Leopard - Yala
I was initially going to take a rest day on the 5th but my guide wanted to go birding. Ah, it's a hard life. ;-)
We decided to head inland a little toward Lunuganvehera National park. It is far less restrictive than Yala or Bundala. We drove along riverside tracks and stopped when we wanted. The first stop was at dawn at Pannegamuwa Lake to see the herons and ibis leaving their roost.
Dawn at Pannegamuwa. The haziness at the bottom pf the photograph is due to thousands of birds leaving their roost.
Black-headed Ibis leaving its roost
A stroll around the side of the lake gave great views of Golden-fronted Leafbird, Black-Hooded Oriole, Ashy Woodswallow, Great Coucal and Paradise Flycatcher amongst others.
Red-vented Bulbul with unknown insect / model airplane!
Pheasant-tailed Jacana (non-breeding)
The very impressive Stork-billed Kingfisher
In nearby fields were a mixed flock of birds that included Black-headed, Scaly-breasted and White-rumped Munia as well as both Streaked and Baya Weavers.
Mixed Munia & Weavers
Further on our next stop produced next a smart endemic - Sri Lanka Green Pigeon and also Sirkheer Malkoha, Peafowl, Shikra, Indian Thick-knee and Indian Silverbill.
Sri Lanka Green Pigeon
Typical birdwatching areas at Lunugamvehera
The next stopped gave different birds such as Indian Robin, White-browed Fantail, 6 Indian Pitta, Asian Paradise Flycatchers, a pair of elusive Yellow-crowned Woodpeckers, Large Cuckooshrike and Sri Lanka Woodshrike.
Male & Female Asian paradise Flycatchers
Green Forest Lizard
Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl
A quick stop on the way back to the hotel produced a fine Brown Fish Owl in its daytime roost.
Brown Fish Owl
The rest of the day was spent at the hotel watching the local trees. Lots of White-breasted Kingfishers also Indian Scops Owl, Small and Scarlet Minivets, Indian Swiftlet, Jerdon's Leafbird and others.
Female Asian Koel
Male Small Minivet
Male Jerdon's Leafbird
Female Jerdon's Leafbird
Day 6 Lazy Morning + Yala pm
When I came to Tissa I said that I would not go on the Yala safari due to the very high number of tourist jeeps and the noise and stupidity that come with such crowds. However, it was plain that if I wanted to see some special birds then I would have to visit Yala, so plans were made for a half day even though no one had seen a leopard for over a week.
RIGHT TIME & RIGHT PLACE!
I knew it was going to be a good afternoon while we were watching a large flock of waders outside the park entrance. Broad-billed Sandpiper, Grey & Pacific Golden Plover, Greater & Lesser Sandplovers and lots of Little Stints and in the middle was a similar sized bird with weird looking yellow / green legs...looking like a miniturised Wood Sandpiper was a Long-toed Stint. Definately NOT expected.
Further on were my first Indian Roller and handsome Sri Lankan Swallows. Both Macaque and Langurs lined the road.
Into the park we picked up our guide / tracker and went to look for one of Sri Lankas rarest birds. Other things popped up such as Sambar deer, Elephant, Black-tipped Mongoose, Barred Buttonquail, Grey-breasted Fish Eagle and the lovely ceylonensis Hoopoe.
Yala (minus jeeps)
Juvenile Crested Hawk-eagle
Adult Crested Hawk-eagle
Spotted Deer, Chital or Leopard Food
Further on we stopped at a lagoon to search for my target birds. Looking over the dunes to the ocean I could see a massive bird flying along the beach, Easily 2 meters from wingtip to wingtip it was a Frigatebird. The pattern of white on the head, breast and axillaries suggested that this was a young Greater Frigatebird. Another one for the "Not Expected list".
The same stops produced an excellent array of new birds. Asian Openbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Pintail Snipe, Alpine Swift, Jerdon's Bushlark and Blyth's Pipit. Indian Pitta and Orange-breasted Green Pigeon also showed themselves.
3 White-bellied Sea-eagles fighting for a roosting spot.
Sri Lanka Swallow
Orange-breasted Green Pigeon
Malabar Pied Hornbill
I was told that in all of Sri Lanka only 7 (seven) Black-necked Storks remain. I was very lucky to see two of them. An adult and a juvenile.
Adult Black-necked Stork
Juvenile Black-necked Stork
Well! It can't get any better than that. Wrong. On the way out of the park the tracker spied a flipping Leopard less than 20 meters away. I managed one or two photographs before the mass of jeeps descended upon us. The first Leopard for 10 days.
Once out the park gates it was getting dark. Perfect for seeing both Indian and Jerdon's Nightjars in the road.
Last full day in Tissa today. Off to Sinharaja tomorrow...and it's going to be AWESOME.