A place to value the natural world
If there is Paradise on Earth, it could well be a small nature resort nestled discreetly on the shores of Lake Habarana in north-central Sri Lanka.
Within view of the famous Sigirya Rock, the quirkily named The Other Corner (TOC), is very definitely a place of timeless harmony and beauty. And for a bird and wildlife photographer, it teems with possibilities.
It is nearly three years since I was introduced to TOC – via a fairly rudimentary rope and timber swing bridge that later came under threat from floodwaters. But I think about the place quite often. And when some friends recently dropped by on their way to Sri Lanka (including a night at TOC), I was truly envious.
Abundance of nature
This is not an exclusive, high-end resort or one of those over-priced birding lodges that abound all over the world. TOC was created by Sri Lankan entrepreneur Rahula Dassenaieke for avian and nature lovers to enjoy an abundance of nature.
“A place where people will come to realise the value of the natural world. A place as will in all probability be all too rare in the future,” he says.
The gardens in which the resort’s simple timber tree cottages and chalets sit so naturally literally crawl with creatures large and small. And the nearby Habarana lake is favoured by an impressive array of resident water birds – paid scant attention by passing working elephants.
An extroverted resident
And if the porcupines and giant squirrels don’t take your fancy, there are always the butterflies!
But, for me, the most memorable part of the TOC experience was undoubtedly its extroverted resident naturalist, one Dhilip De Alwis.
As a teenager, he sketched wild birds, “So I could remember what they looked like.” And after 21 years coaching tennis at a leading college in Colombo, he gave it all away to become a wildlife photographer.
Dhilip has been the TOC naturalist since 2013, and to the best of my knowledge, remains so. A day exploring the area with him is as memorable for his brand of humour as it is his prodigious knowledge of local birds and other wildlife. If there is a down-side, it is laughing so much that you miss the odd shot.
He was kind enough to send me some of his recent images taken around the TOC for exclusive display on the Natural Images website.
(Note: I have no commercial arrangement with The Other Corner, or its owner Starron Nature Resorts Ltd. I just like the place! – Tony Neilson.)