Monday, 21 September 2009


Early this month, I did a 2-day trip to the wet lowlands of Kithulgala with Dr. Chandanie Wanigatunge and her son, Lahiru. This was my second trip with this duo, the first one being a 2-day trip to Sinharaja rain forest, sometime back. We ran into a lot of rainy weather, again. Undaunted, using our vehicle and various wayside shelters available to make hasty retreats, we squeezed in some decent birding during brief breaks we had from the elements.

Some of the noteworthy birds for Lahiru the bird watcher included Chestnut-backed Owlet (a vocal pair), Layard’s Parakeet, (approximately 50 noisy individuals—easily the biggest aggregation that I have seen; also observed their courtship behaviours), Gold-fronted Leafbird (in song), Dollarbird (a boring immature), Green-billed Coucal, (jaw-dropping scope views; old record shot below), Black-headed Cuckooshrike (a pair in a mixed-species flock) and a Lesser Yellownape (long views).

The above Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher was the only bird that I digiscoped on this trip.

Moving on to natural history specials, our most exciting find was a butterfly named Autumn Leaf Doleschallia bisaltide (Family: Nymphalidae), which remarkably takes the shape a decayed leaf when perched (recalling a smaller Blue Oakleaf). A butterfly lifer for all of us, it was spotted by yours truly while having lunch at Rafter’s Retreat’s restaurant. Unfortunately, it was perched too high for my photographic reach.

Our next top butterfly highlight was a male Duffer Discophora lepida, which is a scarce resident in Sri Lanka. It paused long enough to afford a photo opportunity for Chandanie.

Despite not looking for them specifically, we encountered two amphibian species, which were special. The first was Sri Lanka Rock Frog Nannophrys ceylonensis (Family: Ranidae). A record shot of it is below.

Nannophrys ceylonensis And the second one was Kelaart’s Dwarf Toed Adenomus kelaarti (Family: Bufonidae).

Adenomus kelaarti
Here are 5 random facts about these two amphibian species.
1. Both were named by Albert Günther (1830-1914) whose name is synonymous with a fair number of Natural History in Sri Lanka.
2. Both genera are endemic to Sri Lanka.
3. Both genera comprise of 3 species each.
4. They both comprise of one species each of which the current conservation status reads as "extinct"
5. One of these extinct species, Kandy Dwarf Toad Adenomus kandianus was described by Günther in 1872.
6. The other extinct species in question, was named in honour of Günther, as Nannophrys guntheri (Gunther’s Rock Frog).
Did you know that Sri Lanka holds the world record for the highest number of global amphibian extinctions?

That’s right, out of 130 cases of amphibian extinctions documented in the world, Sri Lanka accounts for 21 cases, which is not a feat we can be proud of.

The tadpole that I posted for an ID quiz early this month was photographed on this trip. Here's a more revealing shot of it.
Nannophrys ceylonensis tadpole
It was of the Sri Lanka Rock Frog, which lives on moist rock surfaces, often hiding inside crevices during daytime. For this it is quite well adapted, with a shape recalling more of a regular frog squashed by a wooden a dough roller.

This frog lays eggs in the same habitat it lives and so, the tadpoles when hatched have no free swimming life stage as most tadpoles do. Instead have a terrestrial existence on moist rock surfaces before metamorphosing into adult frogs.

Here’s how I had looked when I shot the above tadpole.

And here’s a crop highlighting the subject, which really proves how small it was.

crop of above
My APOBPS treatment has got delayed for reasons beyond my control. Hopefully it could be "administered" in this week.


spookydragonfly said...

I've said it before, I know, but you have such an interesting career...never a boring post here. From the looks of your camera, I'd be worn out after a couple of shots! Wonder how much that weighs?!

Gallicissa said...

Hi Kim,
Thank you! Long time no see. The whole set up weighs 2.38kg. So, all that rice and curry helps.

Kirigalpoththa said...

Didn realise the tadpole is that small. The macro image is so detailed ..

Beautiful post as usual!

S.C.E. said...

That macro shooting looks like hard work. To think I complain about my poor knees when I photograph Stints on the beach...........

Hey i think I saw a Tickells Flycatcher one time (in either Nepal or India, I don't think I was in a note-taking phase of my birding career at the time).

Hope you get your 100-400L soon!

rainfield61 said...

It is such an interesting trip, how nice if I can join you.

Gallicissa said...

Hi K,
Yes those tadpoles can be quite small. Glad you like the post!

Hi Stu,
Yes, macro can be tough, especially when having to reach low subjects on all fours. Also shooting at night demands a lot as it requires to hand hold a torch in addition to the camera gear without a tripod in my case.

Glad you remember the TBF from your 'formative' days.

Lens...yeah, thanks

Hi Rainfield,
Our rain forests are 'Indo-Malayan' and so, you will find them quite homely.

Tabib said...

Great macro pics as always.
Yes, I will wait for pictures with telephoto-zoom, hopefully cure that APOBPS. That will add up 1.38kg to your 2.38kg kit. ;)

Sasani said...

Hi Amila,
Yes I'm still alive....barely.
Thanks for the 'knock', I'd like to put up a post or two but work is getting a bit tight here.
Anyhoo, nice pics as always! a sight for sore eyes!

Gallicissa said...

Hi Tabib,
They all add up to a lot of kgs, which is unavoidable. I remain hopeful about the cure.

Hi Sasani,
Very good to know that!
Sounds like you are upto your neck.
It would be good to have you back in the blogosphere.

chandanie said...

Hi Amila,
Got on line after the sessions - went off well, lots of kudos coming my way and I am walking on the clouds -- until I come down with a thud!!!
Sorry to note that you are still without a cure for APOBPS :-(
Have uploaded our pics - can be seen at
Any help with identify those dragonflies and any corrections will be much appreciated.

oldcrow61 said...

You seem to have such wonderful trips. Pictures are marvelous, as always.

Gallicissa said...

Hi Chandanie,
I got my treatment 28 Sep, finally. Had horrible weather at Nuwara Eliya and Kithulgala last 3-days, but then it was very good as I wasn't birding much. I shall help with those IDs. Thanks again, for taking the tour!

Hi OC,
Nice to hear that, thank you!

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