For our final stop we had chosen the The Spice House in Mirissa. It's a superb guest house/ boutique hotel and we booked it months in advance to make sure we got in. We were also able to choose which room we had and owner Phil advised me of the one he thought would best suit my photo ambitions.
I wasn't expecting too much ... but how wrong can you be! Our last week was chosen very much with Claire in mind. There's a nice beach, some lovely spots to enjoy a sundowner and then there's the Spice House.
Our room backed on to the woods at the rear of the property, the grounds are beautifully landscaped and there is even a small pond too. When we arrived we were surprised to see how much more change had been achieved in just two years since our last visit.
The hotel has a website which features the garden wildlife
So that was my personal challenge, to see if I could add anything! The newly extended swimming pool would be ideal for Claire and I'd probably spend more time on our room's wrap around balcony half reading, half keeping an eye out.
Within hours I was already delighted to capture what is my best Asian Paradise Flycatcher shot to date.
I spent all week trying to capture the males too but they are a much bigger challenge.
They don't often appear in full view, usually heading straight for cover. I guess if you are dragging that tail about it does make you more vulnerable to predation, and there were Shikra about
I cursed my luck when the non-breeding male landed in full view and stayed out for what seemed like an age but I couldn't get my camera off the tripod and aimed at him in time. By the time I was ready he had also retreated in to the bushes too.
By deliberately cropping his tail out of the shot I have something presentable though I think, my first ever white morph shot!
It isn't just an obsession I have with Paradise Flycatchers, I'm also hooked on Orioles as they tend to be highly attractive and elusive too. The Black-hooded ones here were much more co-operative and if you put the time in you eventually got your reward.
I was so lucky during the course of the 7 days.
Getting quite a few decent showings and making up for the failure to get one in Waikkal at our first stop.
A lot of the birds were quite distant, maybe 20m away or more so a big lens was an advantage for this Common Iora
and the Ring-necked Parakeet up a nearby tree.
There were lots of species I'd already seen.
Spotted Dove are really common everywhere we went in Sri Lanka.
So too surprisingly, Brown Shrike.
On the other hand this Black-rumped Flameback I only saw once at Yala.
I certainly didn't expect a Crested Serpent Eagle in a garden setting.
Although Oriental Magpie -Robin was an almost certainty.
Common Mynah are exactly that in Sri Lanka although not in all of neighbouring India.
I was delighted to get my first decent Purple-rumped Sunbird photo our trip too.
and a Greater Coucal in a more natural setting than some I'd got.
The Brown-headed Barbet was a regular visitor.
The Asian Brown Flycatcher too.
There were two species I was particularly pleased with.
Both the Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
and the White-bellied Drongo
As did the Orange-breasted Pigeon
and the Sri Lankan White-eye
but in many ways the stars were the monkey's.
A troupe of Torque Macaque were regulars
Both adults and youngsters.
You had to be careful to keep out of the way when there are young ones about, though, the males are very protective.
Not in the least bit afraid of Ginger the dog who was always conveniently elsewhere and not on our balcony when the Macaques were on the move!!!
Without a doubt though the best species on show were the Purple-faced Langurs.
They are much shyer than the Macaques and didn't show signs of aggression whatsoever.
We had visits everyday we were there.
What a privilege to be able to watch these , an endangered and endemic species at such close quarters.
No the Spice House was an outstanding choice to spend a week. Check it out on Trip Advisor , the food is stunning too!