Saturday, January 26, 2013
Day trip to Makandawa Forest, Kitulgala
It’s been a long time since I last updated on wildlife diaries. The fact of the matter is that I was unable to travel for a few weeks due to my ankle injury, as well as a few pending MBA assignments which I needed to complete.
I had made no plans for this long weekend as my friends were all unavailable. I was quite anxious to travel somewhere, and for my luck Erich called me last night and asked what I am doing on Saturday. I said that I would like to go somewhere, I suggested Sinharaja, but due to the distance factor we planned to go to Kitulgala for the day. I called Sisira who owns a guest house named Sisira's River Lounge and arranged a guide for our trip. I have heard so much about the diversity of birds seen in the area. I was very keen to photograph the Three Toed Kingfisher, which was seen quite regularly at Sisira's place few years ago.
We met up with our guide Kumara who is from the village on the opposite side of the river. He suggested we travel to Makandawa Forest which is on the other side. I inquired how we could get across, and he suggested two ways. One was to use an outrigger canoe and the other was through a suspension bridge. He said the walk through the village from the bride is very nice thus we choose the second option. We parked the car on the roadside and made our way to the bridge. This was a wire bridge which is very flimsy in construction. It is drawn right across the Kelani River, and being susceptible to vertigo, it was a scary experience.
Safely on the other side, we walked for around 3 KM through a lovely Parawalatenna village. The people seemed very friendly, and the bird life was plentiful. We observed many jungle fowl walking freely along the village gardens. We identified many species, such as the Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Sri Lanka Orange Billed Babbler, White Bellied Drongo, Scarlet Minivert, Emerald Dove, and the Sri Lanka White Eye.
Getting close to the forest reserve entrance our guide Kumara spotted a Green Billed Coucal, which is very rare to spot. The bird was collecting items to build a nest, and I managed to capture an image of this rare bird.
The entrance to the forest reserve has a department office where we have to purchase a ticket. The dark green rainforest was a feast for the sore eye, and the cool and damp climate inside the forest trail was more than welcome. We walked for around 3KM till we came to a paddy field located inside the forest.
Paddy Field in the forest
The forest trail was amazing, and despite the fact that we didn’t see as many birds inside the forest, the jungle experience was very enjoyable. On our way back from the forest, Kumara spotted a massive tarantula on a tree. The spider was bigger than my hand the scientific name is Poecilotheria ornata. This genus is known for its vivid color patterns and the venom is considered quite potent among the tarantula family.
The walk back through the village was very hot as it was around 12.30 PM and the sun was very strong.
Back at Sisira’s lounge we were told of many birds which visit the rest house. There is a resident Chestnut Owlet, and three toed kingfishers. After a very late breakfast we headed back to Colombo. I was glad I spend the day in the wilds rather than being stuck at Colombo. Back at home, I read more about my sighting of the Green Billed Coucal, and realized how lucky I was, as this was a very rare bird that is quite hard to find. Being only two hours from Colombo, Kitulgala is a place I will visit much more often from now on.