Sri Lanka August-September 2017


A Holiday for the Soul

After an extremely busy year, we both felt like we needed a total break. Unusually for us, we decided not to organise an active holiday. Instead, this holiday was going to be about relaxation and restoring our mental and physical well-being.

We chose Reddot Tours and in consultation with them settled on a three location trip. We would start our tour in Kalpitiya on the west coast, then travel inland to Sigyria and finish up in the tea plantation hills above Kandy in the Santani Wellness Resort..


We were picked up at the airport by Vajira, our driver, having paid extra for a fast-track service through immigration. That turned out to be a smart move as for very little we were able to transit quickly into a lounge while our passports were stamped and our bags retrieved. 

It was an evening arrival and so we sped through the crowded roads in darkness. To be honest, the roads and driving are bad and it was a relief to finally reach our cabin by the sea.

We were tired by now, so with the sound of pounding surf filling the air we flopped down on our beds and were soon asleep.

Wild Waters — Palagama Beach

The following morning we woke to find that our small resort was indeed close to the sea. The sea was wild however and not safe for swimming. That was okay though, because there was a beautiful pool.

We lounged through our day, strolling down the golden beach and soaking up some sunshine. The food was buffet style and excellent — I love curries.

We stayed at Palagama Beach in the Begonia Villa. Very relaxing and a great setting.

Sigiriya — The Water Gardens

Our next stop was the Water Garden complex at Sigiriya. This is a beautiful, modern site with a large central dining hall and entertainment building. 

The accommodation offered includes villas with a small private pool which you can see in the picture below. The food and standard of accommodation is very good.

Sigiriya — A Rock Fortress

The big draw for staying at the Water Gardens is the ease of access to Sigiriya

“Sigiriya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most dramatic, inspiring and beautiful historical locations in the world. Sigiriya is a fortress-palace which was built atop a towering rock in the 5th century. A mythic past of feuding dynasties enhances Sigiriya’s striking setting.”

Climbing The Rock

As you can see from the photo, it is possible climb the rock. You do need a head for heights, although it is actually very safe. A large steel staircase winds around the immense rock and take you to the summit.

On the summit, in addition to unbelievable views, there is a very large fortress-palace. It reminds me a little of Mach Pichu.

Elephants in Minneriya Park

We had been on an African safari a couple of years previously and so we were keen to spend some time with Sri Lanka’s elephants.

At this time of the year, very large numbers congregate in Minneriya Park as there is a good supply of water. During an unforgettable afternoon we saw hundreds of elephants who were moving around in large family groups. This was a spell-binding close encounter.

The Natural Environment

The landscape we visited was often densely vegetated and there were also many areas given over to crops.

On one evening while eating supper we were slightly alarmed when a large bull elephant appeared quite close to where we sitting. The staff responded quickly and with a couple of fire-crackers, the elephant dissolved into the night.

There are lots of birds to see and I was pleased to spot a Snake Eagle which spent a lot of time hunting around the lakes while we were at the Water Gardens.

Santani Wellness Resort

Our trip climaxed with a week at the Santani Wellness Resort.

Perched in the tea plantation hills, Santani is a high quality ayurvedic treatments, but also offers relaxation treatments too. 

We went the whole hog, starting with a consultation with an ayurvedic practitioner who prescribed treatments for us over the course of a week. 

These mainly consisted of many different kinds of massage and oil therapy as well as yoga.

The food at Santani is excellent and the pavilion where meals are served has amazing views on all sides.

Sri Lanka Conclusion

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Sri Lanka. On balance a week was probably too long at Santani and we might have been better off with a bit of time in Kandy.

The roads in Sri Lanka are chaotic and best avoided. We would definitely recommend a driver.

We were very pleased with the service from Reddot and would recommend them to anyone thinking about a visit to Sri Lanka.

New and Updated Alternate Common Names Available – eBird

New and Updated Alternate Common Names Available – eBird

25/09/2020 Birding, eBird, News

Whether you know Podiceps cristatus as Great Crested Grebe, Bahri, or Somormujo lavanco, your eBird experience can display bird names in your preferred language. With 9 new options, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology now offers bird common names in 78 languages and regional dialects – including 15 variations of Spanish and 6 for French!
Recent additions to common names include Arabic, Asturian, Azerbaijani, Catalan, Gallegan, and Slovak as well as two new regional versions of Spanish (Peru and Paraguay) and one additional version of French customized for French Guiana.  We also now have complete global namesets for German, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Slovak, Spanish (Spain), and Turkish. Dutch, Icelandic, Polish, Russian, Serbian, and Swedish have names for 30-90% of eBird’s taxonomy.
There are regional versions of English too, so you can report Great Northern Divers and Grey Partridges instead of Common Loons and Gray Partridges. See the full list of available languages and learn more about bird common names in eBird.
Setting your preferred language for common names
Select your preferred language for common names on the web in your eBird Preferences: These will apply to, Macaulay Library, and Birds of the World. Within the eBird Mobile and Merlin Bird ID apps, set your common name preference under Settings and Account. Please note that settings for common names are separate from the language display on the mobile and web interfaces.
Become a volunteer translator
Volunteer translators provide these names and are critical to the success of eBird and other Cornell Lab projects. Many thanks to our network of partners around the world for making more common name options available!
Do you want to help us translate Cornell Lab projects? Please fill out this form: Join the eBird translators team.

House sparrow © Christoph Moning / Macaulay Library

A sparrow by any other name… 
To demonstrate the diversity of common names, here are 59 different options for Passer domesticus available in eBird, Merlin, the Macaulay Library, and Birds of the World:

Common name

دوري منزلي

Pardal común

Dam sərçəsi

Домашно врабче

Pardal comú

Chinese – Mandarin (traditional)

Chinese, Simple

Creole, Haiti
Mwano kay


vrabec domácí



English, Kenya
House Sparrow

English, United States
House Sparrow




Moineau domestique

Pardal común


דרור הבית

Házi veréb


Burung-gereja Rumah

Passera oltremontana



Mājas zvirbulis

Naminis žvirblis


Оронгийн бор шувуу



Portuguese, Brazil

Portuguese, Portugal

Vrabie de casă

Домовый воробей

Vrabac pokućar

vrabec domový

Domači vrabec

Gorrión común

Spanish, Argentina

Spanish, Chile

Spanish, Costa Rica
Gorrión Común

Spanish, Cuba

Spanish, Dominican Republic
Gorrión Doméstico

Spanish, Ecuador
Gorrión Europeo

Spanish, Mexico
Gorrión Doméstico

Spanish, Panama
Gorrión Doméstico

Spanish, Paraguay

Spanish, Peru
Gorrión Casero

Spanish, Puerto Rico
Gorrión Doméstico

Spanish, Spain
Gorrión común

Spanish, Uruguay

Spanish, Venezuela
Gorrión Común




Горобець хатній

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