Field Visit to Sinharaja via Pitadeniya

by Vidura Pihillanda

The date was 6th of April, 2018 and the BCSSL took off from the Faculty of Science, University of Colombo at about 7 a.m for the three day field visit in Pitadeniya area which is at the southern border of the Sinharaja rain forest. It was about one O'clock when we; twenty two participants reached the Pitadeniya conservation center as we stopped for breakfast and tea and to grab the lunch packets at Neluwa, took a particularly long route to reach the area via Baddegama, Udugama and Neluwa as none of the participants have been to the destination before and specially because of the severe road conditions in the final 19 km ride from Neluwa to Pitadeniya via Lankagama. I must mention that at several occasions we had to get down from the vans and prepare the road with stones and guide the van drivers precisely and even to push the vans to pass some points.

The Pitadeniya area is not actually a town or a village. It is an area situated between Lankagama and Mederipitiya in the Gin Ganga basin. To reach the Pitadeniya forest quarters, we had to leave the vehicles near 'Aranuwa' river bridge and walk about 400m on foot. It started raining as we reached the quarters. So we refreshed a little and had the lunch. It was about 4 - 4.30 p.m when the rain stopped. We took the opportunity and set out to go back towards the Aranuwa bridge and then took the route towards the Kekuna Ella.

In the night, the check list of the butterflies was filled and several lists of other fauna; birds, reptiles etc. were also made. (Lists are presented at the end of the article) And also there is a place behind the dining room of the quarters where the workers have used to throw the left overs and a pair of Ceylon Spurfowls and a Layard's Palm Squirrel are used to come eat them.

Then a discussion was led by Mr. Himesh Jayasinghe on Sinharaja forest and its current status. Specially about its secondary and primary forest coverage, the fall of trees in the reign of the "Mathini" and the adverse effects of it by automation of the process instead of using elephants as it was originally planned and so on.

On the second day early morning, we wandered around the conservation center looking for birds and we found a plenty of them and also butterflies. Then we had breakfast and took the route from Pitadeniya conservation center towards Mederipitiya village. For this walk, a guide also joined us..

The most astonishing findings of this walk were the Sri Lankan Cingalese Bushbrown, a Five Bar Swordtail larva which was on the ground having its last several breaths as it was attacked by a parasite and two owls fighting for their territory. Furthermore, a Sri Lankan Blue Magpie, a Green pit viper and a pouch of mantis eggs were seen.

After about 1 km walk from the conservation center, we got caught by a heavy rain and rushed towards the Mederipitiya ticketing counter which was about another half a kilometer ahead. There we waited a while until the rain was over and had tea as well from a nearby hotel. There we observed a plenty of birds at a nearby grass/shrub land on the bank of Gin ganga. Then we walked about another kilometer towards the village and turned back.

On the way, about 2 p.m we were caught by another heavy rain which lasted for the rest of the day. So we returned to the conservation center, refreshed and spent the evening leisurely by chatting around and doing some indoor games which was really great and let us know each other very well.

The summary of the day was made in the night and an interesting discussion on bird flocks of the forest was done by Mr. Amila Sumanapala.

The day was concluded by a little chat and singing some songs along with some ghost story telling...

On the last day of our stay, we had the breakfast, packed our bags and put them in the vans and sent them off towards Lankagama and we proceeded on foot towards the Lankagama village along the forest edge. The walk was really exciting as we encountered some rare butterflies.

At about 12 noon, we got onto the vehicles to begin the return journey. After having the lunch at Neluwa, we reached the express way at Welipanna interchange via Pelawatta, which was a scenic route and concluded the journey at Faculty of Science, University of Colombo.

Here are the butterflies and birds we observed. (In the order of recording.)


  • Red Spot Duke
  • Tamil Yeoman
  • Sri Lankan Blue Oak Leaf
  • Common Lascar
  • Black Prince (female)
  • Commander
  • Dingy Lineblue
  • Sri Lankan Woodhouse's Four Lineblue
  • Grey Pansy
  • Silver Forget-me-not
  • Dark Cerulean
  • Sri Lankan Cerulean
  • Oriental Cupid
  • Three-spot Grass Yellow
  • Chestnut Streaked Sailor
  • Sri Lankan Rose
  • Clipper
  • Sri Lankan Birdwing
  • Common Bluebottle
  • Common Imperial
  • Glassy Tiger
  • Brown King Crow
  • Lemon Emigrant
  • Common Rose
  • Blue Mormon
  • Common Cerulean
  • Sri Lankan Tree Nymph
  • Common Leopard
  • Common Sailor
  • Sri Lanka Cingalese Bushbrown


  • Small Minivet
  • Scarlet Minivet
  • Black Bulbul
  • Yellow-browed Bulbul
  • Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
  • Stork-billed Kingfisher
  • White-faced Starling
  • White-bellied Drongo
  • Brown-breasted Flycatcher
  • Rufous-bellied Eagle
  • Shikra
  • Crested Drongo
  • Malabar Trogon
  • Indian Blue Robin
  • Emerald Dove
  • Alexandrine Parakeet
  • Chestnut-backed Owlet
  • Tree Swift
  • White-throated Kingfisher
  • Yellow-fronted Barbet
  • Grey Hornbill
  • Greater Flameback
  • Black Headed Oriole
  • Sri lankan Crested Drongo
  • Hill Mynah
  • Layard's Parakeet

Field Gallery