Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Guiding Kate and John Holland

20 February to 5 March, 2012, saw me guiding a 15-day wildlife tour with John and Kate Holland, from England. Both were keen birders, and this was their first visit to Sri Lanka. Kate sported the latest Swarovski SLC 42 HD binoculars, which were superb in clarity. A birthday gift from John, it was on its first overseas trip.

Our final trip list of birds stood at 236 species and that included all 33 endemic birds and 10 out of the 15 resident night birds. Our top wildlife highlights included a couple of Leopards at Yala and several Blue Whales off Mirissa. The photos below show these highlights and more.

Lesser Adjutant

We saw this lone Lesser Adjutant at the Yala National Park, and it proved to be the only sighting of this rare resident bird for the whole trip. 

Asian Paradise Flycatcher

We had this species at several locations, and this individual obliged outside the Udawalawe National Park. The white coloured males of this species comes all the way from Northern India during the migratory season. I usually get one of these turning up in my home garden, but in the last season I had none.

Asian Brown Flycatcher

Another regular migrant, Asian Brown Flycatcher usually likes tops of trees with ample lighting. When we found this individual, we were on a second floor of a building, and from our position it presented us with nice eye-level views. 

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie

Some of the Sri Lanka Blue Magpies at Sinharaja are quite confiding. This one came to land on my scope, when we were having a break near the research station.

Here's a close up of his head. 

Sri Lanka Frogmouth

This juvenile Sri Lanka Frogmouth was huddled together with its farther at Sinharaja rain forest. It was too close for my lens.

The Blue Whale

We had aout fifteen sightings of Blue Whales, consisting of about eight individuals. This was one of them with a limora fish haning on its tail. The whale watches approaching from behind, scared it off.

The clay girl

At Tissa, this girl is the youngest member of a family that engage in pottery. Her play area borders the Tissa wewa, where we go birding. She used to have a pair of Indian Scops Owls in her garden. But as of recently the owls have vacated the roost.


This female cub gave us prolonged views at Yala. For a good length of the time, we had it all for ourselves, which was nice. I hate the big crowds and traffic jams at Yala.

Asian Groundling

We saw a good array of dragonflies and this Asian Groundling gave an easy photo opportunity. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Cuckoos of the World

I got a spanking new copy of the newly published Cuckoos of the World for free!

Authored by Johannes Erritzoe, Clive F Mann, Frederik Brammer and Richard A Fuller, and publised by Christopher Helm, it describes all 144 species of the bird family Cuculidae including cuckoos, malkohas, couas, coucals, roadrunners and other species in exceptional detail. This includes accurate range maps, superb illustrations by four world-renowned artists to show different plumages and sub-species.

And photographs of almost all species, which includes three contributed by me. They are of Sirkeer Malkoha, Red-faced Malkoha and Indian Cuckoo.

A Red-faced Malkoha devouring a Mega Stick Phobaeticus hypharpax (Westwood, 1859) photographed in December 2004, using Nikon Coolpix 4500 point and shoot camera through a Kowa TSN 823 telescope appears in Page 243 in the Cuckoos of the World.

This explains how I got this freebie!

In the bibiliography it also refers to one of my papers on the feeding ecology of Red-faced Malkoha, which was nice. The book represents the definitive and most up-to-date reference on the identification of cuckoos.

The Sirkeer Malkoha in page 238 in the Cuckoos of the World was taken using my point and shoot Nikon Coolpix 5100, while guiding Dave Thrussel and Chris Holtby in March, 2010.

A big thank you to Jim  Martin, Project Editor of this book for seeking my images, and to my clients who were with me when I photographed these birds (Red-faced Malkoha duing the Christmas Bird Tour, Dec 2004 to January 2005;  Dave Thrussel and Chris Holtby, March, 2010).

Hello to all!
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