Sri Lanka, Day 5, 14 December 2019 - Horton Plains and Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya

We made an exceptionally early start today, getting a ride in a new and smaller 4-wheel drive minibus up the steep road to the Horton Plains NP. This highland area of cloud forest and grassy plains is home to a number of highland endemics but we were hampered rather by thick low cloud that made birding and photography very difficult. With patience however we managed to gradually winkle out some birds. Grey |Wagtail, Green Warbler and 3 Orange Minivets were quickly followed by a close low Sri Lanka White-eye but frustratingly several calling Sri Lanka Whistling Thrushes failed to show. Our driver then beckoned us over and with a bit of fieldcraft I managed a few shots of a very welcome Sri Lanka Bush Warbler in the mist and gloom. A couple of Yellow-eared Bulbuls didn't hang around for long and then a wander down a side path gave us Indian Blackbird just before we accidently flushed 2 roosting Brown Fish Owls! Further along the main track we emerged onto the grassy plains where Pied Stonechats and Zitting Cisticolas were plentiful. The carpark here yielded 2 more Yellow-eared Bulbuls, Hill Swallows, Green Warbler, Brown Mongoose and Samba Deer and a welcome coffee before we decided to descend to below the cloud line for some birding in clearer conditions!

Sri Lanka White-eye

Sri Lanka Bush Warbler

Green Warbler

Pied Stonechat

 Samba Deer

At a roadside stop in now gloriously sunny conditions we made a short walk and spent a good hour at the roadside. Blyth's Reed Warbler, Ashy Prinia, Plain Prina and a lovely colourful Stripe-necked Mongoose all showed nicely and then a Dull Blue Flycatcher perched up albeit a bit distantly. a small flock of scarce Black-throated Munias were flying around and then a Yellow-eared Bulbul posed in the sun for us by the road. 5 Blue-tailed Bee-eaters were also added.

Yellow-eared Bulbul

Dull Blue Flycatcher

Plain Prinia

Ashy Prinia

Stripe-necked Mongoose

We then grabbed a takeaway lunch back in town and after eating it back at the hotel Graham and I wandered along the lane by the hotel and found a very productive hedge alongside a small weedy field. Here we had Blyth's Reed Warbler, Purple Sunbird, Cinereous Tit, Red-vented Bulbul, Common Tailorbird, Scaly-breasted Munia, Sri Lanka White-eye and 2 Braminhy Kites over before we re-convened for the afternoon birding session.

Sri Lanka White-eye

Purple Sunbird

Blyth's Reed Warbler

 Cinereous Tit

That session was a return visit to Victoria Park. This time we did pretty much the same tour around as yesterday. Starting with Brown Shrike, 2 Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and a flycatcher that turned out to be a Brown-breasted Flycatcher we then saw Common Sandpiper and 2 White-breasted Waterhens before a call from Indunil had us hot-footing it to a nearby corner of the park where we got some marvellous views of a 1w male Kashmir Flycatcher in cypress trees before it prompty vanished. Back at the shady clearing of yesterday we scored with both Indian Pitta and Forest Wagtail meaning we had well and truly cleaned up with the goodies the park has to offer!

Kashmir Flycatcher

Brown Shrike

Indian Pitta

Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher

Brown-breasted Flycatcher

 Oriental Magpie Robin

The day was concluded with another vigil at the roadside spot SE of town where both Ruddy-breasted Crake and Slaty-legged Crake were both seen (proving a point ;-) ) plus 2 Indian Blackbirds and a lovely male Indian Blue Robin but alas no whistling thrush. Dusky Squirrels and Brown Rat were also feeding amongst the rubbish.

       Indian Blackbird


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