Day 9 (18th March)

We departed early for the short run along the coast to Bundala National Park. This coastal reserve comprises a range of habitats – acacia scrub, lagoons, salt pans and reed fringed pools. Exploration is by jeep. First good birds were a Sikeer Malkoha and delightful Crested Tree Swifts and Chestnut Headed Bee Eaters which perched up nicely in scrub the early morning sun. The lagoons and salt pans were alive with birds (the best wetlands we have visited suggested several tour participants). Highlights were Eurasian Stone Curlew, and the even more striking Great Thicknee almost side by side, seven species of tern including Lesser and Great Crested together, and the gorgeous Small Pratincole, several of which were attending their well grown young. A Grey Headed Fish Eagle perched in a tree right above the jeep; the photographers had a field day.

We were at back at our hotel well before lunch so there was again chance to relax in that brand new swimming pool, but not before catching up with the staked out roosting Indian Scops Owl in a tree in the garden of one of Uditha’s friends.
Our last afternoon here in the south was spent at various wetland sites around Tissa catching up with the final waterbirds which had eluded thus far. Black Bitterns, a fleeting Watercock were the highlights together with numerous egrets in a roosting/breeding tree. Many of the egrets had prominent aigrettes and some of the Great White’s were in peak condition with red legs and a blue flush to the base of the bill. Our final stop was at the coconut palm plantation favoured by White Naped Woodpecker. Our arrival was very timely – the light was still good and a male bird came to its roost hole site. It showed really well.