Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

March 31, 2017

Bundala Jeep Safari 1

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 12:02 pm

Bundala National Park part 1.

This morning I got up at 6am for my jeep safari to Bundala National Park. I had a driver but I sat in the back on these airline-type seats. The whole safari cost me 7000 rupees which is about sixty dollars.

Pied Cuckoo
Pied Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus)

At the ranger station we picked up a guide and set off down the road into the park. There were plenty of birds and sometimes I did not know where to point my camera.

Green Bee-eater
Green Bee-eater

Both the driver and the guide knew heaps more than me about the local birds and they were continually spotting new birds for me to photograph.

Kentish Plover
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)

At one stage we drove all the way to the ocean. It was a magnificent rugged coastline with waves crashing along the cape and a turtle playing in the water. Just a few lobster fishermen about and that was it.

Yellow Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail(motacilla flava)

After about 4 hours we headed back to the park entrance and logged out so that they knew we had not been eaten by a crocodile. As a cautionary tale. We saw a crocodile right next to where I was walking last night. I think it was probably a silly thing to do. doh!

Indian Thick-knee
Indian Thick-knee (Burhinus indicus)

The Indian Thick-knee (Burhinus indicus) was formerly a subspecies of the Eurasian Thick-knee (Burhinus oedicnemus indicus).

Great Thick-knee
Great Thick-knee (Esacus recurvirostris)

Barred Buttonquail
Barred Buttonquail (Turnix suscitator)

There were two male Barred Buttonquail on the road ahead of us, completely oblivious to us. They were more interested in fighting.

Grey-headed Fish-eagle
Grey-headed Fish-eagle (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus)

New bird were: Spot-billed Pelican, Red-necked Phalarope, Pintail Snape, Painted Snipe, Indian Thick-knee, Kentish Plover, Barred Buttonquail, Pied Cuckoo, Ashy Prinia.

The only problem with so many birds is taking too many photos! I took more than 600 photos and it is taking me hours to sort, delete, then process the photos. And I used up two cards – a 16gb and an 8gb.

Ashy Prinia
Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis)

This Eurasian Spoonbill is fully in breeding plumage with an orange neck band, yellow and red patches under the throat, and a head plumage. This little water-hole was full of Painted Storks and Eurasian Spoonbills.

Eurasian Spoonbill and Painted Stork
Eurasian Spoonbill and Painted Stork

Part 2 coming up in the next post. There were just too many photos.

Bundala National Park bird list

Lesser Whistling-Duck
Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)
White-breasted Waterhen
Purple Swamphen
Black-winged Stilt
Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus)
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
Black-tailed Godwit
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Wood Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper
Little Stint
Ruddy Turnstone
Pintail Snipe (Gallinago stenura)
Greater Painted-Snipe (Rostratula benghalensis)
Red-wattled Lapwing
Yellow-wattled Lapwing
Great Thick-knee (Esacus recurvirostris)
Indian Thick-knee (Burhinus indicus)
Pacific Golden Plover
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus)
Darter
Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)
Purple Heron
Grey Heron
Indian Pond Heron
Yellow Bittern
Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala)
Lesser Adjutant
Black-headed Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Asian Openbill
White-throated Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)
Barred Buttonquail (Turnix suscitator)
Sri Lanka Junglefowl (Gallus lafayetii)
Indian Peafowl
Green Bee-eater
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Pied Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
Barn Swallow
Orange-breasted Green Pigeon
Spotted Dove
Brahminy Kite
Grey-headed Fish-eagle (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus)
Shikra
Brown Shrike (lanius cristatus)
Large-billed Crow
House Crow
Clamorous Reed Warbler
Indian Robin
Oriental Magpie-robin
Common Myna
Red-vented Bulbul
Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis)
Plain Prinia (Prinia inornata)
Common Iora
Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus)
Yellow Wagtail
Yellow-billed Babbler
Watercock (gallicrex cinerea)

Black-faced Langur
Water Buffalo
Crocodile
Land Monitor

March 30, 2017

Bundala Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 2:55 pm

Bundala National Park Access Road.

I got the bus from Kiula to Bundala Junction, where I am staying at the Lagoon Inn. After a shower and a rest, I snuck out the back gate and walked along the park fence. I stupidly wore my flip-flops and immediately got stabbed in the feed by vicious thorns.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)

After that silliness, I followed a track to the highway and then found the road to Bundala National Park. The country is very dry with lots of thorny bushes at the edges of the wetlands/lagoon. There are lots of birds out on the wet grassy bits as well as a few buffalo.

Water Buffalo
Water Buffalo

I got as far as where the fishermen have their boats, had a look at their boats, walked along the water edge for a little way and then turned back. One of the park workers gave me a lift on his motor-bike, which I was glad of because my feet were getting rather sore by then. When I got back to the hotel, I was told you are not supposed to walk along that road. doh!

Asian Openbill
Asian Openbill

Common Redshank
Common Redshank

Pheasant-tailed Jacana
Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus)

Large-billed Crow
Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)

Bundala bird list

House Crow
Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)
Common Myna
Red-wattled Lapwing
Black-winged Stilt
Red-vented Bulbul
spotted Dove
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus)
Common Redshank
Pintail Snipe (Gallinago stenura)
Indian Pond Heron
Asian Openbill
Black-headed Ibis
Purple Swamphen
Whited-breasted Waterhen
Sri Lanka White-faced Starling (Sturnus albofrontatus)
Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)
Pipit
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)
Loten’s Sunbird (Nectarinia lotenia)
White-throated Kingfisher

Water Buffalo

Kalamatiya Birds

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 8:50 am

Kalamatiya Bird Sanctuary.

29/03/2017. Kiula, Sri Lanka. Last night I met a guy who said he would take me to the bird sanctuary on his motorbike. This morning at 6:30am we set off along Kalamatiya Road towards the beach. We climbed this big rock overlooking the lagoon. We could see for miles.

Pheasant-tailed Jacana
Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus)

After that we toddled off down the road, stopping at various places and walking along the edges of the trees.

Asian Koel
Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea), female

New birds are: Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Great Thick-knee, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Loten’s Sunbird, Sri Lanka White-faced Starling (Sturnus albofrontatus), and Black-rumped Flameback.

pacific grey plover
Pacific Golden Plover

Black-rumped Flameback
Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense psarodes)

The Red-backed Woodpecker is race psarodes of the Black-rumped Flameback. There are two races of Dinopium benghalense in Sri Lanka. The other race, jaffnense (Golden-backed Woodpecker) is found in the north.

Loten’s Sunbird
Loten’s Sunbird (Nectarinia lotenia)

Loten’s Sunbird has a far longer bill than the Purple or Purple-backed Sunbird.

Purple-rumped Sunbird
Purple-rumped Sunbird (Nectarinia zeylonica)

Rose-ringed Parakeet
Rose-ringed Parakeet

Great Thick-knee
Great Thick-knee (Esacus recurvirostris)

Yellow-wattled Lapwing
Yellow-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus malarbaricus)

Sri Lanka White-faced Starling ??
Sri Lanka White-faced Starling (Sturnus albofrontatus) ?

Confirmation needed on this ID please.

Purple-faced Langur
Purple-faced Langur

Kalamatiya bird list

Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) female
Indian Peafowl
Common Myna
Sri Lanka White-faced Starling (Sturnus albofrontatus)
Red-wattled Lapwing
Yellow-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus malarbaricus)
Great Thick-knee (Esacus recurvirostris)
Black-winged Stilt
Red-rumped Swallow
Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus)
Indian Cormorant
Wood Sandpiper
Pacific Golden Plover
Grey Plover
Whimbrel
Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)
Purple-rumped Sunbird (Nectarinia zeylonica)
Loten’s Sunbird (Nectarinia lotenia)
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Spotted Dove
Orange-breasted Green Pigeon (Treron bicinctus)
Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)
Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense psarodes) or Red-backed Woodpecker.
House Crow
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Brahminy Kite
Shikra ?
Paddyfield Pipit ?
Pale-billed Flowerpecker

Purple-faced Langur

Another boat ride

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 8:33 am

Kalamatiya Lagoon

28/03/2017 – Kalamatiya Lagoon. So many photos to process. I have been going all day nearly. I took more than 500 photos. I was up at 6am and got a lift to the lagoon. The boat had no motor, just a boatman poling through the water silently. We were able to get really close to the birds.

Yellow  Bittern
Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis)

So many birds it is hard to know where to start. I am just going to go through them in order that I saw them.

Garganey
Garganey (Anas querquedula)

New birds that I had not photographed before are:- Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, and Garganey. We saw the Pheasant-tailed Jacana but I failed to get a photo 🙁

Black-headed Ibis
Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus)

Black-headed Munia
Black-headed Munia (Lonchura malacca)

Orange-breasted Green Pigeon
Orange-breasted Green Pigeon (Treron bicinctus)

Baya weaver
Baya weaver (Ploceus philippinus)

Common Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

 Eurasian Spoonbill
Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)

Crested Serpent-eagle
Crested Serpent-eagle (spilornis cheela)

Kalamatiya Lagoon bird list

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Curlew Sandpiper ?
Grey Plover ?
Baya weaver (Ploceus philippinus)
Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus)
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis)
Black-winged Stilt
White-breasted Waterhen
COMMON MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)
Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)
Red-wattled Lapwing
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
Indian Pond Heron
Great Egret
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Oriental darter (Anhinga melanogaster)
Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)
Garganey (Anas querquedula)
Lesser Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna javanica)
Brahminy Kite
Crested Serpent-eagle (spilornis cheela)
Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
Orange-breasted Green Pigeon (Treron bicinctus)
Eurasian Collared Dove
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Common Iora
House Crow
Common Myna
Yellow-billed Babbler (Turdoides affinis)
Black-headed Munia (Lonchura malacca)
BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATER (Merops philippinus)

PHEASANT-TAILED JACANA (Hydrophasianus chirurgus) (seen but not photographed)

Kiula – Sri Lanka

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 8:15 am

Kalamatiya Road.

27/03/2017. Kalamatiya Bird Sanctuary is east of Tangalle near the small village of Kiula. These photos are just from my walk along the road half way to the sanctuary.

Pale-billed Flowerpecker
Pale-billed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum erythrorynchos)

Green Imperial Pigeon
Green Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea)

Indian Robin
Indian Robin (Saxicoloides fulicata)

Blue-winged Leafbird
Blue-winged Leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis)

White-browed Fantail
White-browed Fantail (Rhipidura aureola)

Yellow-billed Babbler
Yellow-billed Babbler (Turdoides affinis)

Purple-rumped Sunbird
Purple-rumped Sunbird (Nectarinia zeylonica)

Sri Lanka Junglefowl
Sri Lanka Junglefowl (Gallus lafayetii)

Red-rumped Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)

Kalamatiya bird list

Brahminy Kite
Red-vented Bulbul
Green Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea)
White-bellied Drongo (Dicrurus caerulescens)
INDIAN PEAFOWL (Pavo cristatus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Common Redshank
Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)
Indian Pond Heron
Red-wattled Lapwing
Sri Lanka Junglefowl (Gallus lafayetii)
Blue-winged Leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis)
White-browed Fantail (Rhipidura aureola)
Pale-billed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum erythrorynchos)
Purple-rumped Sunbird (Nectarinia zeylonica)
Yellow-billed Babbler (Turdoides affinis)
ORANGE-BREASTED GREEN PIGEON Treron bicincta ??
SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA Lonchura punctulata
Indian Robin (Saxicoloides fulicata)
BLACKBIRD
BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus)
Common Myna

March 26, 2017

Koggala Lake Boat Ride

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 9:40 am

Koggala Lake.

Koggala Lake is a fair way away from Mirissa, but I did not know where else to go. I took a boat tour from the Herbal Gardens. The cost was 3000 rupees – a bit much for an hour boat ride I thought.

Green Imperial Pigeon and Crimson-fronted Barbet
Green Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea) and Crimson-fronted Barbet (Megalaima rubricapilla)

So, I took off after the driver hooked on the motor, and we headed out into the lake. There were not many birds about. A few cormorant and lapwings sitting on rocks.

Red-wattled Lapwing
Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)

Then I got taken to Cinamon Island, where this guy showed me how he harvests cinammon. After that I got the hard sell to buy cinammon products. I am particularly averse to the hard sell and bought nothing.

Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Then I got taken to the buddhist temple island, and looked around the temple. I avoided the fish eating the toes scam. I was there to photograph birds.

Indian Cormorant
Indian Cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis)

When we got back I had the tour of the herbal garden, then given the hard sell again, to buy the herbal products. The aloe vera gel cost 2000 rupees! Nearly $15. Outrageous. I bought nothing and hightailed it out of there as fast as I could.

White-breasted Waterhen
White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus)

We did see a Mugger Crocodle but it was too far inside the mangroves and so dark that a photo would never come out.

Purple-faced Langur
Purple-faced Langgur (Trachypithecus vetulus)

Koggala Lake bird list

Little Black Cormorant
Indian Cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis)
Green Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea)
Spotted Dove
Brahminy Kite
Crimson-fronted Barbet (Megalaima rubricapilla)
Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus)
Little Heron
Cattle Egret

Others

Purple-faced Langgur
Mugger Crocodile

March 25, 2017

Mirissa Whale Watching

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 10:26 am

Sri Lanka.

This morning I was up before 6am waiting for the tuk-tuk which actually came on time. He took my to the fishing harbour and we got onto the whale watching boat. This dog did not care one iota about all the hustle and bustle.

let sleeping dogs lie
Let sleeping dogs lie

I stayed downstairs because I knew it would be rolling like heck up top. The whole thing only cost me 2000 rupees, which was a bargain – less than twenty bucks.

whale watching boat
Whale-watching Boat.

I must admit I did not expect to see much but we saw heaps of Blue Whales and really up close too. Maybe a bit too close at times. The Coast Guard came past us at one time and warned us to stay away from the whales a bit more. But I did not think the captains paid much attention because they kept getting pretty close.

Blue Whale
Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

The boat itself was not too crowded. I was execting to be shoved into a can of sardines but it was fine. We even got breakfast – a cup of coffee, hot dogs, lolly water, and a slice of cake.

Blue Whale fin
The fin

On the way back we stopped and a Whale Shark swam beneath our boat. You could see the spots on his back and his big wide mouth under the water but he did not surface.

Blue Whale after blow
Just after a blow

I saw this tern sitting out on the water miles from land. I have no idea what it is.

Mystery Tern
Mystery Tern

And for an extra bonus, a couple of shots of sunset at Hikkaduwa.

Hikkaduwa sunset
Hikkaduwa sunset

sunset over island
Sunset over island.

Things I seen

Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
Whale Shark

March 23, 2017

Hikkaduwa River Cruise

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 8:29 am

Hikkaduwa Birding.

I went for a walk north along the coast last night and found a river cruise. So I arranged with the dude for an 8am boat ride along the river for 2000 rupees. A good deal, I thought.

Indian Cormorant
Indian Cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis)

I had been looking out for the Indian Cormorant for days and days, and there it was in my camera all the time. I did not notice when I took the photo. You can tell by the white patch on the cheek. doh!

river traps
Fisherman and traps

The fishermen had built all these stick traps to catch fish. I guess they just funnel them into an enclosure and they cannot get back out again.

Intermediate Egret
Great Egret

I think this is right. I usually tell by the length of the gape under the eye, but I am out of practice lately. edit:Thanks pete for the correction.

White-winged Tern
White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)

Little Heron
Little Heron (Butorides striatus)

We call them Striated Herons.

Purple Heron
Purple Heron

Hikkaduwa bird list

Red-vented Bulbul
Indian Cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis)
Indian Pond Heron
LITTLE HERON (Butorides striatus)
Purple Heron
Intermediate Egret
House Crow
Brahminy Kite
White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
Whiskered Tern
Gull-billed Tern
Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis)
WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN (Amaurornis phoenicurus)
WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola)
Red-wattled Lapwing

March 22, 2017

Hikkaduwa Surfing

Filed under: Surfing — Tags: — admin @ 7:29 am

Sri Lankan Endless Summer.

This morning I set off determined to take some surfing photos in Sri Lanka. First off I went to the Fishing Harbour, hoping to get some shots of the left-hander near my hotel. But it was flat, so I took a walk around the harbour.

Hikkaduwa rooftops
Hikkaduwa town

There are lots of trawlers and other smaller fishing vessels in the harbour.

hikkaduwa harbour
Hikkaduwa harbour

There were lots of fish for sale, mainly bonito, tuna and some very nice squid for only 400 rupees a kilo.

fish for sale
fish for sale

Heading down the beach I spied some tourists gawking at something in the water, so I went down and had a look. There were turtles. So I rushed into the water, shoved all the goobers out of the way and took some photos of the turtles. I did not pat them, because that is so tacky. 😉

turtle
Turtle

Moving along the beach, I spotted where the real surfer were – at a break down the beach. doh! It was really hard getting on to the beach because everybody has built crap right on the shore and there is no access to the beach unless you go through some restaurant or hotel.

Indian Beach Heron
Indian Pond Heron on the beach

I do not know what this Indian Pond Heron was doing on the beach. He should be on the pond.

local ripping
Local ripping it up

There were lots of locals surfing really well.

smashing it
smashing it!

cutback
Probably an aussie

The surf was a fair size, I reckon about three to four foot.

going right
Another local going right

local in the tube
Grommet getting in the tube

So that is it. I got some surfing photos, saw an Indian Pond Heron on the beach and photographed a turtle. Quite a productive morning I reckon. Now for my afternoon nana-nap. zzzzzzzz

A nice train ride

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 6:07 am

From Bentota to Hikkaduwa.

And of course I am exaggerating for dramatic effect. But let us start at the beginning of this story. We had a malfunction with the booking at the villa at Bentota and we had to move to a guest house in Aluthgama, which is across the river from Bentota. It was not as nice but was close to the town and shops and everything. But it was very reasonable at $10 a night.

Bentota mangroves
Mangroves along the river

And of course I posted photos of my river boat ride in the last post. It was very enjoyable. I spent the rest of the time wandering around the town checking out the sites.

Aluthgama beach
The beach at Aluthgama

This morning I set off to get the train to Hikkaduwa. I bought a second class ticket for 70 rupees (about 60 cents) and waited for the train. I had a very funny moment at the station restaurant where there was a really old Sinhalese movie from the sixties on the television. The guys were dancing around and laughing their heads off. Very funny. I will try and find it on youtube.

Here come da train
The train comes

Well, the train came as you can see and I found the second class carriages this time. And I even found a seat, which was amazing. It was mostly full of Europeans going on day trips. I guess to Galle fort. Eventually I found my hotel after being driven up and down the road by the tuk tuk driver who had no clue where it was.

hikkaduwa beach
Learning to surf

After freshening up after my mammoth 37 kilometer train ride, I went for a walk down the road looking for the beach. I was offered a glass-bottom boat ride by some dude and coconuts and tours and rides on tuk tuks and wood carvings and trinkets and knick-knacks. I refused them all of course, having plenty of the aforementioned crap in my pocket. Any hoo, I saw the beach. There is a left hander off a reef, a beach break for the beginners, and reefs stretching along the coast. It is very touristy. And there was lots of white flabby skin lounging on deck chairs.

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