As promised, I am sharing some of the non-birding highlights recorded on the Christmas Birding tour that I led last month. Let's start off with amphibians. We did several frogging walks at the Sinharaja rain forest. It produced a few goodies.
One of the top findings was this strikingly coloured endemic shrub frog described in 2005 as Labugama Shrub Frog Philautus abundus.
Its discovery was published in this paper in the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 2005 Supplement No.12 that announced 27 new species of shrub frogs of the genus Philautus. This paper was authored by the indefatigable Biologist duo, Kelum Manamendra-Arachchi and Rolex Award laureate, Rohan Pethiyagoda, who have put Sri Lanka on the global map of the amphbian hotspots with the discovery of 100 species new to science!
I presume this is an Orange-canthal Shrub Frog Philautus stictomerus. We didn't handle any of these but merely tried to put names looking at their externally diagnosable features without disturbing them. Some of them are difficult to tell without handling as their diagnstics are not all visible in casual view.
Here’s a Common Paddy field Frog aka. Cricket Frog Fejervarya limnocharis . This colour morph with a bright orange mid-dorsal stripe is more attractive than its other drab-coloured morphs.
I found this endemic Bronzed Frog Rana temporalis on a shrub.
To change the topics completely, have you heard any rumours about the new Nikon D3x? It looks like a pretty awesome camera to me. You need to have pretty deep pockets to get one of those though. Sadly it is out of reach for me and a few people I know including this bloke, Hitler. Check this out.
Moving on to invertebrates, this endemic Long-horned Grasshopper, was my top non-birding highlight of the trip. It was identified by Dr. Priyantha Wijesinghe to be Temnophylloides astridula . It was found by yours truly at Sinharaja in an afternoon walk. According to Priyantha, this was described by G.M Henry in 1939 in the following paper:
Henry, G. M. 1939. A new tettigoniid genus and species from Ceylon. Spolia Zeylanica [=Ceylon Journal of Science Section B Zoology and Geology] 21(3): 229-232, pl. XX.
The genus; Temnophylloides is a monotypic one meaning that there is only a single species representing it, which in this case is endemic to Sri Lanka. We encountered it on the way back too, frozen in the same posture, at the same spot. It started to drizzle a bit then when I attempted this picture. I presume it is a nocturnal insect as when we passed this spot during the frogging walk at night it was gone.
Click here to read report of a similar looking Zumala robusta photographed in Aug, 2008.
No masala post is complete without a tagging game. And Christopher at Picus Blog has tagged me for a yet another tagging game named Six Random Things. Here are 6 random things...
1. My favourite daytime drink is Fresh Lime Soda.
2. My cultural book collection is bigger than my bird and natural history one.
3. I am a pretty amazing bathroom singer.
4. I had 2 US birders from NJ cancelling their 16-day Sri Lankan bird & culture tour schuled for Aug, 2009 soon after the Mumbai Attacks. They booked it in Aug, 2008.
5. I hope to get a new lens and some other camera accessories soon.
6. I consider “Step Brothers” as the funniest comedy movie of 2008. What? You don’t like it? Okay tell me a good one then!
I saved the best for last. Yesterday, my blog was picked as the “Best Photoblog of 2008” in the 2008 Blogging Awards by the irresistible London Lanka and Drums, the popular life-style blog that rocks the Sri Lanka blogsphere and beyond. Click here to see the amazing nominees and here to see the continuation of the very encouraging speech done by the Guest Judge –- photographer extraordinaire, Dominic Sansoni, who is one of the Three Blind Men in Sri Lanka. I’d like to say a big thank you to both RD and Dom for this very special honour! It feels very special to be recognized this way.
In the 2007 Blogging Awards, Gallicissa was picked as the “Best New comer” See the star-studded award ceremony here.