Birding in Bundala

Do you remember the moment you realised you had turned into your parents? No? Then it hasn’t happened to you yet, but trust us – it’s coming. For us this damning revelation came when we were in Sri Lanka, in leopard spotting territory when we read that there are 441 species of birds of which 238 breed in Sri Lanka.

Suddenly, armed with this information we had the unstoppable urge to book a private tour of Bundala National Park (what dark forces are these?!) Spotting thorough amateurs, our hotel fitted us up with the most useless guide of all time. He picked us up at 4:30am and within 45 minutes we were at the park gates. We were the first, and only, visitors there.

Bundala NP is a 20km coastal wetland rich in aquatic birdlife, crocodiles, elephants and, allegedly, turtles. It is a testament to this park that despite our surly, angry teenager of a guide we managed to see some phenomenal birds.

One key thing we learned on this trip was that it is important to either have a book on the region (most seasoned birders no doubt are laughing their heads off right now), or to have a guide who knows the names of the birds either in English or the native language. We ended our trip with a list of gibberish that we then had to decipher with the help of our photographs and the internet. Thankfully, research is in our bones and we succeeded. In fact, we were so chuffed with ourselves that we sent home a PowerPoint presentation. Geeks!

Here are some of our favourites:

Jungle Fowl (National bird of Sri Lanka)
Green Bee-eater
Spot Billed Pelican
Painted Stork
Indian Darter
White Breasted Kingfisher
Brahminy Kite (Sea Eagle)
Purple Coot


Have you visited Bundala? What was your favourite sighting?