Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Birding with Liz and Keith Richie Part 2

Crimson-backed Flameback
Liz and Keith originally wanted to visit Kithulgala on a day trip. But, after meeting me earlier on a water birds trip, I convinced them to visit Sinharaja over 2 days. So, we did this from 30 Sep. to 1 Oct. 2007. We had good weather and it turned out to be an excellent bird and natural history trip. I secured the services of our excellent driver Sameera Arandara, who, again, did a good job.

In Sinharaja, we had the services of Thandula Jayaratne as the local guide. I was able to scope almost all the flock-associated birds for Liz and Keith. These included Orange-billed Babbler, Sri Lanka Crested Drongo, Black-naped Monarch, Malabar Trogon, Legge’s Flowerpecker, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Red-faced Malkoha, Ashy-headed Laughingthrush, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, White-faced Starling, Lesser Yellownape, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, and Square-tailed Black Bulbul.
Spot-winged Thrush nestlings

Special highlight was finding an obliging male Crimson-backed Flameback (still Greater Flameback according to some), which produced cracking views, just near the main entrance. I used the opportunity to fill one of my longstanding photo gaps by quickly digiscoping it. Our top natural history highlight was seeing the rare endemic butterfly, Sri Lanka Forester, which was also digiscoped. This was the first time I saw this rare butterfly so I was quite happy to have photographed it. Its identity was confirmed by Michael van der Poorten.

Spot-winged Thrush
I sent Thandula out on a mission to find a Chestnut-backed Owlet, which was not successful. However, moments later, he returned to tell us that he had "rescued" a couple of Spot-winged Thrush nestlings from a pair of marauding Sri Lanka Blue Magpies. He had temporarily hidden the nest with its two terrified occupants in a Rattan thicket to put it out of sight of the magpies. We reached the site to this. After photographing them in the nest and digging some worms to make them happy, we placed the nest in the original site to bring it to the attention of its parents.

Click here to read one of my articles on Spot-winged Thrush published in BirdingAsia, number 4 of Oriental Bird Club (OBC) dealing with the subjects of nesting and plumage features.
Sri Lanka Forester

I also found a Sri Lanka Frogmouth at dusk, which was a top highlight for Liz. We had the endemic Brown-capped Babblers on three occations.

Our other birding highlights included Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Myna, and Sri Lanka Blue Magpie near the research station.

On the natural history front, we also had Sri Lanka Keelback Water Snake and Green Whip Snake. Our mammalian highlights included Southern Purple-faced Leaf Monkey and the handsome Grizzled Giant Squirrel.

I had the pleasure of playing two absorbing games of scrabble with Liz and Keith and thrashing them in style! I am thankful for them for recommending me in the Trip Advisor and for their comments.

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