Best sites for Bird Watching in Sri-Lanka

Despite being only 473km from north to south, and 225km at its widest, Sri-Lanka has a vast geographical landscape. Ranging from mountainous areas in the North to its evergreen interior forest and pristine coastal plains, its beauty has long remained a closed guarded secret.Scientists have estimated that it is one of the most bio-diverse areas in Asia. It is exactly this ecological variety that makes it a haven for numerous rare and endemic bird species. quipped with the right pair of bird watching binoculars, you will find Sri Lanka a veritable birders paradise.

Within each specific climatic zone and habitat, one finds a prevalence to certain types of bird species. Sri-Lanka is home to over 422 bird species, of which 22 are endemic to the country, and 198 are migrant birds.

The best time to visit Sri-Lanka for bird watching purposes would be around October, when the majority of migrant birds have entered the country. This will grant you the exciting opportunity to spot such rare species such as the Indian Pitta, Orange-headed Thrush, Kashmir Flycatcher, Pied Thrush etc.

Some of the best places to catch a glimpseof such species are Bundala Ramsar, Uda and Yala Walawe National Parks, Sinharaja World Heritage Wilderness area and Horton Plains.

The Horton’s Plains National Park consists of ecosystems such as aquatic ecosystems, grasslands, Montane evergreen forests and marshy lands. It is one the coldest yet beautifully scenic areas of Sri-Lanka.On the 30th July 2010, UNESCO declared Horton Plains as a World Heritage Site. The most notable species that can be viewed here are, Sri Lankan Wood Pigeon, the Dull-blue Flycatcher, Bush Warbler, Whistling Thrush and the Yellow-eared Bulbul.

Next on the list is the vibrant Uda Walawe National Park. A mere 200 km from Columbo, it is one of the major tourist hubs of the country. Apart from its famous Elephant safaris a great number of endemic species can be viewed here such as the Lesser Adjutant, Spot-billed Pelican, Brahminy Kite, Black-winged Kite, and the Yellow-fronted Pied Woodpecker. A feast for the avid bird lover.

Bundala National Park is located in the dry zone. Despite lacking the scenery and extensive wildlife enjoyed by its counterparts, itremains one of the foremost destinations amongst bird watchers. Its untouched lagoons havebecome the last stronghold of many aquatic, migratory birds, including numerous flamingos.

Lastly, we take a look at the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, which was also declared a World Heritage Site. This spot is best known for its biodiversity as it holds a treasure trove of 21 of the 26 endemic species of the country. it is one of the last remaining truly undisturbed rainforests of the world. One of the main attractions here is to be lucky enough to view   a “mixed feeding species flock’,where hundreds of different species of bird can be seen flying and foraging together. Other species of note found here include the Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Green-billed Coucal, and the Chestnut-backed Owlet.