Bellanwila - Attidiya Bird Sanctuary
Early morning is a magical time at Attidiya. As dawn breaks through the cool mists that surround the marshy waters, one can observe the rich bird life at Attidya as they move freely around looking for food and preening themselves for the day.
Silhouetted against the orange dawn, we could see the dark outline of the Adam's Peak range of mountains. The air was damp with the remnants of an early morning mist and the peaty, dark soil was soft and muddy as we began a nature trek through the sanctuary.
The best travelled trail begins close to the information centre at Attidiya and continues through the marsh, alongside the Bolgoda canal on to the opposite boundary of the park on Attidiya road.
Halfway down the trail there is a viewing tower built by the department for nature lovers to view the wild life of the park at close quarters.
According to a study done by the Society for Environmental Education, there are some 166 species of birds sighted in the area of which most are residential and around 40 migratory. The area also has a recorded 71 species of butterflies and 44 species of fish.
The rare birds inhabiting the marsh are the Indian Shag, the Blue Breasted Banded Tail and the Ruddy Crake. Rare visitors including Spot Billed Pelican, White Ibis, Painted stork and the elusive Glossy Ibis which is believed by bird-watchers to be migratory.
There have been reports of crocodiles inhabiting the canals now and then. There are also small mammals like the fishing cat here. Some have recorded sighting jackals too.
During the couple of hours we spent there, we recorded 35 bird species and a couple of water monitors. Our eyes feasted on flocks of Purple Coot feeding among the marshes, Storks watching still ponds for breakfast and wide winged purple herons flying overhead with quiet grace.
There are other trails to follow inside the park depending on- as one young bird watcher put it- how much mud you'd like to get on yourself.
by Taruka Dissanaike
Honorary Wardens to Police Attidiya - Sunday Times - 3rd March 1996
May 7, 2007