Aranayaka is situated in the Sabaragamuwa Province amidst the southwestern mid-hills of Sri Lanka. The easiest way to reach Aranayaka is to get a vehicle from Mawanella town. Classic Wild’s naturalist Ashan Piyasinghe visited Aranayaka to get insights about the wildlife in the area. Because of the locality within the wet zone of Sri Lanka, one could predict that it has a good diversity of wildlife, especially in bird species or avifauna, and this trip confirmed it to our naturalists.
His visit took him around villages called Labutuwa and Ussapitiya to the famous Bible Rock Mountain. The altitude range changed when he passed those two villages and reached Bible Rock Mountain. He realised that when the altitude changed, the surrounding avifauna also changed. The primary reason is the habitat change with altitude surrounding the urban areas near Bible Rock.
The main cultivated crop around the area is rubber. Previously, the forest land was torn away to make way for rubber plantations. Sometimes small forest fragments are located between rubber plantations. Our naturalist observed that bird activity is comparatively high in those forest fragments. Most probably, due to the forest edge effect. These forest fragments are densely populated with Black-headed Cuckooshrikes, Black Bulbuls, and endemic Black-capped Bulbuls. Surprisingly, the Sri Lanka Woodshrike was spotted twice. In a dry zone, it is easy to spot these birds, but entering an area of the wet zone makes the task harder and harder.
The mountain area was teeming with endemic avifauna. The Layard’s parakeet call was heard every time Ashan actively listened to bird calls. The endemic Sri Lanka Swallow flies over the forest with Indian Swiftlets and Asian Palm Swifts. He was astounded to see a Black Eagle flying through the forest canopy, possibly looking for Giant Squirrel for supper. The sighting with both Sri Lanka Greater Flameback and Sri Lanka Lesser Flameback got great vibes to the visit. The most delightful sighting was the Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker. There were three individuals on the tree branch searching for food for their lunch. Most of the time, you hear about this little beauty but seldom do you see them. But at that time, he had a good sighting of almost 10 minutes of the three hungry woodpeckers.
Ashan spent two days in the surrounding area witnessing and recording the wildlife. On the second day, he went to a morning bird-watching session, and at 8.20 am, he observed a mixed species bird flock feeding and wandering through the forest. The birds’ flock included the Red-vented Bulbul, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Small Minivet, White-browed Bulbul, Pale-billed Flowerpecker, and Black-hooded Oriole. The highlight of this session was the sighting of a pair of Golden-fronted leafbirds.