Birdwatchers visiting or living in Sri Lanka have 26 endemic species to look for in a variety of different habitats. Many of the endemics are exclusively found in the lowland rainforests in the islands South West. Sinharaja is well known for providing a home for most of these species.
One species that is exclusively found in the montane and cloud forests of the Central Highlands is the Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush (Myophonus blighi) or Arrenga. It is widely believed to be the most difficult bird to spot on the island. Hard core birders flying into tick off rarities are usually taken to Horton Plains to catch a glimpse of it. I’ve had a chance to see the Arrenga in the Peak Wilderness forests around Sri Pada on several occasions. However, the few views were fleeting and never gave me a chance to appreciate, let alone photograph the diminutive bird. That all changed on our recent trip where I was afforded several early morning views of a semi-shy male at the edge of Peak Wilderness. Whistling thrushes are associated with small streams and rivulets where they feed on frogs, earthworms, insects etc and I felt fortunate to photograph it in such an ideal habitat.
It has interesting similarities to the Malabar Whistling Thrush (Myophonus horsfieldii), though it is noticeably smaller and the female is of a different coloration. Apparently it does not have the amazing vocal calls of its Western Ghats cousin.