Paradise just 30 mins away... Thalangama Lake Birdlife

The lockdown due to COVID was driving a lot of people including me crazy as we were unable to take our camera out and shoot a few wildlife photographs. Thalangama lake is the respite for most of us as it's one magical place in the outskirts of Colombo to observe many beautiful avifaunae. These are my captures in and around the lake during 2 beautiful mornings when the lockdowns were lifted in the month of May and June 2021.

Oriental Darter among the beautiful water lilies. Thalangama Lake. Sri Lanka.

An ariel view via google maps shows how this beautiful body of water is trapped in the urban jungle.

Its banks adore magnificent big mansions to small houses of villages who have been living here for generations. It's only a 30 min drive from anywhere in Colombo city and quite easy to find with many access roads. I have marked a few important locations a birder can enjoy many different species who have grown accustomed to living among human-altered habitats.


The main body of water and surrounding ponds are home to a multitude of aquatic birds such as Spot-billed Pelicans, Cormorants, Oriental Darters, Little Grebes, Lesser Whistling-Ducks, White-breasted Waterhens and many more.

I managed to capture an interesting event sequence where a Spot-billed Pelican was darting and lunging to catch fish. Its speed and stealth were amazing.

The aquatic specialists are a common sight among the many reeds along the waterways. The best part is they are quite familiar with all the human activity around them which enables taking great photographs. The Plain Prinia's jumping around in the reeds are a special treat to photograph.

I had a beautiful encounter with a Cattle Egret who was in magnificent breeding plumage standing on a dead tree against the blue sky.

Another frequent family of birds in the area are one of my favourites to photograph. One will come across these specialist hunters often and usually produces great photographs. I came across White-throated Kingfishers and Stork-billed Kingfishers on both mornings. I'm a bit surprised not to come across Common Kingfishers although I'm sure they are also around.

The toss, catch and swallow sequence of a dragonfly by a White-throated Kingfisher is a special capture.


There are plenty of other land-dwellers who are around this oasis. Although quite common in urban areas, they provide an opportunity to take some good photographs.

Other land dwellers who can be seen quite often (although not photographed) include White-browed Bulbul, Common Tailorbird, Brown-headed Barbet, Black-hooded Oriole, Asian Koel, Greater Coucal, Yellow-billed Babbler, Spotted Dove, Green Imperial Pigeon and of course the House Crows.


All in all, this gem of an oasis nestled among the urban jungle is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and exercise your camera muscles. All the more reason to protect the area and make sure the waterways remain clean. So if you are going to escape to this paradise, make sure to bring only memories and photographs back with you and leave nothing else behind.

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