This month’s image is of a Serendib Scops Owl, Otus thilohoffmanni, taken on a warm evening on a recent tour in the lowland rainforest of Kitulgala, Sri Lanka, by one of our Tour Leaders, Keith Valentine. This is of one of the world’s rarest and most recently discovered owl species; only officially described in 2004! It is one of Sri Lanka¹s toughest and most sought-after endemics and is confined to the lowland forests of southern Sri Lanka. This species first introduced itself to the birding world when a prominent local birder heard its unknown call in the verdant forests of Kitulgala in 1996. Realising this was likely a new species, he made attempts to uncover the identity of the unknown bird.
It was however not until 2001, that he eventually managed to get a view of the ‘different call in the forest’; a full five years after initially hearing this ghost! We managed to find this species on both of our tours to this incredible destination this year; the bird pictured above was located after a dedicated hunt that involved searching the leafy layers of this beautiful forest after hearing the bird’s staggered hoot. This was the certain tour highlight for one and all, quite a statement on a tour that managed to record all of the Sri Lankan endemics!