Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Birds in my local patch

Large areas of my local wetland patch, where I have birded since childhood, have now been reclaimed for development to meet the growing needs of humanity. However, the remaining pockets still offer good hope. The owner of this private wetland is a friend of mine. Thankfully, he has assured me that the core wetland area rich in birdlife will be spared.

I am sharing here a few photographs taken at this wetland in peril.

Common Kingfisher - male

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis– One of the four kingfishers in the area and a regular at this site. According to the owner of the wetland there existed a 5th species of kingfisher in the area. He explained: “...a small and reddish-hued bird, which preferred densely wooded inland areas as opposed to open water bodies”. According to him, it has locally gone extinct because of habitat loss.

This almost certainly is Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca—a real avian gem. A late naturalist friend of mine, Roshan (aka. Rotiya!), claimed this species in this area about 15 years ago, which was considered dodgy by some 'experts'. Although I have not been fortunate to see it in this area, I still maintain some feeble hope that it exists, albeit in small numbers, as certain patches seem just right for it.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus– a regular migrant that I am never tired of seeing.

Pied Kingfisher - female
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis (aka. Lesser P K) – A pair of these visits a few preferred spots at late afternoons, and sits for long giving prolonged views. Quite a photogenic bird.

Purple HeronPurple Heron Ardea purpurea– A nest and roost colony of these comprising easily over 40 individuals is the biggest concentration of this species seen by me anywhere.

Plain Prinia Plain Prinia Prinia inornata– A rather common bird, seen regularly. This one started calling close to me claiming its patch and posed for some photos. This is the endemic sub species insularis, which is "dark, large, heavy-billed & short-tailed"

White-browed BulbulWhite-browed Bulbul Pycnonotus luteolus– A common scrubland bird, which is endemic to Sri Lanka and southern India.
Lesser Whistling-duckLesser Whistling-duck Dendrocygna javanica A rather common wetland species that is found in flocks numbering over 50 at times. Large number of 'whistling' flocks of these flying over my house at dusk used to be a common thing in the past, but sadly, not anymore.

Yellow Bittern Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis –This as well as the species below have their resident populations augmented by migrant populations from late October –April during which time their sightings are more regular.
Black Bittern -femaleBlack Bittern Dupetor flavicollis –Not as common as the preceding species. Sightings are mostly in late afternoons. It is in its element by dusk, when it shows up well in the open, often affording prolonged views.

Purple SwamphenPurple Swamphen Porphyrio poliocephalus– A rather common resident found in fair numbers.

Chestnut-headed Bee-eaterChestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops leschenaulti– A small breeding population is found in the area quite recently. I am quite pleased about it as it is very much an uncommon bird. If I ever get around doing a checklist for the birds in my patch this would clearly grace the front cover.

The above post is my contribution to I and the Bird #76 hosted by Sussanah the Wanderin' Weeta. I and the Bird - Birding Blog Carnival


Sandpiper (Lin) said...

What beautiful birds! It would be difficult for me to choose a favorite. They're all so good!

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Lin,
Thanks a lot! Wonderful to know you find it difficult to find a favourite. It happens to me often looking at your stunning pictures as you take us around your local patches. So, payback time!

Liquid said...

Thank you for visiting my blog.
I am not usually this ill, long story, well, parts of it any way.
Pardon the pun.

Please revisit on another day.
It will be brighter!

Have a super day and know that I find your blog, amazing as well.

I'll be back soon and often!

Nora said...

Hi Amila, thanks so much for this post, it is the most wonderful of all your posts so far...(I keep thinking this of each new post you do!!!)...now those purple herons that was fun to see...I have been observing many heron colonies lately...WOW the Kingfisher is amazing...how on earth you got that???...and that bee eater (blue one) that was so beautiful....
thanks again for sharing this with us...

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Liquid,

Thanks for dropping by.
Nice of you to explain that….
Thanks for the great compliment on my blog and promising to be back.
Let me promise this in a refreshingly unoriginal way:
I’ll be back!

Hi Ocean,

I am very happy to hear your lovely comments on this post! Purple Herons especially in breeding plumage as shown in the picture are really great to watch and photograph. I often hear comments from overseas birders especially ones from the UK how difficult it is to photograph the (Common) Kingfisher over there and how gettable they are over here. To be frank, this is true with most birds here as they tend to tolerate the presence of humans a lot (and there goes one of my secrets….). Due to the influence of Buddhism, we do not hunt/trap wild birds over here as much as they do in our neighbouring/regional countries, which is fundamentally why they are so tolerant of us over here.

Chrissy said...

What awesome photos you captured right in your neighborhood! I was impressed with the purple heron and the kingfisher.I'm glad your friend will keep the habitat intact for these beautiful birds. Have a great day!

Kathie Brown said...

Those kingfishers are stunning! How beautiful! How sad it makes me to think that some have gone extinct due to loss of habitat. It reminds me of our own Ivory
Billed woodpecker which we all hope still exists somewhere. Your purple swamp hen is called a purple gallinule here in the USA. what a nice visit I've had here today!

Amila Salgado said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amila Salgado said...

Hi Chirsss,
I feel quite lucky to have such an excellent wetland patch just minutes away from home. Although not a birder, my friend has a lot of appreciation for the natural wealth in his own land. As mentioned in the post, he has assured me than the core area (which is right in front of his ancestral home), will be preserved and I believe him.

Have a lovely Spring Day!

Hi Kathie & Guss,
Thanks for dropping by. I am glad you liked my Kingfishers!
Yes, it is disconcerting to note such local extinctions. I think having hope is a good thing. However, I believe the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is extinct. I believe that David Luneau video is Pileated Woodpecker! It is so puzzling to me how such a big forest Woodpecker could go undetected for so long with the amount of money spent on it & so many good bird watchers in the US looking for it. So, I just cannot believe it exists, sorry.

Here’s why I really maintain some feeble hope for the Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher in my area:

The Common Kingfisher and Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher have similar calls with the latter being a bit sharper, which sometimes can be difficult to differentiate. They both have a habit of calling while flying. The latter, which prefers densely–wooded inland habitats, has this amazing ability to fly low at lightening speed skilfully dodging all obstacles and giving immense pain for bird watchers who have to settle for fleeting views most of the time. And when it perches it has a habit of sitting right inside the dense cover often hiding from view further causing distress for us.

Now here is a revelation: About 4 times, I have heard Common Kingfisher/Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher type calls at my home garden – which for your information is densely wooded. So, needless to say, I am on the hunt for it. This vocalisation evidence, some patches in my area looking 'right' for it and sight records of it in the area by two people are why I really maintain some feeble hope for it still!!

By the way, the report of Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher by my late friend was rejected by some birders when he first reported it. So more than anything I want to find this bird for my friend.

I hope to explore your beautiful blog more

Modesto Viegas said...

Thanks to share with us the bird life in Sri Lanka. Excellent photos and descriptions!
Keep going!!!
Best regards

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Modesto Viegas,

I am glad you liked my photos and descriptions. I just peeped at your blogs and I must say that your photos too look exceptional!

I have added link to your Recanto


Mel said...

Such beautiful birds facing such bad luck!
Even if some of the wetlands are spared for them, the proximity of human developments will degradate their habitat and will make it harder for them to live there. I really hope they can make it, and that your friend keeps his promisse!

Modesto Viegas said...


I have also added your link in my blog!


Amila Salgado said...

Hi Mel,
There are several factories that have sprung up at the periphery of this wetland, some of which are quite noisy, but the birds seem to have got used to them. Dumping of garbage also takes place in certain sections, which to me is the biggest worry at the moment. Anyway, I am confident that my friend will spare the core are as it is bang in front of his ancestral home and he will preserve it for aesthetic reasons mainly.

Hi MV,

Thanks for reciprocating. Look forward to exploring your blog...

Larry said...

I would be very excited to see some of those birds.-Some of them are real beauties! You are a fortunatebirder to live in such a great birding area!

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Larry,
I bet you would be. I am glad you seem to like some of them. Yes, I feel lucky to have good birding patches around. But then, I often feel how lucky you are to see so many birds around your local patches, most of which are utterly unfamiliar to me.

Update to all: This wetland and the surrounding areas were flooded following heavy rains last week, which caused floods in several other parts of Sri Lanka too. My friend; the owner of this wetland was badly affected with his crops & other things getting destroyed due to this. Actually, he took the brunt of the damage as one of his new land buyers had altered the bank of the nearby Kelani River, causing the river water to flow inland at that point, which had not happened since 1987. The floods have now receded and life is beginning to turn normal.

Anonymous said...

nice read. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did you guys learn that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.

Anonymous said...

hi nice to read your blog

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