Wednesday 14 May 2008

I And The Bird #75

I And The Bird Welcome to I and the Bird #75! - Chestnut-backed Owlet - Kithulgala, Sri Lanka Welcome Message

Welcome to I and the Bird #75!

This is the first time this biweekly showcase celebrating blog writings about wild birds and bird watching comes to Sri Lanka. So I am truly delighted to host it! As usual we have some great contributions from all across the blogsphere. In keeping with the carnival atmosphere, I’ve put together a quiz to give away three lovely books. They are all courtesy of my writer-cousin living in Minnesota USA Nishantha Gunawardena
who has also quite generously promised to bear all postage!

The quiz covers one question per entry and is opened to all. Please send in your answers in the order they have been asked to amila AT birdwingnature DOT com before 29 May. The first person to send in all correct answers will win one of these books for sure and only that person will have the choice of choosing which one, when I announce this first result on 25 May. The winners for the next two books will be decided by a draw and they will be picked by my 3 ½-year old niece, Venara Phillips, and I will break this result on 28 May.

Thank you and enjoy this one!

Amila Salgado

And so it begins...

Birds are perfect natural indicators of the changes in the environment, and Owlman at Owl Box - It's an owl's life! in NJ., U.S notes that Tree Swallows—his official harbingers of spring—were only 5 days late by his unofficial time keeping this year! Living in the only aseasonal ever-wet region in the whole of South Asia, the wet zone of Sri Lanka, I am clueless about such huge seasonal changes, but I agree with him that "departures are tougher than arrivals"—whether it is to keep track of arrival and departures of birds or other things in life.

Unless of course you use your time before departures wisely like Tai Haku at Earth Wind and Water who on a stopover at New York seems to have made the right call to check the urban birding locale Central Park, where he made his first successful twitch in real quick time; bagging among other things the much talked about Western Tanager. He was lucky to bump into some helpful local birders and even luckier that John McClane, the quintessential American hero, wasn’t on a tight deadline!

It wasn’t so much a walk in the park for Kathie and Gus at Sycamore Canyon before they stumbled upon their first Western Tanager for the local patch under the scorching Arizonian sun, as they hiked to the big wash of the Canyon on the World Migratory Bird Day. It sure sounds like a productive trip seeing Gila Woodpecker, Lesser Nighthawk, Gambel’s Quail and a rattler among other things.

Keeping a mother and a farther Gambel Quails busy at Tucson in the South West U.S are 9 chicks as reported by Pam at Tortoise Trail. Pam is impressed by the strength of the chicks flying up to 7 feet up to land gracefully on top of the wall to join their mother, which is captured nicely in her photographs.

Ed making peer-reviewed research palatable to wider audiences in Not Exactly Rocket Science, describes a study of Cuckoos—nature's most familiar conmen—who shun their own parental responsibilities by deceiving other birds into caring for their chicks. According to this research, Cuckoos also use visual form of mimicry to disguise themselves as hawks to fool small birds. In Sri Lanka we have "hawk cuckoos" in our part of the world, of which the similarity to hawks is duly acknowledged in their common names.

Not all conmen in avian world are adept in fooling other birds to rear their young. Our next IATB host Sussanah at Wanderin’ Weeta from British Columbia, Canada reveals that in cowbirds, which "employ" foster parents, only 3 % of the eggs actually hatch. This is because, most cowbird eggs were recognized by the host species, dumped from the nest, broken or abandoned. And sometimes, the chosen foster parents just build another nest on top of the old one containing the cowbird egg.

Another bird and nature blogger from Canada, this time from Newfoundland—Old Crow at Wytchwood Ramblings—attracts lovely visitors at her feeders and she presents a short video captured of an animated Downy Woodpecker that came by.

Bruce at Bruce-sc-pix from South Carolina, U.S too often gets welcome visitors at her bird feeders. They come in all sorts of hues and these gorgeous groupies include Blue Grosbeak, Carolina Wren, stunningly beautiful Painted Buntings and of course those less celebrated cowbirds.

This was bearly barely the case at Nancy’s bird feeders at The Zen Birdfeeder when she had a surprise night time vandal visitor at the feeders. Any guesses?

It is seriously springtime in Connecticut, U.S and if you don’t believe me you should just visit Lin’s fabulous blog Sandpiper as she takes us on awesome early morning walk at her local patch, seeing and photographing a few goodies including a lifer in the form of a pretty-little Chestnut-sided Warbler. Don’t they all seem to be rejoicing that the winter is finally over?

It is a different scene in Down Under where it is now getting into the winter, but that doesn’t appear to be much of a concern for the Superb Fairy-wrens males yet, which still retain their gaudy breeding colours as observed by Duncan at Bencruachan Blog. He also reports a welcome winter visitor in the form of a Scarlet Robin, a charming Fence Sitter, at his yard.

Mel at Teach me about bird watching from Peru reports some nice birds including a yet another flashy avian delight Vermillion Flycatcher from her local patch, and a hummer at her grandma’s when she blogs about birds and flowers.

Madhu at Reconciliation Ecology shares a story of some Cliff Swallows living on the edge at California State University, Fresno, and asks a pertinent question: why can't we let Cliff Swallows nest on campus buildings?

Nick at Biological Ramblings blogs about Migration and weather and reveals how migration is affected by weather with evidence that is hard to reject!

Sarala at blogaway reports White-crowned Sparrows migrating through her backyard as she celebrates them in song: little bird, little bird. Well, as little as it may be, this one has a proven track record to cause big twitching scenes in the UK where it turns up as a vagrant. The most recent one was reported in last January in Norfolk, which attracted twitchers in their thousands keen to bag this mega tick in the UK. Don’t believe me? Click here, here and with parental advice, here.

It’s vagrancy time in the U.S too and this time Drew at Nemesis Bird went chasing an errant Wood Sandpiper at Delaware. After a brief initial scare, he succeeded in his mission and also managed to photograph it well.

Lack of migrants notwithstanding, Patrick at The Hawk Owl’s Nest acting as the co-leader on the Sandy Hook Century Run at the 25th World Series of Birding successfully raked in over 100 bird species. His highlights included a Cape May Warbler, two Surf Scoters, a Least Bittern, and blurrrrp, tasting gluten-free beer for the first time!

Amy at WildBird on the Fly too was at the 25th World Series of Birding with a couple of friends, and she has posed a mini challenge to identify various birding spots visited during their time spent in the field.

Mike at 10,000 Birds, however, eschewed the above event and another one in search of familiar pleasures of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. He had good company, and birding too matched at the end with an unexpected Bobolink, and an errant Redneck in New York City coming in as bonuses. Although this "redneck" also visits Sri Lanka, we never get to see its red neck as it keeps a low profile in its uninspiring winter plumage over here.

Still staying closer to the shore, Troy and Martha—the Texas Travellers in Ramblings around Texas —hares the proud and haughty walk of the American Oystercatcher and a few other tid-bits of information of this delightful U.S coast guard. Did you know that their nest will typically be left uncovered during the day to allow the sun and warm sand to provide incubation?

More Oystercatchers, this time the Eurasian types, a white-morph Western Reef Egret, Great Thick-knees and a distant Terek Sandpiper were some of the specials recorded in a half a day Water Birds trip in Sri Lanka guided by yours truly at Gallicissa.

Terrell from Alone on a Limb shares some bird photos he managed to take on his recent trip to Yucatan in Mexico, which includes Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird, Social Flycatcher and the well-endowed Tourquoise-browed Motmot.

Rob The Birdchaser from Pennsylvania, U.S again gives some sagely advice when he blogs Top 10 ways to be a better birder. He starts off with no: 10: “Stop work to go birding, Unless your job is to find and identify birds, it isn't helping your birding as much as going outside to look for birds.”

Meanwhile Bennet at Pish had some words of encouragement from an anonymous commenter before he shared his photos from a trip to Florida confessing that A Promise is a promise.

We are almost nearing the end of this birding blog carnival. and the fabulous Bird Ecology Study Group (BESG) reveals a cracking set of pictures of an interesting foraging observation of Black-capped Kingfisher at the famous Mai Po marshes in Hong Kong. This good-looking Kingfisher also winters in Sri Lanka in small numbers and is a much sought-after specialty over here.

Guess who sent the last enry? It was none other than Snail at A Snail’s Eye View who just made the finish line, reporting a yet another foraging observation, this time of a pretty looking female Leaden Flycatcher from Australia tackling an odonate!

The Quiz

1. According to Not Exactly Rocket Science, which (plumage) feature Davies and Welbergen found in their study to be a critical element in Cuckoo’s disguise?
2. Name two Woodpecker species that Tai Haku observed at Central Park in New York
3. According to the BESG, what is the breeding range of the Black-capped Kingfisher?
4. What did the Texas Travellers do before photographing the American Oystercatcher?
5. What are the diagnostics observed of the Terek Sandpiper picked up at infinity at Gallicissa?
6. According to Pam, what plumage features are the Gambel’s Quail chicks starting to acquire?
7. What is the name of the Flycatcher reported by Mel? (This should be very easy if you know Mel!)
8. Why does Duncan think the male Superb Fairy-wren is still in nice colour?
9. How many Western Tanagers were seen by Kathie and Gus on their walk?
10. In the Downy Woodpecker video of Old Crow what sort of a sound can you mostly hear?
11. Who was the surprise night time visitor to Nancy’s bird feeders?
12. Apart from the obvious human-caused threats facing the nesting Cliff Swallows, name two other treats they may be worried about, according to Madhu?
13. Which bird peeked over the leaves, and seemed to be watching Lin during her walk?
14. How many species of birds did Patrick report at the 25th World Series of Birding?
15. What is the variation that Sarala observed in her White-crowned Sparrows?
16. According to records kept by Owlman so far, what is the average date of arrival of Tree Swallows?
17. How many fledglings were following the Carolina Wren according to Bruce?
18. What did Amy and her friends find when they arrived at the first of many destinations at the World Series Birding?
19. According to Sussanah how did the nasty trait of letting other birds raise their young start in Cowbirds?
20. Where exactly did Terrell find the Social Flycatcher in his trip to Yucatan?
21. According to Nick, what does the wind map on 12 May explain?
22. What is the Grebe species that Bennet tries to convince us that he saw?
23. How many bird species do you have to see to meet the minimum Bird RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) according to Rob?
24. What is the Redneck that Mike talks about?
25. According to Drew, the Wood Sandpiper seems to be a mix of which two birds?
26. Which location did Snail observe the Flycatcher at?

The giveaways

1. Traces of Eden - The last of the American Wilderness by Nishantha Gunawardena Hardcover: 160 pages. ISBN 0-9769972-0-7 Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches. Price US$ 34.95. Published by Traces of Eden Foundation (2005).
Traces of Eden - The Last of the American Wilderness by Nishantha Gunawardena"The vastness of the United States seems endless and the variety of ecosystems incredible. Deserts, rain forests, grasslands, wetlands, coasts, glacier-clad mountains, and temperate woodlands each brim with its own distinctive character. The spirit of the land caresses and engulfs the one seeking solitude in it. It is possible to hear the essence of the terrain resounding and relating its story in tranquility."– Nishantha Gunawardena, 2005.

2. The Color of Serendipity – A Journey through Sri Lanka by Nishantha Gunawardena. Hardcover: 120 pages. ISBN-13: 978 -0-9769972-2-1. ISBN-10: 0-9769972-2-3. Dimensions: 11.5 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches. Price: US$27.95. Published by Traces of Eden Foundation (2007).
The Color of Serendipity - A Journey Through Sri Lanka by Nishantha Gunawardena“The island of Sri Lanka is a small universe; it contains as many variations of culture, scenery and climate as some countries a dozen times its size….If you are interested in people, history, nature and art—the things that really matter—you may find, as I have, that a lifetime is not enough.”– Sir Arthur C. Clarke In the Forward to The Colour of Serendipity, 2007.

3. The Lost Dynasty—Uncovering Sri Lanka’s Secret Past by Nishantha Gunawardena. Hardcover: 252 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-9769972-1-4 & ISBN-10: 0-9769972-1-5 Dimensions: 11.7 x 8.5 x 0.9 inches. Price: US$ 27.95. Published by Traces of Eden Foundation (2007).

The Lost Dynasty - Uncovering Sri Lanka's secret past by Nishantha Gunawardena “It is an unforgettable journey through the past of a fascinating island. Gunawardena brings the theatrics to the stage of history like a literary dramatist.”– Warren Bass, Washington Post, 2007.

The finishing speech

All this time I was a bit reluctant to come forward to host an IATB birding blog carnival due to work-related handicaps faced as a tour guide. Nature of my work is such that I could get busy at short notice, which at times results in my staying away from computers for several days. In April, the indefatigable Mike Bergin got in touch with me to ask whether I can host one in July. But then I carefully explained to him how May would be ideal for me due to various reasons. In no time, he freed up 15 May for me, evicting one Hawk Owl from its nest in the process. This IATB is the result of that. So a big thank you to Mike for his kind invitation to host this IATB and for his creative manoeuverability in squeezing me in! I hope the Hawk Owl will return once again!

I owe a big thank you to all the contributors, new and old, who sent their entries to lend colour and beauty to this blog carnival. I am especially thankful to bird and nature bloggers: Bruce, Kathie, Mel, Old Crow, and Sandpiper for readily accepting my invitations to join this blog carnival for the first time and for their lovely debut entries. I’d like to thank Ridger at The Greenbelt for sending in that very interesting post on the mimicry of Cuckoos on behalf of Ed—I really enjoyed that! Last but not least I’d like to thank my cousin, Nishantha, for coming forward to sponsor the giveaways including postage to make this carnival a truly rewarding experience for the readership!

The next I and the Bird (#76) is hosted by Susannah at Wanderin’ Weeta on 29 May. Please send your contributions to susannah AT dccnet DOT com before 27 May, 2008.

Au revoir!
Amila Salgado.


Duncan said...

Well done Amila, a great collection!

Unknown said...

That was a lot of hard work. Good job!

Anonymous said...

Great work Amila, well collected, congratulations :)

oldcrow61 said...

You've made a wonderful job of it Amila.

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

Hi Duncan,
Thanks for sending your entry early! Yes, I really enjoyed this IATB

Hi Sarala,
Thanks! Yes it was great fun too!

Hi Taras,
Thanks! Say hi to Nikcy!

Hi OC!
Thanks! It was nice of you to accept my invitation promptly. I hope you will continue to participate for future IATBs.

Dear All,

As you can see the date of the post is shown as 14 Wednesday when IATBs are supposed to biweekly-Thursdays affairs.

Here's my innocent excuse for that: Over here we are almost at the start of the southwest monsoon. The local weather bureau forecasted 15 May to be rainy and windy. In the well-wooded area that I live, these conditions mean regular power interruptions. So, without taking any chance, I got the IATB post ready on the 14th night.

The post was only saved as a draft yesterday and the publishing was done on 15 May at 3.30 p.m. Sri Lankan time. But it seems that the blogger had considered the draft date and put 14 May as the date of the post, which is not what I intended! I should have been aware that blogger acts like that, sorry!

So please excuse it and I hope nobody will loose any sleep over it!

ST said...

well done.

The Ridger, FCD said...

I keep forgetting the deadline for this! Fortunately, others don't - looks like a great carnival.

Amila Salgado said...

Hi ST,
Thanks! Nice to hear from you.

Hi Ridger,
I have a permanent layout feature for IATBs, which reminds me about it. Thanks a lot once again for sending Ed's entry. It hit the right areas of my taste buds!

Hi Taras, I meant Nicky!

Mel said...

So much to read and enjoy!
Thanks Amila for a great job! :)

Unknown said...

Thanks, Amila!

Cool that the first time my writing gets linked in this carnival is on a Sri Lankan blog! I now wish I'd had something more from India... :-)

Ahh, how I wish I was back there now smelling the monsoon winds too... while savoring mangoes!

Texas Travelers said...

Amila, you have set a high standard for others to follow.

It was a great post, and obviously a lot of hard work to assemble all of this and do such a good job.

Well laid out and fun to read.

A lot of great information that will take a couple of reads to digest it all.


Patrick B. said...

Oh wow, I need to find some time to do this quiz! Great work. Thanks to Amila and your cousin too.

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

You did so much work on this. Well done, Amila! Great fun! :-D

Bennet said...

Excellent IATB Amila, you are a consummate host!

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Nice job and thanks! The world seems a smaller place, doesn't it?

Terrell said...

Thanks for including my post. I am enjoying exploring these links. Good job!

Chrissy said...

Hi Amila, I'm so sorry I did not get to participate in this wonderful carnival. Work related issues plus the flu hampered my submission. However, you did a wonderful job and thanks for hosting this carnival.

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Mel,
Thanks! Since you've named your birdie blog: Teach me about bird watching, this will be a good tutorial for you and so, why don’t not you consider taking the quiz? I got hooked on birds at the 8th grade after a project similar to this!

Hi Madhu,
It was great to have your maiden IATB entry in mine! What a small world!

Monsoon's here to stay and I had to disconnect my modem in the middle of typing this due to lightening, so I cannot say that I am thrilled about it at this moment! Oh! yes, a mango can go a long way to put a shimmer to the monsoonal gloom! Which IPL cricket team, do you support? Let me guess…Mumbai Indians?

Hi Troy,
Putting it all together was great fun and thank you very much for sending your entry way in advance! I was lucky that the contributions were great as usual. They had drama, suspense, action, comedy, adventure & love. And oh! songs, heroes, villains, conmen…just like a Bollywood film!! Or should I say a Plywood film as some critics harshly refer for the ones over here..!

Now why didn’t I think of such a theme earlier?? Thanks a lot for your comments!

Hi Patrick,
Thanks! Yes, please take the quiz…and I am sure you will enjoy it!
I’d love to be at one of your World Series Birding events.

And of course in your team!

Hi Lin,
Thanks! It was great to have to you in it. I hope you will continue to contribute for future IATBs!

Your nature walks are just brilliant!

Hi Bennet,
It was very nice to have your contribution. Too bad you couldn’t pish out the Grebe!

Thank you for the lovely comment!

Hi Nancy,
Your contribution added the drama, suspense, action and excitement needed to my production!

Thank you very much for it and for your comments!

Hi Terrell,
Thanks! It was good to have your nice bird pictures adding colour to my IATB. I hope will join one again!
And hope you will turn a fully-fledged birder in the fullness of time!

Hi Chrisss,
No worries! Now that you know about it, you can always join a future edition such the very next one which is right at your neighbourhood. Thanks for your lovely comments!

Snail said...

Bravo! A most splendid I and the Bird, Amila!

(Apologies if you get multiple versions of this. My connection keeps timing out.)

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Snail,
Thank you very much.
I am glad you liked it! It arrived fine - no multiple versions.

R.Powers said...

Great job!
I may step out of my box and join the next one.

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Floridacracker,
Thanks! It would be great to have you participating in a future IATB! Your Barred Owl post is very interesting. I like Owls and people who like them! Thanks for dropping by.

Hi Ocean,
Thanks! I am sure you will enjoy all of them. No worries about your not being able to join this one. The next IATB is in your neibhourhood and it will be great to have an 'Eagle posts' from you!

Dear All,
My internet connection was not working for some reason this morning, so I have to reach an Internet cafe to attend to my blog/other matters. Please excuse any delays for replies.

Unknown said...


Monsoon was always my favorite season, despite the gloom. And if the rain forces one away from the computer once in a while, I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing! I wish I could tear myself away from the internet once in a while (umm... not sure about that though!), especially if a monsoon storm is drumming on the roof!

And that sound may be rather like the sixers raining down on the roof of the Sachin Tendulkar stand at the Wankhede this week courtesy of your countryman, Jayasuriya! O what a week he is having! So yes, you guessed right: I am a Mumbaikar, even from this distance, although Kolkata tugs at my heart also (via in-laws!) - so this last game was tough, but ultimately fun to watch. Mumbai's resurgence seems to be providing quite the story of the IPL - appropriately scripted for Bollywood, perhaps! What's your team?

And don't worry about responding promptly if your net is down - go enjoy watching the game! or the rain.

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Madhu,
Thanks for dropping by again.
Experiencing the monsoon/heavy rain especially while at Sinharaja World Heritage rain forest is something that I cherish as it leaves us struck in our rain forest accommodations most of the time having nothing to do but play Scrabble!

It is just that playing host to IATB, I do not want to appear 'unattentive' to the commenters. And that is why I was a bit not happy with it keeping me off Internet. When I am in the wilds I have to no access to it and I really enjoy the enormous freedom it brings!

I had to do with a highlight package of the first onslaught of Jayasuriya unfortunately as I missed the real match. I have no doubt in real time too it would have looked the same! I watched yesterday's thrahsing of Calcutta though. Mumbai's resurgance has been awesome to say the least. Looks like Sachin's return to the helm of captancy has worked! You're right their success in winning 5 matches on the trot looks apprpriately scripted for Bollywood!! I have no favourite team as such...mmm perhaps Punjab as it has got our captain and vice captain...and Preity Zinta...!

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

Thanks for inviting me, Amila, and for your nice words. It was fun, and you were patient with explaining it to me. You did a great job.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amila Salgado said...

Hi Lin,
No worries! It would be good to have you again in future IATB carnivals.

Dear All,
I just restored my broadband internet connection after it went down on 17 May! That is right - after 6 days of inactivity! A 'computer bloke' worked for 6 hours one day but he couldn't sort it out. Also the telephone company too sent their experts and they couldn't do much.

I played around with the settings and changed the modulation type and the new setting worked!

I am very happy now.

Last time, when I mentioned that monsoon has arrived, I was wrong as clear blue skies followed for several days after writing that!!That is weather gods working to make me look stupid.

So, I am sorry I made the wrong call. It however, seems to have begun now - a few days later. I am terrible at calling weather, sorry.

As promised, I will announce the winner of the first giveaway in two days time on 25 May. Please send your answers to the quiz soon!

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