Sri Lanka Jan 2018 : Horton Plains & Highlands
In the south-central highlands around Nuwara Eliya, we reached elevation 6000 ft at the very scenic Horton Plains National Park. Our morning in the park dawned in a swirling mist that gave way to expansive stunning vistas. Amid undulating grasslands framed by lush green valleys and mountain peaks, we found a wonderful assortment of birds and animals.
New endemics included: Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka White-eye, Yellow-eared Bulbul, and Dull Blue Flycatcher. Also seen were Crested Goshawk, Himalayan Buzzard, Orange Minivet, Hill Swallow, and Indian Blackbird.
We enjoyed a confiding Brown Mongoose and fine-looking Pygmy Lizard near the park’s visitor center, where many local and international visitors relaxed with hot tea after a long hike to the renowned “world’s end.”
We spent 3 nights in Nuwara Eliya, exploring several interesting additional sites in the region, and adding more species to our growing list. The endemic Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush provided extraordinary views at a last-ditch location, after multiple attempts to see this famous skulker. The Sri Lanka Bush Warbler popped up amid a mixed flock in a non-descript edge of forest near a rushing stream.
Victoria Park, an urban oasis in a busy city, hosted several goodies amid colorful flower gardens, lily-filled fountain ponds, and strolling families. A stream with too much trash babbled through half of the park, attracting some nice birds: Pied Thrush, Kashmir Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Indian Blue Robin, and Forest Wagtail.
We spent a few afternoon hours at the Hakgala Botanical Gardens, a gorgeous public space established in 1861, featuring a variety of cultivated flora, meandering paths, babbling brooks, and rock gardens. Strolling quiet trails, we found a mixed flock with Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, and lively Velvet-fronted Nuthatch among the ever-vocal Yellow-fronted Barbet and Spotted Doves. Mammals included Bear Monkeys and bold Macaques. On our last morning in the area, we stopped at Surrey Bird Sanctuary, where we were pleased – and relieved – to find a half-dozen Layard’s Parakeets, an endemic not found where we were headed!
all photos © adrian binns
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