I guided a 3-day birding trip from 3-5 January. It was with Paul Ode, an Entomologist who works as an Assistant Professor at the Colorado State University and his wife, Meena Balgopal who also works as an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at CSU. To combine the best of lowland dry zone and wet zone in real quick time, we visited the Udawalawe National Park and the endemic hotspot, Sinharaja ‘world heritage’ rainforest. These two coordinated birding raids yielded a whopping 142 species of birds! Our tally included twenty-one out of thirty-three endemics currently recognised. The star bird was the Serendib Scops Owl, seen at a daytime roost. This owl, discovered in Jan 2001, is one of the two “endangered” endemics in Sri Lanka with an estimated population of 200-250 in wild. A record shot of this owl in a daytime roost can be seen in a post below.
We observed a pair of immature Ashy Prinias in a plumage not depicted in colour plates of any of the field guides relevant to Sri Lanka. A picture of one of them is shared below. The sub-species brevicauda of Ashy Prinia found here is endemic.
I learnt that Paul specialises in behaviour and ecology of parasitoid wasps among other things. I wasted no time in showing off my pics of the ant parasitoid wasp, Chalcura deprivata (Walker, 1860) - photographed sometime ago in my home garden.
Chalcura deprivata (Hymenoptera, Chalcidoidea, Eucharitidae) at my home garden in Bomiriya, Kaduwela
Click here for an earlier image of the same.
On other news, I am following the rugby of my school, St Peter's College with utmost interest. In the last match we played, Peterites mauled Price of Wales 164-0! This 'cricket score', crafted with 17 goals and 9 tries saw us tumbling several schools' rugby records. The final scoreline of this match was the highest in an 'division-1' (group A) schools rugby match. Several star players were rested in the second half to give the reserves the taste of the feast, which slowed the 'run-rate' somewhat. Eight of these tries were scored by the crack Outside centre, Danushka Ranjan, a rugby prodigy. He who also scored a hatrick in the match against Trinty—taming the Lions in their own den, 31-10. The number of tries scored by Danushka in the match against Cambrians also beat a previous schools rugby record of 7 tries by a single player. With also a convincing win over the traditional rugby power-house, Isipathana under the belt, our boys clearly look poised to emerge as the 'leage champs' this year, and no team would be able to halt that.
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