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Best Places For Solo Bird Watching Enthusiasts

Tropical birds are part of what makes an island paradise like Sri Lanka glorious, with their colourful feathers and various designs. Sri Lanka is a hotspot for such wonderful creatures, thanks to its varied climates. The island contains numerous ecosystems, from forests to wetlands, and patches of wet and dry zones allow different species to thrive.

Birdwatchers can anticipate a treat upon arrival. Even common birds have distinct plumage, and the rarer varieties need to be sought after as they hide in the canopy or wander over arid lands. Nearly 500 species of birds—both resident and migratory—have been documented in Sri Lanka, of which around 30 are endemic.

If you’re looking forward to spot some of the more elusive species, here is a quick guide to some of the best locations for bird-watching.

1. Sinharaja Forest

Sri Lanka’s last remaining virgin rainforest, the Sinharaja has the highest rate of endemism in the country, with many of Sri Lanka’s most unique flora and fauna found there. Here you could find Sri Lanka’s national bird, the Ceylon junglefowl (Gallus lafayettii), and other species like the relatively recently discovered Serendib scops owl (Otus thilohoffmanni), black eagle (Ictinaetus malaiensis), Ceylon rufous babbler (Argya rufescens), and more. A trip to the Sinharaja Forest is ideal if you’ve got the time, as a weeklong expedition is sure to get you peeks at many of Sri Lanka’s more elusive bird species.

2. Horton Plains

The Horton Plains National Park is the perfect place for birdwatching in Sri Lanka, as it is home to nearly 90 bird species. Almost all of the Sri Lankan endemic species can be spotted here, as well as in the nearby Kitulgala Rainforest. The intersection of the Kelani river, forest, and plains means you could easily find a range of bird species frequenting the area. Some of the birds that could be found in these locations include the Ceylon scimitar babbler (Pomatorhinus melanurus), Layard’s parakeet (Psittacula calthrapae), and green-billed coucal(Centropus chlororhynchos).

3. Colombo

Despite its reputation as a concrete jungle, Colombo has no shortage of beautiful birds. For starters, there are reserves around the large city focused on protecting the local species. But there are plenty of common birds around the Western Province that are definitely worth sighting. The birds that can be spotted in Colombo include the White- Throated Kingfisher (Halcyon Smyrnensis), Lesser Sri Lankan Flameback (Dinopium Psarodes), and Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis).

4. Weligatta

Weligatta is the locale of the Bundala National Park, which is a wintering ground for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. The time period between October to April is particularly great for spotting winter migrants. From the 197 species of birds that have been documented in the area, the one that’s most easy to spot is certainly the greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus), which migrate in large flocks. Other birds that could be spotted here include the Asian openbill stork (Anastomus oscitans) and green bee-eater (Merops orientalis).