Sri Lanka - Dragonflies
Friday 10th Nov – Wednesday 20th Nov 2017
To date there have been 124 species of dragonfly identified on the lush island of Sri Lanka and almost half of these, around 52 being endemic. Such a high level of endemism makes this a wonderful country to visit for those of us interesting in these fascinating and beautiful insects. Our trip is led by an expert on Sri Lankas dragonflies and our itinerary has been desgned in order to see a good variety of the wonderful creatures. Visiting many well known areas such as Sinharaja, Kithugala, Newara Eliya, Sigiriya we will search ponds, streams, rivers, wetlands in fact any area that will produce our target species. The island of Sri Lanka obviously holds more for the general naturalist than just dragonflies although this will be the main focus of this tour. Becuase we are in good habitats we will also look for many of the endmic bird species, plus butterflies and reptiles making this a very interesting and exciting tour to an absolutely fascinating country.
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Day 1 Arrive Colombo - Talangama - 10th Nov
After our morning arrival in Colombo, the capitol of Sri Lanka (please try to arrive no later than 09.00am.) If not then we can arrange a night in a hotel near the airport the night before at an additional cost. We will then drive to Talangama on the outskirts of this vast city. Here we should start seeing our first tropical species such as Wandering Wisp (Agriocnemis pygmaea), Painted Waxtail (Ceriagrion cerinorubellum), Yellow Waxtail (Ceriagrion coromandelianum), Stripe-headed Threadtail (Prodasineura sita), Asian Groundling (Brachythemis contaminata), Pied Parasol (Neurothemis tulia) and Variegated Flutterer (Rhyothemis variegata) and with luck we could find the sought after Elusive Adjutant (Aethriamanta brevipennis). We will then continue our journey to Sinharaja where we stay for the next 3 nights. Night Blue Magpie Lodge.
Day 2 Sinharaja - 11th Nov
Our stay here will undoubtedly be the major highlight of the tour, as Sinharaja Forest is the single most important site in Sri Lanka in terms of endemic species, and represents the largest tract of lowland rainforest in the country. All but a couple of the island's 34 endemic bird species occur here, although several are very difficult to see. Many of the species in Sinhiraja are very difficult to find but the rewards are high as some of these species have only been seen by a handful of people. In particular we will try and find Ebony Gem (Libellago corbeti) a species only discovered in 2007 and only seen on one tiny stream in Sinharaja. There are of course many more excellent dragonflies here and possible species include Furhstorfer’s Jungle Watcher (Hylaeothemis fruhstorferi) a Sinharaja specialty, Sapphire Flutterer (Rhyothemis triangularis), Restless Demon (Indothemis limbata sita), Rapacious Flangetail (Ictinogomphus rapax), Malay Lilysquatter (Paracercion malayanum), Yellow Waxtails (Ceriagrion coromandelianum), Green Skimmer (Orthetrum sabina), Asian Pintail (Acisoma panorpoides), Asian Groundling (Brachythemis contaminata), Oriental Scarlet (Crocothemis servilia), Dark Glittering Threadtail (Elattoneura centralis) and Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens).
Lunch/Dinner/Overnight in Blue Magpie Lodge Sinharaja
Day 3 Sinharaja - 12th Nov
We will have a full day to explore this fabulous area including walking several trails in this wonderful rainforest. This will mean an early start to see some of the endemic birds, but if anyone wishes to opt out of this they will find our lodge an ideal place for relaxing as the gardens often produce great views of Legge's Flowerpecker, Layard's Parakeet, Ceylon Hill-Myna, and we have also seen Green-billed Coucal here. Once in the forest we will walk along the old logging tracks, where we should encounter spectacular mixed flocks of birds. Among these feeding flocks we can find Crimson-backed Flameback, Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Ceylon Scimitar-Babbler, Ceylon Crested Drongo, Ceylon Blue Magpie, White-faced Starling, and noisy parties of Ashy-headed Laughingthrushes. Other species present in these bird waves include Lesser Yellownape, Black-rumped Flameback, Malabar Trogon, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Green Warbler and Square-tailed Black Bulbul, Ceylon Spurfowl and Sri Lanka Junglefowl, whilst overhead Brown-backed Needletails are sometimes found. We may also get a chance to visit a site for a day roosting Serendib Scops-owl if our guide has one staked out. Dragonflies here are plentiful and we will be looking for possible species such as Furhstorfer’s Jungle Watcher (Hylaeothemis fruhstorferi), Fiery Emperors (Anax immaculifrons), Spine-tufted Skimmers (Orthetrum chrysis), Indigo Dropwings (Trithemis festiva), and Sri Lanka Cascaders (Zygonyx iris ceylonicus), Asian Pintail (Acisoma panorpoides), Green Skimmer (Orthetrum Sabina), Crimson Dropwings (Trithemis aurora), Oriental Green-wing (Neurobasis chinensis), Black-tipped Flashwing (Vestalis apicalis nigrescens), Amber-winged Glider (Hydrobasileus croceus), Shining Gossamerwing (Euphaea splendens) and Jungle Threadtail (Elattoneura caesia). Small ponds may hold other species such as Malabar Sprite (Pseudagrion malabaricum) and Blue Sprite (Psuedagrion microcephalum), Crimson Dropwing (Trithemis aurora), Common Bluetail (Ischnura senegalensis) and the handsome Rapacious Flangetail (Ictinogomphus rapax).
Lunch/Dinner/Overnight in Blue Magpie Lodge Sinharaja
Day 4 Sinharaja - Kithulgala - 13th Nov
After breakfast, we will drive to Kitulgala via Kelani Valley Forest Reserve. Possible species here include Adam's Gem (Libellago adami), Fiery Emperors (Anax immaculifrons), Spine-tufted Skimmers (Orthetrum chrysis), Indigo Dropwings (Trithemis festiva), and Sri Lanka Cascaders (Zygonyx iris ceylonicus). If we have time in the afternoon we should see a few more birds including Green-billed Coucal, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Ceylon Junglefowl, Ceylon Green-Pigeon, Ceylon Hanging-Parrot, Ceylon Grey Hornbill, Black-capped Bulbul, and both Ceylon Small and Yellow-fronted Barbets. Down beside the river we could again find both Green's Gem (Libellago greeni), Adam's Gem (Libellago adami) or Wandering Wisp (Agriocnemis pygmaea).
Lunch/Dinner/Overnight in Kithulgala Rest House, Kithulgala
Day 5 Kithugala - 14th Nov
After breakfast we will have full day excursion around the rivers and streams in the Kithulgala area. Possible species include Jungle, Dark-glittering and Red-striped Threadtails (Elattoneura caesia, E. centralis, E. tenax), Ultima Gem (Libellago finalis), Rivulet Tiger (Gomphidia pearsoni) and Brook Hooktail (Paragomphus henryi). Amongst the fast flowing water we will search for Sri Lanka Cascader (Zygonyx iris ceylonicus) whose larvae cling to stones in the waterfalls. This area is another top site for birds and we may well encounter Black and Rufous-bellied Eagles, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Rufous Woodpecker, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Green Imperial-Pigeon, Emerald Dove, Asian Palm Swift, Orange Minivet, Indian Pitta, Chestnut-headed Bee-Eater, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Dark-fronted Babbler, Indian Blue Robin, Asian Paradise-Flycatcher, Black-naped Monarch and Large-billed Leaf-Warbler. There is a good chance of finding the diminutive Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher beside a small forest stream. Lunch/Dinner/Overnight in Kithulgala Rest House Kithulgala
Day 6 Kithugala - Nuwara Eliya - 15th Nov
After breakfast we set off on the drive to Nuwara Eliya, on the lookout for some more endemic species. A walk around nearby wetlands and nature trails for new sightings of different forest species and a visit to the Hakgala Botanical Gardens located about 7 miles outside Nuwara Eliya, should give us the chance for noteworthy species such as Mountain Reedlings (Indolestes gracilis) Malay Lilysquatter (Paracercion malayanum), Common Bluetails (Ischnura senegalensis), Triangle Skimmer (Orthetrum triangulare), Fiery Emperors, Sociable Glider (Tramea limbata) and Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii). This area is also good for Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, plus bird species that include Pied Thrush, Indian Pitta and Kashmir Flycatcher.
Lunch/Dinner/Overnight in Leisure Village Hotel Nuwara Eliya
Day 7 Nuwara Eliya - 16th Nov
After breakfast we will have a full day excursion in Nuwara Eliya where we will check out two different botanical gardens and their small ponds. Here we could see Triangle Skimmer (Orthetrum triangulare), plus Elephant Emperor (Anax indicus) and Mountain Reedling (Indolestes gracilis). There are a few special birds in this area including the very shy Ceylon Whistling-Thrush in one of the few spots that it can be found. We will also search for Ceylon Woodpigeon, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Ceylon Bush-Warbler, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Pied Bushchat, Grey Tit, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and Indian Scimitar-Babbler.
Lunch/Dinner/Overnight in Leisure Village Hotel Nuwara Eliya
Day 8 Nuwara Eliya - Sigiriya - 17th Nov
After breakfast we drive through the city of Kandy and head for our last destination at Sigiriya. Stops along the way could produce such species as Adam's Gem (Libellago adami), Pruinosed Bloodtail (Lathrecista asiatica), Closed-wing Reedlings (Indolestes divisus), while some nearby rice paddies could find us Blue Persuer (Potamarcha congener) and Blue Percher (Diplacodes trivialis), plus White-tipped Spreadwing (Lestes elatus) and Sociable Glider (Tramea limbata). Lunch/Dinner/Overnight in Kassappa Lion Rock Hotel, Sigiriya
Day 9 Sigiriya - 18th Nov
Today we will check moats and ponds in the vicinty of the famous Lion Rock. Here we will be on the lookout for more exotic species of dragonfly and damselfly such as Elephant Emperor (Anax indicus), Foggy-winged Twisters (Tholymis tillarga), Blue-eyed Pondcruiser (Epophthalmia vittata cyanocephala), Paddyfield Parasol (Neurothemis intermedia), Blue Pursuer (Potamarcha congener), Blue Percher (Diplacodes trivialis) and Scalloped Spreadwing (Lestes praemorsus decipiens). Depending on time we may be able to stop at another reservoir with the chance of species such as Somber Lieutenant (Brachydiplax sobrina), Amber-winged Glider (Hydrobasileus croceus), Spine-legged Redbolt (Rhodothemis rufa), Restless Demon (Indothemis limbata sita), Burmeister’s Glider (Tramea basilaris burmeisteri) and Pruinosed Bloodtail (Lathrecista asiatica). Sigiriya Sanctuary is fantastic for dry zone dragonflies that inhabit the ancient water gardens at Sigiriya Sanctuary and the surrounding reseviours. We will once again look for Elephant Emperor (Anax indicus) and Scalloped Spreadwings (Lestes praemorsus decipiens), plus White-tipped Spreadwings (Lestes elatus) and the elusive Asian Slim (Aciagrion occidentale).
Lunch/Dinner/Overnight in Kassappa Lion Rock Hotel Sigiriya
Day 10 Sigiriya - Katunayaka - 19th Nov
Leaving Sigiriya today we will check out an archeological site where we hope to find the very rare and elusive Light-tipped Demon (Indothemis carnatica). After which we will proceed to a hotel near the Airport via Kurunegala (Arankele) looking for the Indian Rockdweller or Granite Ghost (Bradinophyga geminata) and a fitting way to end this fabulous tour.
Day 11 Departure - 20th Nov
After breakfast we will transfer to the Airport in time for your international departing flight unless you are joining our Blue Whale extension.
Leaders: Tom Bird and Wicky (Wickramasekara)
Ground Price: £1795.00 - Colombo / Colombo
Airfare: £390.00 - £490.00 (Approx) - UK / UK Zoothera tour prices explained
Included in cost: All Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals from lunch on 10th to breakfast on 20th, includes picnic lunches where necessary, all entrance fees to National Parks, transport throughout in air-conditioned coach, and services of leaders
Not included: International airfare, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: All accomodations are of a good standard and offer en-suite rooms.
Tour Code: This tour is focussed on looking for dragonflies, but becuase we are all-round naturalists we will also take time to look for endemic and interesting bird species, plus butterflies, mammals, and reptiles. The weather is unpredictable and we may well encounter rain that prevents us from finding dragonfly species. In these instances we will either rest or go looking for other forms of nature.
See 2016 After Tour Report - Here
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