HORTON PLAINS, KITULGALA or KITHULGALA (Makandawa Rain Forest)
Kitulgala, Bucharest (Sabaragamuwa Province) (NW)
Lat: 06°59′35′′N 80°25′04′′E (Plantation Hotel), 300 ha and surrounding forest, 79 to 366 m ()
Best Time for visit; anytime (January 2017)
Birding Site Guide
In SW Sri Lanka, Kitulgala is situated on the Kelani Ganga River, the A7 road running alongside, and a popular place to stay is the well known Plantation Hotel (below) (though the actual narrow approach driveway into the hotel can be easily missed it is close to the police station). It is not the cheapest of hotels but by Western standards still good value. A bit further W is the Kitulgala Rest House or E Hotel Breeta’s Garden neither of which I know.
The area to bird is obviously along the river (above), which is accessible from the first mentioned hotel easily. Good birds can be seen along this relatively unspoiled river as the nearby community forest/watershed reserve and the rafting tourists have helped to preserve it. Obviously, the main tourist area and also birding area is across the river in the Makandawa Rain Forest watershed preserve. The river’s watershed and this outlying hill are just NW of the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary/Horton Plains National Park (Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada) (3160 ha) (given optimistically as 2224m) which is actually mainly forest not plains. From the hotel this hill can be reached by a steel rope bridge 500m up stream, you can park at the roadside and the bridge is 50m away. Walk across, look for the huge Water monitors as you go which look like small crocodiles, and follow the track uphill through the low intensity cultivated areas and up to the good forest where the ranger entrance cabin is. Pay the small entrance fee and continue. All day can be easily spent here and the trails are simple to follow and not that long. All together 21 of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds can be found in the area.
There are 33 Sri Lankan endemic species (though authorities vary slightly) below they are in bold.
Oriental Honey Buzzard Pernis ptiloryncus ruficollis, Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus indus, White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster, Legge's Hawk Eagle Nisaetus kelaarti, Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus, Slaty-breasted Rail Rallus striatus, Spotted Dove Stigmatopelia chinensi ceylonensis, Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica robinsoni, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon Treron pompadora, Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea pusilla, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot Loriculus beryllinus, Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria eupatria, Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri manillensis, Layard's Parakeet Psittacula calthropae, Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea scolopacea, Chestnut-backed Owlet Glaucidium castanonotum, Brown Hawk Owl (B Boobook) Ninox scutulata hirsuta, Indian Swiftlet Aerodramus unicolor, Brown-throated Needletail Hirundapus giganteus indica, Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis balasiensis, Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis capensis, White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis fusca, Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis taprobana, Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis leucomelanura, Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops phillippinus phillippinus, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill Ocyceros gingalensis, Brown-headed Barbet Megalaima zeylanica zeylanica, Sri Lanka Small Barbet Megalaima rubricapillus, Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense psarodes, Indian Pitta Pitta brachyura brachyura, Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica rustica, Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica, Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea, Orange Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus pictatus leggei, Black-capped Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus, Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer haemorrhous, Yellow-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus penicillatus, White-browed Bulbul Pycnonotus luteolus insulae, Yellow-browed Bulbul Iole indica guglielmi, Square-tailed Black Bulbul Hypsipetes ganeesa humii, Jerdon's Leafbird Chloropsis jerdoni, Common Iora Aegithina tiphia multocolor, Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis ceylonensis, Plain Prinia Prinia inornata insularis, Blyth's Reed Warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum, Bright Green Warbler Phylloscopus nitidus, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae jerdoni, Brown-breasted Flycatcher Muscicapa muttui muttui, Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea ceylonensis, Asian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi ceylonensis, Brown-capped Babbler Pellorneus fuscocapillus scortillum, Tawny-bellied Babbler Dumetia hyperythra phillipsi, Purple-rumped Sunbird Leptocoma zeylonica zeylonica, Loten's Sunbird Cinnyris lotenius lotenius, Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpabrosus egregia, Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus ceylonensis, Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus cristatus, White-bellied Drongo Dicrurus caerulescens leucopygialis, Sri Lanka Crested Drongo Dicrurus lophorinus, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus ceylonicus, House Crow Corvus splendens, Common Myna Acridotheres tristis melanosturnus, Lesser Hill Myna Gracula indica, White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata striata, Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata punctulata.
We saw Palm Squirrel Funambulus palmarum, Giant Squirrel Ratufa macroura, Toque Macaque Macaca sinica, Purple-faced Leaf Monkey Trachypithecus vetulus. Land Monitor Varanus bengalensis, Water Monitor Varanus salvator, Kangaroo/Earless Lizard Otocryptis wiegmanni, Asian House Gecko Hemidactylus frenatus.
Mammals are represented by 24 species (but no longer elephant) and nearly 100 species of birds, nine species of reptiles and maybe 15 species of amphibians. For a more complete list of animals and plants try here. Endemic shrimp are found here.