There’s an old adage that says, “You can’t see it all in one trip”. And typically, this is true. But then there is nothing typical about Sri Lanka.
During childhood, we quickly learn that one cannot have it all in this life. And, as birders, we repeat this lesson whenever travelling to a new, exotic destination. Mostly, we only get one crack at a country, so we want to see as much as we possibly can. We go knowing that, yes, we will see a stack of amazing birds, but we also understand that the odds of seeing every speciality bird in that country are virtually impossible. Once again, Sri Lanka is a little different, in more ways than one.
About the size of Ireland or the state of Indiana, this large, tropical, teardrop-shaped island rests at the foot of the Indian Subcontinent, and is a paradise for nature-lovers. An exceptionally friendly nation with a vibrant culture, Sri Lanka sports verdant scenery, terraced tea plantations, and many stunningly large national parks. Amidst all of this dwell 34 endemic birds. And unlike nearly every other birding destination, Sri Lanka is unusual in that we actually usually do see all the endemic bird species during our tour. These include not only the astonishing perennial favourite, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, or the absurdly adorable Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot; but also the newest addition to the island’s native birdlife: the Serendib Scops Owl. Described only in 2004, this owl is named for the old Persian word for the island, “Serendib”, which is the etymological root of the word ‘serendipity’. The latter, of course, is the word for the phenomenon of finding agreeable and valuable things not specifically sought, but chanced upon… How many bird encounters might we describe in just this way?
One bird we routinely seek good fortune with is our feature here, the dapper, yet furtive, Pied Thrush. Aptly named, the males of the species are finely marked in black and white. With crisp white fringes, scales and spots throughout the flight feathers, this shy forest-dwelling thrush is counter-shaded – mostly dark above, and largely white below. The bright white eyebrows give it a commanding gaze, as it works the dark corners of the forest floor. Using its strong bill, it pushes aside leaf litter to unearth insects and invertebrates, gobbling them down. Mostly, it keeps low; but occasionally, it ascends higher to take fruit from trees as well. Its habits make it tough to see, but Sri Lanka is the place to see it. Nearly the entire population migrates from the Himalayas to winter here.
From the Pied Thrush to a serendipitously discovered new owl species, Sri Lanka offers not only amazing birds, but also a great array of mammals too, including Indian Elephants, genuinely wild Water Buffalo, Leopard, Flying foxes and much more.
Contact us today, and discover more.
India – Southern: Birding & Wildlife of the Western Ghats I 2018
Dates: 13 – 24 Jan 2018 (12 Days)
Price: USD3,975 *GBP3,040 *EUR3,399
Leaders: Holly Faithful & Stephan Lorenz
Sri Lanka – Budget Birding 2018
Dates: 10 – 20 Nov 2018 (11 Days)
Price: USD2,150 *GBP1,646 *EUR1,837