What a fabulous trip we had. We went with Mike Richardson and John Sadler who had organised this mammal trip with the Bird and Wildlife Team, Sri Lanka. Our guide was Uditha Hettige, a renowned mammal expert that came very highly recommended and we can see why, he was absolutely fantastic. We have never been on a mammal trip before but we thought we could pick up the birds as went along and we were quite happy with that. We couldn't have asked for a better guide as we saw every bird we could and every mammal, finishing with a mammal count of approx 60 species including the pangolin, loris, fishing, jungle and spotted cats, and many rats, mice, lizards and bats. Infact our checklist book is nearly full of ticks !
The bat highlight was a cave we visited one evening to watch over a million bats emerge. It was jaw droppingly good! A wonderful sight and the bats never stopped coming out. Udi told us that it takes over 2 hours for them all to emerge and they were coming out in huge numbers. We had never seen anything like it before.
The elephants at the waterhole deserve a special mention as does the leopard and the blue whales. On the bird front, we saw 228 and heard 3. A final tally gave us 70 new birds. What a trip tick list to be proud of.
Birding highlights was the Serendip Scops Owl that was literally at the top of a mountain! A vertical forest with no path and in the pitch dark. Halfway up Karen decided that it was too much for her and couldn't go any further. The guide was having none of that and came down and literally dragged her up to the top, and Simon pushed me from the rear, it was a near vertical slope but I did eventually make it and it was definately worth it. A bird that we will never forget. On the way down we found a green pit viper and a tarantula skin.......what if one of those had been on the trees that I was grabbing, it doesn't bare thinking about.
We stayed at some fabulous hotels throughout Sri Lanka, its a pity that we didn't get to see them much as our days started at 4am until lunchtime and then we would travel to our next location, shower, eat and then out until 2am. We were absolutely exhausted by the end of the trip as we had really done two trips in one, birds and mammals, but we were as happy as larry.
We visited Sigiriya, Kitulgara, Sinharaija, Yala, Bundala and Mirissa.
A fabulous trip all round !!
Team Pangolin !