Wednesday 24 January

After breakfast, served at 0600, we left the hotel to drive southeast to Tissamaharama, thankfully often just called Tissa. We found a Blue-faced Malkoha in roadside bushes – a good one, as Deepal and myself thought we might have to visit a known site for this.

We stopped at a large tank where there were the usual herons and egrets but also jacanas and terns. A surprise find were two Watercocks, both though in winter plumage and not as usually portrayed in the field guides. Repeating myself I know, but this is another that can be difficult to track down in Asia. We walked along the roadside verge seeing Blyth’s Pipits and Tricoloured Munias whilst White-winged Black and Whiskered Terns cruised by.

Our second stop was at an area of brackish water were there were a few waders including Marsh Sandpipers and Black-winged Stilts. A Yellow Bittern was scoped but disappeared quickly into the sedge. On the far side of the pool was a flock of Great Thick-knee, a bizarre looking bird with its huge deep upturned bill.

We checked-in to our hotel and had a short break after lunch. It was too hot to go birding and we agreed to meet again at 1545. The bus took us to another tank, where we spent time with the many waterbirds. A Black Bittern lifted from close to us, but a singing Indian Reed Warbler simply wouldn’t come out from dense cover. We took a trail through the village gardens to one of Deepal’s stakeouts. A Brown Fish Owl was at roost in a palm; owl species number five for this trip! The local children knew of the owl but a few rupees changed hands to ensure it wouldn’t be disturbed.

We tried for another bird, White-naped Woodpecker, but Deepal pointed out that its favourite tree had been felled since his last visit. They are fond of coconut groves and we’ll try elsewhere for this bird tomorrow.