Tangamale Bird sanctuary – haven for avifauna aficionados by Arundathie Abeysinghe
Sri Lanka is a resplendent island located in a geostrategic location in the Indian Ocean and is one of the significant locations for ornithology due to the abundance of bird life. Hence, Sri Lanka has become a popular destination for avifauna aficionados. Of the 427 recorded feathered species in the country, 250 are residents and 23 are endemic with a variety of ecological areas such as the hill country to jungles and forests, wet to dry zones as well as low lands. Hence, avifauna aficionados observe and research about these colorful feathered species while basking in the glory of the spectacular vistas.
The Bird Sanctuary is home to Sri Lankan blue magpies (Urocissa ornata), paradise flycatchers (Terpsiphone paradisi), green barbets (Stactolaema olivacea), golden orioles (Oriolus oriolus), Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis), spot winged thrush (Geokichla spiloptera), black naped monarch (Hypothymis azurea), yellow eared bulbul (Pycnonotus penicillatus), Sri Lanka Whistling-thrush (Myophonus blighi), Malabar trogon (Harpactes fasciatus), Sri Lanka Scimitar-Babbler (Pomatorhinus melanurus) as well as black eagle (Ictinaetus malaiensis). In addition to diverse feathered species, the Bird Sanctuary is also home to giant squirrels (Ratufa macroura), porcupines (Hystrix indica) and barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak).
Although, there are many popular natural habitats such as Sinharaja rainforest, Kumana, Bundala, Wirawila and Kalametiya which are popular bird watching sites with endemic and migratory birds, these sites are bustling with local as well as foreign visitors.
Situated in Tangamale (meaning golden mountain in Tamil) and part of Glenmore Tea Estate, approximately two kilometers from *Haputale town, the Bird Sanctuary is located off the beaten track, a paradise for nature lovers.
In 1938, 131 hectares of land of the Bird Sanctuary was declared as a protected area. The trail to the Bird Sanctuary is approximately six kilometers and spectacular vistas of *Uva basin, *Diyatalawa valley, mountain ranges of Central Highlands such as *Hakgala, *Pidurutalagala, *St. Catherine’s Seat, *Dambetenna and *Namunukula that spread as far as *Horton Plains as well as the resplendent Tangamale Mountain can be seen.
The hike to the Bird Sanctuary can be hazardous at times due to the mixture of rock cliffs, yet the trail is quite exciting and exhilarating as it takes the adventurer through foliage and at an elevation with breathtaking vistas of tanks, grasslands and verdant paddy fields situated in the valleys below the Bird Sanctuary.
One way to reach the Bird Sanctuary is from *Idalgashinna Railway Station. Another footpath is situated to the left of *Adisham Monastery.
- *Adisham Monastery – The well-known monastery administered by Benedictine Monks.
- Badulla – Situated in lower central hills, Badulla is the capital city of *Uva Province and Badulla District.
- Bandarawela – The second largest town in Badulla District and situated 28 kilometers away from Badulla, 125 kilometers away from Kandy and 200 kilometers away from Colombo.
- Dambetenna – Popular *Lipton’s Seat and Dambetenna Tea Factory are located in Dambetenna.
- Diyatalawa – Situated at an altitude of almost 1500 meters above sea level, Diyatalawa is a former garrison town in the Badulla District of Uva Province. At present, Diyatalawa is a popular holiday destination of local tourists.
- Hakgala – Situated around 2170 meters above sea level, Hakgala is a mountain situated in Nuwara Eliya District of Central Province.
- Haputale – Situated at an elevation of 1,431 meters above sea level in Badulla District of Uva Province, Haputale is a mountainous area covered by cloud forests and tea plantations. It is a verdant region of cascading waterfalls, streams, fauna and flora. This quaint small town is situated amidst the British colonial legacy of tea estates and bungalows and retains the old world charm to date. Situated in the cool climes of the Central Highlands with eternal films of mist sprinkling the breathtaking landscape, Haputale is a bio-diversity zone.
- *Horton Plains – A scenic highland plateau situated at the southern end of the central mountain massif of Sri Lanka. Horton Plains is popular for its rich biodiversity, habitats, endemic plants and animals of wet and Montane zones of Sri Lanka. The plateau has grassland interspersed with patches of dense montane cloud forest.
- Idalgashinna – Situated at an elevation of 1615 meters above sea level, Idalgashinna is a small village in the Badulla District of Uva Province.
- Namunukula – Literally meaning “Nine Peaks” in Sinhala, Namunukula is considered as the backyard mountain of Badulla, its main peak 2036 meters high.
- Pidurutalagala – Situated at 2524 meters above sea level, Pidurutalagala (literally translated as “Straw Plateau Rock”) is the highest mountain in Sri Lanka and is situated about seven kilometers from Nuwara Eliya.
- Catherine’s Seat – Situated in the upper division of Nayabedda Tea Estate, St. Catherine’s Seat provides spectacular views of *Bandarawela, Diyatalawa and the surrounding mountains of the Uva Basin.
- Uva – This is the fourth largest province in Sri Lanka bordered by Central, Eastern and Southern provinces.
Image courtesy: destimap.com, alamy.com