kanneliya-Dediyagala-Nakiyadeniya

Information

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Out of 26 endemic birds of Sri Lanka, 20 of them can be seen in KDN forest complex. Sri Lanka spurfowl, Sri Lanka junglefowl, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, red-faced malkoha, orange-billed babbler, Sri Lanka blue magpie are some of them.

BS Kalametiya

Website

Satellite View

Kalametiya bird sanctuary is situated in Hambantota distric Srilanka. 20 Km away from Tangalle city. today This is a main bird watching site in Srilanka. This sanctuary include Kalametiya mangrove lagoon and area. This is a brackish water lagoon very close to Kalametiya beach. There are many pictures places in this area. There are over 150 species of birds in Kalametiya bird sanctuary including 54 migratory birds. additionally about 20 species of mammals, about 41 species of fish and 38 species of reptiles live in Kalametiya bird sanctuary. This is a haven for weaver birds. there are many weaver bird nest in the bird sanctuary.

BS Kokkilai Lagoon

Information

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It currently has an area of 1,995 ha (4,930 acres). Numerous varieties of water and wader birds are found in the sanctuary including cormorants, ducks, egrets, flamingoes, herons, ibis, pelicans and storks. The sanctuary is a haven for birds migrating along Sri Lanka's east coast.[9] Elephants are also found in the sanctuary.

NP Angammedilla

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Sri Lankan elephant, Sri Lankan sambar deer, Indian muntjac, Sri Lankan axis deer, water buffalo, wild boar, and peafowl are common within the park. However Sri Lanka leopard, sloth bear, grizzled giant squirrel and Sri Lanka junglefowl are sometimes seen.

NP Bundala (IBA)

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Bundala National Park is an internationally important wintering ground for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. Bundala harbors 197 species of birds, the highlight being the greater flamingo, which migrate in large flocks. 197 species of birds. The wetland habitats in Bundala harbours about 100 species of water birds, half of them being migrant birds.

NP Chundikkulam (BS)

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Chundikkulam Lagoon and its surrounding area was designated as a bird sanctuary. Numerous varieties of water and wader birds are found in the park.

NP Flood Plains

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Flood Plains National Park is one of the four national parks set aside under the Mahaweli River development project.[2] The park was created on 7 August 1984.[3] The national park is situated along the Mahaweli flood plain and is considered a rich feeding ground for elephants. The flood plains are especially important for the diversity and richness of their avifauna, particularly migrant birds. The rare species lesser adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus and variety of other species inhabit the park.

NP Gal Oya

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More than 150 species of birds have been recorded in Gal Oya. The lesser adjutant, spot-billed pelican and red-faced malkoha are some of the park's resident birds.

NP Galway's Land (IBA)

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Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka considers that the Victoria park of Nuwara Eliya and the Galway's Land as two of the most significant birding sites in Sri Lanka. Galway's Land harbours about 20 rare migrant bird species and 30 native species.

NP Horton Plains (IBA)

Information

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Horton Plains National Park is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. This plateau at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres (6,900–7,500 ft) is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region. Horton Plains contains 21 bird species which occur only on Sri Lanka. Four, Sri Lanka blue magpie, dull-blue flycatcher, Sri Lanka white-eye, and Sri Lanka wood pigeon, occur only in Horton plains, while other endemic species include Sri Lanka spurfowl, Sri Lanka junglefowl, yellow-fronted barbet, orange-billed babbler, Sri Lanka bush warbler, and Sri Lanka whistling-thrush.

NP Kaudulla

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Large water birds such as spot-billed pelican and lesser adjutant visit the Kaudulla tank.

NP Kumana (BS)

Information

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Kumana National Park in Sri Lanka is renowned for its avifauna, particularly its large flocks of migratory waterfowl and wading birds. Kumana is one of the most important bird nesting and breeding grounds in Sri Lanka. 255 species of birds have been recorded in the national park. From April to July tens of thousands of birds migrate to the Kumana swamp area. Rare species such as black-necked stork, lesser adjutant, Eurasian spoonbill, and great thick-knee are breeding inhabitants.

NP Lahugala Kitulana

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Many wetland birds found in Lahugala Kitulana include great white pelican, purple heron, painted stork, lesser adjutant, Anas spp., white-bellied sea eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, common kingfisher, stork-billed kingfisher, white-throated kingfisher. Spot-billed pelican, Asian openbill and woolly-necked stork are also recorded visiting the wetland.

NP Madhu Road

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Numerous varieties of birds are found in Madhu Road including Alexandrine parakeet, ashy-crowned sparrow-lark, ashy prinia, ashy woodswallow, Asian koel, Asian palm swift.....

NP Maduru Oya

Information

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The importance of the park's fauna is its richness, which includes a number of endemic species. The park's diverse aquatic avifauna includes painted stork Mycteria leucocephala, white-bellied sea eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster, grey pelican Pelecanus philippensis, great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo , and little cormorant P. niger. Notable forest species are endemic Sri Lanka junglefowl Gallus lafayetii, the rare broad-billed roller Eurystomus glaucurus (possibly the only dry zone haunt), common tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius, shama Copsychus malabaricus, black-hooded oriole Oriolus xanthornus, and woodpecker Dendrocopos nanus. Endemic red-faced malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus) also occurs. The reservoirs harbor several species of bird including Oriental darter Anhinga melanogaster, spot-billed pelican Pelecanus philippensis, Asian openbill Anastomus oscitans, black-headed ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus, and Eurasian spoonbill Platalea leucorodia

NP Minneriya (IBA WS)

Information

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The reason for declaring the area as protected is to protect the catchment of Minneriya tank and the wildlife of the surrounding area. The national park's faunal species include 24 species of mammals, 160 species of birds, 9 species of amphibians, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish, and 75 species of butterflies. The Minneriya reservoir is an important habitat for large water birds such as lesser adjutant, painted stork, and spot-billed pelican. Minneriya is a dormitory for many resident as well as migrant bird species. Flocks of 2000 little cormorants have been reported. Great white pelican, ruddy turnstone, and grey heron are the other water birds here. Among the endemic birds are Sri Lanka junglefowl, Sri Lanka hanging parrot, brown-capped babbler, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, black-crested bulbul and crimson-fronted barbet. The number of threatened birds recorded from this national park is 11.

NP Sinharaja Forest Reserve (BR)

Information

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Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park and a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. It is of international significance and has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The reserve is only 21 km (13 mi) from east to west, and a maximum of 7 km (4.3 mi) from north to south, but it is a treasure trove of endemic species, including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Birds tend to move in mixed feeding flocks, invariably led by the fearless Sri Lanka Crested Drongo and the noisy orange-billed babbler. Of Sri Lanka's 26 endemic birds, the 20 rainforest species all occur here, including the elusive red-faced malkoha, green-billed coucal and Sri Lanka blue magpie.

NP Somawathiya (NR)

Information

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Including Trikonamadu Nature Reserve. The importance of ecology of the park is due mainly to the wide occurrence of elephants Elephas maximus estimated at about 400 within the protected area and adjacent surroundings and the rich avifauna. Around 75 migrant species winter in the marshes. Usual migrants include garganey Anas querquedula, marsh sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis, wood sandpiper T. glareola, pintail snipe Gallinago stenura, whiskered tern Chlidonias hybridus, and black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa. Resident birds are painted stork Ibis leucocephala, openbill stork Anastomus oscitans, little egret Egretta garzetta, cattle egret Bubulens ibis, pond heron Ardeola grayii, pheasant-tailed jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus, purple gallinule Porphyrio porphyrio, white ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus, and black-winged stilt Himantopus himantopus. Within the forest area the following birds are seen, crimson-fronted barbet Megalaima haemacephala, common peafowl Pavo cristatus, Malabar pied hornbill Anthracoceros coronatus, thick-billed flowerpecker Dicaeum agile, common iora Aegithina tiphia, junglefowl Gallus lafayetii, and golden-fronted leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons. While barred buttonquail Turnix suscitator frequents the open areas, marshy northern area is visited by woolly-necked stork Ciconia episcopus, crested hawk eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus, grey-headed fish eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus, pied kingfisher Ceryle rudis, crested serpent-eagle Spilornis cheela, and painted stork Ibis leucocephala.

NP Udawalawe

Information

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The national park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir. The reserve covers 30,821 hectares (119.00 sq mi) of land area. Endemics such as Sri Lanka spurfowl, red-faced malkoha, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, brown-capped babbler, and Sri Lanka junglefowl are among of the breeding resident birds. White wagtail and black-capped kingfisher are rare migrants. A variety of water birds visit the reservoir, including cormorants, the spot-billed pelican, Asian Openbill, painted stork, black-headed ibis and Eurasian spoonbill. The open parkland attracts birds of prey such as white-bellied sea eagle, crested serpent-eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, booted eagle, and changeable hawk-eagle. Landbirds are in abundance, and include Indian roller, Indian peafowl, Malabar pied hornbill and pied cuckoo.

NP Ussangoda

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The park borders the Kalametiya Wildlife Sanctuary in the east.

NP Wasgamuwa

Information

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The number of bird species recorded from the park is 143. This includes 8 endemic species. Endemic red-faced malkoha is a resident bird in this national park. Sri Lanka junglefowl is another endemic bird inhabits the park. Lesser adjutant, yellow-fronted barbet, and Sri Lanka spurfowl are the species that visit the reservoirs and streams of the national park. Peafowl, painted stork, black-headed ibis and Eurasian spoonbill are the park's other aquatic birds. Rare Sri Lanka frogmouth can be found here. Another rare species, chestnut-winged cuckoo, is seen near the Mahaweli river.

NP Wilpattu

Information

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The unique feature of this park is the existence of "Willus" (Natural lakes) - Natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. Located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. The park is located 30 km west Anuradhapura and located 26 km north of Puttalam (approximately 180 km north of Colombo). The park is 1,317 square kilometers (131, 693 hectares) and ranges from 0 to 152 meters above sea level. Nearly sixty lakes (Willu) and tanks are found spread throughout Wilpattu. Wilpattu is the largest and one of the oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka. The painted stork, the open bill, little cormorant, Sri Lankan junglefowl (Gallus lafayetii) along with many species of owls, terns, gulls, eagles, kites buzzards are to be found at Wilpattu National Park.

NP Yala (IBA WS)

Information

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Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka, bordering the Indian Ocean. The park consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public, and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names such as, Ruhuna National Park (Block 1), and Kumana National Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. Yala is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Of 215 bird species of the park, seven are endemic to Sri Lanka. They are Sri Lanka grey hornbill, Sri Lanka junglefowl, Sri Lanka wood pigeon, crimson-fronted barbet, black-capped bulbul, blue-tailed bee-eater and brown-capped babbler.

NR Hurulu Forest Reserve

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The forest reserve is an important habitat of the Sri Lankan elephant. The Indian star tortoise, Sri Lanka junglefowl, Sri Lankan elephant, Sri Lanka leopard and rusty-spotted cat are among the endangered species of the forest reserve.

Wetlands

Webpage

Sri Lanka currently has 6 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 198,172 hectares.

WS Giant's Tank Sanctuary

Information

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Giant's Tank is surrounded by rice paddies and dry scrub forest. Numerous varieties of water and wader birds are found in the sanctuary including the Eurasian wigeon, garganey, knob-billed duck and pygmy goose.

WS Udawattakele

Information

Satellite View

Udawattakele is a famous birdwatching site. About 80 bird species have been recorded in the sanctuary. The endemic bird species are Layard's parakeet, yellow-fronted barbet, brown-capped babbler and [Sri Lanka hanging parrot]] . The rare three-toed kingfisher Ceyx erythacus has been observed occasionally at the pond. Common hill myna, golden-fronted leafbird, blue-winged leafbird, spotted dove, emerald dove, Tickell's blue flycatcher, white-rumped shama, crimson-fronted barbet, brown-headed barbet crested serpent eagle, and brown fish owl are regularly seen and heard in the forest.

Guides & Tour Operators

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Anytime Tours

Tour Operator

This wonderful lush island has excellent birding with all the endemics possible in a short trip along with plenty of other species to swell your life list!

Baurs Travel

Tour Operator

Sri Lanka is a biodiversity hotspot, home to over 160 endemic animal species and over 3,000 endemic plant species. Choose from a variety of thrilling wildlife safari options and be awed by exotic tropical animals and birds in their natural habitats. Catch a glimpse of the elusive leopard or sloth bear in our national parks. If you are a bird, wildlife or marine photographer, Sri Lanka is a must-visit destination.

Bird & Wildlife Team

Tour Operator

Our team members have run very successful tours for over 25 years and thereby have first-hand experience on where, when and how to find birds, mammals and other wildlife in the country, and also in India and the Andaman Islands. This long-term experience has provided the team with unmatched know-how on carefully tailoring any type of nature observation tour to meet your needs. We provide very personalised services to achieve the goal of every tour and to make it a highly successful one for you. This is proven in testimonials and tour reports of our tours.

Birding Ecotours

Tour Operator

Sri Lanka is a picturesque island and has 33 endemic bird species. It is the western-most representative of Indo-Malayan Flora and its abundant birdlife shows many such affinities. We cover a variety of habitat types, including lowland, monsoon and cloud forests, grasslands, coastal mudflats, imposing riverine woodland and forest.

Birding Sri Lanka

Guide

Chaminda Jayaweera has had extensive experience of more than twenty years as a tour guide. His specialty is birdwatching tours. He is also well versed in mammals, dragonflies and butterflies and an enthusiastic wildlife photographer too.

Birdwing Nature Holidays

Tour Operator

Best value Birding and Natural History Holidays in Sri Lanka with Amila Salgado…

Dolphin Beach Resort Excursions

Webpage

Sri Lanka is a remarkable country for birds. Although small, it has a wide range of climate and habitat and over 435 species of birds. Out of these, 235 are resident and these include the most important 33 species that are recognises as endemic to the country...

Don Voyages

Tour Operator

We offer you a memorable vacation in Sri Lanka with loads of fun and excitement and memories to last a lifetime. Our tour packages are for those who want the best possible vacation in Sri Lanka. We cover all areas of tourism in Sri Lanka and strive to ensure total satisfaction to our clients.

High Elms Travel

Tour Operator

Birdwatching or Ornithological Tours - 425 species of birds found in Sri Lanka of which 26 are endemics. You can record at least 18 endemic on our 15 day programme. Also visit The Sinharaja Forest Reserve, a World Heritage Site, Bundala National Park, a Ramsar Wetland and many more important bird sites…

Jetwing Eco Holidays

Tour Operator

Jetwing Eco Holidays tours combine a heady mix of fun filled and exciting experiences of nature, people and culture. The itineraries are selected to offer the most attractive and fascinating attractions of the country. The tours cover a broad spectrum of special interest requirements ranging from Bird watching…

Red Dot Tours

Tour Operator

Red Dot's unrivalled collection of Sri Lanka tours offers a wealth of ideas to help you find your perfect itinerary on this beautiful tropical island. Experience a tour of Sri Lanka with Red Dot and you gain access to our exclusive range of activities, the best team of chauffeur-guides around and 24/7 customer service.

Rockjumper Birding Tours

Tour Operator

This small, friendly island nation provides one of the most enjoyable and rewarding birding tours imaginable. With plenty of endemics, most of which are extremely easy to locate, comfortable lodges and abundant wildlife, it makes perfect sense that Sri Lanka has become such a popular destination. Our tour also targets the countries’ big game, including Leopard and Sloth Bear.

Sri Lanka Trekking Nature Holidays

Tour Operator

Trekking Sri Lanka Is a small, family managed Tour organization run by experienced trekking guide Deen. We are in the hill country of Sri Lanka; Our holidays are adventure and nature where you see wild life and birds and real srilanka…

Starron Bird & Wildlife Tours

Tour Operator

Upali Ekanayake is the senior most Ornithological Tour Leader in Sri Lanka and is the Director Operations of Starron Bird & Wildlife Tours Ltd.

Walk with Jith

Tour Operator

Walk With Jith specializes in Bird watching and nature tours in Sri Lanka.You will have the rare opportunity to share birding experiences with local village people, visit their homes,and immerse yourself in their lives and culture…

Walkers Tours

Tour Operator

Wildlife Safari Tours - You will come back to them, searching, again & again - and in time will grow within you an intimacy, a love for the jungle which offers sanctuary to fast dwindling and very precious wildlife…

Trip Reports

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CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2007 [10 October] - Bo & Maggie Crombet-Beolens

Report

This was the first trip that Maggie and I had taken by ourselves for some years, ever since I began to organise trips for the disabled birders association. We were looking forward to being able to please ourselves, go at our own pace and not make any of the numerous small compromises we all make when we travel as a group…

2010 [01 January] - Brian & Isabel Eady

PDF Report

If you are a dawn to dusk birder wanting a high count of species, then this report is not for you, however if you want to get away from the atrocious weather at home, need to find some sunshine with a bit of birding included, see 27 of the 33 endemics in two days birding, then please read on…

2010 [03 March] - Derek & Gillian Marsh

PDF Report

This was a return trip to Sri Lanka for us to catch up on the six endemics we missed in 2006. Back then we only did an eight-day tour, but this time we went for fourteen days. We managed to see all the six endemics we missed before: Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Serendib Scops-Owl, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush and Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler…

2010 [03 March] -John van der Woude

Report

On this well-guided private trip we saw all 27 endemics of the Western Ghats of South India and all 33 endemics of Sri Lanka. In South India we were guided by Jijo Mathew of Kalypso (www.birdskerala.com, contact mr. Thomas Zacharias) with Prasad as driver, and in Sri Lanka we were guided and driven by Sunil de Awis of Baur's…

2010 [11 November] - David Bryant

Report

The itinerary followed a well-trodden path with Amila and Camillus (driver) dealing with all the practicalities. Amila specialises in the mainly forest-dwelling endemics and 'night birds' and this was reflected in us seeing all 33 endemics plus 10 ‘night-birds’. The accommodation ranged across eco-lodges at the forest boundary to hotels on the edge of town, from clean-basic to very spruce, with mostly excellent Sri Lankan food. Western-type food was available if required. It was pretty well what we would have chosen ourselves as independent travellers, but was better located, and invariably set within good birding gardens or with birding views during meals (hard to track down from Lonely Planet!)…

2011 [04 April] - Paul A Brown - Wet Zone

Report

it was about time that we visit Sri Lanka ourselves to see where our relatives had served. As always with our world trips, we look for cheap deals and we found a two week package through Mercury Direct to Hotel Serendib, Bentota on the south west coast, south of Colombo for £889…

2011 [07 July] - Michael Grunwell

Report

…After lunch and a rest Ranjith found a big flock just outside the park gate, this flock provided the elusive brown-capped babbler plus lots of laughing thrush. We then had superb views of spot-winged thrush followed by my only sighting of spurfowl…

2011 [10 October] - John & Thomas Yates

PDF Report

As our holiday to Dubai and Sri Lanka had been a great success in 2010, we took the same early morning flight from London Heathrow to Dubai with Emirates as last year. This time though we stayed overnight at the Hotel Suite Of The Emirates. After checking into the Hotel we just had time for shopping and a quick Panda Chinese or Mexican meal at the Mall of the Emirates, which was located next door, before calling it a day.

2011 [12 December] - Andrew & Trish Forsyth

PDF Report

Sri Lanka is a tropical island of 430km long and 230 km wide at its widest, situated just north of the Equator. Most coastal and northern areas are low lying, with the centre of the island being very mountainous. The ‘wet zone’ of the south-west

2012 [01 January] - David Marques

PDF Report

…33 doable endemic birds, Leopard & Blue Whale, these are three strong arguments to go birding in Sri Lanka! We were very lucky to see all these targets and some more and ended up with 248 bird species, many great mammals and reptiles on a largely self-guided tour. However, as most people go with organized tours, it is hard to get details on birding locations – a gap that I hopefully help to close with this trip report and the Google map attached to it…

2012 [01 January] - Toon Spanhove

PDF Report

…Despite our long stay, some species were “missed”: Black-necked stork, Lesser Adjutant, Sirkeer Malkoha, Jungle Bush-quail (heard only briefly), Streak-throated Woodpecker, Spot-bellied Eagle-owl (heard only), Caspian Plover, Crab Plover and even some more widespread species such as Ashy and Black Drongo, Yellow-eyed Babbler Streaked Weaver, Indian Silverbill….

2012 [12 December] - Hervé Jacob

PDF Report

…he quickly showed us a pair of Serendib Scops-Owl and the birds that we had not seen alone; we found that there are bigger flocks inside the reserve than outside. The following day Ranjith took us around the village and the tea plantations where we could see different birds of which Slaty-legged Crake close to his house (no entrace to pay, just fix a price with him)…

2013 [01 January] - André Weiss Pryde

Report

…There is a small ferry crossing the river just beside the Kitulgala Rest House. However, birding in the forest here is not easy and we failed to locate the Serendib Scops Owl here…

2013 [01 January] - Owain Gabb

PDF Report

…Along the tracks through the scrub and in areas of open grassland, black robin, hoopoe, the endemic Ceylon junglefowl, Indian peafowl, ashy-crowned sparrowlark, Jerdon’s bushlark, a male streaked weaver, grey-bellied cuckoo and a ruddy mongoose were seen…

2013 [02 Feburary] - Greg Roberts - India & Sri Lanka

Report

…Roadside birding here turned up excellent views of Red Spurfowl, another tricky endemic, Rufous Babbler and White-bellied Treepie. An unexpected find was Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon, a rarity in the lowlands. Best of all was a Dhole, or Asian Wild Dog, which stared at me from a distance of a few metres in a stream bed before disappearing into the scrub; Danish saw a second dog briefly, immediately after this encounter. Again, smells and sounds indicated that elephants were very close at times….

2013 [11 November] - Dave Farrow - Southern India & Sri Lanka

PDF Report

This years’ tour to Southern India and Sri Lanka was once again a very successful and enjoyable affair, with almost all endemics found, and an incredible 36 individual Owls of 13 species seen. We began in the Andaman Islands where we recorded all 21 endemics, with Andaman Scops and Walden’s Scops Owls, Andaman and Hume’s Hawk Owls leading the way, good looks at Andaman Crake, Andaman Woodpigeon and Andaman Cuckoo Dove, plus all others with the pre-fix ‘Andaman’ (although the Barn Owl was a heard only.)…

2014 [02 February] - Bruce Wedderburn

Report

…As regards birding, the first priority was to see as many of the 33 endemics as possible, then to whittle away at my potential lifer list of 137 for the regular bird species occurring in Sri Lanka. During the trip Amila and Athula managed to show us all 33 endemics, with all birds being seen well and which was quite remarkable. Overall we saw a total of 264 birds with 112 lifers for the trip. So a very high success rate considering that some of the potential lifers were sea birds which we didn’t target seeing…

2014 [02 February] - David Karr

PDF Report

The trip was a great success and I could only add to the many accolades that Sri Lanka receives as a friendly, comfortable and relatively easy birding destination. In two day’s birdwatching, I managed to see 23 out of 28 confirmed endemics and a total of 53 lifers (indicated in bold below). Recent taxonomical research may raise the number of recognised endemics to 32.

2014 [03 March] - Christopher Hall

Report

…We start before dawn with a nice cup of tea and then stroll a short way from the lodge as birds like Oriental Magpie Robin begin to stir and start the new day with a sweet clear song, right in front of us. As the light improves more birds come into view including White-bellied Drongo and Shikra, a relative of our Sparrowhawk. We watch a bright yellow Black-hooded Oriole feed a youngster, while the same tree also produces Black Bulbul, Asian Paradise Flycatcher and Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, shortly followed by Green Imperial Pigeon, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Oriental White-eye, Forest Wagtail, Spotted Dove, Brown-headed Barbet, and the endemic Yellow-fronted Barbet….

2014 [03 March] - Inezia Tours

PDF Report

Visited sites (in chronological order): Kitulgala, Makandawa Rainforest Reserve, Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve, Wathurawa, Udawalawa National Park, Embilipitiya, Mirissa (whalewatch), Debarawewa Tank (roadside waterlily ponds), Weerawila Tank, Yala National Park, Surrey Estate (Bird Sanctuary), Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains National Park, Victoria Park (in Nuwara Eliya), Kandy Lake, Temple of the Tooth (Kandy), Udawattakele Forest Reserve, Peradeniya Botanical Garden, river at Seeduwa, Anawilundaya Tank (RAMSAR site 1.5 hr north of Colombo)…

2014 [11 November] - Megan Edwards Crewe

Report

...A pair of notoriously shy Sri Lanka Spurfowl with a chick scratched along a hillside, periodically serenading us with their loud duets. A trio of Black Bitterns posed in tall grasses alongside a tank full of lily pads. Three Crested Serpent-Eagles shared a thermal with a Black Eagle. A family of Sri Lanka Blue-Magpies dared each other to snatch bits of cheese sandwiches from our picnic shelter. Serendib Scops-Owls peered from leafy roosting spots. Gray-rumped Treeswifts perched like ornaments on a roadside tree, preening vigorously....

2014 [12 December] - Hans Matheve

Report

...Sri Lanka Bush-Warbler (only 1 bird seen near the Arranga Pool and 1 heard along the World's End Trail - we didn't search for more), Sri Lanka Wood-Pigeon (at least 3 seen and some more heard along the World's End Trail - difficult to see with poor visibility), Sri Lanka White-eye (easily seen good numbers), Yellow-eared Bulbul (good numbers), Dull-blue Flycatcher (1 bird near the Arranga Pool), Hill Swallow (several birds seen foraging above the grasslands). A Leopard was seen crossing the road calmly only some 15m away - while on foot! - just next to the Arranga Pool....

2014 [12 December] - Mike Nelson

Report

Sri Lanka is recognized as an easy birding destination as the island is quite small and easy to navigate. Roads are fairly good and the birding sites are quite accessible. There are still quite large areas of forest and the current 33 endemics and many regional (southern India and Sri Lanka) make a trip here quite appealing. Sri Lanka also has quite a rich cultural history and many historical sites are well worth visiting. With that in mind my wife and I spent twelve days touring the country. We hired a local guide who made arrangements for us and we had a local guide/driver with us the whole time...

2015 [01 January] - Deepal Warakagoda

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...We had superb views of a an attractive red coloured woodpecker on coconut palms, which has been recently elevated to endemic status and now known as Lesser Sri Lanka Flameback (which is locally and aptly called the Red-backed Woodpecker).

2015 [02 February] - Christian Dortu

PDF Report

...The next day morning, our last birding session at Tissa with some stops going back to Colombo. Watercock, Black Bittern, Jungle Owlet and Brown Boobook are among the last birds of this trip.

2015 [02 February] - Richard Sutton

Report

...We then drove back towards our hotel near Dambulla. This was surrounded by paddyfields and scrub. A late afternoon walk along a quiet side-road produced Asian Openbill, Black-headed Ibis, 3 Brown-headed Barbet, 2 Crimson-fronted Barbet (E), 6 Small Minivet, 1 Jerdon’s Leafbird, 1 Grey-breasted Prinia, 1 Ashy Prinia and 1 White-browed Fantail. This was getting a bit better.

2015 [02 February] - Sam Woods

PDF Report

...worked well with birds like Chestnutbacked Owlet, Sri Lanka Woodshrike, Whitefaced Starling, and Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Scaly Thrush.

2015 [03 March ] - Sue Bryan

Report

Sri Lanka offered 33 endemic birds as well as a few other lifers for me. I was assured that the trip would run even though there were only 4 participants.

2015 [04 April] - Chas Anderson

PDF Report

...Here too we enjoyed a nice diversity of waterbirds, including Pin-tailed Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Purple Swamphen and Whiskered Terns, as well as a magnificent White-bellied Sea-eagle.

2015 [04 April] - Geoff Upton

PDF Report

...We were met by a driver when we arrived at Colombo in the early afternoon after an overnight flight. There followed a five-hour car journey to Kohadamodara, a tiny hamlet on the coast south of Ranna, which itself is a few miles east of Tangalle. En route we picked up the first birds – Indian pond herons, cattle egrets, house crows, Brahminy kites, white-throated kingfishers and peacocks – and my first ‘lifer’: black-headed ibis.

2015 [04 April] - Peter Ericsson

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Annotated list

2015 [12 December] - Chris Townend

PDF Report

We arrived into a pleasantly warm Colombo airport greeted by our first Common Mynas and House Crows before heading north to Waikkal for our first night. We arrived at the hotel crossing the River Gin on the small ferry and were greeted with a cool drink before checking into our rooms. John and Janina had already acclimatised to Sri Lanka’s climate, having arrived ahead of the tour a few days earlier. A short stroll along the beach and adjacent river allowed time to see a few birds before dinner. Highlights included Black-crowned Night Heron, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, White-breasted Waterfowl, Red Wattled Lapwing, Pied and White-breasted Kingfishers. On the beach a lovely flock of Lesser Sandplovers had at least one Greater Sandplover in amongst them as well as Sanderling. As we headed back to the hotel at dusk a few Indian Flying Foxes flew overhead. All in all, a pleasant and relaxing start to the tour!

2015 [12 December] - Gergo Nagy

PDF Report

This journey was a two weeks independent birds and plants tour in Sri Lanka with a private car. Three of the team (Gergő, Ferenc and Sándor) are birdwatchers and one of the team (Kinga) is interested in plants. Beside these groups we tried to concentrate butterflies, amphibians, reptiles and mammals, too.

2015 [12 December] - Mike Hunter

PDF Report

What a difference 20 years makes, as there are now 33 officially recognised endemics, all but one from splits. Black-rumped Flameback is additionally expected to be split from its Southern Indian relative, which would take the total to 34.

2016 [01 January] - John Barkla

PDF Report

...We flew Thai Air through Bangkok to Colombo and spent the first day adjusting to the time difference and visiting the Museum. With my camera and binoculars safely locked in the hotel, we still managed to see some common birds, including Indian Cormorant, Indian Pond Heron, White-breasted Waterhen, Red-wattled Lapwing, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Brown-headed Barbet, Barn Swallow and both corvids, House Crow and Large-billed Crow...

2016 [01 January] - Sam Woods

PDF Report

...the tour was a complete success, with the entire set of 34 endemic bird species completed by our final morning of the tour, which included excellent looks at the toughest of these, Sri Lanka Thrush, and likewise, good looks at Sri Lanka Spurfowl...

2016 [01 January] - Wingspan Bird Tours

PDF Report

Our first stop was to look at a small wetland with rice fields where we found Brahminy Kite, Common Kingfisher, Spotted Dove, Hooded Oriole and some lovely Ashy-headed Woodswallows. Not long afterwards we made a stop for lunch when we noted White-bellied Drongo, Red-vented Bulbuls, Shikra and a couple of unidentified distant raptors....

2016 [03 March] - Erik Vikkelso Rasmussen

PDF Report

This report deals with a journey through Sri Lanka for two weeks in March 2016 by a group of four Danish birdwatchers. We have all travelled in the different parts of India a lot of times before from 2001 – 2011 and seen the most birds and some mammals there so this time we decided to visit Sri Lanka to pick up the many endemics.

2016 [03 March] - Tony Crocker

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This trip was tacked to the end of an extended period of working in the Indian Ocean. I searched the net in order to locate operators based in part on those I had seen on previous short visits to Sri Lanka. I wanted to go in-country, as Sri Lanka is extremely good value but offshore operators tend to mark up outrageously. In the end, for several reasons, I chose Walk With Jith (walkwithjith.com).

2016 [10 October] - Dave Farrow

PDF Report

...A leisurely start to the days’ birding produced Indian Pitta, Crested Hawk Eagle, Sri Lanka Swallow and Brown-breasted Flycatcher, plus a second showing by the Slaty-legged Crake. We set off eastwards for our next destination, en route seeing Legge’s Hawk Eagle, Crested Serpent and Black Eagles, and arrived at our hotel in Embilipitiya situated on the shores of Chandrika Wewa Lake that held numerous Spot-billed Pelicans, Whiskered Terns, and a Common Greenshank...

2016 [12 December] - Wayne Jones

PDF Report

Painted Stork, Black-headed Ibis, the ubiquitous Indian Pond Heron, various egrets, Little Cormorant, Red-wattled Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt, Whiskered Tern, White-throated Kingfisher, Spotted Dove, Common Myna and House Crow were among the typical south Asian species recorded.

2017 [01 January] - Andy Walker

PDF Report

A total of 243 bird species was recorded during this tour, among them 33 of the 34 currently recognised (IOC 6.4) endemics with excellent views and photographs of Serendib Scops Owl, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, and Sri Lanka Thrush, as well as a range of exciting migrants such as Pied Thrush, Kashmir Flycatcher, and Indian Pitta.

2017 [01 January] - Dick Meijer & Peter van Scheepen

PDF Report

...We had extremely good and often multiple views of all our main targets. Moreover we found three unexpected species: Rain Quail, Malayan Night–Heron and Pallas's Grasshopper–Warbler. We consider the latter as the bird of the trip with Pied Thrush as a very close second best...

2017 [02 February] - Hans Christophersen

PDF Report

Lying about three hours from Colombo Kitulgala is an area of rainforest and villages around the river Kelani and the spot where the film “River Kwai” was filmed in 1957. The area has quite a high density of birds, and many endemics can be seen here. Among others the Serendip Scops Owl, which is probably easier to find here than in Sinharaja.

2017 [02 February] - Max Breckenridge

PDF Report

...Malabar Trogon, Indian Scimitar Babbler, nesting Sri Lanka Drongo, Dark-fronted Babbler and Indian Blue Robin were all seen along the first 150 m of track in forest south of the paddyfield....

2017 [03 March] - Phil Gregory

PDF Report

We then headed off on a 2 hr. 30 min drive to Singharagama, arriving around 0230 and emerging again around 0600, not ideal but needs must. However Wilpattu NP was great, lovely to see Indian Peafowl in the wild at long last, Sri Lanka Junglefowl were common and we managed a splendid sighting of a Leopard, and nice to see lots of Axis Deer, a Sambar, Water Buffalo and Wild Boar. Yellow-billed Babbler was the first endemic seen, though we heard Brown-headed Barbet right at first light, and the very distinctive Indian Robin met us right at the park entrance, with Pale-billed Flowerpecker as well and Indian Jungle Crow early on. Brown Fish Owl was a nice find, as was a day roosting Brown Wood Owl. Jun got his lifer Great Thick-knee, Jerdon’s Bushlark was another good tick, and I was very taken with how big and how long crested the Indian Paradise Flycatchers are, very unlike the others formerly lumped in Asian Paradise-Flycatcher.

2017 [07 July] - Mukesh Hirdaramani

PDF Report

During the main tour and the extension we saw all 33 endemic bird species. In all 29 mammal species and 175 bird species, together with other sightings of interest, were recorded on this tour.

2017 [07 July] - Steve Anyon-Smith

PDF Report

The 21-day tour we signed up for did not have the words “birds” or “wildlife” in the title. We had a blend of culture, history, scenery and fair enough, national parks, beaches and forests here and there. We fiddled with the time and motion stuff as we went along.

2017 [08 August] - Saman Kumara

PDF Report

An impressive total of 31 of the 33 endemic birds of Sri Lanka were seen during this tour. We only missed Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon and Sri Lanka Spurfowl due to the unusual inclement weather. A rare and interesting sighting on the tour was to see Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush three metres above ground, breaking character from a ground dwelling bird, and we were there to witness it. Although the weather was not in our favour, we managed to spot a total of 152 species of birds along with 17 mammal species and 11 species of reptiles and amphibians, making the tour an all-round success.

2017 [11 November] - Indika Jayatissa

PDF Report

A total of 200 species of birds, 22 mammal species and 16 species of reptiles and amphibians were seen throughout the tour, including the extension. A very close encounter with a Leopard, Blue Whales, and Spinner Dolphins were highlights of the extension.

2017 [12 December] - Rich Lindie

PDF Report

Once there, we had lunch, and then crossed the river (by pontoon) for our first visit to the park, where we quickly got onto our first Red-backed Flamebacks, and a Serendib Scops Owl not long after, not to mention a few goodies like Sri Lanka Swallow, Layard’s Parakeet and Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot on the way! Returning to the river, we also saw our first Brown-breasted Flycatcher and a male Sri Lanka Junglefowl. After dinner, and back in the national park, a few of us tried for Sri Lanka Bay Owl but had to settle for a Dark-fronted Babbler and Brown Fish Owl instead.

2018 [01 January] - Indiika Jayatissa

PDF Report

A total of 213 bird species, 21 species of mammals and 15 species of reptiles and amphibians were seen throughout the tour and extension. Our two day safari in Lunugamwehera and Yala yielded some good sightings of Leopards. 64 Elephants were counted at Udawalawe National Park along with a Tusker. Blue Whale sightings on the first whale watching excursion was very fruitful. We were able to observe at close distance and enjoyed many fluke dives performed by this magnificent mammal. Risso’s and Bottlenose Dolphins also obliged by giving us good views. The historic ruins of the Anuradhapura and Pollonaruwa kingdoms left us in awe as we learned about various traditions and the technology used in years gone by.

2018 [01 January] - Machiel Valkenburg

PDF Report

...Bundala NP is an open, arid landscape with many wetlands near the shores of the Indian Ocean. Birding here is very good, with very close sightings of the many species that occur. We enjoyed some close scope views of Asian Openbill, Painted Stork, Black-headed Ibis, Crested Hawk-Eagle, and Watercock...

2018 [02 February] - Dhanushka Samarasinghe

PDF Report

A total of 225 bird species, 24 species of mammals and 12 of reptiles and amphibians were seen throughout the tour, including the extension. Overall the tour recorded 32 out of 33 endemic bird species, and from the total owl list we recorded eight. The safari to Lunugamvehera National Park was very successful as we saw three Leopards at the entrance. The whale-watching extension was very successful with close sightings of Blue Whales and Orca (Killer Whale), along with many Green Turtles.

2018 [02 February] - Indiak Jayatissa

PDF Report

A close view of the Serendib Scops Owl and a single tree with Crimson, Yellow-fronted and Brown-headed Barbets were special sightings for most of the group, along with all 33 endemics seen on the tour. Overall we saw 159 bird species, 13 species of mammal and 10 of reptiles and amphibians, making the tour an all-round success.

2018 [02 February] - Mark Smiles

PDF Report

This was a short return trip to Sri Lanka with my wife, Louise, aimed at targeting the two wintering specials, Pied Thrush & Kashmir Flycatcher, that had already departed prior to our previous visit in April 2011. The trip directly followed on from a 5 day trip to Gujarat, India, flying via Mumbai.

2018 [02 February] - Stephan Lorenz

PDF Report

What do you do when the group has seen all Sri Lankan endemics well and there are still one and a half days left on the tour? Well, you go birding, of course, and that’s exactly what we did. This year’s January tour proved highly successful and we enjoyed quality views of all endemics well before the tour was over, allowing us to finish with some leisurely birding and exploration of the Sinharaja Rain Forest. Of course, we even added a few more birds to the list, finishing at a respectable 248 species.

2018 [02 February] - Wilton Farrelly

PDF Report

This is a birding and wildlife trip report for an 11 day holiday to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had been on my wish list for many years and I regarded it as one of those locations where I could take along my wife, Louise. I had previously birded Nepal and Rajastan, India so had a decent understanding of birds on the Indian sub-continent. Whilst it was my intention (or rather hope) to see as many of the 34 endemic bird species on the island (and other birds) as possible, as this was a trip with Louise, I had to accommodate her needs which primarily focussed on eg the beach, sightseeing and shops. Seeing any endemic birds would therefore be a bonus!

2018 [03 March] - Mukash Hirdaramani

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Moving towards Yala, we visited a few owl roosts and came across Brown Fish Owl, Collared Scops Owl and Jungle Owlet. The very rare Black-necked Stork was sighted in Yala, and a close encounter with a curious Sloth Bear was the highlight of the morning safari session. It walked right up to our jeep and gently lifted its head up as if to say “hi” before continuing its journey. The day kept getting better as a lazy Leopard slept under a bush just a few metres from our jeep.

2018 [04 April] - Anjana

Report

We squeezed in a birding trip to Sri Lanka just before Rishi started off with his new job and were completely blown away by the Sri Lankan hospitality and the very friendly people. As our trip coincided with the Sri Lankan New Year, we were invited on several occasions by villagers to their homes and treated to delicious local sweets and also got an opportunity to witness a couple of traditional wedding functions.

2018 [07 July] - Saman Kumara Gamage

PDF Report

We had good weather almost throughout the tour. Our mammal sighting of the tour was the spectacular Indian Flying Fox, followed by the Common Palm Squirrels. A good number of Asian Elephants were seen on our first jeep safari in Minneriya National Park. This park is famous for a congregation of many wild Asian Elephants coming together for mating, socializing and feeding. The endemic Purple-faced Leaf Monkey was also seen here, along with the more conspicuous Water Buffalo, Toque Macaque and Grey Langur. We were delighted with sightings of many Grey Slender Loris during our late evening drives in Sigiriya. Ring-tailed Civet, Black-naped Hare, White-spotted Mouse Deer and Indian Gerbil were creatures of the night that we enjoyed seeing.

2018 [11 November] - Mukesh Hirdaramani

PDF Report

Despite the island-wide bad weather with torrential downpours, all 34 endemics were captured in our sight. An early sighting of Serendib Scops Owl in Kitulgala was a great view. Red-faced Malkoha showed well, often coming down from the canopy and feeding on caterpillars. The elusive Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush was sighted in two locations well in the open, both male and female. The Blue Magpie graced us with its presence as we entered the Sinharaja Rainforest, followed by some good sightings of Yellow-fronted Barbet. Overall, in trying weather we managed to rack up a total of 185 Bird species, 19 Mammal species and eight Reptile & other species.

2019 [01 January] - Andy Walker

PDF Report

A total of 243 bird species was recorded during this tour, among them 33 of the 34 currently recognized (IOC 6.4) endemics with excellent views and photographs of Serendib Scops Owl, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, and Sri Lanka Thrush, as well as a range of exciting migrants such as Pied Thrush, Kashmir Flycatcher, and Indian Pitta.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Hotel Sigiriya - Sigiriya

Accommodation

The Sigiriya rock, which is amongst the ten wonders of the world, is home to Hotel Sigiriya. Hotel Sigiriya has a serene rustic and inviting charm in a setting of ancient glory. Its cool woodland gardens echoes of birds-songs. A stunning view of the fifth century A.D Sigiriya Rock / Fortress, the World heritage site Citadel in the sky famed for its entrancing frescoes, lion stairway, Mirror wall and water gardens dominates the hotel…

Priyankara Hotel - Tissamaharama

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After a five and half hours drive from Colombo to Tissamaharama the best stop is at Priyankara Hotel. Situated in the Tissa - Kataragama road just passing the picturesque Tissa tank Priyankara Hotel has much to offer than you can wish for on your holiday. All 26 rooms are specious and tastefully decorated. They have phones, hot and cold water, are air-conditioned and the private balconies overlooking the vast acres of paddy fields which are a host to an assortment of birds and wild animals…

Blogs

Amila Kanchana - Wild Sri Lanka

BLOG

Last updated May 2017 - A wildlife BLOG from Sri Lanka…

Amila Salgado - Gallicissa

BLOG

Last updated January 2013 - I am a bird watching and nature Tour Guide in Sri Lanka. My blog is about my birding and natural history travel notes and other commentary…

Nishantha Ganeshapriya - Explore Sri Lanka

BLOG

Last updated December 2012 - Sri Lanka a land like no other is a pearl in the Indian Ocean. Blend of beautiful nature creations like sunny beaches, misty hills, rain forests, valleys etc. It is a Paradise for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts because of rich bio diversity. Number of endemic bird species can be observing in Sri Lanka. Sigiriya rock fortress, which is regards as the eighth wonder of the world, is a mirror to the ancient architecture.

Other Links

Endemic Birds in Sri Lanka

Website

Just what is says - pictures and species accounts…

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Adrian Hopkins

Gallery

A gallery of images from Sri Lanka by this Welsh photographer…

Photographer - Amilia Salgado

Gallery

I hold a record as the first birder from Colombo to visit Sinharaja rain forest in a tuktuk – a feat achieved to bag the ultra-secretive Bay Owl in a daytime roost in Jan, 2007. I got hooked on birds in 1989 after a school project. Apart from birding, I enjoy digiscoping & thrashing my clients at Scrabble

Photographer - Wim van der Schot

Gallery

Wim van der Schot's World of Birds - Sri Lanka photos