The place earth’s greatest landmass narrows to a subcontinent, below the place mountain thrusts up rock to earth’s greatest peak and river operates down to dry basic, just outside of the place land ideas into ocean, in just one slip of forest in the soaked mid-hill tropics that rise up on a compact island as soon as bridged to south-east India, driving the obscuring department of just one jack tree, there is a blue magpie.

We’ve occur a extended way for this fowl. It is really superb even though. Really don’t feel your common black-and-white, backyard-menace career. The Sri Lanka magpie is of very a different get: blue overall body, blue tail – correct blue, bluest in the forest – head and wings of dark tamarind, toes and a heavy corvid monthly bill the colour of pomegranate arils. The identical purple neatly circles the eye. It’s a fowl to journey for.

SL blue magpie
Sri Lanka blue magpie. Picture: Wikipedia Commons.

In cloud forest, great sights of anything at all can be hard it’s alarm and frenzy in the tops, unique calls and brief flashes over. Tall is pattern in a spot like this – trees arrive at 40, 50 metres substantial, their boles straight up into tree area – but such thick vegetation down right here obscures verticals and heights.

The trick is to stand nonetheless, tune in to what you hear. In this valley, dawn is a broad coming like a passing eclipse. We stand in the green air on the edge of the clearing before the heat comes, waiting around for birds at initially mild. Orange-billed babblers are easy sufficient – their fuss and squabble shake the foliage with monkey-vigour. They are joined by the odd ashy-headed laughing thrush or drongo. Better up, there are white-faced starlings and hill mynas.

The rasp of the magpie gives it away. And the place there’s just one, far more stick to. We view six in full, a raucous mob tailing each other from tree to tree for just two minutes, so plainly blue you surprise how they do such a great career of disappearing.


The rainforest cover at Sinharaja
The Rainforest Ecolodge in Sinharaja forest.

We’re quite delighted to see them. The matter is, you will not locate any of these birds anyplace else. Not just in Sri Lanka, but nowhere else in the globe. Like so much of the huge biodiversity on this island – trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, flowers, butterflies, mammals, birds – the blue magpie is an endemic. Sri Lanka’s historical insular existence has advanced a exceptional ecology of very specialised creatures. Among birds by itself, of the island’s 27 total endemic species (there are subspecies way too), most of these can only be discovered in the soaked-zone hills in the far south, and some of these, even, only in isolated pockets of this territory. Only sixteen many years back, in simple fact, a new owl species was identified in these forest fragments that survived colonial rule. It’s a reassuring indication in this age of reduction and destruction.

Sri Lanka hill myna. Picture: Isuru Gunasekera.

Discover this small lodge in the vicinity of Deniyaya on Google Earth, scroll in, then suitable out to see India, and Eurasia, and the complete globe. This is to know the fragility of each individual portion of all things, however surprise that the infinitesimal can nonetheless keep mysteries.

Rhino horned lizard: just one of the a lot of endemic lizards. Picture: Janaka Gallangoda


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