Expert guided birding tours

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie
Yet another colourful day thanks to this
Sri Lanka Blue Magpie!

Purple-faced Leaf
The park is a good place for wildlife and even has a few Elephant and Leopard. More visible for us visitors are the Purple-faced Leaf Monkeys. They remain quite common
in the park even though this endemic
species is listed as endangered on the
IUCN Red List of threatened species.

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Finest birding in Asia

Ceylon Scimitar Babbler
This is one of the 'newer' endemics (splits)
Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler

Birders Lodge at Sinharaja

Indian Pitta at Blue Magpie Lodge
Just 1 more reason to visit Sri Lanka
in winter; Indian Pitta

endemic Ashy-headed Laughingthrush
I won't easily run out of endemics on this page; Ashy-headed Laughingthrush

Indian Pardise Flycatcher
Always a top-favourite, and taking
lots of vertical space on the web ;-)
The Indian Paradise Flycatcher

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Greater Sri Lanka Flameback
Greater Sri Lanka Flameback, female.
Another common name for this
Woodpecker is Crimson-backed Flameback.

Ceylon Woodpigeon
Lucky shot! This Ceylon Woodpigeon is
 scarce and not usually easy to get in front
of the lens. All I had to do this time is
jump out of the car. The park boundary
has excellent birding as well. In fact,
roadside birding anywhere in the
country can be refreshingly good.

Grizzled Giant Squirrel melanochra
Grizzled Giant Squirrel
At Sinharaja these are from the
melanochra subspecies. It otherwise
occurs through most of Sri Lanka and
a few locations in southern India.

Yellow-fronted Barbet
The endemic Yellow-fronted Barbet
isn't too scarce but I didn't think they
were easy to see let alone photograph.
This is a rather distant shot that received
lots of cropping, light adjustment and sharpening.

Sri Lanka Drongo
The Sri Lanka Drongo has a restricted
range as it is only found in virgin
rainforest of the wet zone.

Sri Lanka Frogmouth female
I didn't get the female Sri Lanka
Frogmouth too well as it was perched
inside dense tangles.

Orange-billed Babbler
  This Orange-billed Babbler is quite
common at Sinharaja. Unlike its
Yellow-billed cousin this bird, (also called Ceylon Rufous Babbler) is another
range-restricted species only
found in SW Sri Lanka.

Yellow-billed Babbler
The Yellow-billed Babbler may be found
only in peninsular India, or just about
anywhere in Sri Lanka. Sure enough it
wasn't missing from the garden of the accommodation at Sinharaja.

Forest Nymp
Slow effortless wing beats, this must
be the Ceylon Tree Nymp! Males do collect
danaidone from various plants, which is a poisonous chemical making the butterfly unpalatable to predators. The chemical is passed to the female during mating and
will also end up in her eggs.

White-bellied Drongo
The White-bellied Drongo indeed is
'white-bellied' in India and the rest
of Sri Lanka. This is race leucopygialis
which does occur in SW Sri Lanka; yes
at Sinharaja. Sometimes more aptly
  named White-vented Drongo.

Sinharaja is one of the most rewarding
and enjoyable birding sites in Asia.
During my two full days in the field I
was keen to snap along any photo opportunity. However, this was relaxed birding and certainly not hunting for
photos. No chasing, no sound recordings,
no bird food, no hides were used.
The reason I got 21 out of 28 endemic
birds on photo in such a short time must
lie with the excellence of the birding site.

I used the 150-600mm lens from
Tamron mounted on the cheapest
available full-frame DSLR body.
These are both good and reasonable
priced but I would not really call it professional gear.
I mean, you too can do this!
All you may need is a little field-craft
and a holiday to Sri Lanka! Cheers!

Hope you enjoyed the set. -Stijn-

Sinharaja, 20 - 22 February 2017.
Sri Lanka's celebrated Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site;  A photo report.

On this page I would like to showcase the riches of Sinharaja National Park. You may find a selection of opportunity shots made on the afternoon of 20th, a full day and the morning of 22nd Feb. '17. Focus was on the birds of course but I hope the good number of material obtained in such a short time may make us realize what an incredible biodiversity hotspot Sinaraja is. My short two days of birding here was part of a longer trip that also included visits to Yala NP and Tissamahama area in Sri Lanka's dry zone. The time of year was rather perfect. This is after the 'high' tourist season, with just about the best chance in the year on dry weather, and all wintering birds still present. Birding was done on the main track into the park and a couple sites on the parks boundary. The grounds and vicinity of the accommodation (comfortable air-con rooms and excellent authentic food) held good birds as well; Slaty-legged Crake, Indian Pitta, Sri Lanka Hill Myna...

Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush
The Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush is often regarded as 1 of the more difficult to find endemics. With only 1 sighting
it didn't appear common but once found our bird was quite cooperative and we watched it for at least
15 minutes while it kept foraging in the leaf litter. Undisturbed as the bird was I think it only looked up
and into the lens once so I'm pretty happy I was able to capture the moment.
This is 1 of only few endemic birds listed as threatened in Sri Lanka. As with so many places on earth
habitat loss is a problem. However, in Sri Lanka birds are very well protected inside the reserves. 

Green-billed Coucal at SinharajaThe endemic Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
Green-billed CoucalSri Lanka Grey Hornbill

Posted just above are two more fine Sri Lankan endemics. Most species featuring "Sri Lanka" in their
name may alternatively retain "Ceylon", the former naming of the island. (Ceylon Grey Hornbill.)
Out of 34 Sri Lankan endemic birds (IOC world bird names), no less than 28 may be found at Sinharaja!!  

Slaty-legged Crake at Blue Magpie LodgeBlack-hooded Oriole at Blue Magpie Lodge
Let us take a little break from the endemic bonanza. And from the forest perhaps? Time to post a few photos taken in the grounds of the Blue Magpie Lodge. The Slaty-legged Crake is a scarce winter visitor to most of South and South-east Asia. It is really amazing how we found this elusive Crake simply in the garden of the lodge. With the Black-hooded Oriole it got even better, this shot was taken from the lunch table!!

Green Vine Snake at Sinharaja
This Green Vine Snake was found along the main track in the National Park.
Harmless and super beautiful, these pencil size creatures are easily overlooked!

Sinharaja Forest and Tea PlantationCommon Green Forest Lizard
This misty morning image shows some tea plantation mixing in with forest at the park's boundary.
The Common Green Forest Lizard is all green indeed, except for when in high breeding mood!!

Yellow-browed BulbulDark-fronted Babbler
Two cute forest birds. The Yellow-browed Bulbul and the Dark-fronted Babbler
may not be too easy to photograph but they are not scarce inside good forest at Sinharaja.
Together with quite a few other species they are excellent candidates to be added to
your life list on a Sri Lanka visit, that is unless you have been to peninsular India previous.

The endemic Serendib Scops Owl
If ever you would have been looking for a reason to visit a place again... this must be a proper case! I did not see the Serendib Scops Owl on my first Sri Lanka visit! Because it simply wasn't discovered yet (and I wasn't the one finding it first ha ha). Back in 2000 nobody knew about this owl while it was present in a well birded location. Today it features on most trip lists. As in this case it is not unlikely to be rewarded with a daytime sighting even though they may not roost in exactly the same spot every day.

Sri Lanka Frogmouth at Sinharaja
Daytime night birds do give birders more time in the evening to celebrate the sightings of the day :-)
Sri Lanka Frogmouth, here the male, and with the female roosting nearby, were found with relative ease.

Toque Macaque at SinharajaToque Macaque; Black Eagle alarm
For the Toque Macaque it is all about hairstyle, eyeliner and black lipstick... but then Black Eagle alarm!!

The endemic Spot-winged Thrush
The lovely Spot-winged Thrush is another must-see target bird. With 3 sightings it easily added to the
Sinharaja endemics tally. However only 1 individual was friendly enough to allow for photo opportunities.

A forested ridge at Sinharaja NPLegge's or White-throated Flowerpecker
A forested ridge at Sinharaja core area.The Legge's Flowerpecker, must be endemic!

Purple-faced Langur
A rather distant shot of the Purple-faced Langur! There are 4 distinct subspecies recognized. The ones found at Sinharaja Forest Reserve are from the race 'vetulus' or Southern Lowland Wetzone Purple-faced Langur.

Malabar TrogonIndian Pitta wintering in Sri Lanka
The cream of forest birds! Trogons and Pittas always make for a happy day.
Both the Malabar Trogon and Indian Pitta may be best (easier) seen in Sri Lanka rather than in India
where the Pitta breeds in the north, while the Trogon occurs in peninsular India only.

Sri Lanka Spurfowl
At Sinharaja, after connecting with most of the endemics and good target birds, which would be the 1 left to look for?? Quite possibly it would be the Sri Lanka Spurfowl indeed. Not always easy to find, not always
showing too well, but a little essential as Sinharaja simply is the best site for these stunners. And there
is more, they have an incredible sound. The male bird pictured is calling and I can tell you this is SO loud
when you are just a few meters away!! I didn't manage a sound recording but I have embedded a
superb Xeno-Canto recording made by a friend from Belgium in the column on the left. Try it!

Ceylon Blue Magpie
It may be less easy than it looks from my photos to connect with the Sri lanka Blue Magpie as they have very large foraging areas. Three sightings isn't too bad even though they have declined somewhat. However this doesn't mean great photo opportunities yet and my first encounter only yielded a record shot.
They didn't seem easy inside the park during my visit. But at the parks boundary I got lucky twice.
First a superb pair which now features on our Sri Lanka tour page and on my last morning I was happy
to capture this jumping Magpie action on film. This is a restricted range endemic listed as vulnerable.

Dusky Palm SquirrelSri Lanka Green Pigeon
Not only the birds may be endemics at Sinharaja. This is the Dusky Palm Squirrel, only found in Sri Lanka
and listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. On the right is a photo of a nice male Sri Lanka Green Pigeon.

Ceylon Hill MynaSri Lanka Swallow
Restricted range, uncommon, local and listed near-threatened, all doesn't look that good for the Sri Lanka Hill Myna but luckily we have Sinharaja Forest Reserve where the species remains common.
On the right are Sri Lanka Swallows busy collecting mud for nest building.

Sri Lanka junglefowlCeylon Junglefowl
The national bird should not be missing from this page. Mind you, Sri Lanka Junglefowl are endemic and well protected by law. No wonder they were easy to photograph. They also sound better than domestic chicken!

Sri Lanka Hanging ParrotLesser Sri Lanka Flameback
Any perched Hanging Parrot must be good! Luckily Sri Lanka Hanging Parrots remain common and sooner
or later a good sighting is to be expected. On the right is the commoner of the two Flamebacks on the island. This is the beautiful Lesser Sri Lanka Flameback and the species occurs both in the
wet and dry zone but is absent from the northern half of the island.

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