Tuesday 23 January 2007

A later start this morning as we had to transfer to Embilipitiya. We were travelling from the Wet Zone into the Dry Zone and the drive was to take about three hours due to the narrow winding roads. We stopped a couple of times, once for the sight of four Black Eagles soaring together. Our hotel was at the edge of a large ‘tank’ (the name used in Sri Lanka for a freshwater reservoir) and on arrival, whilst sipping our welcoming fruit juice, we watched as a White-bellied Sea-Eagle hunted for fish. Distant Spot-billed Pelicans looked massive.

After lunch we drove to Uda Walawe National Park and boarded the jeep. It was a pleasant afternoon drive through the savannah and stopping for various birds, and of course elephant, for which this park is famous. I was hoping to see one of the few tuskers. In Indian Elephants these occur in less than 8% of animals. We found some young bulls, but without tusks.

New birds came thick and fast in this grassland; as expected four species of prinia, three different munias, and good views of Blyth’s Pipits and Jerdon’s Bushlarks. The migrant Grey-bellied Cuckoos seemed very common. A lone female Pallid Harrier did a flypast whilst Black-winged Kites hovered to drop onto prey below. As we drove to the exit gate boisterous flocks of parakeets containing three species, Rose-ringed, Alexandrine and Plum-headed, were flying to roost.