Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Sri Lanka - Part 2

As usual in the mornings the sun is shining and the temperature quickly shoots up into the 30s, so plenty of sun cream applied after breakfast.. To digress for a moment, I have to say the food in our hotel was fantastic, being a lover of spicy food I was in seventh heaven (non spicy options were always available) there were at least 5 or 6 different curries every day... including breakfast.

Anyway back to the wildlife, I am going to concentrate on what was to be found in the Hotel grounds in part 4, so parts 2 and 3 are all about trips out.

We started day 3 with a trip to an Elephant transition camp, where a small group of young orphaned Elephants are kept prior to being released back into the wild, so no actual touching was allowed, although we were allowed to feed them. As this was done by the means of a funnel and hosepipe only the Warden actually had any contact with the Elephant.

Surprisingly although we were on the edge of a Reserve there was very little bird life about, just a butterfly and a Lizard

After the Elephant Transition Camp we had the delight of catching a train! This was real throwback to ages gone by, the station had a 1920s charm with absoluley no automation (apart from a telegraph!):

The land at the back of the station did prove quite fruitful on the bird front, we bagged:
Yellow-billed babbler, Red-vented Bulbul, Grey-breasted Prinia, Common Iora, Oriental Magpie-robin, Purple-rumped Sunbird and Barn Swallows.
Yellow-billed Babbler

Gray-breasted Prinia

Common Iora
After the train ride (cost 25p) we had lunch, more curry, a rest then set off for our second game drive to the Minneriya National Park, we set off later for this one to ensure we found the Elephants at the lake, so again the light wasn't good but the important thing is to enjoy the wildlife, photographs are a bonus! (Sounds like an excuse to me)

The Elephants delivered again much to Tinas delight, brilliant!

The birding was again great, new species here were the Ceylon Jungle Fowl, this was pretty elusive, sticking to the bushes and scrub, just a few brief views in the open:
For the record as it popped out and ran off into the gloom!
A great spot was a Kentish Plover with a chick, a Marsh Sandpiper, I did have photo's of both, but the light was so bad at that point, the photo's are just a blur.

You may have spotted in one of the above Elephant photo's a Cattle Egret in breeding plumage:

The best addition though here was the Lesser Adjutant, again the photos aren't great but it was nearly dark!

From earlier in the drive:

Green Bee-eater

Gray Langur Monkey
End of day 5.

Now we get cultural, so not many wildlife opportunities. Todays programme included a Gem Workshop, this was very interesting and lightened the wallet, a wholesale vegetable and fruit market, interesting but chaotic!
A Batik factory:

A Spice Garden, this was brilliant, the chap who gave us the tour was so knowledgeable and interesting I think we could have listened all day. There were a few birds around but difficult to spot as we were amongst trees most of the time, we did see the Purple-rumped Sunbird again, a Great Tit and a White Wagtail.

Then onto a Wood Carving Workshop and finally the Dambulla Cave Temple, lots of Swallows and Swifts about, I only managed to positively identify Barn Swallows and Alpine Swift though, the only other bird of note was a Brown-headed Barbet, they have the most amazing Kookaburra style call.

End of day 6 and end of part 2

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