Sri Lanka........ 10th to 25th February 2018
Sri Lanka offers a new and exciting wildlife experience in an enchanting paradise setting. This teardrop-shaped island in the Indian Ocean boasts many endemic birds from Chestnut-backed Owlet to Legge’s Flowerpecker, and it has an excellent range of Southern Indian species, including Malabar Trogon and Purple-rumped Sunbird. The recently discovered Serendib Scops Owl will also be a target. In addition, there’s the tantalising possibility of migrants - waders from Siberia, Pied Thrush from the Himalayas, or Indian Pitta. Our tour has been planned to encompass a variety of Sri Lanka’s habitats, from the high cloud forest to its beautiful coastline, and we have a real chance of seeing some rare and beautiful specialities, with the added interest of Elephant herds, elusive Leopards, Star Tortoises, colourful lizards and a dazzling array of butterflies. Sri Lanka is simply a delightful Island, which has a good infrastructure and therefore allows nature lovers to experience prime habitats whilst, generally, still being able to enjoy good accommodation.
A fantastic winter birding holiday in the warmth of a tropical island paradise!
Days 1 & 2: The tour starts with a flight from London to Colombo, where we arrive in the early morning of Day 2. On arrival we will be met by our ground agents and then transfer to Kitulgala. During the afternoon we’ll cross the river by dugout canoe to look for rainforest birds including Ceylon Spurfowl, Red-faced Malkoha, Layard’s Parakeet, Ceylon Hanging-parrot, Ceylon Green Pigeon, Indian Swiftlet, Malabar Trogon, Ceylon Grey Hornbill, Crimson-backed Flameback, Ceylon Swallow, Green Warbler, Brown-capped Babbler, Yellow-billed Babbler, Legge’s Flowerpecker.
Overnight - Kitulgala
Day 3: Full day in Kitulgala Rainforest. Amidst this forest haven is an exciting avifauna, including a number of endemic species and we will endeavour to find: Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, the recently discovered Serendib Scops Owl, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Ceylon Frogmouth, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Spot-winged Thrush, White-throated Flowerpecker, Indian Pitta, Green-billed Coucal and Large-billed Warbler.
Overnight - Kitulgala
Day 4: This morning we leave for Sinharaja rainforest arriving there in time for some evening birding.
Overnight - Sinharaja
Day 5: A full day in Sinharaja rainforest, home to a vast array of both colourful and rare species. We have two full days to explore this wonderful forest whose birdlife includes many of Sri Lanka’s endemics. Amongst the marvellous array of species present are: Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Serendib Scops Owl, Ceylon Frogmouth, Green-billed Coucal, Red-faced Malkoha, Layard’s Parakeet, Ceylon Hanging-parrot, Malabar Trogon, Crimson-backed Flameback, Orange-billed Babblers, Ashy-headed Laughingthrush, Green Warbler, Ceylon Crested Drongo and Sri Lanka Blue Magpie.
Overnights - Sinharaja
Day 6: A further visit to Sinharaja this morning before leaving for Udawalawe National Park, where we will look for a number of dry zone birds including Crested Hawk-Eagle, Crested Treeswift, Jerdon’s Bushlark, Coppersmith Barbet, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Ceylon Woodshrike, Sirkeer Malkoha, Orange-headed Thrush and Jungle Prinia.
Overnight - Udawalawa
Day 7: Morning visit to Udawalawa National Park. The habitat surrounding the reservoir includes marshes, the Walawe River and its tributaries, forests and grasslands. Dead trees standing in the reservoir are visual reminders of the extent of forest cover before dam construction. Areas of open grassland are abundant as a result of former chena farming. Udawalawe has a reputation for harbouring large stocks of Asian Elephants and other mammals present include Chital, Wild Boar, Feral Buffaloes, Golden Jackal, Toque Macaque, Tufted Grey Langur and Indian Hare.
Target birds include: Indian Peafowl, Crested Serpent Eagle, Indian Scops Owl, Alexandrine Parakeet, Plum-headed parakeet, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Crested Treeswift, Blyth’s Pipit, Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Indian Black Robin, White-browed Bulbul, Ashy Prinia, Plain Prinia, Grey-breasted Prinia, Yellow-eyed Babbler, Black-headed Munia and Rosy Starling.
After lunch we leave for Mirissa.
Overnight - Mirissa.
Day 8: The morning will be devoted to a pelagic trip for whale watching. Among the species we hope to see are Blue & Sperm Whales and Long-snouted Spinner Dolphins. Also possible are Bottle-nosed, Risso’s, Striped & Spotted Dolphins.
After lunch we leave for Yala.
Overnight - near Yala
Day 9: A morning visit to wetlands around Tissa looking for waterbirds including Stork-billed Kingfisher, Watercock, Yellow & Black Bitterns.
In the afternoon we visit Yala National Park, an area of wetlands, dry grasslands, scrublands and forest, looking for waterbirds, shorebirds, forest and nocturnal birds including Ceylon Junglefowl, Indian Nightjar, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Jerdon’s Bushlark, Ceylon Woodshrike, Marshall’s Iora, White-browed Bulbul, Brahminy Starling and Rosy Starling. Also possible here are a number of mammal species such as Asian Elephant, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Samber, Chital, Wild Boar, Wild Buffalo, Ruddy & Indian Grey Mongoose.
Overnight - near Yala
Day 10: A morning visit to Bundala National Park, the first wetland in Sri Lanka to be declared as a Ramsar site. The avifauna of Bundala consists of shorebirds, coastal seabirds, waterbirds and dry open country forest and nocturnal birds. One of the spectacles here are the Greater Flamingos who loiter here. Another is the abundance of large flocks of migrant shorebirds and waterfowl. These might include Curlew, Wood, Marsh & Common Sandpipers, Pacific Golden Plover and both Lesser & Greater Sandplovers. The highlights generally are Watercock, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Black & Yellow Bittern’s and Yellow-wattled Lapwing.
After lunch leave for Nuwara Eliya in the high hills.
Overnight - Nuwara Eliya
Day 11: An early morning visit to Horton Plains National Park. The park consists of grasslands and cloud forest in higher cool climatic conditions. We will be looking for highland open country and forest birds including some endemics. Targets include Himalayan Buzzard, Ceylon Wood Pigeon, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Ceylon Whistling Thrush, Pied Bush Chat, Dusky Blue Flycatcher, Kashmir Flycatcher, Indian Blackbird, Ceylon Bush Warbler, Ceylon Hill white-eye, Black-throated Munia. Smooth coated Otter frequent the pools and streams found here and one reason for venturing out here very early is to maximize the chances of seeing this elusive mammal. The mornings also bring out large herds of Sambar deer a spectacle seldom seen elsewhere.
We return to the hotel for a late lunch and later there will be a visit to Victoria Park in town looking for Indian Pitta, Pied Thrush, Kashmir Flycatcher and some highland endemic birds.
Overnight - Nuwara Eliya
Day 12: This morning we leave for Kandy, stopping en route at a tea factory. After lunch we visit the nearby Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. The garden is good for some common birds in the area including endemic Ceylon Small (Crimson-fronted) Barbet and Lesser Hill-Myna. Late evening visit the Kandy Temple.
Overnight - Kandy
Day 13: A morning visit to Udawattekele Forest looking for wet lowland forest birds, including Brown Fish Owl, Ceylon Small Barbet, Crimson-backed Flameback and Brown-capped Babbler. Later we leave for Sigiriya and in the evening pay a visit to Sigiriya Sanctuary, which consists of dry tall forest and small wetlands. Target bird species are: Oriental Scops Owl, Forest Eagle Owl, Brown Fish Owl, Indian & Jerdon’s Nightjars, Blue-faced Malkoha, Ceylon Grey Hornbill, Indian Pitta, Jerdon’s Bushlark, White-browed Bulbul, Indian Blue Robin, Orange-headed Thrush, Jungle Prinia, Green & Large-billed Warblers, Brown-capped Babbler and Streaked Weaver.
Overnight - Sigiriya
Day 14: The day will be spent in Sigiriya Sanctuary, a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. The name refers to a site of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 metres high. Birds to be found might include Grey-bellied Cuckoo, Square-tailed Drongo-cuckoo, Indian Cuckoo, Crested Treeswift, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Coppersmith Barbet, Indian Pitta, Ceylon Woodshrike, Large Cuckooshrike, Black-headed Cuckooshrike, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Ceylon Small Barbet, White-browed Fantail, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Jungle Prinia, White-rumped Shama, Purple Sunbird, Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Overnight - Sigiriya
Days 15 & 16: A morning of Day 15 we visit Sigiriya forest. After lunch we leave for a hotel near the airport for dinner before our evening departure back to the UK. Our overnight flight arrives in London on the morning of Day 16.
Tour ref: AA18**
Single Room Supplement: £345
Leaders: Peter Dedicoat & June Taylor and Local Guide
Max. Group: 12 plus 2 Leaders & Local Guide
Economy class scheduled return flights (UK-Colombo-UK), accommodation based on twin occupancy, all meals, transportation in Sri Lanka, entrance fees to national parks and reserves and services of leaders and guides.
Travel insurance, airport departure tax, drinks and items of a personal nature.
Asia & Australasia