When Uditha Hettige started out doing field excursions in 1990, in search of Sri Lanka’s rich bird life, he would visit Bodhinagala Forest Reserve in the country’s west each week.
Overnighting at a nearby school, he recalls just how common it was to hear the call of species like the Sri Lanka frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger) and to encounter the endemic green-billed coucal (Centropus chlororhynchos) in home gardens close to the forest.
“But the forest now has receded by about a mile compared to what it was three decades ago and now I hardly find a frogmouth even within the forest,” Hettige, considered Sri Lanka’s leading wildlife tour guide and a member of the Ceylon Bird Club (CBC), tells Mongabay. “The green-billed coucals are only found closer to the forest,” he adds.
He says he’s observed this kind of transformation in most of the ecosystems he now visits, giving an indication of how habitat loss and forest degradation are impacting birds.