Birding Sri Lanka
Close encounters with Sri Lanka's rare birds from Casa Blanco's terrace
The Mornings are unforgettable,the extraordinary ear piercing bird calls floating over the jungle canopy ,followed by flocks of rare birds sets the mood for the day
Sri Lanka is a bird watchers paradise , frequently visited by bird enthusiasts across the globe.Of the 295 recorded species, 250 are resident and 23 are endemic to the country.
The jungles adjoining Casa Blanco , form a bird watchers treasure box ,with regular sitings of endemic birds such , as the range-billed babbler and chestnut-backed owlet and Yellow fronted Barbet!
Kahibella - Lanka Blue Magpie (Urocissa ornata)
Sri Lanka Blue Magpie is about the same size as the European Magpie at 42–47 cm. The adults are blue with chestnut head and wings, and a long white-tipped tail. The legs and bill are red. The young bird is a duller version of the adult. Sri Lanka Blue Magpie has a variety of calls including mimicry, a loud chink-chink and a rasping krak-krak-krak-krak.
It is scarce and usually shy, but locally common and bolder. It associates in flocks up to six or seven, but pairs or solitary individuals are sometimes met with. A very energetic, agile bird, most of its time is spent in searching for food among foliage at all levels from the ground to the tops of tall trees. It capture the critters like hairy caterpillars, green tree-crickets, various chafer beetles, tree-frogs and lizards. The breeding season is in the first quarter of the year, so far as is known, but the nest has seldom been found. The nest resembled a small crow’s nest. It is very well concealded among small twigs and foliage near the top of the tree. The eggs number three to five and are whitish, profusely spotted and speckled with various shades of brown. They measure about 30.5 x 22.1 mm.
It inhabits the heavy virgin forests of the mountains and wet-zone foot hills.
Watha Rathu Malkoha - Red-Faced Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus)
This is a large species at 46 cm with a long graduated tail. Its back is dark green, and the uppertail is green edged with white. The belly and undertail are white, the latter being barred black. The crown and throat are black, and the lower face white. There is a large red patch around the eye and the bill is green. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are much duller. The Red-faced Malkoha takes a variety of insects including caterpillars, giant stick insects, mantises and small vertebrates such as lizard. It occasionally may eat berries but this needs confirmation.
It inhabits tall forest, and lives either solitary, in pairs, or in small flocks. It is shy and restless, a dweller in the tree canopy, where, like the last species, it cleverly threads its way through tangled twigs, creepers and foliage.
The breeding season is in the first half of the year and probably again in August-September. The nest is described as a shallow saucer of grass, roots and twigs, very carelessly put together, and placed in high bushes in forest with thick undergrowth. The two or three eggs are white, with a chalky surface, and they measure about 35.8 X 27 mm.
The Red-Faced Malkoha is regularly seen at Sinharaja and few other remaining rain forests, frequents associating with feeding waves. It is also found in scattered riverine habitats in the dry zone, such as Lahugala, Wasgamuwa, Manik Ganga and Kubukkan Oya.
Anduru Nil Masimara - The Dusky-Blue Flycatcher (Eumyias sordida)
Size Sparrow-sized. Sexes similar, but the juveniles are brown, heavily spotted on head, back, wing-coverts and breast with pale buff; flight feathers are broadly margined with blue-grey.
It is not a shy bird. It feeds mainly on flying insects, beetles, caterpillars and the like, but also eats berries such as wild yellow rasberry, lantana, etc. It has a sweet rather loud song.
The main breeding season is in the first half of the year, March and April being the favourite months; but a second -or a third-brood is often reared in August-September. The nest is a compact mass of green moss, with a neat, rather deep cup in the top, lined with fine black fibers, probably fern roots. The site is always well shaded, but not always well concealed. The normal clutch is two, but occasionally three eggs are laid. They are pale pink, freckled all over with pale burnt sienna, which often formas a zone, or cap, at the large end. They measure about 20.5 X 14.8 mm.
The flycatcher is confined to the hills above 2,000 feet, but is not common below 3,000 feet. It inhabits forest or well-wooded ravines on estates, gardens, etc., where plenty of shady trees give it the seclusion it loves.
Hisa kalu Kondaya - The Black-Capped Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus)
Rather smaller than the Red-vented Bulbul. In general coloration some what like the preceding species, but at once distinguished by its black cap and white-tipped, dark-brown tail.
It is found in pairs or small parties. Its call-note is a plaintive, minor-key whistle on an ascending scale, something like yor, yer ye, or wer wer we we - each syllable higher than the last.
The nest is very similar to the small ones of Red-vented Bulbul. It is a cup, composed of small twigs, rootlets, etc., rather flimsily built, and line scantily with fibres. It is well concealed among foliage, either in a low bush or in a small tree growing in a wooded ravine or on the outskirts of forest, etc. The eggs normally number two, and they resemble small ones of Red-vented Bulbul, being pinkish white, heavily spotted and speckled with reddish brown. They measure about 20.9 × 15.7 mm.
Black-capped Bulbul is found in throughout the hills, up to at least 4,000 feet, and in scattered colonies in the dry zone except in the most arid parts. It prefers forest varied by open country, shoals and the like, to dense forest.