We rounded off our three-week Sri Lanka trip with a couple of days in the highlands, based in the small town of Ella, where I was hoping to add a few of the higher-altitude endemics to my list. On arrival, the landscape initially looked rather unpromising, with no original forest to be seen, extensive tea plantations, and non-native trees including the dreaded Eucalyptus much in evidence.
However, as it turned out I was pleasantly surprised by the number and variety of birds – including several endemic species – that were in the area. In just two days I recorded 61 bird species, most of them within a short walk of our guesthouse, Ella Nature View Lodge.
- Layard’s Parakeet – two pairs seen.
- Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot – excellent views of a pair.
- Yellow-crowned Barbet – common.
- Crimson-fronted Barbet – fairly common.
- Coppersmith Barbet – several.
- Brown-headed Barbet – common.
- Sri Lanka Junglefowl – commonly heard, seen once.
- Common Hawk-cuckoo – heard only.
- Black Eagle – two.
- Booted Eagle – one, presumably late passage bird.
- Crested Serpent Eagle – common.
- Oriental Honey Buzzard – common.
- Yellow-crowned Woodpecker – pair near our hotel.
- Lesser Yellownape – one in trees along railway.
- Black-rumped Flameback – fairly common.
- Black-headed Cuckooshrike – one.
- Asian Paradise-Flycatcher – several including a long-tailed male.
- Indian Robin – several pairs in rocky areas.
- Hill Myna – one.
- Ashy Prinia – several on territory near hotel.
- Sri Lanka White-eye – fairly common.
- Small Minivet – fairly common.
- White-browed Fantail – fairly common.
- Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike – several.
- Sri Lanka Swallow – common.
- Indian Scimitar-Babbler – several along railway.
- Tawny-bellied Babbler – fairly common.
- Yellow-eyed Babbler – several at margins of tea plantations.
- Jerdon’s Leafbird – one.
- Golden-fronted Leafbird – several.
- Loten’s Sunbird – common.
- Purple-rumped Sunbird – common.
Lifers: Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Black-headed Cuckooshrike, Sri Lanka White-eye, Yellow-crowned Barbet, Ashy Prinia, Layard’s Parakeet, Jerdon’s Leafbird, Indian Scimitar-babbler (total 1,903).
Year ticks: Yellow-eyed Babbler, White-browed Fantail, Small Minivet (total 601).