Following are the top 10 Natual History highlights that made me tick in the year 2008. I'd like to thank Duncan Fraser at Ben Cruachan - Natural History for his invitation to do this post.
1. Elusive Adjutant Aethriamanta brevipennis brevipennis-- adult female in my home garden. Winner of Best Dragonfly Moments Macro Capture of 2008. Click here to see all the entries and the voting process and here to see the winning shot of mine announced.
2. Serendib Scops Owl Otus thilohoffmanni -- Photographed on tour with Thiery Becret, Marie-Andrée Becret and Michelle Gerner from France at Sinharaja 'World Heritage' Rain forest in Aug, 2008. This bird was discovered new to science in 2001. Click here to read more details about it. It is one of the 2 "Endangered" endemics in Sri Lanka and the reason why I bought my Panasonic Lumix FZ-18, after seeing amazing results of a Panasonic Lumix used by Peter Kaestner, who shot this photograph of this rare forest owl on tour with me in September, 2007. Peter is currently placed 6th in the 'world rankings of birders with 8,197 bird species seen out of 10,000 or so species in world.
3. Leopard Panthera pardus kotiya. Another one of the many highlights of the aforementioned tour in Aug, 2008. As blogged here, it amply rewarded our persistence. Leopard is the apex predaor in Sri Lanka and day time sightings are regular at Yala National Park's block 1 (141 sq.km) where there is a healthy population of around 40 individuals.
4. White Four-ring Ypthima ceylonica -- a garden delight. I was flat on the ground commando style when I shot this. This is quite a common species but photographing them is really a pain in the neck as they always quite low down.
5. Elusive Adjutant Aethriamanta brevipennis brevipennis -- Duncan never told me that you cannot repeat a species. This juvenile male was shot in natural light hand-holiding the camera as I usually do. This dragonfly species is very much my 'test' dragonfly that I use to learn close up photography.
6. Long-horned Grasshopper "Robust Zumala" Zumala robusta -- Photographed on tour with the three French photographers mentioned above. This was my top non-birding highlight of that tour. It was identified by Biologist, Dr. Priyantha Wijesinghe- - one time Entomologist in the National Museum of Sri Lanka. He wrote "...your photographs are excellent and I was very glad to see them, not having come across a live specimen of Zumala myself". I blogged about this here.
7. Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca -- As blogged the previous post, this was bagged during my Chirstmas Birding trip with Richard and Anne Bishop from Kenya in Dec, 2008. This was scored at Kithulgala and was the first bird we raised our binoculars to watch on this tour!
8. Purinosed Bloodtail Lathrecista asiatica asiatica -- young female photographed in my yard. I bagged her just three days after getting my first dSLR and she put a smile in my face for that reason. And I put a smile back in her face in celebration of my first blogoversary.
9. "Ornate Rakwana Grasshopper" Rakwana ornata.-- Another one of the top highlights seen on tour with the French photographers in Aug, 2008. Read comments on this post for details. This was shot using my old Panasonic Lumix-FZ-18 and ultra stealth mode. Dr. Wijesinghe who identified this for me was very happy to see its image too. He wrote to me "Although this species lacks wings and is flightless it has extremely good jumping powers and very acute vision (note the very large and prominent eyes), so it is very hard to approach both for capture and photography."