"The Other Corner" will definitely carve out a niche for itself in the birding world and I wholeheartedly recommend it to birders, without any reservations.

Wake up to the dawn-chorus of our Dry Zone feathered friends and fill your lungs with the unpolluted fresh air before embarking on a pre-breakfast birding stroll either inside the premises or along the bund of the large tank (Habarana Wewa) in front of THE OTHER CORNER.  You will be surprised by the number of species you are going to see in a couple of hours, sure it’s the best time of the day for birding…. but still.  No matter whether you are a full-fledged hard core birder or a novice…you will enjoy the surroundings of this delightful place and the birds it harbors.

My first experience of THE OTHER CORNER was about two and a half hours in the early morning of a day in late January (well within the migratory season) 2009.  I was treated to a superlative assortment of species typical to that part of the island and within it had some really good rarities too.  The total ticked was 59 species including a number of species endemic to the island.  Amongst these were many target species of any birder, local or visiting.  Migratory species like the Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Indian Pitta, Orange-headed Thrush and the white morph Asian Paradise Flycatcher were a few of them.

On a subsequent visit to TOC, this time with a birding couple from Adelaide in mid April (towards the end of the migratory season) 2009, in two early morning sessions, among all the species we observed, there were 27 new species to my previous list.  This Sri Lankan birding couple (presently living in Adelaide) and I were planning to stay one night at TOC but they fell in love with the place so much that we extended our stay by another day.  These two occasions plus some previous occasions around the immediate surroundings of TOC have yielded a total list of 157 species.  Birds like Malabar Pied Hornbill, White-naped Flameback and Grey-headed Fish-eagle are a few of the other birding highlights you are bound to encounter while the large water body in front will offer you good views of some very interesting water birds such as the Spot-billed Pelican, Oriental Darter, Watercock and Cotton Teal.  The large trees in the water had a Brahminy Kite nest and a Woolly-necked Stork nest with birds sitting on them in addition to the Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher nest under the main chalet with chicks.

Recent taxonomic revision of the South Asian Avifauna by Rasmussen & Anderton (2005) recognizes 33 species as endemic to Sri Lanka.  Of this 33, up to now (May 2009), I have observed the following 10 species in and around The Other Corner.

Ceylon Junglefowl  Gallus lafayetii, Ceylon Green-pigeon  Treron pompadora, Ceylon Grey Hornbill  Ocyceros gingalensis, Ceylon Small Barbet  Megalaima rubricapillus, Crimson-backed Flameback  Chrysocolaptes stricklandi, Ceylon Swallow  Hirundo hyperythra, Ceylon Woodshrike  Tephrodornis affinis, Black-capped Bulbul  Pycnonotus melanicterus, Brown-capped Babbler  Pellorneum fuscocapillus and Ceylon Scimitar-babbler  Pomatorhinus [schisticeps] melanurus

Some of these species can be observed from the comfort of your easy chair in the lounge cum dining area of the Lodge while sipping a cup of ‘Ceylon Tea’ or any other beverage of your choice.  When you are in the lounge area, you are in level with the canopy of the trees immediately close to it and it makes you feel like you are on a ‘Canopy Walk or in a ‘Canopy Hide’.  One early morning, when I stepped out of my room and went to the railing to look down on the ground, I was treated to a beautiful male Black Bittern stealthily foraging in the little shallow pond below, only about 10 meters away from me.  About three hours later, a Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher zipped over our breakfast table while we were enjoying a delicious Sri Lankan breakfast prepared by the ever so friendly and attentive staff.

Upali Ekanayake