Udawalawe National Park

14 March 2020

A twist in the tail today which unfortunately meant a premature end to our Sri Lankan trip.

We left our hotel mid-morning and set off on the relatively short drive to our hotel near or next destination of the Udawalawe National Park.  After a rare treat of a room service lunch in our room we set off for our afternoon jeep safari in the national park.

Udawalawe is all about Elephants and although we had good views of them elsewhere you can never have too much of these magnificent beasts.

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Olympus OM-D EM1 mkII – Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro – f/4 – 1/200s – iso 250
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Olympus OM-D EM1 mkII – Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro – f/4 – 1/640s – iso 200
Uda2 (1 of 1)
Olympus OM-D EM1 mkII – Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro – f/4 – 1/1000s – iso 200

and one final bird, the very noisy Coppersmith Barbet.

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Olympus OM-D EM1 mkII – Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro – f/4 – 1/400s – iso 200

That evening we met up with Thilli to go looking for Nightjars, without success, and he communicated the bad news that the Sri Lankan government had decided, because of Coronavirus, to close all tourist sites and disappointingly all national parks with immediate effect.  Unfortunately this meant that our next and planned final destination for four nights, and by far the best birding site in Sri Lanka, Sinharaja Forest, would be closed and we not therefore be able to pick-up the 7 remaining endemic birds that we had wanted to see.  Furthermore had we still continued to Sinharaja the hotel we were staying in (The Blue Magpie) and indeed the whole local area had no wifi and no mobile signal so we would have been out of contact for four days.

Further research online suggested that an added complication might be the complete closure of the international airport in Colombo and also the possibility that the UAE may close Dubai airport to transit passengers.  We were thus faced with a very difficult decision as to whether to cut short the trip or risk being stranded in Sri Lanka.  Rightly or wrongly we decided it would be best to get home if we could, so having checked to see if we could bring our flight forward, which fortunately we could, we decided to head home the next day rather than moving on to Sinharaja, where we will just have to visit on another occasion.

And so ended our Sri Lanka trip.

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