Friday, 24 June 2011


Back to regular programming, and this time, it's a masala post—covering some current affairs in the world of natural history.  

A sticky situation has arisen in ACBWildlife's Blog about some sticky matters that I discussed sometime ago. I just don't want to confound matters any further.

For the first time in recorded history, a Mime (butterfly) is reported here from my home garden. It was found sunning after a heavy thunder shower. Its host plants are of the family Lauraceae; I have as many as five species of them thriving in my garden, including a sizable Cinnamon. So I guess its arrival is not entirely surprising.

In what can only be described as a serendipitous discovery, a Sri Lanka Junglefowl—the national bird of Sri Lanka—was found in my home garden on 12th May. It was not only a garden tick, but also a local area tick! It was found by me accidentally when my mother called me to show an Emerald Dove—a rare visitor to my garden—that she had spotted. Materialising from a thicket moments later, this wild chicken vied for my attention. It didn't have a fully developed comb, which meant it was an adolescent. I had no more sighting of it.

While birding at Elkaduwa with Mike Pope, several Plum-headed Parakeets presented pleasing views. To photograph them, I used manual focussing because of swaying grasses causing auto focussing problems. And I also used the full stealth mode, which is not a feature in my camera. 

Here's the lady first.

And the handsome Mr. Plum-headed Parakeet.

This was how the sky over the Udawalawe National Park looked in November last year by the time we finished a game drive. Soon, it turned a wee bit rainy.

On a related note, a weather station (granted by the Japanese government) inside Sinharaja rain forest had been damaged by some rogue elephants during a nighttime raid. According to a reliable source, there are four wild elephants roaming inside Sinharaja. And occasionally, terrifying people living at the bordering villages. According to the same source, this group comprise of three females and one absolutely massive male.

The latter is known to have some anger issues. 

Thursday, 9 June 2011

25 Endemics in 2 Days with Paul Brown

I guided Paul and Ros Brown on a 2-day trip to Sinharaja rain forest.  An entomologist by profession, Paul works at the British Natural History Museum in London. His main focus on the tour was birds, and more specifically, endemic birds, for which Sinharaja is famous for. Ros, on the other hand, was the supportive spouse of the birder, who preferred to read her book, leaving the boys to chase after the endemics. We did extremely well in the latter department, raking in a whopping 25 out of the 33 endemics in record time—of just 2 days! Fresh from leading several birding tours, I was in fine form, and that I think contributed to such high success.

A pair of Sri Lanka Frogmouths Batrachostomus moniliger at a day roost. 
My most rewarding find was the Sri Lanka Spurfowl—a male accompanied by two females which walked on a arc that I predicted they would take. Having our binoculars prefocussed on exactly that, it was all too easy to get splendid views of this ultra secretive endemic. All this and more are revealed in a report done by Paul.

Layard's Parakeet Psittacula calthorpe, formerly known as Emerald-collared Parakeet. The species name honours the maiden name of Layard's wife, Barbara Anne Calthrope.

I didn't do much photography as I was too busy finding birds.

Brown-capped Babbler Pellorneum fuscocapillus

Some entomological delights obliged too, and these included the commoner fair.

Common Rose Pachliopta aristolochiae

Glad-eye Bushbrown Nissanga patnia
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