Alexandrine Parakeet (Psittacula eupatria)

The Alexandrine Parakeet or Alexandrian Parrot (Psittacula eupatria) is a member of the psittaciformes order and of the Psittaculidae family. The species is named after Alexander the Great, who is credited (blamed) with the exporting of numerous specimens of this bird from Punjab into various European and Mediterranean countries and regions, where they were considered prized possessions for the nobles and royalty.

IMG_3712a IMG_3650a IMG_3645a IMG_3628a IMG_3626a IMG_3609aThe Alexandrine Parakeet is the largest species of all Parakeet (small Parrot with long tail) species, thus often being the largest Parrot in their native range. This species measures 58 cm (23 in) in total length with a wing length averaging 18.9–21.5 cm (7.5–8.5 in) and a tail length of 21.5–35.5 cm (8.5–14.0 in).

The following sub-species, many of them allopatric are recognised based on geographical distribution:

  • Psittacula eupatria eupatria, Nominate Alexandrine Parakeet – East India to Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh in the South, Sri Lanka.
  • Psittacula eupatria avensis, Indo-Burmese Alexandrine Parakeet – Northeast India to Amherst in Myanmar
  • Psittacula eupatria magnirostris, Andaman Islands’ Alexandrine Parakeet – Andaman Islands
  • Psittacula eupatria nipalensis, Nepalese Alexandrine Parakeet – Eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan, North and central India, Nepal, Bhutan to Assam in Northeast India.
  • Psittacula eupatria siamensis, Laos’ or Siamese Alexandrine Parakeet – Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, north and east Thailand

Of these, I have seen the nominate and the Nepalese subspecies.

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Because they have such a large range, you can plan birding trips to Central and South-east Asia and have a good chance to spot them.  I have seen them in Chitwan National Park, Nepal & Kithulgala & Sinharaja in Sri Lanka.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS PARROT

Wikipedia

World Parrot Trust

Birdlife

VIDEO

It’s surprisingly hard to find videos of these parrots on Youtube as they are so popular as pets.  At least I found one from Sri Lanka!

Lazy Birding From Rock View Motel Balcony, Sinharaja

After a hard day’s work walking uphill to the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, what could be better than a lazy afternoon kicking back with a cold drink and watching Alexandrine Parakeets and other birds fly past?  And when bird activity dies down, there were still farmers at work and beautiful green fields.  For some reason, it was very hazy.  This will be a lazy pictorial post of my lazy afternoon and the following morning trying to get the best photos I could.

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Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka

Located in south-west Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is the country’s last viable area of primary tropical rainforest. More than 60% of the trees are endemic and many of them are considered rare. There is much endemic wildlife, especially birds, but the reserve is also home to over 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians.  You know when it’s been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO it has to be something special……………….and it is!

GETTING THERE

Use your miles for a Central Asia award ticket to Colombo.  From there, you can get a taxi to your accommodation near Kudawa or take a bus to Matugama, then change to a Kalawana bus and get a taxi/rickshaw from there to your accommodation.  Obviously there is a trade-off between comfort & convenience and cost.

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WHERE TO STAY

Forget about points and try to get into the closest eco-lodge to the park you can get, it will save you the trouble of hiring rickshaws every time you want to go into the park.  Don’t expect the Marriott, these are simple lodges that cater to birders and serve their purpose well.

Martin’s Lodge – Yes it really is simple but Martin, the owner is a lovely guy and teh views are amazing!  They don’t have a website but more information is here and Trip Advisor reviews here.  Do not trust local travel agents who tell you it is full and try to steer you to someplace more expensive.  You need to call Martin to get an accurate answer if he can book you in or not.  045 568 1864  He doesn’t have email.

Blue Magpie Lodge – The second closest lodge to the park.  I didn’t get a look at it but I met a lady who was staying there and she said it was great!  Trip Advisor reviews.

Rock View Motel – About 20 minutes away by auto-rickshaw but add a whole different habitat to your birding with the amazing views over the valley!  Trip Advisor reviews

Rainforest Edge – Looks stunning but was way out of our budget.  This is the poshest lodge in the area.  Trip Advisor reviews.

IMG_3443 IMG_3445 IMG_3444 IMG_3446 IMG_3447HOW TO VISIT THE RESERVE

You can walk from Martin’s or Blue Magpie, otherwise you will need an auto rickshaw to drop you and arrange to pick you up.  Once you arrive, you need to buy your ticket and pay for a mandatory guide.  The guides are very good and know the local birds and animals well.  You can’t request a guide, they are assigned by rota.  If you don’t have leech socks, you can buy some here, they also sell snacks, cold drinks, postcards & books.  This is our guide, his name is Raushan (probably spelled it wrong) and he was very good with bird identification.

IMG_3587Once you have your ticket, your guide will walk with you up the hill pointing out whatever birds and animals he sees along the way.  When you reach the top, another official will check your ticket and you can enter the main trail of the reserve.

IMG_3536 IMG_3537 IMG_3558THE BIRDS

Sinharaja boasts an amazing bird list including many endemics.  We saw quite a few in our one day visit:  Sri Lanka Junglefowl,  Green Imperial Pigeon, Spotted Dove, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Emerald Dove, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon,  Layard’s Parakeet,  Red-faced Malkoha,  Malabar Trogon,  Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Lesser Yellownape,  Orange Minivet,  Sri Lanka Drongo, White-bellied Drongo,  Sri Lanka Blue Magpie,  Black-capped Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Orange-billed Babbler, Yellow-billed Babbler, Oriental White-eye, Sri Lanka Hill Myna, Lesser Hill Myna,  Spot-winged Thrush, Legge’s Flowerpecker, Purple-rumped Sunbird

I couldn’t get a good shot of the Blue Magpie as he stayed well within the dense foliage and the Layard’s Parakeet was just a fleeting glimpse of one darting overhead.  Here’s a few of my better shots (LOL).

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Malabar Trogon was the best bird I got a photo of.

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We did our best to lure the Blue Magpie out but he just wasn’t having it!

IMG_3585 IMG_3586 IMG_3589OTHER ANIMALS

I forget what lizards these are.

IMG_3492 IMG_3494 IMG_3495Giant Squirrel

IMG_3498 IMG_3500 IMG_3501 IMG_3506 IMG_3507Purple-faced Langur

IMG_3522 IMG_3525 IMG_3527 IMG_3530Pitcher Plants

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Sri Lanka Blue Magpie (Urocissa ornata)

The Sri Lanka Blue Magpie or Ceylon Magpie (Urocissa ornata) is a member of the crow family living in the hill forests of Sri Lanka, where it is endemic.  In Sri Lanka, this bird is known as Kehibella (කැහිබෙල්ලා) in Sinhala Language.

My attempt to photograph this stunning bird resulted in a lot of leaves so we will have to use this Wikipedia shot.