Monday, 23 September 2013

Sri Lanka part 3 - the rest

I've lost momentum a bit with this Sri Lanka series, but by this point in the holiday the birding was more opportunistic than anything. That said, it was the source of new species 70, bringing my trip list to its final total. Also notable for finally seeing a couple of photos that can be classed somewhere above 'record shot'. unfortunately that doesn't apply to the first batch, taken from a guest house balcony while waiting for food.

Oriental Magpie Robin

Yellow Billed Babbler doing babbling

The next day, however, saw another boat trip, and the last chance to grab some decent photos before we were taken back to the airport the next morning. I'm quite happy with some of these.

Greater Crested Terns - bird number 70.

So good it gets a second photo

Indian Pond Heron, full of awesome

Pair of White Bellied Sea Eagles roosting in the tallest tree in the most awkward spot for viewing. Seriously, I wasn't even certain I'd seen them until I zoomed in on the photo.

White Throated Kingfishers

And so we said farewell to Sri Lanka, probably nevermore to return. The biodiversity is stunning, but at the moment there's little else that you can't see by staying closer to home and spending considerably less money. Still, it's a country undergoing a huge amount of rebuilding. We'll give it a few years and see.
And if we don't go back, I'll always have my nearly endemic green pigeon.

It's not bad here really

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Sri Lanka part 2 - Sigiriya

Sigiriya was one of my favourite places on this trip. It had an excellent combination of good food, good wildlife and a massive hill to climb. It was also the bit of the tour where I first saw an Elephant.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Not actually anywhere near Sigiriya.

We stopped in here on the drive between Negombo and Sigiriya, and due to some excellent timing from the guide, managed to arrive about half an hour before the elephants are walked out of the river and over the road, passing within touching distance of the crowd as they go. It was awesome.

Elephants are brilliant. Fact.

On arriving at the hotel, the guide pulled us over into a layby next to a fantastic bit of open marshland and got out his binoculars. Over the next half hour I added about a dozen species to my life list, and took no photos whatsoever. But I did get a good view of the next morning's challenge.

Imagine climbing a flimsy metal fire escape up the side of a massive windy building. Did you do that? Good, now imagine doing it while walking past this sign at the bottom:

And then seeing this about 20 feet away near the top:

It was an 'experience'. But the view was worth it.

The rest of the day was a combinaton of birdwatching and safari (MORE ELEPHANTS!). There are an obscene number of photos from both of those events, so in the same vein as the previous post, I'll finish up with a massive list of photos.

Baya Weaver hanging onto its nest in high winds.

Black Headed Ibis

Brahminy Kites. Also, photo of the day.

Brown Headed Barbet looking a bit bedraggled.

Lesser Adjutant Stork.

A flock of Painted Storks, and in the bottom right a single Black Winged Stilt.

I have seen PEACOCK in the wild! This was a cool moment.

Red Vented Bulbul.

Spot Billed Pelican

My one and only (proposed) endemic of the trip, Sri Lankan Green Pigeon

Stork Billed Kingfisher. It's  now a bit boring only having one Kingfisher in this country, but to be fair it's by far the best one.

White Bellied Sea Eagle

White Rumped Shama

Definitely not a birdwatching holiday