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Sri Lanka the island of Kingfishers


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NSY

March 2016

 

A short trip to Sri Lanka 

 

Day 1 Fly to Dubai

Day 2 Fly Dubai to Colombo & drive to Sinharaja forest reserve (Rainforest Eco Lodge)

Day 3 Rainforest eco lodge area

Day 4 Drive to Yala NP (Cinnamon Wild hotel)

Day 5 Safaris in Yala NP

Day 6 Morning Jeep Safari to Bundala NP Afternoon Safaris in Yala NP

Day 7 Drive to Uda Walawe NP (Kalu’s Hideaway hotel) Afternoon drive in Nat Park

Day 8 Morning & Afternoon in Uda Walawe NP then drive to Balapitiya (The River house Hotel)

Day 9 Drive to Airport & fly back to UK

 

Yala Nat Park is reputed to have the highest Leopard population density in the world

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NSY

Sri Lanka March 2016

Day 1  

Fly UK to Dubai Emirates on A380.

 

Day 2 Dubai to Sinharaja Sri Lanka

 

Fly Dubai to Colombo.  It was good to find Colombo airport was a lot better organised that India airports.  

Our driver/guide picks us up at airport & advises drive to hotel will be 4-5 hours. The road winds up into the hills turning into single track. After about 6hours a very narrow & steep track winds its way to lodge, only to find it is the wrong lodge.

The place we need to be is on other side of NP and a long drive round. The landscape is very green with lots of Tea plantations about. Eventually arrive after 9hour drive. This is 32hours after leaving home so very tired.

We are staying at Rainforest Eco Lodge near Sinharaja NP. Accommodation at Rainforest Eco Lodge is in converted old shipping containers.

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Facilities include Loo, Shower, Sink & even a kettle. Set in deep jungle area. Dinner at 7pm a short walk away. The restaurant is a glass walled building high up above forest.  It will be nice to see view in daylight tomorrow.

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NSY

Day 3 In the hotel grounds & nearby  

Today we go for an early morning birding walk along paths & tracks near the hotel.  We see a good selection of birds and it’s great to be out in the cool of the morning.

 

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Later we go on a guided walk into the rainforest, tracking down to a river where we spot lizards and frogs.

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Now we have a few hours to relax in our room but it gets very hot later in the day inside the shipping container.

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NSY

Today’s drive is with the brilliant Walter again, it’s an approximate drive of around 5 hours. We stop near Uda Walawe for a meal. The restaurant looks basic but food is extremely good. Shortly after leaving Uda Walawe we have a puncture. I Help Walter changing the wheel and see old tyre is nearly bald, I ask Walter where he will have to go to get a new tyre but he replies he will just get this one repaired!

 

Today we start to notice the sheer number of Kingfishers about. On telephone wires, by pools, on riverbanks, more than we have seen in any other country. We count over 50 in 8 days 

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 A very poor photo of Stork Billed Kingfisher 

 

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White Throated Kingfisher 

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Eventually after 7 hours we arrive at Cinnamon Wild Hotel in Yala just as it is going dark. The room is a very nice bungalow in grounds but only 50 metres from lodge.  Dinner in upstairs restaurant is very good, a buffet with a choice of English, Italian and Sri Lankan food.

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NSY

Day 5 Yala

At last it is Yala National Park today.  When we arrive at the entrance gate there is pandemonium as there about 100 jeeps with drivers buying tickets and waiting for the 9am gate opening time. 

There is a interesting little pond just by the gate with a section of birds on it

 

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Pond Heron made a catch 

 

We wait at least an hour to get into the park but soon lose the other jeeps as they turn onto various tracks in park. A National Park ranger joins us in our jeep; apparently it is just random as to who has a ranger assigned to them.

 

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muddy Samba Deer 

 

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Spotted Deer 

 

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Water Buffalo enjoying the sun 

 

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Ruddy Mongoose

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Chestnut Headed Bee-eater

 

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Red-wattled Lapwing 

 

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Birdlife is extensive, as well including Oriental darters, Yellow -wattled Lapwings, Red -wattled Lapwings and numerous different Kingfishers  

We drive back out of the park at 12 and return to the hotel for lunch.

Walter and the same guide drive us back into the park in the afternoon and we drive around until NP closes at 6pm (we have a different Nat Park ranger who is obviously very tired and goes to sleep!). Soon we are very fortunate to see a beautiful leopard and amazingly we are the only jeep about. Next day we will see how lucky we are to be the only jeep at this sighting.

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NSY

Day 6 Bundala & Yala  

Today we are driven to the gate at Bundala National Park and then transfer into another vehicle with guide to go into the park. This park is mainly about spotting birdlife but we do see Tufted grey langur monkeys. Birds seen include Painted Storks, Asian Openbills, Spot Billed Pelican.  

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Great Thick-knee 

 

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Spot Billed Pelican 

 

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At 3pm we drive into Yala for another game drive. A leopard is seen at 3.15 pm asleep on a rock by roadside – the guides are quick to tell each other and soon there are about a dozen jeeps vying  to get the best spots for their clients to see the poor leopard, although the leopard doesn’t seem too put out by his popularity.  

 

We go back to same place at 5.45 pm and the leopard is still there but finally gets up and runs off down the track to get away from Jeeps, there is only so much camera clicking he can take. It is a beautiful animal.

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NancyS

Yep, you were really lucky to see that leopard without any other jeeps! When I was there, when we saw a leopard it was a massive traffic jam like your last picture only the vehicles were solid on both lanes. I barely caught a glimpse. I love your leopard photo!

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offshorebirder

Thanks for this excellent post and trip report @NSY

 

The shorebird in the photo below the Great Thick-knees is a Yellow-wattled Lapwing.  Great shot of it kneeling backwards.

 

 

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NSY

Day 7 Yala to Uda Walawe

Time to move on to another park, this time it is Uda Walawe National Park.

 

We check-in to Kalu’s Hideaway which is run by the famous Sri Lankan cricketer Romesh Kaluwitharan .  After leaving our baggage in our room and a quick freshen up we leave for the park in the trusty jeep with Walter and our guide.

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Malabar Pied Hornbill 

 

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Lesser Adjutant 

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Wooley Neck Stork 

 

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Indian Star Tortoise

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Look at me like that in a few years & I will eat you

 

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Golden Jackalls

 

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We see Asian Elephants one with a very young calf and Samba and Spotted deer.  Also on this foray we spot Lesser Adjutant, Woolly necked stork & Crested Serpent Eagle .

 

 

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NSY

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A selection of Raptors seen on trip 

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TonyQ

You had a lot of really good sightings!

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NSY

Day 8 Uda Walawe to Balapitiya

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Even the Leopard is leaving 

 

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Sunset in Sri Lanka 

 

Today we have another long drive with Walter (approximately 6 hours) through some very busy towns and then onto Sri Lanka’s only dual carriageway.

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River House hotel

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Hotel gardens 

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We stay at The River House a very plush boutique type hotel with six rooms. The hotel is set on the banks of Madhu Ganga River and we have good views across the river from our room.  The room is upstairs with a massive four poster bed and lots of antique furniture. There is a plunge pool/Jacuzzi on the terrace.  It’s a fantastic place to relax after our trip.  

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NSY
Posted (edited)

Day 9 River house

This is going to be our lazy day.  Breakfast in our room and then we wander around the grounds seeing which birds we can identify.  It’s beautiful and peaceful.

 

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 Black Hooded Oriole (I think from the parts seen)

 

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 Ceylon Small Barbet ?

 

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Black Hooded Oriole

 

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Hotel room balcony

 

Day 10 River house to home  

An early start at 4am for a 4 hour drive with Walter to airport, we are sad to go, Sri Lanka has been a wonderful country to visit and we will miss Walter too – he has been a brilliant guide and the holiday has been made all the more memorable due to his company and help.

 

So we fly back home, Emirates Colombo to Dubai. The incoming flight is an hour late and we also lose some time on the flight.

 

Once we get to the gate at Dubai its only 14mins to gate close time for the next flight and it’s in a different terminal!  We think there is no chance of catching our next plane but there is a guy waiting as we come into terminal with a sign ‘Manchester’ and shouting for passengers. There are about 12 passengers bound for Manchester off the Sri Lanka flight and he escorts us through the terminal taking short cuts and a train to the next terminal.  We go straight to front of the line for security and to the gate.  This says ‘closed’ but staff wave us through and on to board the plane. Pilot then announces ready to push back but just waiting for a few bags. Well done Emirates!  We never thought we would catch the flight never mind our bags.

We settle back for the last leg, Dubai to Manchester on an A380.

      

112 birds seen

7 Endemic seen

Edited by NSY
forgot last notes
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mtanenbaum

Thanks for this wonderful trip report! Really enjoyed reading it and seeing your lovely photos.

 

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xelas

Really nice trip report, and plethora of great sightings. Sri Lanka is an excellent location where nature and culture is prolific throughout the country. And some folks says there are also great beaches :huh: ...

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