Thursday, 20 March 2014

9-10th March – Horton Plains to Kandy

This was our earliest start – up at 4.30am, it wasn’t easy to sleep, the tv lounge was outside our room and Sri Lanka were playing Pakistan in the Asian Cricket Cup Final! They Won!

Anyway we were up early and after a coffee/tea we were off, the sky was tremendous with 1,000’s of stars. It was an hour drive to Horton Plains and we arrived just as the sun was coming up. We only went about a mile before we parked up and started hunting for the only two endemics that we had left to get. Straight away we were into a couple of Dusky Blue Flycatchers and they performed really well. The Sri Lanka Bush-warbler was a different matter and it took us getting on to 30 minutes to nail it. When we did it showed really well. There was a disused toilet block which gave good views through the forest and we used it. I actually found the nest of a Sri Lanka Whistling-thrush with two eggs in it!
Dusky Blue Flycatcher

Pied Thrush (female)

We had great views of the aforementioned bird plus a couple of Great Tit which looked grey compared to the birds we get. We drove another couple of miles and stopped at a parking area were we saw two Alpine Swift. As we had now cleaned up we decided to head back to Nuware Eliya to a site that had Scaly Thrush but not before we had good views of Adams Peak and another tick with a flock of 40 or so Black-headed Munia.

We stopped in a laybe on the way down the mountain and had two Peregrine plus a Legge’s Mountain Hawk-eagle. We also had an opportunity to photograph the wonderful Dusky Blue Flycatcher.

After lunch we went to Victoria Park in Nuwara Eliya which was pleasant and we saw two Pied Thrush a male and a female. We saw other bit and bobs in the park but there were a lot of people. Early evening saw us searching again for Scaly Thrush in the ravine but had no luck. But, as we were making our way back to the van a Scaly Thrush flew over us, Joy got a good look at it but the rest of us just saw a shape high up in the trees.

The next morning we were back at first light and although we heard a Scaly Thrush we didn’t connect with one. We headed back to the hotel for breakfast and afterwards, we headed to Kandy birding on route. As I had spent most of the time in the coach sat next to Joy, but this time I had the front seat!

As we wound our way up and down the mountain roads we picked up a few raptors. I spotted a bird high up on a ridge and we pulled over. It was one of the more easily recognisable raptors Crested Serpent-eagle, we were just about to get back in the van to continue when I picked up a lower paler looking bird. Chami looked at me and after about a minute he turned and said “Jerdon’s Bazza”. On hearing this Ron came hurtling around the side of the van tripping over a wire – he was fortunate not to disappear over the edge! The bird soared around before making a pass directly overhead. Scaly Thrush – what Scaly Thrush!!!

We then stopped at Lochglen Tea Factory and had a guided tour, unfortunately the tea made me really ill and I was knocked sideways for 24 hours.

But after lunch, we visited Edawattakele Forest Reserve where the birding was hard as I was feeling under the weather. We did however have really good views of Brown Fish Owl.

Brown Fish Owl

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