Every year, for countless millennia, birds of all shapes and sizes in temperate regions fleeing the oncoming winter have been winging their way to the tropical and sunny regions straddling the equator in search of food, sanctuary and shelter. The northern region of Sri Lanka forms the first point of entry for these hundreds of thousands of birds of a great many species, and the island of Mannar and its environs offers ideal habitat for most of the species that arrive on our sunny shores.
The very first mild showers have just begun and are expected to continue as the days go by. Already the hitherto sou’westerly blowing has ceased the first minor gusts of a north-easterly breeze is being experienced, foretelling the monsoonal rains to come.
Mannar is now seeing the entry of a large number of migrant birds such as the Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlews, a variety of Sandpipers, Red Shanks and Green Shanks. Mannar also offers the opportunity of seeing bird species such as Crab Plover, Oystercatcher, Pallas’s Gull and Heuglin’s Gull that are very rare in the south of the country. Adam’s Bridge, the Giant’s Tank and the Vankalai Bird Sanctuary (one of 6 Ramsar sites in Sri Lanka) areas have proven to be a magnet for ‘birders’ across Sri Lanka and beyond. These locations form crucial sites for birding enthusiasts who travel to this region of the country in order to observe and photograph some of these elusive creatures.
While the Greater Flamingoes are a highlight in the region, the first of these magnificent and stately birds are expected to make landfall in Mannar mid-November. This time of the year and for the next six months to come is a very exciting period, as the wide variety of birds coming in to Mannar completely transforms this remote island into a birders’ paradise.
Palmyrah House, located on Mannar Island, is centrally located and has easy access to all birding locations in the area. In addition, the property itself boasts of a large variety of birdlife unique to the region. Covering over 35 acres of land, the property has 14 newly renovated rooms, a fully equipped restaurant, a gym, conference hall, swimming pool and additional facilities. Palmyrah House is fully equipped to cater to all needs of guests, particularly birding enthusiasts, and they offer an unmatched experience in terms of service, food and all other elements as they understand clearly why such guests visit Mannar. For a period of a month starting mid-December one of Sri Lanka’s top bird guides will also be on site to assist guests in their bird watching, in addition to having an in-house Naturalist as well.