Saturday 27 January

A long drive this morning would take us from Tissa to Nuwara Eliya, a journey time of about six hours. As we left Tissa a couple of Indian Stone-curlews were close to the road, and a little further on two stocky Woolly-necked Storks were in a paddy field.

Soon the hills appeared and the bus began climbing steadily. Along the slopes an Oriental Honey-buzzard, then a Black Eagle glided over, surveying the territory. We passed scenic waterfalls to arrive in the town of Ella where we pulled into the Grand Hotel for a cup of tea. They had a balcony with a view over the valley below.

Deepal took a phone call that said a Brown Wood Owl was back at a regular roost site. This bird had deserted his favoured trees some time ago so the news was good to hear. To see this bird we needed to walk into the wood where it was slippery, with a couple of small slopes to negotiate. Also we needed to be quiet. The owl was seen through the scope, though it was well aware of our presence. It began raining hard and the slog back to the road was muddy underfoot, through the wet undergrowth. We arrived back at the bus somewhat bedraggled.

We arrived in Nuwara Eliya, and went straight to lunch after checking-in. We had a fine bird to look for this afternoon, which could be found in the local park – this was a stakeout for Pied Ground Thrush. In the corner of the park, under a covering of branches where it was quite dim, we saw a movement…it was an Indian Pitta. Then, a female thrush which was followed by a female Indian Robin, all tricky species of the dark and shady forest floor. We waited awhile before the male thrush turned up. It was a striking black and white ground thrush, here in typical habitat.

It was raining again as we headed back to the hotel. We planned an early departure tomorrow so sat for dinner at 1930.