- Created on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 22:55
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As the regular seasonal journey of the migrant birds have begun many bird watchers and Ornithologists are flocking the lagoons and salterns of the eastern, north-western and south-eastern coasts and in the wetlands and forested areas of Sri Lanka to catch a glimpse of the various fascinating migratory species of birds.
Today Sri Lanka is considered one of the most bio-diverse areas in South Asia. Almost 200 migrant bird species flying over from Nothern India, Siberia, Scandinavia and Western Europe have been spotted regularly during the season. The majority of these, migrate to Sri Lanka during the northern winter and linger on from about August/September to April/May. Whereas, pelagic species of seabirds like Shearwaters, Petrels, Storm-Petrels etc migrate to Sri Lankan waters from southern oceanic islands during the southern hemisphere`s winter. Of the migrants, about 100 species regularly visit the country. The rest are occasional visitors and vagrants.
Migrating birds are among the most remarkable components of global biodiversity. Their seasonal migrations, which almost often are many thousands of miles long, have captured man’s curiosity and awe. Birds migrate for various reasons of which are complex and yet not fully understood by man. The simpler explanation is food, safe breeding grounds and weather. Being able to fly helps avoid the harsh winter conditions. More than often it has been observed that some bird populations have been spotted making their way to the same wintering grounds.
The specific routes they take may be genetically programmed or learned to varying degrees. Very often, the birds take the same route they arrived. However, some birds return along different routes.
Migrant birds like the forest wagtail, the gray wagtail, the brown flycatcher, the orange breasted flycatcher, the Emerald Coco, the Brown Shrike, the Philippine Shrike, the Indian Pitta, the Pied Thrush, the Indian Paradise Fly Catcher, the Kashmir Flycatcher and flocks of migrant flamingoes add to the splendor and unforgettable memories of some. Some, like the sandpipers and plovers, migrate from as far north as the arctic tundra.
The Haldummulla Batgodde National Park is one of the best areas for sighting, located in Haldummulla in the Badulla District of the Uva Province of Sri Lanka. Haldummulla is yet one of the untouched and undisturbed cities in Sri Lanka’s second least populated Uva Province. Other good birding sites like Sinharaja World Heritage Wilderness area, Bundala Ramsar site, Yala and Uda Walawe National Parks; Horton Plains are imperative for any bird watcher. These birding sites will give all the endemics plus some other spectacular species. If one is interested, then a 12 to 14 day tour of the island will give about 225 species.
Each year the migratory season commences in mid August and ends in April – May in the following year. This period is best for visiting birders because all the winter visitors have arrived in the country and there is a very good chance of spotting a load of wintering waders and some spectacular migrants.
Although one may not be an Ornithologist or a passionate bird watcher its best to make hay while the season is on and indulge oneself in the experience of a lifetime. –sds-
by Sonali de Silva