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    • kittykat23uk
      Day 11 Nuwara Eliya to Kandy   We returned to the site where we saw the Black Eagle to try and get  Sri Lankan Blue Whistling Thrush. After a lot of waiting we did finally catch a brief glimpse of the bird. Moving on towards Kandy we took a quick tour of one of the tea plantations before reaching our hotel, Tree of Life. Situated at an elevation of 1,531ft above sea level, the tree of life hotel is nestled amongst wooded hills and sprawling tea plantations.    P2135963 Waterfall by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG-20240211-WA0000 Visit to a tea factory by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG-20240211-WA0002 Visit to a tea factory by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG-20240211-WA0001  Visit to a tea factory by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240213_111459 Kandy by Jo Dale, on Flickr       Highland Toque Macaques could be found around the lodge, along with a variety of birds. When we started our walk there was another birding guide who was tape playing bird alarm calls, attracting a wide variety of species. Preferring to find our own targets, Chin took us away from the other guide, up into the foothills off the main road, this produced Common Iora, White-browed Bulbul, Black-headed Oriole, Indian Robin, Tawny-bellied and Yellow-eyed Babblers, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Ceylon Swallows, Scaly-breasted Munia, Indian Silverbill, all the barbets, with the pretty Ceylon Small Barbet being new. We also got much better views of Ceylon Lorikeet/ Sri Lankan Hanging Parrot as well as Ceylon Grey Hornbill back at the lodge.    P2136013  Large-billed Leaf Warbler by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136028  Large-billed Leaf Warbler by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136045 Highland Toque Macaque by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136096 Highland Toque Macaque by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136109 Highland Toque Macaque by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136120 Highland Toque Macaque by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136128 flowe by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136158_01 Yellow-fronted Barbet by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136169 Common Iora by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136216 White-browed Bulbul by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136226 Black-headed Oriole by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136248 Black-headed Oriole by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136259 Black-headed Oriole by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136295_01 Black-headed Oriole by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136319_01 Black-headed Oriole by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136341 Indian Robin by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136360 Tawny-bellied Babblers by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136418 Tawny-bellied Babblers by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136425 Blythe's reed warbler by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136438 Yellow-eyed Babblers by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136468  Yellow-eyed Babblers by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136543 Purple-rumped sunbird by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136595 Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Swallow by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136630 Indian Silverbill by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136917 Ceylon Lorikeet / Ceylon Hanging Parrot by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136954 Ceylon Lorikeet / Ceylon Hanging Parrot by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2136955 Ceylon Lorikeet / Ceylon Hanging Parrot by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2137055 Ceylon Grey Hornbill by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2137071 Ceylon Grey Hornbill by Jo Dale, on Flickr   That evening we searched for Indian Giant Flying Squirrel around the lodge, it wasn’t difficult to find as another group were already watching one, it was sitting motionless in a tree for some time. I don’t think we did much else that night.   P2137083 Indian Giant Flying Squirrel by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2137122 Indian Giant Flying Squirrel by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2137139 Indian Giant Flying Squirrel by Jo Dale, on Flickr
    • kittykat23uk
      @offshorebirderthank you! Yes lots of birds, my particular favourites so far were the Serendib Scops Owl, the frogmouth, pitta and of course the blue magpie!
    • pomkiwi
      The Far South Puma Tracking Commences   The following morning I had free until my midday pick up. I went for a hike along the road to the airport and tried unsuccessfully to ignore the landscapes and cloudscapes   I was met by Jean-Pablo (J-P) our guide and Luis our driver with one of the other participants. We would meet Marciel our tracker the following day. The drive between Punta Arenas and Cerro Castillo where our hotel was situated took around an hour including wildlife stops. On the outward and return drives we saw a red fox:   Black chested buzzard eagle with road kill on both journeys:   On both occasions the neighbouring trees held a collection of opportunists:   Male and female black chested buzzard eagle:   Black chested buzzard eagle, immature southern caracara, mature southern caracars and black chested buzzard eagle;   On our return trip to Punta Arenas we stopped in Puerto Natales and saw a number of birds previously described as well as Chilean flamingos, a small group of whom overwinter here:   Cerro Castillo itself is a very small town that sits at one of the Argentinian frontier posts in Patagonia (the border itself is a bit further along a road from the frontier post). It hasone hotel and a couple of shops and cafes - one shop seemed to be open at all hours and had a wide range of essentials such as maps, cards, souvenirs and chocolate and not too crazy prices. The town's mascot is a single horse which may or not be appropriate...   We stayed at the Hotel Estancia el Ovejero which although modelled on a traditional ranch was modern, warm and comfortable without being luxurious. The food was good with several choices from a self-service buffet at dinner and a breakfast of limited choice that was OK. There is an extensive range of good wine and local bottled beers. The majority of other guests when we were there seemed to be other groups on puma tracking trips including at least one other from Far South     The town does have ubiquitous and bright street lighting but it is all well aimed downwards and it is only a short walk to find an area with sufficient darkness to photograph the night sky. This is looking east - the orange glow is from the approaching dawn even though sunrise was still 2 hours away:
    • offshorebirder
      Upland Goose is a beautiful bird!     So many good photos @pomkiwi - thanks very much for sharing them and your descriptions.
    • offshorebirder
      What an awesome first safari!   Thanks for posting this trip report @Scooter
    • offshorebirder
      Thanks for this ongoing excellent trip report @kittykat23uk   Too many great photos to comment upon but you have some cracking ones of both birds and mammals.   I like Thrushes a lot, so I especially enjoy seeing your Thrush pics.   The Pied Ground-Thrush reminds me of Aztec Thrush here in the Americas.
    • TonyQ
    • offshorebirder
      Wow!
    • pomkiwi
      Torres del Paine - the prelude   After going out to photograph the stars at 6am (which seemed to puzzle a passing Patagonian skunk), I went to the Torres del Paine National Park with one of the guides from the hotel. We first went to an area just to the north of the estancia where I would be puma tracking. This is on the eastern edge of the park. As I stepped down from the car there was an immediate subject of interest - puma prints from a female and cub. Indeed over the whole of the 2 mile hike we saw prints from multiple pumas and of differing ages including some that were very fresh.     10 minutes into the hike we saw an American kestrel fluffed up against the cold.   We were trying to identify a very distant bird (consensus was a caracara of some kind) :   Then two brown animals appeared on the skyline behind - puma! Unfortunately they were only there for 10 seconds or so and I was unable to react fast enough for a usable image We carried on hiking hoping that we might see them again but there were no more pumas during the day. There were several guanaco around and we heard alarm calls on a couple of occasions so pumas must have been close.   A grey fox came past but stayed in the vegetation.   We enjoyed excellent views of the Torres and the snow covered mountains that seemed to completely surround us were spectacular.       We then drove to the western side of the park which was much less snowy. We drove past the Salto Paine waterfall and on to the Salto Grande, the largest falls in the park.   Salto Paine:       Salto Grande:   From there we hiked up a trail for a couple of miles to a viewpoint giving breathtaking views of the other iconic peaks of the Paine Massif - the Cuernos or Horns.     On this trail there is evidence of the fire that devastated large areas of the park in 2011 caused by careless tourists. Comparison of photos of a similar area taken on this hike in 2017 and 2024 show how slow regeneration has been - due to the extreme weather and pressure from guanacos browsing on any new growth.   2017:   2024:   On the way back we had a different perspective on the whole central massif.     Before returning to the hotel, some incredible clouds and sunset.          
    • Scooter
      So.......after a chat with Charles re: the elephant in camp,   I came to understand that I was FAR too close on foot (I had no idea I should have been scared).   I really should have gone to get Charles - but at that time,   I had NO idea where any staff was,   or where the office even was.    Honestly,   this is one area Kwando could do a bit better.   But I got a lesson on elephant behaviour,  and "fake eating".      The following day,   (now that we are all rested) bf & I decide to have a game of backgammon in the common area at break time,  rather than time in our room.     The MOST intense thunderstorm blew in!   The winds had the rain blowing in sideways - I had to place my camera at the very far back underneath the sofa(it still managed to get wet).   This must have been the first rain the new re-build had seen,   as when we were trying to unroll the plastics,   they were rolled backward,   ties were not aligned,  etc.     Everyone was scrambling,   and we jumped in to help.       Right in those moments,   a completely wet,  and disheveled group arrived with their duffels in black bin bags,  but so very happy to be on solid ground,  and no longer kite-surfing in a wee light plane.     I felt so badly for Charles.  Not one bit  of him was dry.  He was literally as wet as if he'd jumped into the pool with all his clothing on.  Standing stalwartly,  and somehow still elegantly, to greet Sue, and all of the tourism insider guests.   I'm fairly certain, this wasn't the "Grand Opening" moment they had planned for.    ( I won backgammon.)   Kwara concession was burning.    All around us.    Driving home at evenings,   you could see the root systems of trees still glowing embers in the night.    Some areas saw new fresh green sprigs of grass growing through blackened fields.     This was the scene when we saw a large herd of zebras running and kicking up ash.    Still to date,  one of my favourite photos.
    • kittykat23uk
      Day 10 Nuwara Eliya & Horton Plains We stopped first ealy doors at a small patch of forest on our way to Horton Plains. It was a grey and overcast day. Here we found Bear Monkey- the highland race of Purple-faced Langur and Dusky-striped Squirrel. Birds seen included Small and Orange Minivets, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Indian blackbird and the endemic Sri Lankan Woodpigeon and Bar-winged (Pied) Flycatcher-shrike and Pied Bushchat.    P2125184 (2) Indian Blackbird by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125309 Bear monkey (Purple-faced Langur) by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125333 Orange minivet by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125341 Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125483_01 Sri Lankan Woodpigeon by Jo Dale, on Flickr   We drove on and up towards Horton Plains. The cloud forest gave way to grassy plains and we emerged into clear skies. Common Tailorbird and Yellow-eared bulbul and Ceylon Hill Munia, were seen in the more scrubby areas of the park before we entered the plains. WIld Boar and Sambar were resting and Indian Pipits were feeding on the plains, and a Himalayan Buzzard and Hill Swallows flew through, but overall it was quiet in terms of mammals and we failed to see the one mammal that I was hoping for, stripe-necked mongoose. We sat and had a box lunch before exploring further. The reserve is quite small with only a couple of roads so we didn’t spend a lot of time there. We searched an area for lizards and found Black-lipped Lizard.   P2125537 Yellow-eared Bulbul by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125528 Common Tailorbird by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125563_01 Yellow-eared Bulbul by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125580 Yellow-eared Bulbul by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125602 Dusky-striped Squirrel by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125651 Dusky-striped Squirrel by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240212_112041 Horton Plains by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240212_112007 Horton Plains by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240212_112021 Horton Plains by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240212_112130 Horton Plains by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125732 Sambar by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240212_113039 by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240212_113046 by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240212_113054 by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125780 Black-lipped  Lizard by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125813 Black-lipped  Lizard by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240212_115324 by Jo Dale, on Flickr On the way back we encountered a massive amount of traffic trying to head up to Horton Plains. WIth the road being steep and narrow in places this made for some interesting manoeuvering but Suresh was adept at ensuring our safety and the safety of the bus.    IMG_20240212_121555 Traffic jam getting down from Horton Plains by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240212_121559 by Jo Dale, on Flickr   We tried back at the little forest patch as well as some other areas, achieving closer views of Bear Monkeys, Highland Toque Macaque and also scoring a Ceylon Scaly Thrush and Sri Lanka Bush Warbler.    P2125849 Bear Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125897 Ceylon Scaly Thrush by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125915 Ceylon Scaly Thrush by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125933 Ceylon Scaly Thrush by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2125951 Ceylon Scaly Thrush by Jo Dale, on Flickr
    • Tom Kellie
      Contemplating Eternity     Taken on 2 July, 2023 at 5:12 pm in Manyeleti Game Reserve, Ndzhaka Camp, using an EOS 1D X camera with an EF 200mm f/2.8L telephoto lens   ISO 1250, f/2.8, 1/2500 sec., handheld Manual shooting mode in a safari vehicle in sunset light   **********************************************************************************************************************************************************   ~ In a fairly empty grassy plain a large pride of lions was spread out as the Sun was setting.   This lioness and the day's final sunrays evoked thoughts of the infinite nature of eternity.  
    • Galana
      Could it get better? You met 'stripes' within 20 minutes which is enviable indeed. Kanha is one of my favourites as I have had some outstanding encounters without crowds.
    • kittykat23uk
      Day 9 Kitulgala to Nuwara Eliya Around the lodge first thing, we did a bit of birding spotting Alexandrine and Layard’s Parakeets and a Crested Serpent Eagle. We headed off towards Nuwara Eliya.     P2113854_01 Crested Serpent Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2113868_01 Crested Serpent Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2113873_01 Crested Serpent Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2113980_01  Crested Serpent Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2113912 Crested Serpent Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2113924 Alexandrine Parakeet by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114032 Layard's Parakeet by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114086 Layard's Parakeet by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114090 Magpie-robin by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114099 Alexandrine Parakeet by Jo Dale, on Flickr   We stopped first at a viewpoint where we were able to photograph the impressive waterfalls. This gave me a chance to try out the ND filter function of my camera to try and blur the water. I think it was quite successful. A Crested Honey Buzzard soared overhead. We visited a tea plantation and had some tasty cake as well as a nice cup of tea.    IMG_20240211_101452 Nuwara elyia by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240211_101507 Nuwara elyia by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114136 Crested Honey Buzzard by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114207 Waterfall by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114209 Waterfall by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114215 Waterfall by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240211_123051 Tea Purchases by Jo Dale, on Flickr   We checked in at Hotel Blackpool in time for lunch and then had a bit of a rest for the early part of the afternoon. A new bird around the pool was a Grey Tit.    IMG_20240211_122048 Hotel Blackpool by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240211_122103 Hotel Blackpool by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240211_122936 chill time at the hotel by Jo Dale, on Flickr   IMG_20240211_143314 View from Hotel Blackpool pool by Jo Dale, on Flickr   Chin took us to a site for Sri Lankan Blue Whistling Thrush, which unfortunately failed to appear that time, but we were treated to fantastic views of a Black Eagle. Also present in and round the stream were Grey Wagtails, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Sri Lankan White-eye and Ashy Prinia.   P2114272 Black Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114473 Black Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114574_01_01 Black Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114647_01 Black Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114666 Black Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114693_01 Black Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114695_01  Black Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114697_01 Black Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr       P2114758 Grey Wagtail by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114765 Grey Wagtail by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114872 Dusky-blue Flycatcher by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114886 Sri Lankan White-eye by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114887 Sri Lankan White-eye by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114898 Sri Lankan White-eye by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114908 Ashy Prinia by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2114923 Ashy Prinia by Jo Dale, on Flickr   We then carried on to Victoria Park where we came across Common Sandpiper, Forest Wagtail, the much sought-after Pied Ground Thrush and Kashmir Flycatcher.    P2114944 Common Sandpiper by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115000 Common Mynah by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115013 Forest Wagtail by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115036 Indian Pond Heron by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115042 rat sp by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115047 rat sp by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115049 Palm Squirrel by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115070 White-breasted Kingfisher by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115090 White-breasted Kingfisher by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115096_01 Pied ground thrush by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115108_02 Pied ground thrush by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115124 Magpie-robin by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115170_01 Kashmir Flycatcher by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115176_01 Kashmir Flycatcher by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2115181 temple by Jo Dale, on Flickr
    • kittykat23uk
      After lunch back at the lodge we took a walk over a very rickety looking rope bridge over the river to the village. Here we found Ceylon Lorikeet (Sri Lankan Hanging Parrot), Red-backed Woodpecker, Black-hooded Oriole, White-rumped Munia, Chestnut-headed and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Common Hill Mynah and Common Mynah, and Common Iora. Other birds seen included White-bellied sea Eagle, Shikra, Indian Peafowl, the pigeons/doves and bulbuls that we’d seen before, Yellow-fronted Barbet, whilst Barn and Ceylon Swallows, Edible-nest Swiftlets and Palm Swifts whizzed overhead.     IMG-20240210-WA0001 Bridge of death Kitungula by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2103380 Green Garden Lizard by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2103448 Common Rose butterfly by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2103466 Orb web spider by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2103667 Orb web spider by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2103475 Green Garden Lizard by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2103502  Green Garden Lizard by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2103582 Black-headed Oriole by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2113674 Common Iora by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2113733 Common Iora by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2113738_01 Common Iora by Jo Dale, on Flickr   P2113783_01 red-backed woodpecker by Jo Dale, on Flickr  
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