We are in the early stages of the North East monsoon now, which brings rain and migrant birds to the entire country. Speaking of migrants, the much talked about Himalayan avian jewel, Indian Pitta Pitta brachura has arrived and my mother reported hearing one early morning today.
It usually calls at around 6 a.m. and again at 6.00 p.m., which has earned its local Tamil name: Arumani Kuruvi meaning the Six O'clock-bird! I was fast asleep at the unearthly hour that my mother had heard it.
Well, now that I know it is here, I will make an exception and look for it. Soon.
I have been trying to capture a certain angle of it for the last 4 years to complete an article about its plumage. I hope I would be get it this season.
My first Brown-breasted Flycatcher aka. Layard's Flycatcher Muscicapa muttui for this migratory season was seen on 12 Oct (Sunday).
I welcomed it by doing a customary migrant welcoming dance. For those who are not familiar with this obscure Sri Lankan birding ritual, it is very similar to the dance performed by some of the US birders when a life bird is seen, as demonstrated by Susan Williams, except that in this version, you do figure 8s from your hips 3 times before moving the hands in the air like you just don't care.
The species name of Brown-breasted Flycatcher: muttui is to honour one Mr. Muttu (pronounced muththu)– the Tamil cook who served its discover, Edgar Leopold Layard (1824-1900), who was a British civil servant (1839-1848) with a passion for birds and natural history. Layard came to Sri Lanka with just £17 in his pocket with his wife Barbara Anne Calthrope after whom the species name of the endemic Layard's Parakeet Psittacula calthropae was named.
I heard the unmistakable call of the regular migrant Bright Green Warbler Phylloscopus nitidus on 1 October, and saw one the following day. Two more migrants, Barn Swallow and Brown Shrike were also seen for the first time for this season a few days ago at my local patch.
I have started to photograph 'blues' again, with renewed enthusiasm after getting my new camera. All these targets were acquired lying flat on the ground—commando-style—at early morning (defined as 7.30 a.m., thank you) when they weren't too active.
Indian Cupid Everes lacturnus
Their relative inactivity also allowed me to narrow down the shooting distance to less than a foot, which is required to get good close ups with my Canon 100mm Macro lens. In these pictures, you can see its conspicuous double orange spot on the tornus of the hind wing verso, which is a reliable diagnostic to tell this species.
Here's the same with in a more orthodox posture but with the light coming from a different angle.
Here is the same with the wings open showing why they are popularly referred as 'blues.'
Here's another shot of the same.
Most of the 'blues' are quite small and look identical, which explains why they pose ID challenges of the highest magnitudes. If you are not comfortable in capturing them to identify down to species level as deemed necessary by some experts, I think the next best way to identify them is to photograph them! And that is half the battle, of course.
I employ this second method, which works for me. Your mileage may vary.
Lime Blue Chilades lajus
Here’s one showing the recto of the same. Note how similar it is to the first one above.
A garden post without dragonflies?
No bloody way!
I had a brief but a good sighting of a male Pruinosed Bloodtail Lathrecista asiatica asiatica last Saturday, soon after waking up from a 3-hour power-nap at late afternoon. The last sighting of an adult male this uncommon dragonfly was on 6 Sep, 2004 when a male visited my home garden presenting my first views. Click here to see a young female of the same. An Amber-winged Glider Hydrobasileus croceus was seen today in flight, of which the first record was when I saw this individual on 17 Oct, 2004. This seem to be the time of the year when it visits my garden. This species is one of the two Libelluids that is not represented by a colour photograph in the 'photo guide to dragonflies of Sri Lanka,' as I blogged here I have now got both these species.
I conclude this post with this female Variegated Flutterer Rhyothemis variegata variegata, which is the Sri Lankan version of the Halloween Pennant found in North America seen in this post by Ecobirder.