Birdwatching in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Bird Watching Tour – the Endemics

This 14 day bird watching tour in Sri Lanka with time to explore areas off beat and bird watching at night, is perfect for those looking for a more private birding experience with experienced and flexible Naturalists. This tour of the island’s avian fauna and natural history covers all climatic zones of the island, and offers a chance to spot over 250 species and a richer experience of diverse species habitats and elevations.


Yellow-eared Bulbul

Birding Tour Itinerary

Day 1  
Anuradhapura: On arrival, you will be met at the Airport and transferred to Anuradhapura (depends on time of arrival). Afternoon  – An introduction to the Birds and birding sites of Sri Lanka and some leisurely birding to spot Lesser Whistling-Ducks, Brahminy Kites, Pheasant-tailed Jacana  and more around the hotel and lakes in Anuradhapura. *Or option to take a moonlight tour of the Sacred City.
Overnight: In a heritage hotel set within the Sacred City in Anuradhapura. (Meals: dinner)

Day 2
Sigiriya/Habarana: Morning –  birding around the lakes of Anuradhapura will get us up close with Spot-billed Pelicans, Little and Indian Cormorants, the Kingfishers and even the Indian Pitta. After breakfast, we transfer to Sigiriya/Habarana where in the afternoon we explore the surrounding forests of Sigiriya for the Ceylon Grey Hornbill and a selection of Woodpeckers. *Option to visit Dambulla Cave Temple
Overnight: In a 3-4 star Hotel in Sigiriya/Habarana. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 3
Sigiriya/Habarana: Today we explore the birding around the dry mixed evergreen forests around Sigiriya Rock and small lakes in search of the resident and migrant species of the Peregrin Falcon,Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Ceylon Woodshrikes, Oriental Scops Owl, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Blue-faced Malkoha, Ashy and Grey-breasted Prinias and more. *Option to climb the Sigiriya Lion Rock and/or a privately guided safari to observe the behavior of Elephants in the wild
Overnight: In a 3-4 star Hotel in Sigiriya/Habarana. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 4
Kandy: Transfer to the World Heritage Site of Kandy to a unique off-beat boutique bungalow where you will spend the day searching for endemics along a tributary of Sri Lanka’s longest river the Mahaweli. One of the most bird rich hidden escapes on the island. We visit the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya to search for the beautiful Alexandrine Parakeet, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler, Rose-ringed and Plum-headed Parakeets *Option to take a guided visit to the Temple of the Tooth Relic.
Overnight: In a 4 star Hotel in Kandy. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler

Day 5
Nuwera Eliya: A transfer to Nuwera Eliya at the crack of dawn will leave us adequate time for some wonderful birding off beat through tea laden hills to search for Hill Country birds, before visiting the Victoria Park in our quest to spot the Kashmir Flycatcher, Pied Thrush, Forest Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Yellow-Eared Bulbul, Indian Blue Robin among others.
Overnight: In a 3-4 star Hotel or Bungalow in Nuwera Eliya. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 
Nuwera Eliya: We must reach the cloud forests of Horton Plains amidst the mist at dawn, with packed breakfasts to try our luck to tick off the Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Sri Lanka Bush Warbler and Sri Lanka White-eye, among many others during a wonderful day of trekking.
Overnight: In a 3-4 star Hotel or Bungalow in Nuwera Eliya. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 7
Tissamaharama: Visiting Surrey Estate en-route to see if we could chance upon the Wood Owl, we then transfer to Bundala National Park for the Waders, Garganey, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Curlew Sandpipers, Marsh Sandpiper, Watercock, Small Pratincole, Yellow-Wattled & Red-Wattled Lapwing, Oriental Skylark, Ashy-Crowned Finch-Lark and more.  This full day of birding ends with an overnight in Tissamaharama – which will be our base for the next 2 nights as we explore two National Parks, the wetlands and paddy fields.
Overnight: In a Resort Hotel in Tissamaharama. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 8
Tissamaharama: Morning at leisure or option to explore the wetlands near  Tissamaharama  for water birds, Terns, Gulls, the the Purple Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Yellow Bittern, Black Bittern, Brahminy Kite, Shikra, Streaked and Baya Weavers. An afternoon safari inside wildlife rich Yala National Park is our chance to observe the Painted & Black-Necked Stork,  the Plovers such as the Pacific Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Little-Ringed Plover and Kentish Plover, Great Thick-Knee, Brown Fish Owl, Rosy Starling and a host of other species that dot the Park amidst, Sambur, Leopard, Elephant, Sloth Bear, and Giant Squirrels.
Overnight: In a Resort Hotel in Tissamaharama. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 9
Udawalawe: Transfer to Udawalawe, where on a jeep safari we have a great chance to spot Raptors due to the open spaces. There’s also excellent chances to spot the Malabar Pied Hornbill and search for the Jungle Prinia, Forest Wagtail, and Blyth’s Pipit, Sirkeer Malkoha and the Changeable Hawk amidst the semi evergreen forests that are home to large herds of Asian Elephants, Spotted Deer, Grey Langur and Toque Macaque. Nature treks in the surrounding areas today or early am tomorrow yield even more avian species.
Overnight: In a tented camp on the borders of Uda Walawe. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 10
Sinharaja: The Sinharaja Rain Forest area becomes our base for the next 3 nights – a prime birding site where, 70% of Sri Lanka’s endemics out of the 33 endemics and over 150 species can be added to a guest’s bird count. We explore the surrounding area of our overnight accommodation for some lovely species including, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Black-headed Cuckooshrike, Orange and Small Minivets to name a few.
Overnight: In a beautiful Eco Lodge overlooking the rain forest area. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Small Minivet (Male)

Day 11
Sinharaja: A day of trekking in the morning and afternoon inside the World Heritage Site of the Sinharaja Man and Biosphere Reserve is our chance to look for the Ceylon Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon, Ceylon Hill-Myna, Ceylon Blue Magpie, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Ceylon Spurfowl, Ceylon Junglefowl, Red-Faced Malkoha,  Chestnut-Backed Owlet and many more, especially if you chance upon the mixed-species feeding flock.
Overnight: In a beautiful Eco Lodge overlooking the rainforest area. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 12
Sinharaja: An entire day of birding in the Sinharaja Rainforest with morning and afternoon treks adds to the highest chances of averaging a total bird count of over 250 species as part of this top bird watching tour in Sri Lanka.
Overnight: In a beautiful Eco Lodge overlooking the rain forest area. (Meals: breakfast, dinner)

Day 13
Kitulgala: Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, we transfer to the lush tract of forest in Kitulgala, where across the river lies the Kelani Valley Forest Reserve. The long drive to get here is worth the effort just in case we’ve missed our chances in the Sinharaja Rainforest, to try our luck for a glimpse of the Chestnut-backed Owlet, Green-billed Coucal, and the Serendib Scops Owl and possibly to tick off the Red-faced Malkoha and Blue-faced Malkoha, the Gold-fronted Leafbird, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher,  Spot-winged Ground-thrush, Legge’s Flowerpecker, and much more.
Overnight: In a riverside Hotel in Kitulgala. (Meals: breakfast, lunch)

Day 14
Departure:  Morning – we do our last outing to total up our bird count to over 250 species and leave after a quick lunch for drop off at the Airport. *An overnight can be arranged if required
(Meals: breakfast and a snack)


Crested Hawk Eagle

Crested Hawk Eagle

Specialist Guides

This is one of the best bird watching tours in Sri Lanka, showcasing our rich biodiversity and endemism spread across the 5 climatic zones. Hosted by Naturalists specialized in birding and experienced in field and scientific research, these resourceful and flexible Guides have a keen sense of bird behaviour and will ensure that birders have opportunities to explore off beat and at night to ensure key species are observed while guests gain deep insights into the island’s avian fauna and natural history.

Birds of Sri Lanka

Indian Roller

Enquire for Prices or shorter tours

  • Prices vary based on Deluxe or Value accommodation.
  • Accommodation noted above is for a Deluxe Tour. Most convenient accommodation for ease of bird watching will be included into any tour.
    • Minimum: 2 pax (Can be tailor made for group tours )
  • Special Discounts for birding tours led by the Nature Travel Network Tour Leaders or tours booked by it’s Contributors and affiliated photographers.

 

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie

Inclusions

  • English speaking experienced Naturalist on tour.
  • Accommodation and meals as noted.
  • Entrance tickets to National Parks, safari jeeps and tickets to Sigiriya.
  • Private luxury vehicle with an English speaking Chauffeur.
  • Comprehensive bird check list for each guest. 

Map of Birding Tour with Ayu in the Wild –The Endemics

Birdwatching

Birding tour Map

Extensions to the Birding Tour with Ayu in the Wild:

  • Culture – A moonlight tour of the Sacred City of Anuradhapura, Guided trek to the Summit of the Lion Rock in Sigiriya, Guided insights to the traditional Poojah at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
  • Other Wildlife – Whale and Dolphin watching on a Yacht guided by an Author on marine mammals
  • Local community interactions with rural farmers to observe their lives and livelihoods
Birds of Sri Lanka

Blue-tailed Bee-eater

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3 Comments

  • Reply Sri Lanka-best for wildlife outside Africa | AYU in the Wild August 1, 2017 at 8:21 am

    […] The last count of bird species was 500…and still counting! Incredible for an island this size. Every year, from November onwards, ardent bird watchers from across the world flock to Sri Lanka with their checklists, bird books, binoculars and massive zoom lenses to spot the 33 endemics. […]

  • Reply Suzanne Bayly-Coupe August 8, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    As keen safari goers in Africa we were delighted with the ornithological encounters in Sri Lanka. One can pick up on the bird families but we found new ticks with many unusual species. Take your time – this cannot be rushed, get a good guide book and brilliant binos and of course travel with one of the private guides from Ayu in the Wild. We had Dhanu and he was amazing. So patient that even our children (ages 7,8,9) were enthralled by their feathered finds.

    • Reply Chamintha September 6, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      So glad you had some great bird watching experiences with our Guide! And that too, in August, before the migrants begin to visit the island.

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