Located in the outskirts of Colombo, Attidiya Bird Sanctuary is a small land (may be the only place near Colombo) for the birds and other animals to take refuge in. I came across Attidiya while looking for a place for photographing birds near Colombo. Though initially my hopes of finding any birds over there were low, I was surprised at the biodiversity which I encountered for a place that is right in the backyard of Colombo city.
There were at least 15 species of birds, many butterflies and other insects, reptiles and many species of marsh vegetation. I even saw a porcupine wandering inside the marshes. People were saying that there is a Crocodile lurking in the canal and many snakes like cobra, viper and python live in the marsh. But I did not encounter any of them.
To start the journey in to the marshes, first reach the Wildlife office on Kahawita Mawatha. There are two offices as shown in the map above. The one on the west side of the canal is a new establishment, which is closed on holidays. The one on the east side of the canal (which is an old disheveled place, in front of a small Bodhi tree temple thing) is open daily. There is not much parking space at the place. I met a guy named Asitha who gave me an introduction to the place and gave me tips regarding the paths I should take etc. It seems the government is planning to renovate the area and is planning to create paved footpaths for easy access.
The footpaths are not well maintained. The one right in front of the office starting next to the small temple is the best path to take to get right into the marshes. It used to have a watchtower which had been broken down by people to scavenge its metal (when will the people in our country learn to preserve and protect places?). There is mud, too much vegetation encroaching and the probability of encountering poisonous snakes is higher on this path. The other two foot paths were much clearer as people in that area frequent them.
This is a good place near the city, which is easily accessible to spot some wild life and to take a relaxing stroll. The best time of the year to visit is December and January when the migrating birds also rest here. The best timings are the mornings and the evenings. You can contact Asitha (071-440-1771) at the wildlife office to arrange a guided tour to the sanctuary.
Wear boots if you are planning to take the muddy path. Take precautions against mosquitos if you are going there in the evening. Better to go in a group than alone.