Somewhere in the lowland wet zone, I spotted this Sri Lanka Bay Owl from a moving vehicle!
That was during an Absolute Birding tour that I guided in the second half of January, 2012 for Mark Yates, Gary Thonburn (both from the U.K.) and Brendon Ryan from South Africa.
We were returning to our accommodation 'empty-handed' after specially going to see this scarce owl, which is a rarely seen resident bird species in Sri Lanka. We were not helped by so many elements on this day, which included the weather. During the journey back, which seemed a very long one, I kept spot-lighting randomly, hoping for a consolation Slender Loris or so.
This has worked before.
No loris, but an endemic Yellow-striped Chevrotain seen in the headlights of the vehcile, was a good enough consolation.
That was until I picked another eye-shine, which saw our vehicle coming to a screeching halt. When I trained my binoculars, they belonged to—would you believe—a Sri Lanka Bay Owl!
I soon shared my serendipitous find with my clients, who took a few decent shots. The one above was sent by Gary Thoburn, who wielded a Canon 500mm lens. We left the bird to carry out its hunting and moved on. Soon, I found that during the frenetic
moments of spotting the bird, I had lost an eye cup in my Swarovski binoculars; I backtracked about 100 metres on foot to recover it. Glued to the same old perch was a still-busy-foraging Sri Lanka Bay Owl.
With this amazing find, this tour saw us bagging 12 out of the 15 resident night birds. Our tally included 9 owl species. We saw nearly 250 species of birds out of which 190 were photographed.
To see more images of birds and natural history photographed on this trip, visit Gary's photo site in a few weeks.