Pat and I, together with Keith Corbett, visited Sri Lanka in November and December 2002. The trip was superbly organised by A Baur & Co (Travel) of Colombo ( e-mail ). They provided one of their best bird guides, Uditha Hettige, a young, enthusiastic and excellent bird guide who also knew all the butterflies, reptiles, amphibians, trees and of course mammals.We greatly enjoyed his company. We also had an excellent driver, Sampath, and a good air-conditioned minibus. The hotels we stayed in were all fine, though we chose to stay at the basic accommodation of Martin's Place when visiting Sinharaja Forest  in order to be "on site". Despite the very basic facilities we did not regret this because travelling each day from Ratnapura would be awful. We saw all the endemics except "the new owl" and had records of 255 species of which 250 were seen, mostly very closely despite the skulking nature of many of the forest birds. Our itinerary was:

11th Nov    Depart London Heathrow with Srilankan Airlines

12th Nov    Arrive Colombo and Transfer to Anuradhapura(AN) via Dambulla                           and Gallewela

13th Nov    Anuradhapura inc. old city, temples and Kalawewa Tank

14th Nov    Anuradhapura to Sigiriya(SG) via Habarana

15th Nov    Sigiriya inc. dry forests, Thalkotea Tank & Kaludiya Pokuna

16th Nov    Sigiriya inc Mineriya, Thalkotea and Rangirigama Tanks

17th Nov    Sigiriya to Peradiniya Gardens(PE) and Kandy(KY)

18th Nov    Kandy inc Udawattakele Sanctuary and Ooduwella Estate
                   (c 3500ft)

19th Nov    Kandy to Nuwara Eliya(NE) inc Victoria Park (c 6000ft)

20th Nov    Day to Horton Plains NP(HP) (c 7000ft) and back to Nuwara Eliya

21st Nov    To Welimada(WE) (c 4000ft) and Hakgala Gardens(HG) (c 5000ft) &                    (Nuwara Eliya

22nd Nov    N. Eliya to Tissamaharama(TS) via Ella(EL), Wellawaya(WL), &
                   (Galgae Tank(GG)

23rd Nov    Yala NP(YA) and Tissa inc Palatupana, Pannegamuwa &
                   (Weeravila Tanks

24th Nov    Bundala NP(BU) and Tissa inc Debarawewa, Pannegamuwa, Tissa
                   & Weeravila

25th Nov    To Udawalawe NP(UW) (c 700ft) and Embilipitiya(EM)

26th Nov    Embilipitiya to Sinharaja Forest(SN) (c 1500ft) via Rakwand

27th Nov    Sinharaja Forest

28th Nov    Sinharaja Forest

29th Nov    Sinharaja to Kithulgala Forest(KT) (c 1200ft)

30th Nov    Kithulgala Forest

1st Dec      To Bodhinagala Forest(BD), Bellanwila Sanctuary(BL) and Colombo

2nd Dec     Depart Colombo

Sri Lanka Map

Site Descriptions:

Anuradhapura: Around the ancient capital city ruins and temples are areas of dry zone scrub and several tanks with open water and marsh.

Sigiriya: The rock fortress of Sigiriya, a famous archaeological site, is surrounded by dry zone scrub and forest, part of which is an elephant sanctuary. There are also many tanks in the areas towards Habarana and the other ancient capital of Polonnaruwa.

Peradeniya Gardens: Famous Botanical Gardens near Kandy with an arboretum and formal gardens. Also a nice orchid house.

Udawattakele Forest: A tall forest on the outskirts of Kandy at about 3000ft.

Oodawella Estate: A tea estate with residual forest in the gullies at about 3500ft on the outskirts of Kandy.

Victoria Park: The town park in Nuwara Eliya with gardens and shrubberies at about 6000ft. 

Horton Plains National Park: Grassland with ponds and marshes surrounded by montane forest on a plateau at about 7000ft. Opens at 6am. About 90 minutes south of Nuwara Eliya.

Hakgala Gardens: Botanic gardens east of Nuwara Eliya at about 5000ft and adjacent to montane forest.

Welimada Estate: A tea estate with residual forest at about 4000ft. Birders are allowed on to the private tracks.

Ella:  Situated at the southern edge of the highland zone and good for raptors sometimes.

Galgae: A tank with marshes en route to Tissamaharama.

Tissamaharama: Areas of tanks and paddy between Yala and Bundala National Parks.

Yala National Park: A large dry zone park on the south coast with scrubland, grass flats, abandoned tanks and paddies, waterholes and monsoon forest. Access is by national park jeeps only.

Bundala National Park: Another south coast park, west of Tissa with extensive dry scrub, waterholes, coastal mudflats and salterns. Access by jeep from park headquarters.

Udawalawe National Park: Dry zone grassland, scrub with some tall forest and water at about 700ft near Embilipitiya. Elephant sanctuary with access by jeep from park HQ only.

Sinharaja Forest: Wet zone rainforest about two hours south west of Ratnapura. One of the best remaining forests on the island and the home of many endemics. Several trails but most birds can be seen on the track between Martin's Place (basic accommodation) and the Research Station.

Kithulgala Forest: Wet zone forest across the Kellani River by dugout ferry. Also areas of paddy.

Bodhinagala Forest: A small area of forest near a Buddhist Monastery south of Ingiriya. Bird the track to the monastery.

Bellanwila-Attidiya Sanctuary: An area of marsh within the Colombo urban area. Some good wetland birds at close quarters but porly managed site with rubbish tipping.

Birds Recorded:

The following trip list indicates for each species the number of days recorded, the maximum number of birds and the sites where they were recorded (see itinerary for site codes).

Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Little Grebe 8 135 AN,SG,TS,BU and UW
Spot-billed Pelican 7 30 AN,SG,TS,YA,BU and EM
Great Cormorant 8 3  AN,SG,TS,BU and UW
Indian Cormorant 12 100+ Most suitable waters
Little Cormorant 15 100+ Most suitable waters
Oriental Darter 5 4 SG,YA,BU and UW
Grey Heron 9 20 AN,SG,TS,BU,UW and BL
Purple Heron 9 20  AN,SG,TS,BU,UW and BL
Great White  Egret 13 10+ Most sites
Intermediate Egret 13 50+ Most sites
Little Egret 14 20+ Most sites
Cattle Egret 16 500+ Most sites
Indian Pond Heron 18 100+ Most sites
Striated Heron 1 2 BU
Black-crowned Night Heron 6 100 AN,SG and TS
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Yellow Bittern 5 4 AN,SG,TS and BL 
Cinnamon Bittern 1 1 SG
BlackBittern 1 1 TS
Painted Stork 6 100+ AN,SG,BU,TS and UW
Asian Openbill Stork 8 50 AN,SG,TS,YA,BU and UW
Woolly-necked Stork 5 8 AN,SG,GG and UW
Black-necked Stork 1 2 YA
Lesser Adjutant Stork 2 6 YA and UW
Black-headed Ibis 6 50+ AN,SG,GG,TS,YA,BU and UW 
Eurasian Spoonbill 4 20 AN,YA,BU and UW
Greater Flamingo 1 50+ BU
Lesser Whistling Duck 9 160+ Most suitable waters
Cotton Pygmy Goose 2 6 SG and TS
Northern Pintail 5 '000s SG,TS,YA,BU and UW
Garganey 7 '00s AN,SG,TS,YA,BU and BL
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Northern Shoveler 1 10 BU
Oriental Honey Buzzard 6 2 AN,EL,SN and BD
Black-winged Kite 6 6 AN,SG,HP,GG,TS and UW
Brahminy Kite 13 20+ Most lowland sites
White-bellied Fish Eagle 8 8 AN,SG,PE,TS,YA,BU and UW
Grey-headed Fish Eagle 2 1 SG and TS
Crested Serpent Eagle 11 8 AN,SG,PE,KY,UW,SN and KT
Pallid Harrier 1 1 UW
Montagu's Harrier 2 2 TS and UW
Shikra 7 2 AN,KY,WE,EL,UW,SN and KT
Besra 1 1 SN
Common Buzzard 1 1 HP
Booted Eagle 1 1 HP
Changeable Hawk Eagle 12 6+ Most sites
Mountain Hawk Eagle 6 3 KY,WE,EL and KT
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Common Kestrel 3 2 HP,YA and TS
Blue-breasted Quail 1 1 UW
Sri Lanka Spurfowl 5 1 KT (heard SN)
Sri Lanka Junglefowl 9 6 SG,HP,TS,YA,SN and KT
Indian Peafowl 7 20+ AN,SG,TS,YA,BU and UW
Barred Buttonquail 3 2 AN,YA and UW
White-breasted Waterhen 13 10+ Most suitable waters
Common Moorhen 2 2 TS and BL
Purple Gallinule 10 50 Most suitable waters
Pheasant-tailed Jacana 8 400 AN,SG,TS,YA and BL
Greater Painted Snipe 1 1 AN
Black-winged Stilt 8 100+ Most suitable waters
Eurasian Thick-knee 3 12 YA,BU and EM
Great Thick-knee 2 20+ YA and BU
Oriental Pratincole 1 1 TS
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Small Pratincole 2 3 TS and BU
Yellow-wattled Lapwing 2 20 YA and BU
Red-wattled Lapwing 11 50+ Most lowland sites
Pacific Golden Plover 2 20+ YA, TS and BU
Grey Plover 1 5 BU
Common Ringed Plover 1 2 BU
Little Ringed Plover 1 5+ BU
Kentish Plover 2 20+ YA and BU
Lesser Sand Plover 2 50+ YA and BU
Greater Sand Plover 2 5+ YA and BU
Asian Dowitcher 1 1 BU
Black-tailed Godwit 1 '000s BU
Eurasian Curlew 1 2+ BU
Spotted Redshank 1 1 BU
Common Redshank 2 30+ TS,YA and BU
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Marsh Sandpiper 3 '000s YA, TS BU and UW
Common Greenshank 2 10 YA and BU
Green Sandpiper 2 2 SG
Wood Sandpiper 2 6 YA and BU
Common Sandpiper 10 10 Most suitable sites
Ruddy Turnstone 2 20 YA and BU
Red-necked Phalarope 1 6 BU
Pintail Snipe 3 8 SG and TS
Common Snipe 1 1 TS
Red Knot 1 1 TS
Sanderling 1 1 TS
Little Stint 2 1000+ TS,YA and BU
Curlew Sandpiper 2 400 TS, YA and BU
Broad-billed Sandpiper 2 10+ YA and BU
Ruff 1 1 BU
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Whiskered Tern 12 1000+ Most waters
Gull-billed Tern 4 50 GG,TS,YA,BU andUW
Caspian Tern 3 30 TS,YA and BU
Common Tern 3 20+ GG,TS,YA and BU
Little Tern 3 15+ AN,TS and BU
Lesser Crested Tern 1 2 BU
Feral Pigeon 12 50+ Most towns
Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon 5 2 HP,HG,SN and KT
Spotted Dove 18 30+ Most sites
Emerald Dove 9 3 SG,KY,YA and SN
Orange-breasted Green Pigeon  5 20+ SG,TS,YA,BU and UW
Pompadour Green Pigeon 5 10+ SG,UW and SN
Green Imperial Pigeon 9 10 TS,YA,BU,SN,KT and BD
Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot 12 10 PE,KY,WE,NE,UW,SNKT and BD
Alexandrine Parakeet 12 10+ AN,SG,PE,KY,TS and BD
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Rose-ringed Parakeet 14 200+ Most sites
Plum-headed Parakeet 4 3 KY,UW and TS
Layard's Parakeet 7 10 KY,UW,SN and KT
Pied Cuckoo 4 5 AN,TS and UW
Indian Cuckoo 2 1+ AN and SG
Grey-bellied Cuckoo 3 3 YA,TS,BU and UW
Drongo Cuckoo 2 1+ SG
Asian Koel 9 10 AN,SG,PE,KY and TS 
Blue-faced Malkoha 6 3 AN,SG,BU and UW
Sirkeer Malkoha 1 1 UW
Red-faced Malkoha 3 6 SN
Green-billed Coucal 3 1+ SN and BD
Greater Coucal 14 6 Most sites 
Oriental Scops Owl 2 1+ SG
Collared/Indian Scops Owl 2 1 AN and TS
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Spot-bellied Eagle Owl 1 1 Heard SN
Brown Fish Owl 2 2 TS and UW
Brown Wood Owl 2 1 HP and WE
Chestnut-backed Owlet 3 1+ SN and heard KT
Brown Hawk Owl 1 1 Heard SG
Sri Lanka Frogmouth 2 1+ SN
Jerdon's Nightjar 1 3 SG
Indian Nightjar 3 3 AN,SG and UW
Indian Swiftlet 12 50+ Most sites
Brown-backed Needletail 4 8 HP,SN and KT
Asian Palm Swift 13 50 Most sites
Little Swift 16 200+ Most sites
Alpine Swift 1 1 YA
Crested Tree Swift 10 10+ SG,YA,TS,BU,UW,EM and KT 
Malabar Trogon 5 4 SN,KT and BD
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Pied Kingfisher 4 6 AN,BU and BL
Common Kingfisher 6 6 AN,SG and TS
Stork-billed Kingfisher 5 4 AN,SG and TS
White-throated Kingfisher 17 30+ Most waters
Green Bee-eater 9 100+ AN,SG,YA,TS,BU and UW
Blue-tailed Bee-eater 13 25 Most sites
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater 6 2+ SG,EL,UW and SN
Indian Roller 8 6 AN,SG,PE,TS, YA,BUand UW
Eurasian Hoopoe 2 2 YA and BU
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill 8 3 AN,SG,KY,SN and KT
Malabar Pied Hornbill 6 8 AN,SG,TS and UW
Brown-headed Barbet 14 10+ Most sites
Yellow-fronted Barbet 9 8 KY,WE,SN,KT and BD
Crimson-fronted Barbet 6 8 SG,PE,KY,KT and BD
Coppersmith Barbet 6 3 AN,SG and YA
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Brown-capped Woodpecker 2 3 SG and BU
Yellow-crowned Woodpecker 2 4 TS,YA and BU
Lesser Yellownape 4 2 SN and KT
Black-rumped Flameback 10 6+ AN,SG,PE,KY,TS,UW and KT
Greater Flameback 3 3 KY,HP and BD
White-naped Woodpecker 1 1 TS
Indian Pitta 11 3+ AN,SG,KY,TS,YA and SN
Rufous-winged Bush-Lark 4 20+ SG,TS,YA,BU and UW
Oriental Skylark 1 4 YA
Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark 2 20 YA and BU
Pale Martin 1 1 TS
Barn Swallow 18 1000+ Most sites
Hill Swallow 1 10+ HP
Red-rumped Swallow 10 30 AN,SG,KY,EL,TS,UW,SN,KT and BL
Forest Wagtail 5 3 SG,PE,NE and UW
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Yellow Wagtail 5 10 SG,GG,TS,YA,BU and UW
Grey Wagtail 7 20 NE,HP,HG,SN,KT and BD
Paddyfield Pipit 7 10+ AN,SG,HP,TS,YA,BU and UW
Blyth's Pipit 1 1 YA
Black-headed Cuckoo-Shrike 2 1 SG
Small Minivet 8 5 SG,PE,TS,YA,BU,KT and BD
Scarlet Minivet 9 10 PE,KY,WE,HG,YA,SN and KT
Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike  4 4 SG,KY,HG and SN
Common Wood Shrike 4 6 SG and YA
Black-capped Bulbul 5 10 UW,SN and KT
Red-vented Bulbul 18 30+ Most sites
Yellow-eared Bulbul 3 20 NE and HP
White-browed Bulbul 12 30+ AN,SG,KY,WE,YA,TS,BU and UW
Yellow-browed Bulbul 6 10+ KY,SN and KT
Black Bulbul 3 10+ SN and KT
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Common Iora 11 6 AN,SG,KY,YA,BU,UW,SN,KT and BD
Jerdon's Leafbird 7 10 SG,PE,KY,WE and BD
Golden-fronted Leafbird 4 2 EL,BU and SN
Brown Shrike 17 15+ Most sites
Indian Blue Robin 9 4 SG,KY,NE,HP and SN
Oriental Magpie-Robin 16 20+ Most sites
White-rumped Shama 7 1+ SG,KY,TS and UW
Pied Bushchat 4 6+ NE,HP and HG
Indian/Black-backed Robin 11 20+ AN,SG,KY,WE,YA,TS,BU and UW
Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush 1 1 HP
Pied Thrush 2 3 NE
Orange-headed Thrush 1 1 UW
Spot-winged Thrush 4 2+ SN
Scaly Thrush 2 1 Heard SN
Eurasian Blackbird 1 1+ Heard HP
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Brown-capped Babbler 11 4+ SG,KY,WE,TS,UW and SN
Indian Scimitar Babbler 7 3+ HP,HG,SN and KT
Tawny-bellied babbler 3 5+ AN and SG
Dark-fronted Babbler 11 6 SG,HP,WE,UW,SN and KT
Yellow-eyed Babbler 4 5 SG,TS,YA and UW
Orange-billed Babbler 6 50 SN,KT and BD
Yellow-billed Babbler 18 20+ Most sites
Ashy-headed Laughing Thrush 3 10+ SN
Sri Lanka Bush Warbler 1 1+ HP
Blyth's Reed Warbler 2 5+ SG and HP
Clamorous Reed Warbler 1 1+ Heard BL
Zitting Cisticola 10 20 AN,SG,HP,YA,TS,BU,UW and BL
Grey-breasted Prinia 1 6 WL
Jungle Prinia 6 5+ AN,SG,YA,BU and UW
Ashy Prinia 8 3 AN,SG,NE,HP,WL and UW
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
Plain Prinia 11 10+ AN,SG,KY,GG,YA,TS,BU,UW and BL
Common Tailorbird 16 10+ Most sites
Greenish/Bright Green Warbler 11 6 AN,SG,PE,KY,WE,HG,SN,KT and BD
Large-billed Leaf Warbler 9 10+ SG,KY,HP,SN,KT and BD
Asian Brown Flycatcher 4 3 SG,PE and KT
Brown-breasted Flycatcher 6 3+ UW,SN and BD
Dull Blue Flycatcher 2 4 HP and HG
Kashmir Flycatcher 1 2 NE
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher 6 3+ SG,KY,WE,SN and BD
Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher 3 3 NE and WE
Black-naped Monarch 5 4 SG,WE and SN
Asian Paradise Flycatcher 4 3 AN,SG,KY,WE,TS,UW,SN,KT and BD
(Indian Paradise Flycatcher) 2 2 SN
White-browed Fantail Flycatcher 7 5 SG,KY,TS,YA,BU and UW
Great Tit 5 8 KY,NE,HP and HG
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch 4 6+ SG,HP,WE,HG and SN
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
White-throated Flowerpecker 2 10 SN
Pale-billed Flowerpecker 17 6+ Most sites
Purple-rumped Sunbird 17 20+ Most sites
Long-billed Sunbird 14 5 Most sites
Purple Sunbird 9 4 AN,SG,KY,WE,TS,YA,BU and UW
Oriental White-eye 7 10 SG,PE,KY,WE and SN
Sri Lanka White-eye 3 20+ NE,HP,WE and HG
Indian Silverbill 3 12 YA,TS and BU
White-rumped Munia 11 10+ SG,KY,WE,TS,YA,SN and KT
Scaly-breasted Munia 14 10+ Most sites
Black-throated Munia 1 5+ HP
Black-headed Munia 7 50+ AN,SG,HG,BU and UW
House Sparrow 10 300 Most towns
Streaked Weaver 1 10 GG
Baya Weaver 5 20 SG,GG,TS,YA,BU and UW
Species Days Max Sites Recorded
White-faced Starling 3 6 SN
Brahminy Starling 1 20 YA
Rosy Starling 1 10 AN
Common Myna 16  100 Most sites
Sri Lanka Myna 2 15 SN
Southern Hill Myna 4 11 PE,KY,SN and KT
Black-hooded Oriole 14 10 AN,SG,KY,TS,BU,UW,SN, KT and BD
Black Drongo 2 3+ AN and SG
Ashy Drongo 3 2 SG and YA
White-bellied Drongo 7 8 AN,SG,PE,KY,WE,HG and KT
(White-vented Drongo) 3 4 PE,KT and BD
Crested Drongo 4 8 SN and KT
Ashy Wood Swallow 2 10 AN and TS
Sri Lanka Magpie 6 14 HP,SN and KT 
House Crow 13  100+ Most towns
Large-billed Crow 17 50+ Most sites

Mammals Recorded:

Common Flying Fox, Three-striped Palm Squirrel, Flame Striped-back Squirrel, Dusky-striped Squirrel, Giant Squirrel, Grey Mongoose, Brown Mongoose, Ruddy Mongoose, Lesser Civet-Cat, Common Palm Civet, Leopard, Indian Fishing Cat, Black-naped Hare, Golden Jackal, Asian Elephant, Indian Wild Pig, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Toque Macaque, Grey Langur, Purple-faced Langur, (Bear Monkey)

Reptiles and Amphibians recorded:

Mugger Crocodile, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Green Garden Lizard, Kangeroo Lizard, Spike-horned Lizard, Hump-nosed Lizard, Calotus liocephalus lizard, Hard-shelled Terrapin, Common Rat Snake, Green Whip Snake, Bronze-backed Tree Snake, Check-backed Water Snake, Amphismus stolata snake, Phylautus nasutus frog

Butterflies recorded: 

Common Birdwing, Common Rose, Crimson Rose, Tree Nymph, Blue Mormon, Common Mormon, Red Helen, Common Tiger, Glassy Tiger, Blue Tiger, Plain Tiger, Ceylon Tiger, Danaid Eggfly, Great Eggfly, Lime Butterfly, Clipper, Bluebottle, Tailed Jay, Cruiser, Great Crow, Common Crow, Grey Pansy, Leopard, Jezebel, Common Sailor, Chestnut-streaked Sailor, Rustic, Palm Fly, Common Gull, Lesser Albatross, Yellow Orange Tip, Crimson Orange Tip, Mottled Immigrant, Lemon Immigrant, Common Grass Yellow, Three-spot Grass Yellow, Small Salmon Arab, Club beak, Red Pierrot, Indian Cupid, White Four-Ring, Glad-eyed Bush Brown, Common Banded Awl