Hanthana Bird Park is a sanctuary for bird lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Situated in the Hanthana Mountain Range in Sri Lanka, this park is an essential stop for those interested in avian life. This travel guide aims to provide you with all the information you need for your visit.
Covering a significant area of natural land, Hanthana Bird Park is home to various bird species. The park is not just about bird-watching; it is an educational center. It serves as a research area for ornithologists and a natural playground for families. Visitors often find peace and relaxation here, away from urban life.
History of the Park
The Hanthana Bird Park was founded in the early 1990s with a vision to create a sanctuary for bird species native to Sri Lanka as well as migratory birds. The park was not just born out of ecological concerns, but it also aimed to serve educational and recreational purposes for the local community and tourists alike.
In its formative years, the park faced several challenges. These included land acquisition and the ensuring of a suitable habitat for various bird species. Government agencies and local NGOs collaborated to overcome these obstacles. Initial funding was sourced from governmental grants and private donations. Development commenced with basic infrastructure like walking trails and minimal fencing to keep the park as natural as possible.
Growth and Development
As the years passed, the park began to attract more visitors, leading to the construction of additional amenities such as bird-watching towers, an information center, and educational displays. These enhancements were introduced to provide an enriching experience to visitors while ensuring minimal impact on the ecosystem. The park also started hosting events, workshops, and educational programs focused on wildlife conservation and bird-watching techniques.
Types of Birds
The Hanthana Bird Park is home to a diverse range of avian species, making it a must-visit for bird enthusiasts and researchers. Below is a more comprehensive look at the bird species you are likely to encounter.
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
This unique bird is native to Sri Lanka and predominantly grey with a long, curved beak. It mainly feeds on fruits and is usually found in small flocks.
Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot
A small, predominantly green parrot that is native to the region. It has a unique habit of hanging upside down from tree branches and is known to feed on fruits and nectar.
Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon
Another native bird species, the Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, has a unique color combination of grey and pink and is generally found in wooded areas.
This bird is brown with a distinctive dark cap and is mostly found in undergrowth and dense thickets. It has a melodious call and feeds on insects.
This bird is known for its colorful plumage and the striking blue tail. It usually visits the park during the winter months and is known to feed on bees and other insects.
Characterized by its brown body and white head, this bird of prey is often seen in the park during migration season. It is known for its impressive fishing skills, plucking fish from water bodies with its talons.
A migratory bird that visits the park during the winter season, the Asian Koel has a glossy black body for males and a spotted brown body for females. It has a distinctive, loud call.
This bird migrates from colder regions and is usually seen during the winter months. Males have a black head with a white belly, while females are generally brown.
Rare and Endangered Species
Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush
This bird is one of the rare species found in the park. It has a dark blue body and is known for its whistling calls. Due to its dwindling numbers, it is a focus of various conservation efforts.
One of the larger birds found in the park, the Forest eagle owl, is an endangered species with a distinctive hooting call. It usually resides in the deeper, more secluded parts of the park.
The diversity of birds present at Hanthana Bird Park, ranging from local to migratory and even to rare and endangered, makes it an exciting destination for bird-watchers, researchers, and nature lovers.
Habitat and Ecosystem
The habitat and ecosystem of Hanthana Bird Park are well-balanced, providing a natural setting that supports a range of flora and fauna. The terrain is mainly mountainous with flatlands, rocky outcrops, and cliff faces. Water bodies such as ponds and streams are scattered in the area, offering hydration points for the birds and other wildlife. These water sources also serve as habitats for various aquatic creatures like fish and amphibians, which form part of the food chain.
The vegetation in the park is a mix of trees, shrubs, and grasslands. These trees not only offer nesting spots for birds but also provide food in the form of fruits, leaves, and insects. Several fruit-bearing trees, like fig and berry trees, are common, and they play a critical role in attracting fruit-eating birds.
Beyond the avian life, the park is a sanctuary for a range of other creatures. Small mammals like palm squirrels scurry through the trees, while many butterfly species add color to the area.
Facilities and Amenities
These towers offer optimal views of the surrounding area and are equipped with binoculars and seating arrangements.
A facility where visitors can obtain brochures, maps, and expert guidance on bird-watching.
Restrooms and Cafeteria
Clean restrooms and a cafeteria serving light snacks and drinks are available near the entrance.
Location and How to Get There
To reach Hanthana Bird Park, you have multiple options. If you are driving, the park is located about 5 km from the city of Kandy and can be reached in approximately 18 minutes via Hanthana Road. Public transportation is also available; buses run regularly from Kandy to a stop near the park. From this stop, a short walk will take you to the entrance. Both routes are well-signposted, making the park easily accessible.
Best Time to Visit
For bird watchers eager to spot migratory birds, the best months are from November to April. During this period, migratory species from colder regions make their way to the park, offering a rare opportunity to see birds that are not typically found in Sri Lanka. The weather is also generally dry and pleasant during these months, which makes for comfortable bird-watching conditions.
If you are interested in local bird species, the park offers a rewarding experience year-round. However, visiting between May and October can give you the chance to see local birds in their breeding season, when they are more active and easier to spot.
Tips and Advice
- Binoculars: For a better bird-watching experience, bring a good pair of binoculars to closely observe distant birds.
- Comfortable Attire: Wear lightweight, breathable clothing and sturdy walking shoes to navigate the park's terrain with ease.
- Follow Designated Trails: Stick to the marked trails to minimize your impact on the environment and to ensure your own safety.
- Camera Etiquette: If you're taking photographs, make sure to avoid disturbing the birds.
- Guided Tours: Consider taking a guided tour for an in-depth understanding of the park's avian residents and ecosystem.
- No Littering: Always dispose of your trash responsibly by using the designated bins provided throughout the park.
- Educational Material: Visit the information center first to collect brochures and maps that can enrich your visit.
- Temple of the Tooth Relic: This is a revered Buddhist temple located in Kandy. It houses the tooth relic of Buddha and is a focal point of Sri Lankan heritage.
- Peradeniya Botanical Gardens: Just a short drive from the bird park, these gardens offer a variety of plant species, including rare orchids and towering palm trees. It's a great place for a leisurely walk or an educational tour of flora.
- Udawattakele Forest Reserve: Situated close to Kandy, this forest reserve is a sanctuary for various species of birds, plants, and animals. Walking trails and secluded spots make it perfect for nature lovers.
- Kandy Lake: This artificial lake in the heart of Kandy offers scenic beauty and relaxation. Boating options are available, and the area is popular for evening walks.
- National Museum of Kandy: This museum provides a deeper insight into the history and culture of Sri Lanka. It features artifacts, paintings, and historical documents.
Hanthana Bird Park offers a unique opportunity to get close to nature. Whether you are a bird-watching enthusiast or just looking for a peaceful escape, this park is a great place to visit. So, if you are traveling in Kandy, be sure to stop by this wonderful place and spend some time with these beautiful creatures.