Report: Sigiriya – Sri Lanka Date: June 10, 2007

Observer: Todd R. Pepper, Leamington, Ontario, Canada
Guide: Uditha Hettige, Bird and Wildlife Team (Pvt.) Ltd., Sri Lanka
Number of Species Observed: 92
Number of New Life Birds: 5
Number of New Country Birds: 3

Personal Comments:
With only one day available for bird watching in Sri Lanka while in the country doing volunteer work for the Fedeation of Canadian Municipalities I contacted the Bird and Wildlife Team (Pvt.) Ltd. in Sri Lanka about the best place to go to add new life and country birds in the limited time available. I sent a list of species that I had not seen in Sri Lanka to Deepal Warakagoda of the Bird and Wildlife Team, and he suggested a day trip to Sigiriya, a well known cultural site north-east of Colombo. Uditha Hettige of the Bird and Wildlife Team was my guide for the day.

It was an early 04.00 start, after having just arrived in Sri Lanka from Canada at noon on Saturday, June 9th. We arrived at Sigiriya shortly after 08.00 and I immediately saw my first life bird for the day in Jungle Prinia at the back of a parking lot in Sigiriya village. The balance of the day was spent birding the side roads and trails within the immediate vicinity of the historic site. While we missed a couple of expected species, such as Banded Bay Cuckoo and Asian Drongo Cuckoo, it was likely due to the very strong winds that were blowing all day disrupting the normal tree-top roosting behavior of those species. We made up for the expected species with unexpected ones, including great close up looks at White-naped Woodpecker, giving Uditha an excellent photo opportunity, and Oriental Honey-Buzzard.

The list of species observed during the day are noted below. The taxonomy of the Birds of Sri Lanka is in flux with the recent publication of “Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide” by Pamela C. Rasmussen & John C. Anderton that has raised a number of what were previously considered races of species in Sri Lanka to full species status. For purposes of this report I have used the taxonomy and English names in Clements World Bird Taxonomic List, 5th Edition, and if there is an English or latin name difference between Clements and John Harrison’s “A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka” the alternative English or latin name used by Harrison is noted in brackets. Life birds seen are noted with the symbol * after the name of the species while new country birds for Sri Lanka are noted with the symbol +.