Monday, 24 November 2008

November rain.

brings about lots of pleasant changes in the environment. One of these is it creates temporary pools in most parts of Sri Lanka. This may sound bad news when you think about mosquitoes. But these pools also attract dragonflies, which come to find food and love. Aggressive predators, dragonflies in their aquatic larval stages feed among other things on mosquito larvae. Also at their free flying adult stage; they feed on mosquitoes, quite a bit. Therefore, dragonflies play an important role in controlling these harmful pests, which increase during wetter months.

While birding in a secondary forest patch close to my residence, I came across quite a cute little temporary pool with plenty of dragons. I found myself making two trips to this fantastic wetland reserve to attempt to capture some of its beautiful residents in camera. Here are a couple of dragon shots that I managed.

Blue Pursuer Potamarcha congener -- adult male.

Blue Pursuer Sociable Glider Tramea limbata -- adult male.

Sociable Glider

My birding highlights included Yellow-fronted Barbet - an endemic bird of Sri Lanka that is still holding a small population – probably the closest locality to Colombo in its distribution in Sri Lanka. This endemic is still not recorded in my garden yet; despite the latter being only a 1.5 km away as a Crow Barbet flies. The reason for its absence in my yard is probably is due to the fact that the intervening gap being somewhat heavily built-up. It just shows how habitat-specific some of these endemics are.

Yellow-fronted Barbet

I also saw my first White-browed Fantail in my local area. Primarily a dry country bird, it occurs in the wet zone where vegetation has been cleared and secondary growth has taken over. Therefore, in my opinion, it’s a good indicator species about dryness that is creeping into parts of the wet zone due to increasing human activity.

Fellow blogger; Java Jones lamented once that he doesn’t get to see White-browed Fantail in the garden of his highland retreat anymore. I asked him whether his land has got ‘wetter’ than before. His answer was, a ‘yes’. He had planted a lot of trees for habitat enrichment over the years, which have turned his garden greener and consequently too wet for White-browed Fantail! He mentioned that it is found in nearby tea fields, which are open and sunny but not in his backyard anymore.


Java Jones said...

Hey Amila - great to hear the Fan-tails have discovered your territory and are hanging out. I always loved to watch their 'dance'. The Yellow Fronted Barbet is quite common at Flowerbook, as are the Brown Headed ones and the occasional Coppersmith.

Hope the pond is coming along. My new one is all 'seasoned' now and looking great - and the Dragons are comming!

spookydragonfly said...

Hello Amila...Of course, you know that I appreciate your dragons, but I have to say that bird capture is beautiful. He/she(?) looks as if it's posing just for you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Amila,
As usual I learn some thing from you. I went looking for dragons locally but I think they are gone for the winter. It is getting chilly (10C in the afternoon). Perhaps next spring!
By the way, I had a visitor, have a look!

mboi said...

Hi Amila,

If you want to attract Barbets, plant an 'Uguressa' tree. I've got a huge Uguressa tree in my old house and all three species are quite common during the fruiting season. They just swallow the cherry-sized fruits whole. The whole tree is a wildlife magnet really, the flowering season attracts millions of bees and insects, and when it's in fruit all sorts of birds and squirrels come during the day, bats and 'uguduwa' come at night, and when the fruit falls to the ground and rots, it attracts dark colored butterflies who come to sip on the juices. I've also noticed various moths like to rest on the dark lichen covered trunk of the tree. and it's great if you want to take photos because the tree doesn't really shoot up tall. It grows about maximum three stories high but a lot of the branches spread parallel to the ground at about the height of a single storey house. It's very easy to spot the birds on these branches.

The barbets are also attracted to Jack fruit, especially 'Waraka', sometimes I see them in the Waraka tree and then flying towards the Uguressa tree. and they also like to nest in holes in the Waraka tree.

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

I love that picture of the bird. The green is so cool.

fishing guy said...

Amila: I do enjoy your dragonflies and birds, you capture them so well.

Tabib said...

Over here in Malaysia, the raining season has started. The good this is, birds will start foraging when the rain stop, and this is a good opportunity for birding and photography.
Great picture of Yellow-fronted Barbet, although its didn't show the yellow chest.
Great dragonfly pics and I have not seen that Tramea limbata yet.

Doug Taron said...

I was thinking of you on Friday. I was trying in vain to photograph a variegated meadowhawk. The experience heightened my appreciation of your dragonfly photos.

Gallicissa said...

Hi Java,
Their groovy dance explains their old generation name; Drunken piper!

I regularly find all our 4 Barbets sympatrically at Ella-Welimada-Haputale general areas on my birding tours. I am pretty sure that Flowerbook would have all of them. My pond is 80% finished. I am waiting until the rains ease to complete the balance.

I am jealous of the Fiery Emperors that you get in your pond. You are lucky to have a natural stream close by. I am also jealous about all the people who live near natural streams and have ¼ acre private ponds.

Hi Spookydragonfly,
I shot that Barbet at point blank range. You will find a better shot from the same sequence: here:

Our Sociable Glider would be Sociable Saddlebag for you!

Hi Kalu,
Yes, dragonfly activity appears to be low over there now from what I read. Thanks for sharing that visitor you got.

Quite appropriate considering the snowy times to follow pretty soon!

Hi mboi,
Thanks for sharing those observations on your Uguressa tree. I haven’t got one in my garden yet but your glowing appreciation made me want to do it! To supplement for the time being however, I have a huge Fig species named Ficus tjsahela, which is pretty amazing during fruiting season. I have plenty of Jak/Waraka types in my garden and area can know what you mean.

Hi Nancy,
Glad you liked my barbet. As you may know, they are Oriental group pf birds – and all except one come in greener tones.

Hi fishing guy,
Thanks! I am glad you like them. Dragonflies fly year round here, so we have it easy!

Hi Tabib,
That’s why birding in rain forest during rain is so much fun. Tramea limbata has a wider distribution but I doubt whether its range extends as far east as Malaysia.

Hi Doug,
Please to hear that! After many trial and errors, I managed to get a decent flight shot of a dragonfly from my new camera. I am pretty pleased about it. I achieved it with manual focusing with the focus highlighted to the centre. You will see it soon.

spookydragonfly said...

Well your Blue Pursuer, my Blue Dasher? By the way...November Rain, the song, is one of my favorites as far as classic rock ballads go. Just a little useless F.Y.I.

Modesto Viegas said...

Excellent bird capture!!!

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

Lovely photos of the dragonflies and the beautiful bird. I'm always happy to visit here to see creatures that I otherwise would not know were in existence. Thanks.

Gallicissa said...

Hi again, Spookydragonfly,
More like a Eastern Pondhawk...perhaps. I too like November rain big time. The heart-melting guitar solo of slash is awesome! This guy seems to have lots of talent too: (Full vol. please)

Hi Modesto,
Good to hear from you. Pleased you liked it.

Hi Pat,
Thanks as always for those nice words. I am always pleased to share our local delights.

Vickie said...

Hi Amila. I always love your dragonfly photos. It makes me want to try more of this, though its the wrong season for us in TN, USA.

The bird photo is gorgeous. I love this unusual image that shows so much detail.

Adventure girl wanna be said...

Hello Amila,
Your captures are so consistantley beautiful. What a beautiful place you live in. Thanks for your nice comments on my blog;) You are so sweet!

Java Jones said...

Amila - I've heard that the 'Drunken Piper' tag happened due to its kinda tuneless musical call. What do you think?

And yes, we have all the Barbets at Fowerbook, but the most common are the Yellow Fronted and Brown Headed - they just can't resist the Guava, Papaya and Mulberry trees!

Gallicissa said...

Hi Vickie,
Dragonflies will always provide you with lots of pleasant distractions when you are observing those Whooping Cranes.Yes, I think you will have to wait for a while until they reemerge. Until then, you can always buy a few books to read through the winter to get familiar with them. Having a garden pond wouldn't hurt either.

Hi Adventure girl,
It's good to here that, thanks!
I am pleased that you like my pics. A lot of girls have paid that last compliment to me!(ha-ha).

Hi again, Java,
I always thought that it was named after its unusual dance. Senior Bird watcher Jagath Gunwardena also seems to think so.

But what you said is very interesting -- as Scots were here planting tea, they probably would have had a hand at inventing this name for it after their kind of 'tuneless music'. hmmmmmmm!

You have the best of dry zone and wet zone birds there.

fishing guy said...

Amila: I don't know if you do awards but I gave you one on my site.

Texas Travelers said...

Happy Thanksgiving from Texas....

Troy and Martha

T and S said...

I came to your blog from "fishing guy" blog.

You have an amazing blog with incredible images of endemic species in Sri Lanka.

The post on Red-faced Malkoha and the Juvenile Elusive Adjutant.

Congratulations on the "Hot blog" award...Thomas

Gallicissa said...

Hi fishing guy,
Thanks a lot for the award!
I truly appreciate your wonderful gesture!

Hi Troy and Martha,
It's good to hear from you.
Happy belated Thanksgiving for you too!

Hi Thomas,
I am happy your found me through the fishing guy's blog. Thanks a lot for those wonderful words!
Sorry I got late to reply your comments. I will drop by your blog soon.

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

Amila, I've been reading about the terrible flooding in Sri Lanka. Just wanted to touch base to see if you and your family are OK.

Gallicissa said...

Hi Pat.
The floods mostly affected the dry zone due to a hurricane. Even though we wet zoners too got some of its rain, the area that I live is unaffected.

Thanks a lot for checking how I am! I really appreciate it!

flowergirl said...

Now I need to observe dragonflies more closely!! Always thought a dragon fly is a dragonfly! We have so many here.

Is there a book you can recommend about dragonflies of the region?

I have seen a fantail a couple of times....but I found their music quite tuneful and endearing!!

Gallicissa said...

Hi flowergirl,
An interest in dragonflies will bring you lots of joy!

Yes, there is a good book that I can recommend for you. It is:

Dragonflies and Damselflies of Peninsular India -- A Field Guide
by K.A.Subramanian.

It's true what you mentioned of the Fantail's call. It usually plays in my head for sometime after I hear it!

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