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Victoria Park – Urban Paradise for Birds

Victoria Park – Urban Paradise for Birds

By Juliet Coombe

On entering this lovely, glorified oasis in Nuwara Eliya city centre, I am overawed by Victoria Parks diversity of trees, in size, shape and form; there are around 75 to 80 different species. But the first feature, by the entrance, my naturalist guide from Jetwing St Andrews, Ishanda, takes us to is, of course, the rose garden, very fitting for Queen Victoria, herself once an English rose and a reminder perhaps of her days with the great love of her life, Prince Albert. The garden is a wonderful maze of concentric circles with frameworks and pillars all draped with rose-vines. “It is best viewed in April when most of the roses are in flow,” Ishanda, my very knowledgeable flora and fauna guide from Jetwing St Andrews, tells me. On closer inspection, I notice plastic bundles around countless stems and ask him what on earth they are, not sure whether they are deliberate or some weird phenomenon of littering. “They are used for taking cuttings. By attaching bundles of soil half way up the stem, you allow the stem to grow roots of its own that will then enable you to transplant the stem straight into the ground once cut off.” Ingenious I am thinking just as he alerts me to the next wonder, an Indian Pitta, a chirpy little fellow with a yellowish breast and bright green plumage on its back.

Ishanda expert adviser on birds
Ishanda expert adviser on birds

He bounces off into the undergrowth of a grove of Eucalyptus trees that tower so high you would expect to find bloodthirsty giants in castles at the top of them. Vines have attempted to climb up these majestic trees but got lost half way up and end up entangled in neighbouring trees or giving up altogether and dropping down again like a waterfall of branches. But birds are the real benefactors of these monsters, as they can forage around in safety on the ground beneath or settle in the tops, hundreds of feet away from any predators or interferers. Victoria Park is home to a staggering number of different species of birds. We promptly see another, the Oriental Asian Magpie, scouting around in the undergrowth, looking similar to magpies from other continents but smaller, sweeter and with a rather proud tail.

Dark Fronted Babbler
Dark Fronted Babbler

 

Some trees capture the imagination with their curly ferns, all feathery and fluffy, others with their fungi busting sooted wax and whatever you do, don’t miss the multiple trunked Ali Bumbums as you leave the park, bidding you farewell as you once again get sucked into the mayhem of motoring just outside the gates of this incredible sanctuary for all creation to enjoy.