Robin's Adventures

Sri Lanka
The Pearl of the Indian Ocean

More Water Birds

Any time we passed a small lake or a pond we were greeted by the usual crowd of water birds who were busy hunting for small fish.

We saw many Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta), black-headed ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus), Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia), grey herons (Ardea cinerea), Indian Pond Herons (Ardeola grayii), lesser whistling ducks (Dendrocygna javanica), and some Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo).

Colorful Feathers

Sri Lanka had many colorful birds, which were easy to spot because of their bright colors, but hard to photograph because they usually hung out in branches of trees that were often far away.

We did manage to find a Little Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis), and the Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus), as well as the Indian roller (Coracias benghalensis). All three of these birds have a black eye mask which helps reduce glare so they can hunt more easily facing into the sun.

The colorful rooster-like bird is actually Sri Lanka's national bird, the Sri Lankan junglefowl (Gallus lafayettii).

We also noticed the White-bellied Sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) on top of a tall tree surveying the area for a tasty meal.

Land Birds

One of the more unique birds we saw was the Malabar pied hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus), which primarilary eats fruit, but also will eat small animals. The large beak of a hornbill is an important adaptation which allows the bird to regulate their body temperature.

We also saw some Oriental magpie robins (Copsychus saularis), some Red-vented bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer), a yellow-billed babbler (Argya affinis), and the Sri Lanka wood shrike (Tephrodornis affinis). In addition, we saw some beautifully made Weaver's nests.

Weligama Bay

We left the national park behind and headed for the beautiful beaches on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Weligama Bay, which translates to "Sandy Village," was a great place to spend a couple of nights.

We stayed at the Weligama Bay Marriott Resort and Spa and our room had a lovely view of the clear blue ocean washing up on the sandy beach surrounded by lush green palm trees. We could see the tiny island of Taprobane just off shore and the constant activity of the surfers enjoying the waves.

In the evening we enjoyed a show put on by dancers in native costumes.

Fire Dancer

A Stroll Downtown

A stroll in the downtown area provided some interesting sights. As we passed by local shops, we noticed a tailor with a very old style treadle sewing machine, a fish peddler who actually pedaled down the street with his wares, a coffin salesman who had his wares displayed in the parking garage, and fresh chicken in a display case on wheels. Very different from shopping in the local strip malls back home.

Stilt Fishermen

The practice of stilt fishing began around the time of World War II when food and boats were both is short supply. The fishermen, who sit on a crossbar attached to a long pole that is embedded into the sandy floor of the ocean, attempt to catch small herring and mackerel that they store in a bag tied to the pole.

Fort Galle

The Portuguese built Fort Galle in 1588, but the major fortifications were not actually built until the fort had been taken over by the Dutch in 1649. Most of what remains today was built during the time when the Dutch had control of the fort.

Inside the Fort

Inside Fort Galle are an interesting collection of buildings, many of which date back to the time of the Dutch settlement. We saw the old Dutch lighthouse and the beautifully whitewashed Meeran Jumma Mosque right nearby. We stopped for lunch at the old Dutch hospital building which has been converted into restaurants and shops.

There is also an old library building that was built in 1832 and the Dutch Reformed Church which was built in 1755 and is believed to be one of the oldest Protestant churches still in use in Sri Lanka.

Colonial Village

Although there has been much renovation inside the fort, there are many old buildings that remain from the Dutch colonial period that illustrate life from a different era.