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Thursday, 24 December 2015

The Last Leg - Sri Lanka 13th/14th - and Merry Christmas.

Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot
Merry Christmas Everyone.
Have a Fantastic 2016
Another fine day in Paradise. The 13th is my last full day in Sri Lanka. I spent it walking up and down the Yapitakanda Road to the South of Deniyaya. Some rice paddies, villages and Rain Forest were the main habitats. There were lots of the (now) usual species in the garden such as Oriental Magpie Robin, Paradise Flycatcher, White-bellied Drongo and Purple and Loten's Sunbird.
 Young Green Forest Lizard
Palm Squirrel
The rice paddies had a few Eastern Cattle Egrets, White-breasted Kingfisher, White-breasted Waterhen and also Ruddy-breasted Crake in the denser, damp areas adjacent to the paddies. A Crested Serpent Eagle was eating a snake on a paddy wall and both Black Eagle and Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle flew past.
 Eastern Cattle Egret
 Indian Pond Heron
Crested Serpent Eagle
Further up the road, where more vegetation was present, the range of birds changed to include Slaty-breasted Crake, Layard's Parakeet, Plum-headed Parakeet, Common Iora, Sri Lanka Drongo and Sri Lanka Green Pigeon.
Black-rumped Flameback
Purple-rumped Sunbird
Alexandrine Parakeet
 White-rumped Munia
Plum-headed Parakeet
White form of Asian Paradise Flycatcher
Green Imperial Pigeon
Sri Lanka Swallow

Asian Palm Swift
Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot
Indian Swiftlet
The evening of the 13th turned quite "jolly" with Bandala and myself drinking too much Arrack again. We were joined by a couple of Russian herpetologists who pointed out some of the frogs I had been searching for. Finding is one thing. Identifying is quite another.
We all ate and drank for quite a while then crashed!
Up early on the 14th - I don't know how - packed and then Bandala drove me to the airport for the flight back to the UK via Dubai. Quite a few birds noted on that journey such as Black Eagle, Legge's Hawk Eagle, Jungle Prinia, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Hill Swallow and masses of herons and egrets.
Pseudophilautus sp.?
Pseudophilautus hallidayi?
Bandala - Feeling no pain!
Spotted Dove
Ruddy Mongoose
Sinharaja view + Water Buffalo

Black Eagle
Jungle Prinia
Legge's Hawk Eagle
Bandala and his lovely wife. Eco Villa Sinharaja, Deniyaya.
What an amazing two weeks in Sri Lanka. Would I go back? In a heartbeat, to the same hotels and also some new areas. I will be back.
This is not the last Sri Lanka post. I have kept all of the insect photographs for their own blog page. Butterflies, moths, dragonflies, and other Beasts. Not for the squeamish.



Thursday, 17 December 2015

Sri Lanka 11th & 12th - Buddhist Temple & Sinharaja

White-breasted Kingfisher
A fair day today. Bandala and I are off to Sri Dharmapala Aranya Senasanaya, a Buddhist temple several kilometres downstream from Deniyaya, opposite the Lumbini Tea Factory. We left the car and walked up the trail to the Temple. It was quite open to start with and then we were surrounded by Rain Forest. Birds were few and far between to start with but a troop of Purple-faced Langurs performed well.

Purple-faced Langur

 I was stopping every few seconds to peer into the gloom searching for Spot-winged and Sri Lanka Thrushes. Unsuccessfully I might add. Dusky-striped Jungle Squirrel was the best thing seen on the walk up. Once within the boundary of the temple we took our shoes off and complied with the local customs associated with the temple. Again I felt humbled as the Monks, with basically nothing, made an amazing lunch of Dahl, curried Banana, Chicken curry and various spicy vegetables.
Every visitor was offered food, even the multitude of stray dogs were given food and water. The temple also had a group of Toque Macaques that took advantage of the situation.

Toque Macaque, Sri Dharmapala Aranya Senasanaya
I was not allowed to take any photographs of the temple. It is built on several level of the mountain and it is immaculate. A few Asian Brown Flycatchers were venturing around the trees, A Sri Lanka Drongo was heard singing. There were a lot of insects, especially Butterflies such as Blue Mormon and Sri Lanka Tree Nymph, Dragonflies and a flying Stick Insect longer than my forearm!!
I did get a few pictures of the peculiar Cannonball flower and the idyllic swimming pool halfway up the mountain stream.
Cannonball. Named for the fruit which is the same size, shape...and weight as the afore mentioned object

Temple Pool
As we headed back down the mountain to Temple Road we noticed an increase in birdlife, especially thrushes with no less than 3 Spot-winged Thrushes and a Sri Lanka Thrush seen.

Spot-winged Thrush
A short walk west along the Temple Road gave Sri Lanka Spur Fowl, Yellow-faced Barbet, Emerald Dove, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill and Giant Squirrel.
 Alexandrine Parakeet
 Black-hooded Oriole
 female Scarlet Minivet

 Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
 Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot
Square-tailed Bulbul
Yellow-faced Barbet
Orchid sp.
The 12th started out as a glorious day. Lizards lounged, birds sang, I snored...apparently (news to me!). We were off to Sinharaja this afternoon. Lots of clouds around which could spell trouble later.
My iridescent alarm clock, Peter the Pitta, was in good voice and we even "chatted" when I imitated his call and he responded. Sorry Peter, strictly "Butter Side Up".

Indian Pitta
Gorgeous George the friendly Green Forest Lizard.
I took a short walk before lunch and came up with Brown Wood Owl, Besra, Legge's and Changeable Hawk Eagle, Crested Honey Buzzard, Brown-capped Babbler and Green Warbler.

 Indian Robin, male
Indian Robin, female / 1st winter

Oriental Magpie Robin
Scaly-breasted Munia
White-breasted Kingfisher
The afternoon came and off we went to the top of the, extremely productive, Enasalwaththa Rd in Sinharaja. It absolutely poured down to the point where I could not use my cameras. Added to this was the fact that we were also well above the cloud base. This meant that everything still got wet. It was my last time up here so I was not going to waste it, even though we spent the first hour in the car keeping dry.
Even though I could get no photographs I decided to walk down along the road to the forest edge. It was awesome. At least 3 large flocks of Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Orange-billed Babbler, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Sri Lanka Thrush, Spot Winged Thrush, Dull-blue Flycatchers and Indian Blue Robin. All in the pouring rain. I think this allowed me to get quite close to some of the birds. We finished off with 2 Jungle Nightjars on way down the mountain.
Sinharaja, Enasalwaththa rd
 Gecko sp
A very pregnant Kangaroo Lizard

It's my last full day in Sri Lanka on 13th and it won't go to waste. Look out for the penultimate Sri Lanka post. Coming soon.