Search This Blog

Monday, November 19, 2012

On Holiday & Birding in Sri Lanka

Some more, in fact quite a lot more, bird pics from Sri Lanka to bring a taste of the exotic to those of you currently shivering a bit to the north of the equator! Its maybe worth mentioning that this was a holiday for me and Gabz, not a birding trip. Apart from one visit to the Wilpattu reserve these are all shot within a few metres of our hotel, Ranwelli holiday village and like anywhere on the sub continent its clearly a hotspot for all kinds of birds, animals and flowers ..... there's also millions of people and they all seem to have at least 2 dogs so if you want to birdwatch do some research and my advice is to stick to the 20 or so national reserves! 
Anyway, back to the birds, and in no particular order .............
This is a female Asian Koel, incredibly shy birds and this was shot across the river and cropped to hell!
Equally shy and typically elusive during daylight hours I was lucky to look up and see this Black Crowned Night Heron standing stock rigid during a riverside walk.

Into the light and although not shot in the best of light this Blue Tailed Beeater strikes a typical post as it waits for passing bugs!

Another bug, this time in the 'Blogger' system, is currently preventing the resizing of anything more than 2 or 3 pics per post but until its sorted just click on them to enlarge.

There were plenty of terns passing south the whole time we were there, not all of them positively id'd as many were immature / going into winter plumage and decidedly tricky! These are definitely Great Crested Terns (pic right) but what about the 2nd one? Saw many similar to this and still not sure but I'm thinking Roseate Terns

A short walk out of the hotel and I found a small haven of semi jungle area by the river, I was soon disturbed by barking dogs from the nearest habitation of course but not before I'd spied a couple of woodpeckers across the river. They turned out to be Greater Flamebacks .... shame I couldn't get closer and at some 200 metres away this is just about maximum range for my lens. Still a reasonable ID shot though!

Indian Mynah birds were by far and away the commonest small bird ..... quirky, comical and of course great mimics. Sadly many of these end up in gilded cages for this ability, but I guess there's enough of them so hardly endangered as a species. Quite a good article here on them - Mynah birds

Have to say I'm not a great fan of crows, intelligent they may be but they do predate nests on a huge scale all over the world. Having said that the House Crows in Sri Lanka were quite fun to watch ..... they scavenge on anything edible of course but they also pick up anything shiny, presumably for nest decoration, and one of these blighters flew away with a packet of my tobacco! Would have made for a classic picture but I was so shocked .... I ran after the offending corvidt until he dropped it (contents spilled of course!)

The other common species of crow over there were Thick Billed or Jungle Crows which seemed to dwell mainly on the beach.



There was a pair of Brahminy Kites that flew over the hotel every day, usually mid afternoon, and seemed to be feeding on the sea. I saw them stooping and carrying off big fish on at least 2 occasions whilst we were on the beach .... both times my camera was back in the hotel room of course!
I expected to see more waders on the beach than I did but apart from a few groups of migrating Whimbrel and the occasional Common Sandpiper all I had were Red Wattled Lapwings but like many of the common birds in Sri Lanka this was of course a new bird for me and very photographable, especially in flight. (pics right & below)

Here's a couple of pictures of a Common Sandpiper, (above and left) one of the most globally widespread of waders in typical pose and location (above) but less typical in the 2nd pic .... almost looks like its about to nest on the beach!

Away from the hotel was a different story. I've already posted on our trip out to the Wilpattu reserve (Wilpattu Safari) and commented on the limited photographic opportunities for birds but here's a couple of distant shots I've had to significantly crop to make a picture, at some cost to image quality alas.

The first shows a group of Pheasant Tailed Jacanas involved in some kind of squabble and the second features from left to right, Black Headed Ibis, a familiar Black Winged Stilt and a Lesser Adjutant Stork. When I scanned more pics I was able to identify other waders such as Greenshank and Marsh Sandpiper but no way could I make them into pictures.

There were lots of storks and allied water birds at Wilpattu and wish I'd had time to get to grips with them but maybe another time if I get the chance. The jeep did pass close enough for me to get this reasonable picture of  a Woolly Necked Stork as the Germans in the back seat gazed at a herd of deer.

Back at the hotel and this pic is just so typical of a bird I tried so hard to capture, a White Breasted Waterhen .... they were always walking away from me!

And finally, I've babbled on for far too long so I may end up looking like one of these ........ Yellow Beaked Babblers!


  1. Had the same problem with blogger, another blogger sent me this advice. Upload all the images you're going to use, the before adding text etc, start at the bottom doing (in this case the yellow beaked babblers) the resizing process until you get to the last image (the top, it worked for me. Looks from your previous post a great place to visit.

  2. Thanks Doug, will try that .... yes, i'd recommend Sri Lanka but unless you enjoy total mayhem, avoid anywhere within 50k of Colombo!

    1. There are lots of places in and near colombo for bird watching too, I do agree with the chaos part, but weekends are good... i do a blog on Sri Lanka, have a look, I was in the process of writing up my article on Bird watching in Sri lanka, when I stumbled upon your post! Great Post I must say! What led me to the site was searching for the name of this bird - .. now I know its a White Breasted Waterhen

  3. Interesting photos and commentary, Tim. I enjoyed the tour!

  4. I suspect a gull- billed tern

  5. Sri Lanka Cheap Holidays Known to anyone as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is nothing short of a paradise on earth. Turquoise waters, pristine white shores, golden sun only begin to describe what this lovely island has to offer. Lush green hills and magnificent cascading falls in the central hill country, amazing nature and wildlife and unique cultural heritage mixed with truly warm hospitality makes this a tropical paradise.

  6. Sri Lanka Cheap HolidaysSri Lanka Cheap Holidays customized plans for tourist and offering at affordable price .

  7. Every man, woman and child need to be a free man for some moments and want to live like a freed bird. We avail the best options to spend your golden holidays. We have more cheap holidays abroad ,best holiday deals, compare holidays, holiday deals,cheap holiday packages,beach holidays. You can enjoy our service at very cheap rate. We have plans for you about historical and awesome places.