Now back in Waikkal I resigned myself to spending the rest of our holiday around the pool ay the Villa Suriyagaha
After our tour it was lovely to enjoy the luxury that this guest house offers. With only one other guest by the time we had returned we had the pool to ourselves.I could set up my camera gear and leave it until an opportunity presented itself in the nearby bushes. The Loten's Sunbird was a regular visitor
as were the Purple Rumped Sunbird too
These birds are tiny, for comparison here's another on a Hibiscus bloom
They certainly helped keep my entertained in between snippets of book and a quick dip in the pool.
I did wander down to the beach one last time but again there was nothing to keep me there.The Gull and Tern population had changed with Brown Headed Gull and Greater Crested Tern being new for the trip.
I thought for a moment I had a new lifer too
At first glance a brown bird with a yellow head, new to me. Then I had a closer look.
No, I decided that was it. I wasn't going to bother again. I'd stick to the garden.
The biggest problem in the garden though were the trees and branches obscuring views , still with patience I might get the chance.
Sometimes you don't even see the opportunity the camouflage is so effective.
Still proving elusive, the Black Hooded Orioles appeared at some distance
And when one flew down in to a lower bush my hopes went up.
but I had to settle for a partial view.
The same was usually the case with the White Bellied Drongo
but it was while I was taking these images I suddenly noticed there on the ground, not more than 20 feet away, a snake !
Fortunately I happen to know that the Rat Snake is not dangerous to me, and I also for once had my smaller 70-200 lens mounted on the 1D. I nipped back to the sunbed to get it and the snake was still there. With it's head apparently down a whole, it wasn't aware that I was now within about 10 feet and down more at it's level.
When it popped it's head out I was ready for it !
Having set my camera to single frame though I missed the shot with it's mouth wide open having swallowed the unfortunate frog.
Ah well, this was what must be a fairly rare opportunity to see witness something like this at close quarters. Once the snake realised I was there, and that would no doubt have been sooner had I had the shutter on high speed it was off, disappearing at a high speed slither in to a nearby bush. I looked again but couldn't find it.
Next day I was in the pool when suddenly a female scream came from inside the house and the next minute three of the female staff all ran out of different doors. I knew exactly why. Believe it or not one of them had been sweeping the floor in the hall and came across the snake.... curled up under the Christmas tree. It was soon dislodged by one of the lads and was last seen leaving out of the front door at great speed !Fortunately that was the last we saw of him.
The Rat Snake incident was virtually the last photo's I took. Plagued by a bad back from which I still haven't made a full recovery, I took things easy although my camera gear was there "just in case" One of the few shots I took was the surprise appearance of the Forest Wagtail. In poor light I had hoped to freeze the action at 1/640th of a second but it wasn't to be, Still not too bad.
With our holiday over we headed off to the airport for our 4.15am departure, one of the big negatives about long distance flying. Being cautious we arrived early and the time moved slowly towards our flight time. 4.15am arrived and still no sign of boarding. In fact it was 45 minutes late by the time we set off and as our transfer time was 45 minutes in Doha we psyched ourselves up ready to accept another long delay and/or a re-routed journey. Much to our relief though, for once they held back the Manchester flight especially for the passengers from Colombo, probably because it was only half full anyway.
Will we return ? Most certainly one day. Our trip hadn't turned out the way it was planned but it had worked to our favour really. Compared to my original plan the standard of accommodation for 5 nights was certainly lacking but we had had the benefit of a driver for 12 days instead of 7. We had made the Dolphins at Kalpitiya part of the tour whereas I had planned to visit there on a day trip later so that was a big bonus. Missing out on Sinharaja forest and Udawele NP's was not something I regret, missing out on a full day in Bundala is something I do ! In the end though the financial saving of taking the trip we did was around £800 when you take in to consideration the Dolphin trips I would have had to pay extra for. Not a bad deal. We have decided that in all probability our holiday next winter will be taken with a similar approach. Book a hotel for a couple of nights then hire a driver. Where has yet to be decided but as an touring holiday for a couple were one partner isn't too interested in birds Sri Lanka is ideal.
Hope you have gleaned some ideas should you wish to visit or just enjoyed sharing ours.
By all means, get in touch if you need more information.