We left the FOGSL office (at University of Colombo) around 7.30 am on Friday the 20th of June. As there were three last minute drop outs there were ample amount of seats left in our coach! We stopped at Meenhanna, Getaheththa at the 66th Km post for breakfast. The manager of the hotel welcomed us with his much obliging smile. We all enjoyed his buffet breakfast very much!
We arrived at Palabaddala temple by noon. ‘Bana Maduwa’ was our base camp. We erected four tents inside it. This was very helpful for us to escape from mosquitoes. Ratnapura district was subject to a ‘chicken guinea’ epidemic few weeks ago. Further we were protected from the much chilly cold weather which prevails there at nights. In the afternoon we did birding around and went to see the 'Mapolana Ella'. This is the highest water fall of the Rathnapura district and fourth highest water fall of Sri Lanka. We were much greeted by the calls of the Sri Lanka Myna and Sri Lanka Layards Parakeets. We experienced much rain on our way back but had the greetings of lots of black bulbuls. We saw ratkeliya (endemic), patkela (endemic), bovitiya and sapu plants with fruits. Dilini who joined us from the Botany department was a great help for us to identify plant species. After the dinner we prepared the bird list and had a lengthy discussion about the following day birding and climb to the Adams peak. Those who participate on earlier trips to peak wilderness discussed the problems encountered, possible causes for them and how we tackled them. Basic body physiology and Medical aspect of climbing was dealt by a Doctor in the team. Our team leader Mr Nashath Hafi gave clear instructions to stop climbing and to turn back by 2.00 pm. It was a very wise decision he took and we saw the results on the following day!!
We had a good night sleep inside the tents but sleep was disturbed occasionally due to snoring of our own comrades!
Sunday morning we woke up early. Three hill swallows were on the electric wire just ahead of our door. We packed our breakfast and lunch packets and started our journey by 7.00 am. We saw all six varieties of Bulbuls on the way. We came across a bird flock and Crested Drongos, a pair of Trogons and Lesser yellow-naped Woodpecker were clearly seen.
Sri Lanka army was constructing cemented steps and completed 3800 steps by now. Having climbed all steps we came to ‘Geththam pana’, a place for the nature lovers with a panorama. The water stream there was fascinating. We started moving further up and unfortunately had to face torrential rains. By 1.30 pm we had come close to Seetha gangula. We concluded it was impossible to go to peak and decided to turn back. It was sad but we had to obey the instructions of our team leader. On the way we had a good break and our lunch at ‘Geththam pana’ and started to descend. Three dogs were accompanying us from Palabaddala, later they became a nuisance and started barking and quarrelling on the way. They disturbed the birds including a group of Blue magpies. So even you are a dog lover do not take them on birding trips. We saw a large number of White-bellied Drongos, Sri Lanka Mynas and Black Bulbuls. We reached the base camp by 5.30 pm. On the way back, we saw Pelang (endemic) and Goraka trees with fruits. We did not forget to try on some goraka fruits. Some of us enjoyed a bath at an adjoining "Peella". Unlike earlier peak wilderness trips all members were fit and healthy this time after climbing!! As usual after a tasty dinner, we had our discussions and bird list prepared. The meals we had were typical village meals and were much tasty. Some of us ate 'Thebu mallum, Alakola maluwa and Aligatapera kola malluma' for the first time of our life!!
Quite interesting. As soon as we started birding, we saw a White-faced Starling and a group of Imperial Green Pigeons. Amila's knowledge and his telescope was an immense help for us. We explored the jungle called 'Akkara panaha' that located close to the Mapalana waterfall. In addition to our usual birding we saw the following trees; kekiriwara, hora, galweralu, kirihembiliya, freycinetia, keena & walukeena (all are enemics) and wal kopi. We returned to our base camp by 11.30am. After lunch we left for Colombo and reached the University by 5.30pm.
The list of birds recorded during the three day visit.
Sri Lanka Spurfowl
Sri Lanka Junglefowl
Sri Lanka Wood-pigeon
Sri Lanka Hanging-parrot
Sri Lanka Emerald-collared Parakeet
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
Sri Lanka Yellow-fronted Barbet
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Sri Lanka Magpie
Sri Lanka Yellow-eared Bulbul
Asian Black Bulbul
Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler
Sri Lanka Scimitar-babbler
Sri Lanka Orange-billed Babbler
Sri Lanka Ashy-headed Laughingthrush
Sri Lanka White-eye
Sri Lanka Myna
Sri Lanka White-faced Starling
Sri Lanka Spot-winged Thrush
Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush
Sri Lanka Dull-blue Flycatcher
Sri Lanka White-throated Flowerpecker
Photos: Indrika Pradeepa