I am happy to share the news of a sight record of a vagrant bird species to Sri Lanka—the Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia.
I saw it on 3 January, 2012, at Tanamalwila, in the sylvan interiors of southeastern Sri Lanka on the tour that I am currently guiding with Hans Veltman and Irene ter Horst from the Netherlands. My visitors are on a 14-day Absolute Birding tour, which came through Inezia Tours, run by my friend Pieter van der Luit.
Hearing an unfamiliar bird call, I ventured off the track a short distance to search for its source. In no time, to my surprise, I found a handsome, male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher—my first lifer for the New Year.
As it happens so often in moments like this, I had no camera with me; hoping to concentrate on just watching birds, I had left it in the vehicle. Soon after showing the bird to my clients, and I dashed like the Road Runner fetch my camera. And dashed back. Come to think of it, I forgot to uttter "mee mee."
But anyway, after an agonizing ten minutes, I found the bird again and was able take the record shot above. We were on our way to Nuwara Eliya, and had some montane birding planned for later that day. So I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to photograph it the way I like. But I guess this will do for the time being.
Its call reminded me of the more familiar highland special Kashmir Flycatcher, which belongs to the same genus as the Yellow-rumped Flycatcher. And at Nuwara Eliya later that day, we also the Kashmir Flycatcher; thereby, bagging two Ficedula species on a single day’s birding in Sri Lanka. Who would have thought that was possible!
Then in the A2, drive about a kilometer towards Lunugamwehera until you come across a police road block. A dirt track, which leads to the Lunugamwehera National Park, branches off left just there. Take that one. After about 130 metres, that track bends first to the right, and after a few metres, again to the left. The bird was found in between these two bends. It was found on both sides of the track during various times of our observation. Although you can drive right up to the site, I suggest you park the vehicle in the restaurant (“Thuru Sevana Buffet”) on the opposite side to the turn off. The owners there are very nice people and tolerate bird watchers. It will be courteous to buy a drink for using their gardens parking, after you have bagged the bird.
The site consists of a secondary forest contiguous with the impressive riverine forest found along the Kiridi Oya. Some of the noteworthy birds that I have found here over the years include the Marshall’s Iora, Orange-headed Thrush, White-naped Woodpecker, Rufous Woodpecker, Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher, Sirkeer Malkoha, Jungle Owlet, and now, the Yellow-rumped Flycatcher.
Yes, it is one of my patches, and a good one at that.
The site has a fair bit of mosquitoes, and if you have to venture into the jungle, note that the understory is thorny.
Happy New Year!
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