Sunday, 9 May 2010

Birding and Rugby Roundup

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.

A male Purple-rumped Sunbird.

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.

Immature Ashy Prinia at Udawalawe National Park, 3 Jan 2010.

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.

Not even Rrroyaal...


Andrea said...

Stunning serie.
I like the "metal looking" head in the first picture.

Me-shak said...

oh wow,Lovely pictures as all ways Amila. Would love to watch with you. You are very informative and I enjoy it very much. Every single bit, lol:D
Looking forward for more.

rainfield61 said...

I should have seen 115 species without notice.
Your always give me many magnificient shots.

dev wijewardane said...

nice shots again. I don't think the scops has been included though.

Royal's record is 191-0. don't think that'll be broken for a while. 167 is impressive though.

Stuart Price said...

Didn't know Rugby was played in Sri-Lanka..............I've never played myself (I'm a football man).....

Great Wasp shot, you've gotten really good with macro stuff now.

FINroD said...

Mate, Peters has a crack side this time, really impressed with Danushka.. I hope he continues to play after school.

Kirigalpoththa said...

Love the striking picture of Purple-rumped Sunbird. We have many of those at our place too.

When is Royal Vs Peterite?

Unknown said...

sure about that Amila..
Its happy to the Pete ruggerites are riding high after having a bad season last year.
Actually we only lost the captain from the last years team. So the rest of the 14 players are in the current side.

Dhanushka ranjan scored 4 tries at the joe pete last year and i think he scored tries in most of the matches that season. The lad scored an absolutely breath taking try against Pathana in the opening game running 90 meters beating 5 of their defenders by speed and side steping.

another 3 against the strog Trinity at their own den... then the 8 vs POW. Wonder whether he could beat the record of Mohamed Rinaaz - the formet pete captain (2004) who scored 33 tries in one season ,...thats in 2002, when he was the winger of the side led by that great flanker/ no 8 Dilanka Wijesekara.



Dee said...

WOW. how intricate normal bugs look real close up! boo peters!! :P :D

Larry said...

Wow Amila, 142 species! That's incredible! Your Purple-rumped Sunbird is absolutely stunning and the parasitoid wasp is exceptional also.

Tabib said...

Wow!.. fierce looking male sunbird,
very much like our brown-throated here.

Amila Salgado said...

Ciao Andrea!
Yes, the metallic hues of the sunbird looks good under the sun. Good to have you back.

Hi Shak,
Thank you - glad you liked them. Hope you will watch the cricket - putting off your studies for a while.

Hi Rainfield,
Good to have you back. Hope Malaysia is as rainy as Sri Lanka and you are keeping fine.

Hi Dev,
I didn't intend to include a scops owl image in this post as I have already included one in a recent post - hence the reason I mentioned " a post below".

I am afraid Royal's record was 172-0, not 191-0. It was in a 'friendly' encounter against Royal Panadura, a team that was not in 'Division-1 Group-A'. Our record stands tall as it was with a team in 'Division-1 Group-A'

I too think that Royal's minnow-bashing record you referred would not be broken for a while.

Hi Stu,
Rugby is centred mainly around the two big cities - Colombo and Kandy where it is quite popular. Sri Lanka won the Division 1 Asian 5 Nations Final last month beating a certain 'Singapore' team that mostly had massive white players, 23-16. This win should push Sri Lanka to the 5th ranking in Asia from its current 8th position.

Macro is good fun, thanks.

Thank you FINroD!
I am sure Danushka will be hired by a top club as soon as he leaves school.

Hi K,
22 May at the Royal College Sports Complex.

Gracias Hamza!
Machang, that try scored by Danushka can be seen in the youtube piece linked towards the very end of the post. What a try! The way he plays I think he may break Rinaaz's record. Hope he stays fit.

Hi Dee,
There is light at the end of the tunnel for all other rugby playing schools, but it's that of an incoming express train that is Peter's, which will run them over....:P

Hope your little bro will score lots of tries this season!

Hi Larry,
Both Paul and Meena were terrific birders, and it helped a great deal to boost our trip list. The two sites combined on this trip were in two very different avi-faunal zones, which is another reason that accounted for high numbers. I am pleased to hear you like those two pics. Thank you!

Hi Tabib,
Thanks, and I think it does look similar to that species - head-on.

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