How to Bird Watch in Sri Lanka

Birding or bird watching is quite a popular past-time. When visiting a lovely tropical destination like Sri Lanka you have many options to enjoy these feathered beauties. Plenty of natural sanctuaries and a thriving bird population both local and migratory make the island a paradise for enthusiasts to observe bird species. Here are a few tips on planning the best birding experience in Sri Lanka.

Thimindu Goonatillake from Sri Lanka, Rhopocichla atriceps -Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka-8, CC BY-SA 2.0

Pack the Right Equipment

A good pair of binoculars and spotting lenses, together with a zoom in camera is necessary equipment; you may be able to buy good brands on the island but if you possess reliable equipment, do pack it for the trip.

Get A Field Guide and Research Data

Scout around and pack all the data and field guides you can gather on Sri Lanka birds. You may want to check out the Ceylon Bird Club website for comprehensive details of the hobby in the country. Once you have this sorted out map out the best spots to enjoy birding on the island. A few are listed below.

Enjoy Birding in Sigiriya

A tour to Sigiriya will take you into the dry zone; there you can look for the orange headed thrush, blue eared kingfisher, purple sunbird and hundreds of more species. Tie up this tour with an exploration of the UNESCO Heritage Site — Sigiriya Rock Fortress and you won’t be disappointed. There are plenty of eco-friendly hotels in this region which you can stay at for more encounters of the regions feathered friends. Your best bet for planning a comprehensive bird watching tour in Sri Lanka is to hook up with eco holiday providers on the island; similar to Jetwing Eco Holidays there are other agents to choose from, plus you can expect a very professional and comprehensive tour.

Bird Watching in the City

This trip can be well planned for you to make the most of your time in the commercial capital Colombo. On arrival at the airport opt to transfer to accommodation in the suburb of Thalangama there you may indulge in an afternoon sojourn along the Thalangama Lake where sights of watercock, Black and Yellow Bitterns and other aquatic bird species is to be looked forward to.

Plan a Birding Trip to Sinharaja Rainforest

A bird watcher’s paradise, this tropical rainforest the largest in the country, is not to be avoided. A UNESCO World Heritage Site the forests lowlands are popular for afternoon sightings of endemic and mixed species; it has been recorded that over 42 types of mixed species are seen here. Some of the highlights include the Sri Lanka blue magpie, red faced malkoha, scaly thrush and white faced starling. A full day of bird watching can be easily planned at Sinharaja Forest.

Plan an Elephant and Bird Watching Tour

If you head out to Udawalawe the chance of spotting majestic elephants and some pretty exotic birds are quite high. There you are treated to sights of dry zone birds such as Malabar pied hornbill, little green bee eater and the blue faced malkoha.

Head out to Yala National Park for the Best Experience

Yala National Park located on the South-east coast of Sri Lanka is the most popular wildlife sanctuary in the country. The place boasts one of Asia’s highest leopard populations together with a staggering variety of wildlife species including elephants, sloth bears, amphibians, reptiles and of course over 215 bird species. Yala consists of over 70 popular spots for birding offering sights of large water birds, Sri Lanka jungle fowl, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, painted stork, Asian openbill and many more together with migrant species such as the great white pelican.

Chilly Climes and Himalayan Birds

Head out to the cool climes of Nuwara Eliya for sights of Himalayan migrant birds such as the Kashmir flycatcher, Indian blue robin and Indian pit. Local residents consist of yellow eared bull bull, the Sri Lankan hill white eye as well as the dull blue flycatcher. From here you can head out to the hill capital Kandy where a morning visit to the nearby forest will reveal chestnut backed owlet endemic to Sri Lanka, the shy dwarf kingfish and rather elusive brown fish owl. These are just a few highlights of how to enjoy the best bird watching in Sri Lanka; do visit the island and look forward to a mind blowing experience.