Exploring Herpetofauna in Lowland Rainforest – Classic Wild’s field visit to Sinharaja rainforest

Day 1

The team arrived in Kudawa village at 11.30 a.m. After that, they moved on to the jeep driven by Thilak, who is the local tracker in Sinharaja. They stopped at the ticket counter in Sinharaja and got the permission to enter the REEC. REEC is a short word for Research, Education, and Environment Center. The team arrived at the REEC after about 20 minutes of driving. Then they packed their stuff into rooms and had a good rest for about an hour.

The very first amphibian species was encountered near the water pond at REEC. It was a Schneider’s shrub frog, which is endemic to Sri Lanka. After photographing it, they went birding near the accommodation. A female Sri Lanka Spurfowl was getting its evening meal under the bird feeder. Both Square-tailed Bulbul and Yellow-browed Bulbul were feeding on the bird feeder. A Flame-striped Jungle Squirrel also trying to eat the foods on the bird feeder. After birding the team took a rest because they will have to go at night to do more frogging.

The team left the REEC at 6.30 in the evening to see frogs. The first frog encounter was Orange-canthel Shrub Frog. That frog literally had the orange color canthel ridge on its head. It was resting on the fern and calling loudly. The other one is a really fascinating species. The Mittermeri’s Shrub Frog is a rather uncommon species found in Sri Lanka. It is restricted in to the particular elevation in lowland rainforest. To take a photo of the frog was also a big task because it was on the ferns, which are surrounded by plants with thorns.

After having photographing that, the team decided to go on the road by passing the Martin’s Lodge. While passing Martin’s lodge, they found several individuals of Orange-canthel Shrub Frogs. They passed a small stream and found another interesting frog species. In a small water pond, a Corrugated Water Frog submerges the water layer. Unfortunately, they had to take only one photo because the frog was disappeared not giving a chance to even imagine it. That Frog is belong to the genus Lankanectes, which is the whole genus is endemic to Sri Lanka. While photographing that, Ashan heard a frog calling a bit farther down the road. He went in search of it and was successful. It was a Leaf-dwelling Shrub Frog, which is another common rain forest shrub frog species. The team kept going forward, and while they were going, there was a snake crossing the road. It was a sub adult of the Sri Lanka Wolf Snake, which is an endemic, beautiful snake with black and white markings. After the snake saw them, it crawled down fast to the hole under the log.

When the team kept going on the road, they have found a little stream started on the left side of the road. There they discovered another interesting frog species within few minutes. A Sri Lanka Short-Horned Shrub Frog waits on the fern near the water stream. After photographing it, the team went to what appeared to be a swamp. While searching for it, they have found a small individual of Cheeky-shrub Frog, which is another beautiful individual of shrub frog. It has orange-colored finger tips and a white cheek patch. While the team were photographing that, their local tracker found another magnificent frog. It was a Hollow-snouted Shrub Frog lying on a leaf, almost near the ground. The frog was a larger creature with mossy like appearance and calm demeanor.

While they were photographing the frog, one of the team members discovered a snake crawling on the tree. It was none other than one of the most sought after and beautiful species called the Sri Lanka Green Pit Viper. It is a moderately venomous species that can be found in lowland rain forests. Green Pit Vipers are mostly activating at night time, at the day time they prefer to stay in one place which have shade environment. After taking some photographs, they left the snake to find its dinner.

With that sighting, the team decided to call it a day and leave the forest. They discovered a few Orange-canthel Shrub Frog and Leaf-dwelling Shrub Frogs on their way back to the accommodation. At 10.30 in the night, the team reached the place, and while they were coming, they heard a very familiar call. Sri Lanka Bay Owl kept calling out to the nearby forest. Sri Lanka Bay Owl is rare nocturnal bird species occurring in Western Ghats and south western parts of Sri Lanka. It was a one-of-a-kind experience for all the members of the team to fall asleep while hearing the most beautiful owl call of the South Indian subcontinent.

Day 2

The second day started with calls of endemic Chestnut-backed Owlets, Blue Magpies, and Crested Drongos. It was a nice sight to see both male and female Sri Lanka Spur Fowls picking food under the bird feeder near REEC. Five Blue Magpies and Gray Hornbill come and wait to eat food on the bird feeder.

The team decided to go looking for animals during the day. When they reached the entrance of the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, they had a sighting of a Forest Wagtail. All the wagtails encountered in Sri Lanka are migratory species. The team extensively searched for the Rough-horned lizard, which is one of the hardest lizard species to see. Because of its body coloration and small size, the lizard can hide under the vegetation much more easily. While they were searching for the lizard, they found a Sri Lanka Kangaroo Lizard. It got its name because, while running, it will use only its hind legs, like a kangaroo. The team started to walk down towards the Doranella entrance of Sinharaja. While walking, they got sightings of endemic butterflies such as the Sri Lanka Tree Nymph and the Sri Lanka Rose.

The team again started their frogging adventure in the evening at 6.30. Within half an hour they have found Leaf-dwelling Shrub Frog, Orange-canthel Shrub Frog, and Mittermeir’s Shrub Frog. They followed the same route as yesterday. Having found same species as yesterday, the team decided that they have to go to another route. They followed the route that near the stream.

When they passing the stream they have found a new species to them. Several individuals of Kellart’s Dwarf Toad were resting on the boulders on stream. That species are so unique that in genus level they are endemic to Sri Lanka. Ashan went to search the other frogs when the team photographing the toad. A Grubby Shrub Frog which is another species they have found at that location.

They crossed the stream and there was a bit steep to get to the road. While they are getting to road they have found a big adult of Cheeky Shrub Frog. The team continued their walk towards to the Sinharaja entrance. While they were walking a Reticulated-thigh Shrub Frog and another Grubby Shrub Frog was found. Reticulated-thigh Shrub Frog is a canopy dwelling species which used to live on canopy level of the forest.

The team reached the REEC at 11.00 in the night.

Day 3

Sinharaja is a well-known place for its avifaunal diversity. When the team was getting ready to leave, their ears were filled with bird songs from various species. The morning was spent birdwatching, with several rare birds added to the visit’s bird list. A White-faced Starlings was calling and resting on the canopy of a palm tree near the REEC. A bird flock consisting of Orange-billed Babblers, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babblers, Ashy-headed Laughing Thrushes, and Crested Dronogs passed the REEC while searching for food.

Ashan, the naturalist, melted into the nearby forest area to see if there was any fauna they hadn’t seen yet. He discovered the 12th frog species of the tour after careful searching. It was a Sharp-snouted Shrub frog, which is a diurnal frog species found in lowland rainforests. With that species, the team decided to call it a day and leave the Sinharaja.



1Kelaart’s Dwarf Toad
2Sri Lanka Golden-backed Frog
3Hollow-snouted Shrub Frog
4Leaf-dwelling Shrub Frog
5Mittermeier’s  Shrub Frog
6Cheeky Shrub Frog
7Reticulated-thigh Shrub Frog
8Schneider’s Shrub Frog
9Sri Lanka Short Horned Shrub Frog
10Grubby Shrub Frog
11Orange-canthel Shrub Frog
12Sharp-snouted Shrub Frog


1Sri Lanka Blue Magpie
2Green-billed Coucal
3Black-capped Bulbul
4Sri Lanka Spur Fowl
5Yellow-browed Bulbul
6Square-tailed Bulbul
7Red-vented Bulbul
8White-faced Starling
9Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot
10White-throated Flowerpecker
11Pale-billed Flowerpecker
12Asian Palm Swift
13Green Imperial Pigeon
14Forest Wagtail
15Green  Warbler
16Ashy-crowned Emarald Dove
17Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
18Spotted Dove
19Sri Lanka Hill Myna
20Layard’s Parakeet
21Sri  Lanka Lesser Flameback
22Brown-breasted Flycatcher
23Golden-fronted Leafbird
24Orange Minivet
25Orange-billed Babbler
26Scally-breasted Munia
27Black-hooded Oriole
28Common Myna
29Sri Lanka Crested Drongo
30White-bellied Drongo


1Sri Lanka Kangaroo Lizard
2Sri Lanka Green Pit Viper
3Catenated Lanka Skink
4Striped Bronze back
5Ceylon Wolf Snake


1Sri Lanka Tree Nymph
2Sri Lanka Rose
6Blue Mormon
7Glassy Tiger
8White 4-ring
9Glad Eye Bushbrown

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