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Sri Lanka November/December 2015

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Old Sunday 20th December 2015, 06:15   #1
Dave Williams
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Sri Lanka November/December 2015

My latest travel blog is in the writing and you can catch up with it here

http://davewilliamsnaturephotography...15-part-1.html

It might take a while to complete it but I can give a quick overview now.

Sri Lanka offers some great birding, it's inexpensive and it's totally safe. The people are more than accommodating and you get a warm smile wherever you go. Accommodation is easy to find and at all price levels.
Travelling around the island can be done inexpensively by train and bus.To hire a car and driver is not beyond the average pocket but to us it made more sense to get a taxi when needed rather than have a driver sitting around doing nothing.

Wildlife guides are available, in fact mandatory, in all the National Parks. The ones we have had have always been knowledgable but it helps if you request one that is fairly fluent in your own language.
Typical NP entry fee is 3200 rupees per person per day including tax, that's around £15.
Jeep hire appears to cost around 5500 rupees for half a day, 12000 for a full day. Going for a full day to places like Yala is highly recommended as it puts you in the heart of the park before the afternoon trippers arrive. You can apparently take your own vehicle but of the parks I have been to you need a 4x4 and the open topped jeeps provided offer the best viewing. Consequently a day trip for two in a jeep works out at around £85-90 plus a tip.
There are of course many spots which are free to enter so some days will be less expensive than others but overall, with flights from the UK at around £500 per person and accommodation of a high standard available for £60 per night including food and drink for two people I would imagine a budget of around £2500 for two people would give you an outstanding 2 week holiday. Given that organised tours are asking nearly £3000 per person with items like drinks still to consider, going DIY is a no brainer unless you want the company of fellow birders.
My only word of warning is to choose your time of year carefully. Although it's not a particularly large island the monthly climate changes need noting depending on which part you visit. This year the monsoon rain continued well in to December and this meant access to places was severely hindered by flooding or simply horrible wet,slippy clinging mud underfoot in many places you could walk.
Hopefully my blog might both entertain and inform you if you are considering a visit.
Happy Christmas and a fulfilling birding New Year to you all.
Best wishes Dave.

Last edited by Dave Williams : Sunday 20th December 2015 at 08:49.
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Old Sunday 20th December 2015, 13:27   #2
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Thanks for the entertaining report, Dave! We'll be going to Sri Lanka for a first-time visit in a month and your tales and excellent photographs certainly whet our appetites. Happy Christmas to you, too!
Peter
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Old Sunday 20th December 2015, 14:40   #3
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Thanks for the entertaining report, Dave! We'll be going to Sri Lanka for a first-time visit in a month and your tales and excellent photographs certainly whet our appetites. Happy Christmas to you, too!
Peter
Hopefully the weather will be spot on then Peter.
I'll press on with my report , it might cover some of the spots you are likely to visit. My previous ones from Sri Lanka can be found on the links below if they are of any help.

http://www.bringnaturetolife.co.uk/l...hp?f=58&t=1316
http://www.bringnaturetolife.co.uk/l...hp?f=58&t=1085
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Old Sunday 20th December 2015, 16:37   #4
Carol Baldock
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A very enjoyable report to read thus far, Dave.
Some lovely shots too.
Thank you for sharing it.
I am very much looking forward to the next installments.
Best wishes and a very Happy Christmas, Carol and Rob
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Old Monday 21st December 2015, 05:13   #5
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Hopefully the weather will be spot on then Peter.
I'll press on with my report , it might cover some of the spots you are likely to visit. My previous ones from Sri Lanka can be found on the links below if they are of any help.

http://www.bringnaturetolife.co.uk/l...hp?f=58&t=1316
http://www.bringnaturetolife.co.uk/l...hp?f=58&t=1085
Thanks Dave, great reports, both of them with outstanding photos!
Peter
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Old Monday 21st December 2015, 08:41   #6
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Superb images Dave! They bring back a lot of good memories from that wonderful island. However, your Great Thick-knee looks a lot like an Indian Thick-knee to me... ;-)

André
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Old Monday 21st December 2015, 09:10   #7
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Lovely pics and brings back memories of being there this spring. I did manage to photo the Paradise Flycatcher in the open but sitting on a really thick, ugly wire - win some, lose some. The sunbird photos are outstanding, I never saw that yellow underwing.
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Old Monday 21st December 2015, 09:32   #8
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Typical NP entry fee is 3200 rupees per person per day including tax, that's around £15.
How is that cheap? I think it's a total rip off! In fact, it's a double rip off because it's putting a "tax" on top of the entry fee which in itself is a tax!
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Old Monday 21st December 2015, 09:57   #9
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How is that cheap? I think it's a total rip off! In fact, it's a double rip off because it's putting a "tax" on top of the entry fee which in itself is a tax!
I guess it's a matter of what you are used to I suppose. Our local National Trust gardens charge over £10 per person single entry but we have a family membership that is around £90 for the year. Foreign tourists probably don't join as it's not worth it.
For me a day out in Yala for £15 is far more desirable than my local gardens despite the fact they are world famous.
I have just found the actual bill too and the accurate cost was a total of 6126.98 rupees for two people and a driver.
The local driver is charged at the rate for S.L. residents, 60 rupees. Foreign adults were a cost of 4113 and on top of that there was a service charge of 1096.80 ( the provided guide perhaps?) VAT at 607.18 and another 250R for something that is unintelligible.
I don't mind paying more than local resident prices either, the money goes to conservation and we in the UK have more wealth than the average Sri Lankan.
Tipping is always a thorny issue. Our trip to Yala was superb, as I'll later reveal in my report and we gave both the driver and guide 1500 rupees each. They were with us for the best part of 12 hours so I'm not sure if that was generous, mean or average,

As an aside I have a share in a season ticket to watch my favourite premiership team play. The average match cost is around the £45 mark for 90 minutes of what have been dire home performances of late. That isn't good value, that's for sure but I continue to pay in the hope that one day we will return to winning ways on a consistent basis .
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Old Monday 21st December 2015, 09:59   #10
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Thanks everyone for your kind comments about the report so far. A new posting has been added without a single picture of a bird I'm afraid!
However, I thought it worth mentioning the travel arrangement we had.
Remember we were there for a month so take more than those staying for a shorter period. I also carry a ridiculous amount of camera gear. For this trip we also took snorkels,masks and flippers as well as several other things, clothes included, that we didn't use. Nevertheless our travel options were more limited as a result but I did look on enviously at all the backpackers who travelled light and travelled cheaply by 3rd class train and bus. The cost is minimal.
Having said the we took some taxis rides that seemed a bargain price,
Waikkal - Gampaha station 30 kms 6000R
Ella-Kirinda 100km 7000R
Kirinda-Mirissa 130kms 7000R
Mirissa to Colombo airport 180kms 11,500R

As you can see some rides were a lot cheaper than others but none as economic as a bus. The cost of the bus from Ella to Kirinda is a mere 600R for two people.
Accommodation and food is the other variable too, it's up to the individual what budget they want to set but a room can be found very cheaply if you are not too fussy on standards and a meal of rotti, a filled pancake, only a £1 or two.
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Old Monday 21st December 2015, 11:56   #11
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And now another addition this time with birds!!!!!
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Old Monday 21st December 2015, 13:23   #12
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Superb images Dave! They bring back a lot of good memories from that wonderful island. However, your Great Thick-knee looks a lot like an Indian Thick-knee to me... ;-)

André
Thanks Andre, now corrected!
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Old Monday 21st December 2015, 13:34   #13
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Wonderful stories again, Dave, and I didn't really miss the bird photos in episode 4. I must say, I don't think I'll miss the bartering part too much (we'll have our driver) , but you seem quite adept at it:)! Some beautiful shots again in episode 5! That Flameback is really special and the Tickell's Blue Flycatcher at iso 8000 is incredible. Keep them coming, it's grey and wet here and your stories bring some colour and anticipation!
Peter
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Old Tuesday 22nd December 2015, 09:06   #14
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Wonderful stories again, Dave, and I didn't really miss the bird photos in episode 4. I must say, I don't think I'll miss the bartering part too much (we'll have our driver) , but you seem quite adept at it:)! Some beautiful shots again in episode 5! That Flameback is really special and the Tickell's Blue Flycatcher at iso 8000 is incredible. Keep them coming, it's grey and wet here and your stories bring some colour and anticipation!
Peter
It might be grey and wet in Utrecht but it's absolutely horrible in North Wales.
Claire excused me from her shopping trip so what else could I do. A bit more blog perhaps!!!
Hope you enjoy. cheers Dave
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Old Tuesday 22nd December 2015, 11:33   #15
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Very entertaining report. Thanks! A visit to Sri Lanka is very much on the wish list
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Old Tuesday 22nd December 2015, 11:40   #16
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Beautiful shots again! Kirinda seems like a top location for photography. You might want to reconsider the size of the tortoise, though...
Thanks again for the blog!
Peter
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Old Tuesday 22nd December 2015, 13:19   #17
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Beautiful shots again! Kirinda seems like a top location for photography. You might want to reconsider the size of the tortoise, though...
Thanks again for the blog!
Peter
Sh, don't tell Claire. I have had her fooled for years.
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Old Thursday 24th December 2015, 06:37   #18
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The latest update is now completed. Thank you to the people who pointed out the errors in my ID's on a couple of species, much appreciated. They have now been corrected.

I should also mention that my Helm guide now appears to be a bit out of date with several new sub species having been added without me realising. Indian Thick-knee and Grey-headed Purple Swamphen being two such examples.

Last edited by Dave Williams : Thursday 24th December 2015 at 08:13.
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Old Thursday 24th December 2015, 08:53   #19
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Simply stunning, again. Only just found your thread! I think I need a mail when you are updating your travel blog.

All the best to you both, have a good Christmas and will be in touch in New Year. Have new lens you may want to try!

Phil
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Old Friday 25th December 2015, 01:30   #20
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Spectacular photographs! Well complemented by the narrative.
Just a wonderful trip report. Thank you!
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Old Friday 25th December 2015, 09:22   #21
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Spectacular photographs! Well complemented by the narrative.
Just a wonderful trip report. Thank you!
Thank You.
Another instalment posted this morning.


Happy Christmas all.
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Old Friday 25th December 2015, 14:07   #22
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Great photos, as usual, Dave - keep them coming.
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Old Friday 25th December 2015, 19:32   #23
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Great shots again with this story of an amazing day! Love the mirror scene and the bee-eater! Well and all the rest, really..... . Yala and Bundala are both in our itinerary.
Peter
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Old Sunday 27th December 2015, 08:44   #24
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Great shots again with this story of an amazing day! Love the mirror scene and the bee-eater! Well and all the rest, really..... . Yala and Bundala are both in our itinerary.
Peter
Bundala now added!
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Old Sunday 27th December 2015, 11:55   #25
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That's bad luck Dave, looking forward to the next instalment!

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