I did a Water birds trip with Liz and Keith Richie, England on 24 Sep, 2007. We combined a selection of sites namely Annaiwilundawa RAMSAR wetland, Palavi Saltpans, Nawadankulama Tank and finally the Chilaw Sandspits. Our driver was Sameera Arandara, who owns and drives a Nissan Bluebird Sylphy and this was the first time I used him for my tours. He did a good job in taking us to our sites promptly and safely, which was important in this type of tours involving multiple sites.
As expected our first stop; Annaiwilundawa RAMSAR wetland was dry as this was the tail end of the dry season. However, that didn’t stop us from seeing a good combination of scrub and wetlands birds including a few migrants. These included Blue-faced Malkoha, Crested Serpent Eagle, Pacific Golden Plover, Blue-tailed Bee-Eater, Purple, Long-billed & Purple-rumped Sunbirds, Brown-headed Barbet, Black-hooded Oriole, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Oriental Darter, Pied Kingfisher, Purple and Grey Herons & Black-headed Ibis.
Next, we visited the Palawi Saltpans, which was again drier than in August when I last visited this site. I had already told Liz and Keith to expect such conditions and to come ready to follow my ass (advance, stop and scan) technique. It didn’t take me too long to realize that waders were too over the head for Liz and Keith so I soon decided to change habitats to give them different birds, which they appreciated. Anyway, our brief Palawi-watch produced Grey Plover, Gull-billed Tern, Lesser Sand Plover, Curlew Sandpier, Little Stint & Kentish Plover.
After enjoying a sumptuous lunch in the good-old Puttlam Resthouse; the Sri Lankan rice and curry lunch of which was described by Keith as one of the best meals he had on his Sri Lankan holiday, we leisurely explored the Nawadamkulama tank where we had White-naped Woodpecker, Black-rumped Flameback, Common Coot (a locally scarce bird), Little Grebe, Purple Swamphen & Pheasant-tailed Jacana. Liz also picked up a Pied Cuckoo. We also enjoyed seeing several good-looking Indian Green Frogs aka Green Pond Frog (Euphlyctis hexadactylus) floating in good light.
Finally we explored the Chilaw Sandspits for Sanderlings and we were rewarded with good views of 17 of them in addition to Whimbrel and several Large Crested Terns. Thereafter, I dropped them off at their cosy retreat; Club Palm Bay Hotel, Marawila.