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Top Bird watching experiences in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka the tropical paradise in Indian Ocean and it’s situated to ten degrees north of the equator. Sri Lanka boasts of diverse and favorable climatic conditions for flora and fauna and of course birds. It has natural habitats such as forests, scrublands, grasslands, wetlands, seas and agricultural lands. Sri Lanka is home to around 439 species of birds which 236 are breeding residents, 203 migrants and rest vagrants.

As for the small country like Sri Lanka has 33 endemic species and 68 endemic subspecies. This is why Sri Lanka is one of the finest birding destinations in the world. There are endemic bird species such as Fowls, Pigeons, Parrots, Parakeets, Malkoha, Coucal, Owl, Owlet, Hornbill, Barbet, Magpie, Bulbul, Warbler, Babbler, Thrush, White-eye, Mynah, Starling, Flycatcher, Flowerpecker, Pigeon, Barbet, Flameback, Woodshrike, Drongo and Swallow.

As for the bird watching destinations in Sri Lanka Kumana National Park is considered as main key place and it is one of the most important nesting and breeding ground for birds in Sri Lanka. In addition to that there is Bundala National Park, Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary, Sinharaja Rain Forest, Bodinagala Forest Reserve, Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, Kitulgala Forest Reserve, Yala, Wilpattu, Udawalawe, Wasgamuwa, Minneriya and Horton Plains National Parks in addition to numerous tanks, reservoirs, lagoons, marshes, lakes and rivers.

1. Bundala National Park

Jan 23, 2019 | by Krishan

Bundala National Park is one of the most important bird-watching destinations in Sri Lanka.it is situated in the Southern Province close to Hambantota.Bundala National Park was declared as a National Park in 1993.Bundala National Park can be reached form various tourist destinations around the country.Climate at Bundala National Park is hot and dry at most times and during the months between September to March.

The Park is consists of striking landscape with thorny scrublands, marshes, lagoons, waterways and dunes. It provides an inviting destination for thousands of migratory birds. This is due to Sri Lanka’s geographical location. Sri Lanka is situated just below the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent making it final destination for the migratory birds.

If you are a keen bird watcher the Bundala National Park has nearly 200 species of birds in record. Around 150 of it is endemic and rest are migratory birds. Petite Blue Tailed bee-eaters, flocks of Flamingos, Brown Flycatcher, Sandpipers, Barn Swallow, Water Fowl, Common Redshank, the Lesser Sand Plover and Forest Wagtail. The Complex eco system of Bundala National Park now has been declared as Sri Lanka’s first ‘Ramsar’ site and is a haven to number of aquatic birds the migratory Greater, Ibis, Painted storks, Terns, Gulls and Ducks and the resident water birds such as Pelicans, Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, Stilts and Storks.

Other than the birds Bundala National Park is home for 32 species of mamals including Elephants, Leopard, Deer, Sloth Bear, Civets, Mongoose, Monkeys and Giant Squirrel. The marshes and lagoons of the park hold both marsh & estuarine Crocodiles.

2. Kumana National Park

Jan 23, 2019 | by Krishan

If you are keen in bird watching in Sri Lanka don’t miss kumana National Park because it’s certainly an ornithologist’s Paradise. Situated in the southern coast of the country it is one of the finest bird sanctuaries in Sri Lanka. You can access the Kumana National Park from Panama,Beragala,Koslanda or through Udawalawe.

The Kumana was declared as a National Park in 1983. The Kumana National Park is one of most important nesting and breeding grounds for the most of the bird species of Sri Lanka.Kumana Bird sanctuary has a record of 225 species.The vegetation of the park is mainly tropical dry zone.

The large amount of tanks and lagoons scattered around the Kumana National Park brings an ideal place to birds to make nests and lay their eggs. Every year between April to July thousands of migratory birds visit to Kumana National Park. Amongst the birds in Kumana National Park you will witness Eurasian spoonbills, Lesser adjunt, Black-necked stork and Great thick knee are breeding inhabitants. The visiting waders include the Waterfowl, Pintail snipes migrating from as far away as Siberia. Amongst the other feathered visitors are the Asian open-bill, Glossy ibis, Purple heron, Great egret, Indian pond heron, Black-crowned Night heron, Intermediate egret, Little egret, Spot-billed pelican, Indian cormorant, Little cormorant, Common moorhen, Watercock, Purple swamp hen, White-breasted water hen, Pheasant-tailed jacana, Black-winged stilt, Lesser whistling duck and little Grebe. Amongst the rare visitors are the Yellow-footed green pigeon, Greater racket-tailed drongo, Malabar trogon, Red-faced malkoha, and Sirkeer malkoha.

Other than the birds it is home for large number of mammals like Sri Lankan elephant,Sloth bear,Leopard European Otter, Fishing cat, Wild boar and the Golden jackal and reptiles are the Mugger Crocodile.

3. Anawilundawa Bird Sanctuary

Jan 23, 2019 | by Krishan

Recorded as the one of the Six RAMSAR wetland in Sri Lanka the Anawilundawa Bird Sanctuary is situated in Puttalam district in the North Western province of the country.Anawilundawa is one of the places with its immediate proximity to three vastly different ecosystems the coast,the mangroves and the freshwater tanks.This unique ecological system has made it a favorable breeding and nesting ground for hundreds of bird species. Anawilundawa Bird Sanctuary is a great favorites amongst bird watchers and nature lovers, who come here to spot rare birds, watch their behavior in their natural environment and indulge in some great photography.

Anawiulndawa is compromised with six manmade tanks that are interconnected with each other and works as one unit, namely Pinkattiya, Maradansola, Anawilundawa, Mayyawa, Surawila and Vellawali.The tanks mainly store water for irrigation and cultivation this has made them a natural habitat for around 150 species of water birds and fish, mammals and Reptiles.

Herons, the Open-bill, Great cormorant, White ibis, Egret, Stalk, Pheasant tailed jacana and the Purple swamp hen are some of the Bird that you will witness in Anawilundawa sanctuary. There is also number of mamals around Anawilundawa they are Rusty spotted cat, Fishing cat, the Indian otter, Slender loris, Toque monkey and 74 species of butterflies.

4. Wilpattu National Park

Jan 23, 2019 | by Krishan

Wilpattu National Park is one of the largest wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka and its boarders the north western coast of the country. It has a rich historical past behind it. Wilpattu can be reached by travelling from Colombo to Puttlam on the A3 road and there onwards on the Puttalam Anuradhapura A12 road or via Kurunegala, from the North Western Province of the country.

Wilpattu can be reached by travellinf from Colombo to Puttlam on the A3 road and there onwards on the Puttalam Anuradhapura A12 road or via Kurunegala, from the North Western Province of the country. The uniqueness of Wilpattu is it has many “Willus” or in other words natural lakes which attracts most of bird species. The source of water is the inter-monsoonal rains in March and the northeast monsoons.

The geographical location of Wilpattu attracts many species of birds both resident and migratory. The Jungle Fowl, Painted Stork, Owl, Terns, Gulls, Eagles, Heron and the winter migrants are to name few of the bird species that you will encounter in Wilpattu.Other than that Wilpattu is home for leopards, Sloth Bears,Elephant,Spotted Deer and barking Deer Sambur, Wild Boar and even Crocks.You can witness different species of butterflies and Reptiles in addition to Birds in Wilpattu.

5. Udawalawe National Park

Jan 23, 2019 | by Krishan

Udawalwe is the fifth national park in the country and has been declared as a National Park in 1972.The Udawalawe National Park was declared as a wildlife sanctuary for the safety of displaces wild animals as the result of building the Udawalawe reservoir on the Walawe river.Walawe river now acts as a part of the National Park and it provides important source of water for animals living within it. Udawalwe is also an ideal place to watch birds for the bird Lovers.

The park is considered a birders Paradise with endemics such as the Red faced malkoha, Lanka grey hornbill; Brown capped babbler, Sri Lanka spur fowl there are many rare migrants such as white wagtail and the black capped kingfisher. Flocks of water birds such as the Cormorants, Eurasian spoonbill, Black headed ibis, Asian open bill, and Painted stork live in and around the reservoir. The open areas of the park are seen to attract birds of prey such as white-bellied sea eagle, crested serpent eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, booted eagle and the changeable hawk-eagle.

Udawalwe other than bird watching is considered as best place to watch elephants. You can witness herds of Asian elephants both adult and young. You can witness them roam through the jungle feeding on scrub jungle, marshes and grassland or enjoying themselves bathing in water. There is another place where you should visit before entering the National Park is Udawalawe elephant transit home. The transit home takes care of abandoned baby elephants by providing them with food, water, and refuge in a totally natural environment until they can fend for themselves, after which they are released into the wilds.

Apart from birds and Elephants Udawalawe is home for animals such as Sambar Deer, Sri Lankan axis deer, Golden Jackal, Monkeys such as toque macaque and the tufted grey languor, Wild Buffalo, Water Monitor, Fishing cat, Wild Boar, Asian Palm Civet the elusive Leopard.

6. Minneriya National Park

Jan 23, 2019 | by Krishan

Minneriya National Park is closely associated with famous “Minneriya Tank” it’s a 4,760 acer man-made tank built by King Mahasen during the Anuradhapura Period.The Tank was built by 13 meter tall dam across the Minneriya River. The Minneriya National Park was originally a wildlife sanctuary and later designated as a National Park. The Park consist with its low canopy forest, secondary forests, scrubland, grasslands, and swamps along with its proud heritage. Minneriya National Park is considered a birdwatchers paradise.

The Minneriya Tank is considered one that never goes dry and it a dry season feeding ground for Elephant populations living in the vicinity of Matale, Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee and helps sustain large herds of Elephants at most times.

The Minneriya Reservoir has been a welcome refuge for large water birds such as Lesser adjutant, Painted stork and Spot-billed pelican in addition to resident and migratory bird species totaling to 160. Amongst the endemic birds are Sri Lanka Jungle fowl, Sri Lanka hanging parrot, Brown capped babbler, Sri Lankan grey hornbill, Black-crested bulbul and Crimson-fronted barbell. Apart from the bird watching Minneriya National Park is famous for its “Elephant Gathering”. It’s a spectacular phenomenon of Mother Nature where during the long dry seasons hundreds of elephants both adult and young gather around the grasslands that bordering the Minneriya Tank. Sometimes this gathering exceeds 200 in numbers. This is considered to be the largest Wild elephant gathering in South Asia that attracts so much tourists visitors.

The Park is home for around 24 species of mammals such as monkeys, deer, leopard and sloth bears and 25 species of reptiles such as lizards, monitors and crocodiles. There are 26 species of fish and 75 species of butterflies.

7. Sigiriya Sanctuary

Jan 23, 2019 | by Krishan

Sigiriya is referred by locals as the Eighth Wonder of the World.King Kashyapa has built this rock fortress in 5th Century BC. This ancient palace and fortress complex has significant archaeological importance and attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is probably the most visited tourist destination of Sri Lanka. The palace is located in the heart of the island between the towns of Dambulla and Habarane on a massive rocky plateau 370 meters above the sea level. Its view astonishes the visitors with the unique harmony between the nature and human imagination. Apart from the Rock fortress Surroundings of Sigiriya Rock fortress is a designated forest reserve and it is one of the popular birding destinations of Sri Lanka.

The Sanctuary around Sigiriya is well protected and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.There are lots of waterways and thick canopies which is very good for birds. You can indulge yourself in bird watching in early in the morning at Sigiriya sanctuary and you will be guided with a bird watching expert. At Sigiriya sanctuary you will be able to witness birds such as Barred Buttonquail,Sri Lanka Jungle fowl,Lesser Whistling Duck,Cotton Pigmy-goose,Wool necked Stork,Pheasant tailed Jacana,Peregrine Falcon,White bellied sea Eagle, Orange breasted Green Pigeon,Sri Lanka Green Pigeon,Banded Bay Cuckoo,Grey belied Cuckoo,Drongo Cuckoo,Blue faced Malkoha,Jerdon’s Nightjarto name a few.

8. Nuwara Eliya Victoria Park

Jan 23, 2019 | by Krishan

Nuwara Eliya is also a place for the keen birdwatchers to visit for.The main place to watch birds is Victoria Park which is 27 Acers garden where 90% of the tree species available are those of foreign plants. This is due to it was originally built as a place of research during Queen Victoria’s reign under British Colonial Rule.

The Victoria Park is situated in the center of the town and can be easily access from the nearby hotels. It was established in 1840’s and it is still the nursery for certain plants in the Hakgala Botanical Gardens.Hakgala Botanical Garden is 10 km away from Nuwara Eliya.However in 1897 the Park was officially named as Victoria Park. it received its official name to commemorate the 60th Jubilee Coronation of Queen Victoria.

This is an oasis within the Nuwara Eliya city where most of birds find refugee.There are around 70 to 80 different species of trees within the park. Bright flowers lift the spirits everywhere with exotic offerings like ‘lover’s begonias,’ azaleas blowing their massive pink trumpets all year round, and cannas flowers with their bright yellow and orange furling trumpets.In the center you get to the wild borders where most of the birds can hide or go about their business unhindered. Inside the park you can witness birds such as Oriental Asian Magpie, Cattle Egrets, Rose Wing Parakeets, Grey Wagtails,Spotted Doves,Kashmir Flycatchers, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Sri Lanka White-eye, Sri-Lanka Scimitar Babbler, Ruddy-breasted Crake, Pied Thrush to name a few.

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