Alan and Lucy Smith from Yorkshire, England had come here on a Kuoni general round tour. They were based in a beach hotel in Kalutara, when I picked them up to visit Sinharaja rain forest for a birding tour over 25-27 November, 2007. Both in their late 60s, they were very lucky to be rewarded with a full-blown mixed species bird flock while sipping tea at Martin’s balcony, just 10 minutes after arrival at 11.15 a.m. Birds recorded in quick order included White-faced Starling, Red-faced Malkoha, Orange-billed Babbler, Orange Minivet, Ashy-headed Laughingthrush, Sri Lanka Crested Drongo, White-bellied Drongo, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Black-capped Bulbul, Common Iora, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Malabar Trogo, and Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler!
What felt even better was that there hadn’t been any flock the day before, according to a few local birders who were at Martin’s. Going for a walk, we had the same flock just 5 minutes into our walk up the road and we had second and third views of all the above; plus Black-naped Monarch, Legge’s Flowerpecker, and Sri Lanka Myna. We were well and truly off to a dream start without even walking 100 m from Martin’s!
On both mornings, we had early tea with five Sri Lanka Blue Magpies, which came to feed on the insects trapped under lights in the Martin’s balcony. These were accompanied by a confiding Spot-winged Thrush, hopping inside the balcony.
In our birding walks that followed we also had Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Brown-capped Babbler, Crimson-backed Flameback, Black-naped Monarch, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Layard’s Parakeet, Brown-breasted Flycatcher, and a pair of roosting Sri Lanka Frogmouth, which were huddled together appearing like two delayed leaves. This sighting was shared by Prasanjith Caldera, and I am thankful for him for sharing it.
Our top natural history highlights were cracking views of two good looking butterflies: Cruiser Vindula erota and Tawny Rajah Charaxes psaphon both of which were filmed and photographed. Our driver was Sameera Arandara and once again he did a fantastic job in driving us promptly and safely.
Oh, I did play a game of scrabble. Which I won: 250-140.
ENTAILED earned my highest individual score of 68 playing all 7. And Alan vowed to square it on his return next time around.