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This Sri Lanka Wood-Pigeon was one of six we found bathing in a little stream in the highlands. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
Our Sri Lanka tour is a grand tour of the southern half of the country, from the dense, verdant rainforests of the island's southwest to the salt lagoons and scrubby forests of its southeastern flank, and from the cool, grassy highlands to the bustling city of Kandy and the dry forests and scattered agricultural fields around the magma plug of Lion Rock in Sigiriya. And everywhere we went, there were plenty of special birds (plus lots of other critters) to enjoy.
Things started with a bang on our very first evening, when we found a pair of Brown Boobooks hunting emerging termites, and a wide-eyed Indian Scops-Owl -- right on the grounds of our airport hotel. And there were many other highlights to follow. A gang of fluorescent Sri Lanka Blue-Magpies investigated a hotel balcony, and another noisy group rummaged through treetops near the entrance to Sinharaja Forest Reserve with a couple of Red-faced Malkohas in tow. A pair of Serendib Scops-Owls peered sleepily from their daytime roosting place. A Sri Lanka Whistling-Thrush nibbled rice from a bit of corrugated tin. A pair of Sri Lanka Spurfowl scratched for pickings behind a roadside house, while a stunning male Sri Lanka Junglefowl photobombed in the foreground. A male Kashmir Flycatcher made flashing sorties from twiggy perches. A couple of Pied Thrushes played hide-and-seek among the branches. Six Sri Lanka Wood-Pigeons trundled around beside a little stream (with a few jumping in for quick baths). A perched Rufous-bellied Eagle surveyed a nearby field. A Leopard sprawled on a tree branch, feet and long tail dangling. A pair of Sri Lanka Frogmouths huddled in a dark bush. A couple of Spot-winged Thrushes trotted back and forth across the forest floor, scratching for insects practically at our boot tips. A white morph Indian Paradise-Flycatcher, long tail streaming, flashed like a streaming comet through a dark patch of forest. A pair of Brown Fish-Owls flapped in to their day roost just as we arrived at a nearby roadside.
A Chestnut-backed Owlet tooted challenges from the edge of a little pasture. A Sloth Bear shambled across a track as hordes of vehicles jockeyed for position. A courtyard fig tree attracted a host of fruit-eating birds: Brown-headed, Crimson-fronted and Coppersmith barbets, Malabar Pied- and Sri Lanka Gray hornbills, Sri Lanka Green-Pigeons, Black-hooded Orioles and more. Dozens of Orange-billed Babblers swarmed through the rainforest. A Lesser Adjutant strolled across a clearing. A Black Bittern froze on a grassy bank. A female Barred Buttonquail moon-danced across a sandy track, courting her male. A pair of Green-billed Coucals slipped, squirrel-like, along ever more slender branches before finally flying across the road and perching in the open. A family of Layard's Parakeets foraged on palm fruits. A Sri Lanka Bush-Warbler inexplicably decided to forego its skulking nature to preen in an early morning sunbeam in the wide open. Jewel-bright Velvet-fronted Nuthatches investigated tree trunks. An Indian Pitta whistled from an eye level branch right beside the road. An aptly named male Tickell's Blue-Flycatcher sang and hunted from a nearby tree branch. And, on several evenings, thousands of massive Indian Flying-Foxes rose from the trees (where they had hung like fruits all day) and passed in a slow-flapping river overhead.
Some places really stand out in the memory. How about that early morning visit to the marsh near the entrance to Bundala, where literally thousands of birds swirled around us, gobbling termites: armies of Gray-headed Swamphens, snow globes' worth of Barn and Bank swallows, Whiskered, White-winged, and Gull-billed terns, statuesque Great Thick-knees, winter-dulled Watercocks, scattered Pacific Golden-Plovers and Pin-tailed Snipe, scores of herons, Blyth's and Clamorous reed-warblers, and more. Or the view from the top of Lion Rock, with the scattered remnants of the once spectacular fortress and castle behind us, and the green sea of treetops stretching to the horizons below us.
And, of course, who will soon forget our fascinating visit to the Temple of the Buddha's Tooth -- that extensive complex of intricately painted buildings, full of carved elephants, golden Buddha statues, noisy drums and horn players, beautifully painted palm leaf books, and hundreds and hundreds of pilgrims? Or the quiet serenity of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy? Or the multitude of curries we sampled throughout the tour?
Thanks so much for joining Udi and me for the adventure. Your humor, fine companionship, and great spotting really added to the trip, and made it a fun one to lead. I hope to see you all again soon, somewhere else in the world!
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
If you're talking about the island's spectacular birds, the Sri Lanka Blue-Magpie has to be right at the top of the list. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
LESSER WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna javanica)
COMB DUCK (Sarkidiornis melanotos)
COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE (Nettapus coromandelianus)
GARGANEY (Anas querquedula)
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
INDIAN PEAFOWL (Pavo cristatus)
SRI LANKA SPURFOWL (Galloperdix bicalcarata) [E]
SRI LANKA JUNGLEFOWL (Gallus lafayettii) [E]
LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
ASIAN OPENBILL (Anastomus oscitans)
WOOLLY-NECKED STORK (Ciconia episcopus)
LESSER ADJUTANT (Leptoptilos javanicus)
PAINTED STORK (Mycteria leucocephala)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
LITTLE CORMORANT (Microcarbo niger)
GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)
INDIAN CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis)
ORIENTAL DARTER (Anhinga melanogaster)
SPOT-BILLED PELICAN (Pelecanus philippensis)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
YELLOW BITTERN (Ixobrychus sinensis)
Yeah, you've seen a million of them in zoos and gardens. But a male Indian Peafowl in full, booty-shaking display is still mighty impressive. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
CINNAMON BITTERN (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus)
BLACK BITTERN (Ixobrychus flavicollis)
GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea)
PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea)
GREAT EGRET (AUSTRALASIAN) (Ardea alba modesta)
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Mesophoyx intermedia)
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta)
CATTLE EGRET (EASTERN) (Bubulcus ibis coromandus)
INDIAN POND-HERON (Ardeola grayii)
STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata)
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (EURASIAN) (Nycticorax nycticorax nycticorax)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)
It's not often we get to see a perched Rufous-bellied Eagle on this tour -- and this time, we found TWO! Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
BLACK-HEADED IBIS (Threskiornis melanocephalus)
EURASIAN SPOONBILL (Platalea leucorodia)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE (Elanus caeruleus)
ORIENTAL HONEY-BUZZARD (Pernis ptilorhynchus)
JERDON'S BAZA (Aviceda jerdoni)
CRESTED SERPENT-EAGLE (CRESTED) (Spilornis cheela spilogaster)
CRESTED HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus cirrhatus ceylanensis)
MOUNTAIN HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus nipalensis)
RUFOUS-BELLIED EAGLE (Lophotriorchis kienerii)
BLACK EAGLE (Ictinaetus malaiensis)
BOOTED EAGLE (Hieraaetus pennatus)
CRESTED GOSHAWK (Accipiter trivirgatus layardi)
SHIKRA (Accipiter badius)
BESRA (Accipiter virgatus)
BRAHMINY KITE (Haliastur indus)
WHITE-BELLIED SEA-EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucogaster)
GRAY-HEADED FISH-EAGLE (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus)
HIMALAYAN BUZZARD (Buteo refectus)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN (Amaurornis phoenicurus)
WATERCOCK (Gallicrex cinerea)
The detailed paintings on one of the ancient buildings at Kandy's Temple of the Buddha's Tooth were exquisite. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
GRAY-HEADED SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio poliocephalus poliocephalus)
EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)
INDIAN THICK-KNEE (Burhinus indicus)
GREAT THICK-KNEE (Esacus recurvirostris)
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)
PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis fulva)
YELLOW-WATTLED LAPWING (Vanellus malabaricus)
RED-WATTLED LAPWING (Vanellus indicus)
LESSER SAND-PLOVER (Charadrius mongolus)
KENTISH PLOVER (INDIAN) (Charadrius alexandrinus seebohmi)
COMMON RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius hiaticula)
Sri Lanka is home to 30 endemic species, including the social Orange-billed Babbler. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius dubius)
PHEASANT-TAILED JACANA (Hydrophasianus chirurgus)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa limosa)
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)
BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER (Calidris falcinellus)
CURLEW SANDPIPER (Calidris ferruginea)
LITTLE STINT (Calidris minuta)
PIN-TAILED SNIPE (Gallinago stenura)
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus lobatus)
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos)
GREEN SANDPIPER (Tringa ochropus)
COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia)
MARSH SANDPIPER (Tringa stagnatilis)
WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola)
COMMON REDSHANK (Tringa totanus)
BARRED BUTTONQUAIL (Turnix suscitator leggei)
Glareolidae (Pratincoles and Coursers)
ORIENTAL PRATINCOLE (Glareola maldivarum)
SMALL PRATINCOLE (Glareola lactea)
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LITTLE TERN (Sternula albifrons)
Finding a Leopard sprawled in a tree at Yala was definitely a highlight of our visit there. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica)
CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)
WHITE-WINGED TERN (Chlidonias leucopterus)
WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida)
COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo)
GREAT CRESTED TERN (Thalasseus bergii)
LESSER CRESTED TERN (Thalasseus bengalensis)
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)
SRI LANKA WOOD-PIGEON (Columba torringtoniae) [E]
SPOTTED DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis)
ASIAN EMERALD DOVE (Chalcophaps indica robinsoni)
ORANGE-BREASTED PIGEON (Treron bicinctus leggei)
SRI LANKA GREEN-PIGEON (Treron pompadora) [E]
This Indian Cuckoo was singing its head off near the start of the road at Lunugamwehera NP. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
GREEN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula aenea)
GREEN-BILLED COUCAL (Centropus chlororhynchos) [E]
GREATER COUCAL (Centropus sinensis)
RED-FACED MALKOHA (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus) [E]
BLUE-FACED MALKOHA (Phaenicophaeus viridirostris)
CHESTNUT-WINGED CUCKOO (Clamator coromandus)
PIED CUCKOO (Clamator jacobinus)
ASIAN KOEL (Eudynamys scolopaceus)
BANDED BAY CUCKOO (Cacomantis sonneratii waiti)
GRAY-BELLIED CUCKOO (Cacomantis passerinus)
FORK-TAILED DRONGO-CUCKOO (Surniculus dicruroides)
COMMON HAWK-CUCKOO (Hierococcyx varius)
LESSER CUCKOO (Cuculus poliocephalus)
INDIAN CUCKOO (Cuculus micropterus)
SERENDIB SCOPS-OWL (Otus thilohoffmanni) [E]
INDIAN SCOPS-OWL (Otus bakkamoena)
ORIENTAL SCOPS-OWL (ORIENTAL) (Otus sunia leggei)
BROWN FISH-OWL (Ketupa zeylonensis)
It took a bit of clambering up and down hillsides, but our reward was super scope studies of this Brown Wood-Owl -- and its nearby, better-hidden mate. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
JUNGLE OWLET (Glaucidium radiatum)
CHESTNUT-BACKED OWLET (Glaucidium castanotum) [E]
BROWN WOOD-OWL (Strix leptogrammica ochrogenys)
BROWN BOOBOOK (Ninox scutulata)
SRI LANKA FROGMOUTH (Batrachostomus moniliger)
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
JERDON'S NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus atripennis aequabilis)
INDIAN NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus asiaticus eidos)
BROWN-BACKED NEEDLETAIL (Hirundapus giganteus)
INDIAN SWIFTLET (Aerodramus unicolor)
ALPINE SWIFT (Apus melba)
LITTLE SWIFT (INDIAN) (Apus affinis singalensis)
ASIAN PALM-SWIFT (Cypsiurus balasiensis)
CRESTED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne coronata)
MALABAR TROGON (Harpactes fasciatus fasciatus)
EURASIAN HOOPOE (Upupa epops)
SRI LANKA GRAY HORNBILL (Ocyceros gingalensis) [E]
MALABAR PIED-HORNBILL (Anthracoceros coronatus)
COMMON KINGFISHER (Alcedo atthis)
The gang heads back to our hotel on the canoe ferry, after a visit to the Makandawa Forest Reserve. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER (Pelargopsis capensis)
WHITE-THROATED KINGFISHER (Halcyon smyrnensis)
PIED KINGFISHER (Ceryle rudis)
GREEN BEE-EATER (Merops orientalis)
BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATER (Merops philippinus)
CHESTNUT-HEADED BEE-EATER (Merops leschenaulti)
INDIAN ROLLER (Coracias benghalensis)
DOLLARBIRD (Eurystomus orientalis irisi)
Megalaimidae (Asian Barbets)
CRIMSON-FRONTED BARBET (Psilopogon rubricapillus)
COPPERSMITH BARBET (Psilopogon haemacephalus indicus)
BROWN-HEADED BARBET (Psilopogon zeylanicus)
YELLOW-FRONTED BARBET (Psilopogon flavifrons) [E]
We saw plenty of Sri Lanka White-eyes, including this one (and its mate), conveniently close to some nearby Oriental White-eyes for good comparison. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
BROWN-CAPPED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos nanus gymnopthalmus)
YELLOW-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos mahrattensis)
LESSER YELLOWNAPE (Picus chlorolophus wellsi)
BLACK-RUMPED FLAMEBACK (RED-BACKED) (Dinopium benghalense psarodes)
CRIMSON-BACKED FLAMEBACK (Chrysocolaptes stricklandi)
WHITE-NAPED WOODPECKER (Chrysocolaptes festivus)
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
EURASIAN KESTREL (Falco tinnunculus)
ORIENTAL HOBBY (Falco severus)
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)
Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)
ALEXANDRINE PARAKEET (Psittacula eupatria)
ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET (Psittacula krameri)
PLUM-HEADED PARAKEET (Psittacula cyanocephala)
LAYARD'S PARAKEET (Psittacula calthrapae) [E]
SRI LANKA HANGING-PARROT (Loriculus beryllinus) [E]
INDIAN PITTA (Pitta brachyura)
Vangidae (Vangas, Helmetshrikes, and Allies)
SRI LANKA WOODSHRIKE (Tephrodornis affinis) [E]
BAR-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE (Hemipus picatus leggei)
ASHY WOODSWALLOW (Artamus fuscus)
After some quick, unsatisfying views of Emerald Dove early in the tour, we got fine, long studies of them in the backyard of the house where we saw our Sri Lanka Spurfowls. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
COMMON IORA (Aegithina tiphia)
WHITE-TAILED IORA (Aegithina nigrolutea)
SMALL MINIVET (Pericrocotus cinnamomeus)
ORANGE MINIVET (Pericrocotus flammeus)
BLACK-HEADED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Lalage melanoptera sykesi)
BROWN SHRIKE (Lanius cristatus)
Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
BLACK-HOODED ORIOLE (Oriolus xanthornus ceylonensis)
WHITE-BELLIED DRONGO (WHITE-VENTED) (Dicrurus caerulescens insularis)
WHITE-BELLIED DRONGO (WHITE-VENTED) (Dicrurus caerulescens leucopygialis)
A Yellow-eared Bulbul (and its mate) posed in the early morning sunshine at Horton Plains. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
GREATER RACKET-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus paradiseus ceylonicus)
SRI LANKA DRONGO (Dicrurus lophorinus) [E]
WHITE-BROWED FANTAIL (Rhipidura aureola)
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
BLACK-NAPED MONARCH (Hypothymis azurea ceylonensis)
INDIAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER (Terpsiphone paradisi)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
SRI LANKA BLUE-MAGPIE (Urocissa ornata) [E]
HOUSE CROW (Corvus splendens)
LARGE-BILLED CROW (Corvus macrorhynchos)
ASHY-CROWNED SPARROW-LARK (Eremopterix griseus)
JERDON'S BUSHLARK (Mirafra affinis)
ORIENTAL SKYLARK (Alauda gulgula)
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia)
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
HILL SWALLOW (Hirundo domicola)
SRI LANKA SWALLOW (Cecropis hyperythra) [E]
Stenostiridae (Fairy Flycatchers)
GRAY-HEADED CANARY-FLYCATCHER (Culicicapa ceylonensis)
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
CINEREOUS TIT (Parus cinereus mahrattarum)
It's easy to see how the Indian Hare got its alternate name -- Black-naped Hare. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
VELVET-FRONTED NUTHATCH (Sitta frontalis)
BLACK-CAPPED BULBUL (Pycnonotus melanicterus) [E]
RED-VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus cafer cafer)
YELLOW-EARED BULBUL (Pycnonotus penicillatus) [E]
WHITE-BROWED BULBUL (Pycnonotus luteolus insulae)
YELLOW-BROWED BULBUL (Iole indica)
SQUARE-TAILED BULBUL (SRI LANKA) (Hypsipetes ganeesa humii)
Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)
GREEN WARBLER (Phylloscopus nitidus)
GREENISH WARBLER (Phylloscopus trochiloides)
LARGE-BILLED LEAF WARBLER (Phylloscopus magnirostris)
Acrocephalidae (Reed-Warblers and Allies)
BOOTED WARBLER (Iduna caligata)
We had a fine serenade from this male Tickell's Blue-Flycatcher near the police station in Kitulgala. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
SYKES'S WARBLER (Iduna rama)
BLYTH'S REED-WARBLER (Acrocephalus dumetorum)
CLAMOROUS REED-WARBLER (BROWN) (Acrocephalus stentoreus meridionalis)
Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
SRI LANKA BUSH-WARBLER (Elaphrornis palliseri) [E]
Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)
ZITTING CISTICOLA (Cisticola juncidis)
COMMON TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus sutorius)
GRAY-BREASTED PRINIA (Prinia hodgsonii pectoralis)
JUNGLE PRINIA (Prinia sylvatica valida)
ASHY PRINIA (Prinia socialis brevicauda)
PLAIN PRINIA (Prinia inornata insularis)
Sylviidae (Sylviid Warblers)
HUME'S WHITETHROAT (Sylvia althaea)
Paradoxornithidae (Parrotbills, Wrentit, and Allies)
YELLOW-EYED BABBLER (Chrysomma sinense nasale)
Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)
SRI LANKA WHITE-EYE (Zosterops ceylonensis) [E]
ORIENTAL WHITE-EYE (Zosterops palpebrosus)
Timaliidae (Tree-Babblers, Scimitar-Babblers, and Allies)
TAWNY-BELLIED BABBLER (Dumetia hyperythra phillipsi)
DARK-FRONTED BABBLER (Rhopocichla atriceps)
SRI LANKA SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Pomatorhinus melanurus) [E]
The Black-capped Bulbul is Sri Lanka's newest endemic, recently split from the Black-crested Bulbul. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
Pellorneidae (Ground Babblers and Allies)
BROWN-CAPPED BABBLER (Pellorneum fuscocapillus) [E]
Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)
ORANGE-BILLED BABBLER (Turdoides rufescens) [E]
YELLOW-BILLED BABBLER (Turdoides affinis taprobanus)
ASHY-HEADED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Garrulax cinereifrons) [E]
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa dauurica)
BROWN-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa muttui)
INDIAN ROBIN (Copsychus fulicatus leucopterus)
ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN (Copsychus saularis)
WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA (WHITE-RUMPED) (Copsychus malabaricus leggei)
TICKELL'S BLUE-FLYCATCHER (Cyornis tickelliae jerdoni)
Red-vented Bulbuls were common and widespread throughout the tour. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
DULL-BLUE FLYCATCHER (Eumyias sordidus) [E]
INDIAN BLUE ROBIN (Larvivora brunnea)
SRI LANKA WHISTLING-THRUSH (Myophonus blighi) [E]
KASHMIR FLYCATCHER (Ficedula subrubra)
PIED BUSHCHAT (Saxicola caprata atratus)
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
PIED THRUSH (Geokichla wardii)
SPOT-WINGED THRUSH (Geokichla spiloptera) [E]
ORANGE-HEADED THRUSH (Geokichla citrina)
SRI LANKA THRUSH (Zoothera imbricata) [E]
SRI LANKA MYNA (Gracula ptilogenys) [E]
SOUTHERN HILL MYNA (Gracula indica)
ROSY STARLING (Pastor roseus)
WHITE-FACED STARLING (Sturnornis albofrontatus) [E]
BRAHMINY STARLING (Sturnia pagodarum)
COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis)
JERDON'S LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis jerdoni)
GOLDEN-FRONTED LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis aurifrons)
THICK-BILLED FLOWERPECKER (INDIAN) (Dicaeum agile zeylonicum)
Asian Water Buffalo -- both domestic and feral -- are widespread across the island. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
WHITE-THROATED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum vincens) [E]
PALE-BILLED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum erythrorhynchos ceylonense)
Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
PURPLE-RUMPED SUNBIRD (Leptocoma zeylonica zeylonica)
PURPLE SUNBIRD (Cinnyris asiaticus)
LONG-BILLED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris lotenius lotenius)
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
FOREST WAGTAIL (Dendronanthus indicus)
WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL (GRAY-HEADED) (Motacilla flava thunbergi)
GRAY WAGTAIL (Motacilla cinerea)
RICHARD'S PIPIT (Anthus richardi)
PADDYFIELD PIPIT (Anthus rufulus)
BLYTH'S PIPIT (Anthus godlewskii)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)
A spotty young Asian Koel followed the crows (clearly its foster parents) across the grounds of our airport hotel. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
Ploceidae (Weavers and Allies)
STREAKED WEAVER (Ploceus manyar) [N]
BAYA WEAVER (Ploceus philippinus)
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
INDIAN SILVERBILL (Euodice malabarica)
WHITE-RUMPED MUNIA (Lonchura striata)
BLACK-THROATED MUNIA (Lonchura kelaarti kelaarti)
SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA (Lonchura punctulata) [N]
TRICOLORED MUNIA (Lonchura malacca) [N]
INDIAN ROUNDLEAF BAT (Hipposideros lankadiva)
SCHNEIDER’S LEAF-NOSED BAT (Hipposideros speoris)
INDIAN FLYING-FOX (Pteropus giganteus)
LESSER SHORT-NOSED FRUIT BAT (Cynopterus brachyotis)
LESSER WOOLLY HORSESHOE BAT (Rhinolophus beddomei)
INDIAN PIPISTRELLE (Pipistrellus coromandra)
KELAART’S PIPISTRELLE (Pipistrellus ceylonicus)
TOQUE MACAQUE (Macaca sinica) [E]
TUFTED GRAY LANGUR (Semnopithecus priam)
PURPLE-FACED LEAF MONKEY (Trachypithecus vetulus) [E]
INDIAN HARE (Lepus nigricollis)
INDIAN PALM SQUIRREL (Funambulus palmarum)
A trio of Indian Thick-knees rested on the flats at Bundala. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
LAYARD'S PALM SQUIRREL (Funambulus layardi) [E]
DUSKY PALM SQUIRREL (Funambulus sublineatus)
SRI LANKAN (=GRIZZLED) GIANT SQUIRREL (Ratufa macroura) [E]
LITTLE INDIAN FIELD MOUSE (Mus booduga)
INDIAN GERBIL (Tatera indica)
COMMON JACKAL (Canis aureus)
SLOTH BEAR (Ursus ursinus)
INDIAN GRAY MONGOOSE (Herpestes edwardsi)
COMMON MONGOOSE (Herpestes smithi)
INDIAN BROWN MONGOOSE (Herpestes fuscus)
LEOPARD (Panthera pardus)
INDIAN ELEPHANT (Elephas maximus)
WILD BOAR (Sus scrofa)
MUNTJAC (BARKING DEER) (Muntiacus muntjak)
SPOTTED DEER (Axis axis)
SAMBAR (Cervus unicolor)
We had multiple close encounters with Sri Lanka's endemic Purple-faced Leaf Monkeys -- three different subspecies of them! Photo by participant Merrill Lester.
ASIAN WATER BUFFALO (Bubalus bubalis)
The following is a list of the reptiles and amphibians we identified on the tour:
Asian House Toad Duttaphrynus melanostictus - We found one of these along the driveway of our airport hotel, just after dusk on our first evening.
Cricket Frog Fejervarya limnocharis - We spotted one of these -- a tiny youngster -- sitting on a dead leaf near the field with all the Lesser Cuckoos in Makandawa Forest Reserve.
Mugger Crocodile Crocodylus palustris - We saw a number of these big crocs lounging on banks throughout the tour. Then there was the evening near Bundala, where we saw all those floating eyeballs reflecting the spotlight beam -- yikes!
Asian Water Monitor Varanus salvator - This one was reasonably common around wet spots in the lowlands.
Bengal (Land) Monitor Varanus bengalensis - Very common in the drier country around Bundala and Yala.
Common Green Forest Lizard Calotes calotes - This was the speedy green lizard with the red head, seen well on multiple occasions -- including a big male on a concrete pole along the road on our way to Kitulgala.
Oriental Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor - This is the smaller brown cousin of the Common Green Forest Lizard; we saw this one well on multiple occasions too.
Black-lipped Lizard Calotes nigrilabris - This was the handsome endemic lizard we spotted (and scoped) in a tree near the road at Horton Plains.
Crestless Whistling Lizard (or Spineless Forest Lizard) Calotes liocephalus - We spotted one along the track through the village of Makandawa; this species is endemic to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Kangaroo Lizard Otocryptis wiegmanni - These little speedsters were common along the paths of the Makandawa Forest Park.
Black-spotted Kangaroo Lizard Otocryptis nigristigma - A handsome little male of this endemic species did a head-bobbing, back-humping display in the half-light of early morning along a track in Sigiriya.
Molligoda’s Day Gecko Cnemaspis molligodai - We found one of these scampering around on the trunk of a tree near the visitor’s center parking lot at Sinharaja one afternoon.
Rocky Day Gecko Cnemaspis scalpensis - One of these dark, little Sri Lankan endemics clung to the side of a big boulder just down the road from the entrance to Sinharaja, seen as we climbed the last part of the hill on foot one afternoon.
Brooke's House Gecko Hemidactylus brookii - These were the barred or spotted geckos that shared walls and ceilings with the next species; they proved particularly common at Kitulgala.
Asian (or Common) House Gecko Hemidactylus frenatus - These are the familiar creamy-pale geckos that were zipping around the walls and ceilings of nearly every place we stayed on the tour.
Hawksbill Sea Turtle Eretmochelys imbricata - One of these floated just offshore while we birded the coast at Bundala.
Green Sea Turtle Chelonia mydas - We saw one of these not far from our Hawksbill Sea Turtle while checking the sea from the clifftop at Bundala.
Sri Lankan Green Pit Viper Trimeresurus trigonocephalus - We spotted a small specimen of this handsome, endemic snake curled up in a tree along the road up to Sinharaja; it was still in the same spot every time we went by for three days!
Green Vine Snake Ahetulla nasutus - These were the very slender snakes we found in multiple spots in Sinharaja -- not to be confused with a similar-looking snake with the same common name found in Central and South America!
Hump-nosed Viper Hypnale hypnale - This was the small snake (which looked rather like a tiny Copperhead) we found along the road in Uda Wattakele Royal Forest Park. According to the literature, they don't get much bigger than 23 inches in length -- and are responsible for most of the snake bites recorded in Sri Lanka!
Checkered Keelback Xenochrophis piscator - This was the handsome checked snake we saw lurking under the lotus leaves on the little pond near the Sinharaja visitor’s center.
Sri Lankan Keelback Xenochrophis asperrimus - This species (as its name suggests) is endemic to the island. It is handsomely patterned, though far less checked than the previous species. We saw it in the same pond near the Sinharaja visitor’s center.
Olive Keelback Snake Atretium schistosum - And this was the plain greenish snake we saw in the water along the back edge of the same pond as the previous two species. It’s hard to believe there can be a frog left in that pond!
Common Kukri Snake Oligodon arnensis - This was one of the snakes Udi caught on the road on our drive back from Bundala village one evening; the name "Kukri" is a reference to the sharp kukri knives of the Nepalese -- and the teeth of the snake!
Common Cat (-eyed) Snake Boiga trigonata - This was the other, beautifully patterned, little snake Udi caught on our way back from Bundala village.
Bronzeback Dendrelaphis tristis - One along the road near Bundala village, before darkness fell.
Totals for the tour: 261 bird taxa and 29 mammal taxa