The first of two days at Sinharaja. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the finest forest site in Sri Lanka.
We left in the dark under a starry sky for the short drive to a Sri Lanka Frogmouth site and succeeded in tape luring an individual into the trees above our head. Back for breakfast and a chance to inspect the lodge garden and its bird tables which attract several of the endemics so birding during the quiet middle part of the day looked potentially promising.
After breakfast we boarded the jeeps for the short run up the hillside to the start of the Sinharaja forest trail but not before scoping two endemic Sri Lanka Mynas right by the lodge. The forest trail is a wide track which cuts through the forest for about 1km, terminating at a research station. The leisurely walk there and back produced a good number of the target endemics, as well as some good mammals, reptiles, insects, butterflies and plants.
First up was a flock of endemic Ashy Headed Laughing Thrushes (the only member of this genus which occurs in Sri Lanka).
The Research Station not only provides chance for a sit down and rest from the heat but is also a great place for ultra close views of Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl and Sri Lanka Magpie. The latter is normally very wary but the birds here come to food put out by the staff. We had great views of both and seeing a male Jungle Fowl and a Magpie perched side by side on the same open branch was particularly memorable.
Two pairs of another shy bird, the endemic Scaly Thrush, were also present in the area but seeing any more than one bird proved decidedly difficult.
Mammals were represented by Purple Faced Leaf Monkey, the endemic Layard’s Jungle Squirrel and Giant Squirrel
We repaired to Martins Bungalows to eat lunch and to sit out the heat of the day. Having done so well in the morning walk the draw of birding the Blue Magpie Lodge grounds outbid a return to the forest. It proved to be a good move as heavy rain arrived and we sat in the dry of the lodge overlooking the garden its bird tables and the forested hillsides beyond. An array of species was added to the list including close views of several endemics. Layard’s Parakeets fed low down in trees right outside the window. Yellow Fronted Barbet and Black Headed Bulbul came to feast on the papaya on the bird tables.