Monday 28 December 2015


I have recently returned from a Wise Birding tour of Sri Lanka focused on finding endemic birds as well as terrestrial and marine mammals and other wildlife. Despite having some unseasonal heavy rain during the first week which made birding tricky, it was a successful trip. Below are some highlights from the first week of the trip which covered the coast near Colombo, the Highlands of Nuwara Eliya and the Horton Plains and the wet zone forests of Kitulgala and Sinharaja.

Greater and Lesser Sandplovers - In addition to the obvious bill size differences, also note the pale legs of
GSP and the very steep forehead of LSP

Lesser Crested Terns with Greater Crested and Common Tern

Gull-billed Tern

Shikra - a common species throughout Sri Lanka

Stork-billed Kingfisher - a localised species

Yellow-eared Bulbul - an endemic species found in the Highland areas

Zitting Cisticola - Horton Plains

Sri Lanka White-eye - an endemic found from mid to high Hills

Great Tit - there are currently 34 sub-species recognised in the world following HBW taxonomy. The subspecies in Sri Lanka is
P. m. mahrattarum and is part of the "cinereus" group forming the grey-backed and whitish bellied birds

Ceylon Tree Nymph - endemic

Green Garden Lizard - endemic

Sri Lanka Kangaroo Lizard - endemic

Hill or Pacific Swallow - as the name suggests found in the Highlands

Female Asian (Western) Koel - a common species throughout Sri Lanka

Spot-winged Thrush - an endemic species more often heard than seen in the wet zone forests

White-faced Starling - an endemic species found only in the wet zone forests

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch - a forest species

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie - confined to the wet zone forests 

Sinharaja Forest - a Biosphere Reserve

Juvenile Changeable (Crested) Hawk Eagle - a very common and approachable raptor

Black-capped Bulbul - an endemic species 

Male Asian Paradise Flycatcher - Two morphs occur in Sri Lanka including the stunning white morph

Toque Macaque - endemic

Purple-faced Leaf Monkey - endemic

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher - an uncommon resident

Brown-breasted Flycatcher - an uncommon winter migrant

Ashy-headed Laughingthrush - endemic and gregarious in the forest

Grey-capped Emerald Dove - a beautiful and shy species of the forest found throughout Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill - endemic and found in both the wet and dry zones

Green-billed Coucal - endemic to the wet zone forests and preferring dwarf bamboo

Sri Lanka Junglefowl - a fairly common species throughout found in both the wet and dry zones

Pete and a Sri Lanka Junglefowl at Sinharaja

Ruddy Mongoose - the commonest of 4 species of mongoose

Palm Squirrel - a very common species throughout

Snake sp - Sinharaja Forest

Female Sri Lanka Spurfowl - this endemic species has always been considered one of the toughest endemics to find until recent years.
This bird was viewed from a local residents kitchen window near Sinharaja!

Male Sri Lanka Spurfowl - this endemic species has always been considered one of the toughest endemics to find until recent years.
This bird was viewed from a local residents kitchen window near Sinharaja!
Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot - this tiny endemic parrot is easily found at fruiting trees within the forest and forest edge

Sri Lanka Frogmouth - The female is rufous and the male is grey

Sri Lanka Green Pigeon or Pompadour Green Pigeon - a common endemic species found in forested areas throughout Sri Lanka

Serendib Scops Owl - first discovered in 1995 by its distinctive call, but not seen until 2001.
Still an incredibly difficult bird to locate at day roost, but thanks to local guides there is a good chance of finding one

Pete having Ceylon Tea at the Blue Magpie Lodge, Sinharaja Forest
Leech - birding the wet zone does involve befriending leeches, though only in low numbers


  1. Brilliant Chris !! I loved Sri lanka, a place to head back to one day for sure.

    1. Cheers Gary - Good to hear from you! Be good to catch ip properly...

  2. Certainly were Pete - need to find time to upload week 2!