Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Deniyaya
After yesterdays (8th Nov) health scare (see previous post) it was decided that I should take it "easy" today. Well I tried. I have acquired a very accurate and most decorative alarm clock which wakes me at 6am on the dot. The trouble is that I can't find the snooze button!
My new alarm clock. Indian Pitta
Up I get, order coffee and fight the local geckos for control of my loo. Sounds bad, I know, but I don't mind. They are worth their weight in gold for keeping insect numbers down...at least the ones that don't try to carry the Geckos away!
Eco Villa Sinharaja. My room is the one behind the scope.
As I said, it was a lazy day today. Checked out the local rice paddies, streets and gardens. Some great birds to be seen. The view to the front is of the local river, the Gin Ganga and Sinharaja. Behind the Villa and a few K's South-west is a hill with a relatively undisturbed patch of rain forest. Most birds seen in Sinharaja were also seen here.
Around the garden this morning are the Black-hooded Orioles, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrots, Little Swift, Tailorbird, Crimson-backed Flameback and Asian Paradise Flycatchers.
Oriental Magpie Robins
Asian Paradise Flycatcher,
Grey Wagtail. Surprisingly common.
Cinereous Tit inspecting a Sri Lankan nest box.
The rest of the spare time was spent in local woodland and paddies. Lots of Sri Lanka Swallow also Oriental Honey Buzzard, Crested Serpent Eagle, calling Ruddy-breasted Crake, Loten's Sunbird and Brown-capped Babbler amongst other goodies.
Asian Koel, male
Oriental Honey Buzzard
Crested Serpent Eagle
intricate carvings at one of the local temples
The 10th was spent shopping in the morning but the afternoon promised a drive north along the Enasalwaththa Rd to Rain Forest Eco lodge in Sinharaja itself. We then birded the road down the mountain (blue). It was an excellent strategy and brought a shed load of new birds (and Leeches!).
A small flock on the way up gave me my only Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, what a smart bird, Large-billed Leaf Warbler, Black-capped Bulbul and Black-naped Monarch. The next great bird came near the Eco lodge when a superb, if unexpected, Sri Lanka Woodpigeon broke cover and flew deeper into the rain forest. It was strange to see Grey Wagtails running up and down the rainforest road.
As we neared the summit Bandala, (driver, guide, friend, biologist etc.) threw out the anchor when there seemed to be loads of Sri Lanka Blue Magpies by the road. As I jumped out it was clear that a feeding flock was passing by and we had stopped in the middle of it. Several things were quickly apparent when taking photographs in the rain forest.
- Flocks move quickly and have so many birds that it can be difficult to track them.
- A manual focus is essential. Not automatic like mine :-(
- It's dark...doh!
- It rains... double doh!
- Lots of the birds are in the canopy.
Still I did get one or two pics. Also saw a lot of birds that didn't get photographed. For example, in the first flock there were several Sri Lanka Scimitar Babblers, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Dark-fronted Babbler and Tickell's Blue Flycatcher.
All too soon the flock was gone, with only a Sykes Warbler and a Greenish Warbler left behind. Lots of Kangaroo Lizards lived up to their name. Several other reptiles were seen but the only two that posed were a Forest Gecko sp. and a Sri Lanka Rat Snake.
Forest Gecko sp.
Sri Lanka Rat Snake
As we approached the forest edge we again heard the calls of Sri Lanka Blue Magpies but mixed with Orange-billed Babblers. I jumped out the car and there were birds everywhere. Lesser Yellownape, Sri Lanka Drongo, Ashy-headed Laughing-thrush, Yellow-eared Bulbul, an awesome Red-faced Malkhoa, Square-tailed Bulbul, Dull Blue Flycatcher and Legge's Flowerpecker.
Here is what passed the lens during a very chaotic 10 minutes.
Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot
Dull-blue Flycatcher (it looks better when you squint!)
Sri Lanka White-eye
Asian Palm Swift
Views South from the Enasalwaththa Road
When this flock had passed Bandala suggested we visit his friend on the way back. The next few hours are the stuff of legends.
Raja, Bandala's mate, and his extended family live on the side of a hill north of Deniyaya. The hospitality of Raja and his family was immediately apparent. Extra spicy, home made, Indian & Sri Lankan snacks appeared along with two bottles of the infamous Coconut Arrack. Alcohol distilled from the nectar of coconut flowers. Sri Lanka will never have a fuel shortage! We drank and ate for what seemed like hours and then Raja said that his lovely wife had cooked me curry and rice. I felt so humbled that they would share their food in this way. Even more so when I discovered that the food was only for Bandala and myself. Beautiful people.
My new and good friends, Raja (green T-shirt) and his lovely family. Bandala, my guide is in the white shirt.
Oh my head! Why are the Ants stamping their feet and someone shut up that Pitta.