Friday, June 27, 2008

Birding at Adam's Peak

FOGSL organised another successful field visit for its members from 20th to 22nd June. Trekking along the foot path from Palabaddala was memorable experience to the members. Following report on the visit was provided by Dr. Newton Jayawardane.

We left the FOGSL office (at University of Colombo) around 7.30 am on Friday the 20th of June. As there were three last minute drop outs there were ample amount of seats left in our coach! We stopped at Meenhanna, Getaheththa at the 66th Km post for breakfast. The manager of the hotel welcomed us with his much obliging smile. We all enjoyed his buffet breakfast very much!
We arrived at Palabaddala temple by noon. ‘Bana Maduwa’ was our base camp. We erected four tents inside it. This was very helpful for us to escape from mosquitoes. Ratnapura district was subject to a ‘chicken guinea’ epidemic few weeks ago. Further we were protected from the much chilly cold weather which prevails there at nights. In the afternoon we did birding around and went to see the 'Mapolana Ella'. This is the highest water fall of the Rathnapura district and fourth highest water fall of Sri Lanka. We were much greeted by the calls of the Sri Lanka Myna and Sri Lanka Layards Parakeets. We experienced much rain on our way back but had the greetings of lots of black bulbuls. We saw ratkeliya (endemic), patkela (endemic), bovitiya and sapu plants with fruits. Dilini who joined us from the Botany department was a great help for us to identify plant species. After the dinner we prepared the bird list and had a lengthy discussion about the following day birding and climb to the Adams peak. Those who participate on earlier trips to peak wilderness discussed the problems encountered, possible causes for them and how we tackled them. Basic body physiology and Medical aspect of climbing was dealt by a Doctor in the team. Our team leader Mr Nashath Hafi gave clear instructions to stop climbing and to turn back by 2.00 pm. It was a very wise decision he took and we saw the results on the following day!!
We had a good night sleep inside the tents but sleep was disturbed occasionally due to snoring of our own comrades!
Day 2

Sunday morning we woke up early. Three hill swallows were on the electric wire just ahead of our door. We packed our breakfast and lunch packets and started our journey by 7.00 am. We saw all six varieties of Bulbuls on the way. We came across a bird flock and Crested Drongos, a pair of Trogons and Lesser yellow-naped Woodpecker were clearly seen.

Sri Lanka army was constructing cemented steps and completed 3800 steps by now. Having climbed all steps we came to ‘Geththam pana’, a place for the nature lovers with a panorama. The water stream there was fascinating. We started moving further up and unfortunately had to face torrential rains. By 1.30 pm we had come close to Seetha gangula. We concluded it was impossible to go to peak and decided to turn back. It was sad but we had to obey the instructions of our team leader. On the way we had a good break and our lunch at ‘Geththam pana’ and started to descend. Three dogs were accompanying us from Palabaddala, later they became a nuisance and started barking and quarrelling on the way. They disturbed the birds including a group of Blue magpies. So even you are a dog lover do not take them on birding trips. We saw a large number of White-bellied Drongos, Sri Lanka Mynas and Black Bulbuls. We reached the base camp by 5.30 pm. On the way back, we saw Pelang (endemic) and Goraka trees with fruits. We did not forget to try on some goraka fruits. Some of us enjoyed a bath at an adjoining "Peella". Unlike earlier peak wilderness trips all members were fit and healthy this time after climbing!! As usual after a tasty dinner, we had our discussions and bird list prepared. The meals we had were typical village meals and were much tasty. Some of us ate 'Thebu mallum, Alakola maluwa and Aligatapera kola malluma' for the first time of our life!!
Day 3
Quite interesting. As soon as we started birding, we saw a White-faced Starling and a group of Imperial Green Pigeons. Amila's knowledge and his telescope was an immense help for us. We explored the jungle called 'Akkara panaha' that located close to the Mapalana waterfall. In addition to our usual birding we saw the following trees; kekiriwara, hora, galweralu, kirihembiliya, freycinetia, keena & walukeena (all are enemics) and wal kopi. We returned to our base camp by 11.30am. After lunch we left for Colombo and reached the University by 5.30pm.
Participants: Nishanthi Perera, Kusum Fernando, Chameera Senavirathne, Garlinga Herath, Pushpakumara, N.R. Dilani, Devi Jayathilaka, C.R.I. Gomez, Newton Jayawardhana, L.W. Manawadu, K.Y. Ganeshapraya, Mohamad Faris, Amila Salgadu, A. Nashath B. Hafi, Indrika Pradeepa

The list of birds recorded during the three day visit.

Sri Lanka Spurfowl
Sri Lanka Junglefowl
Oriental Honey-buzzard
Crested Serpent-eagle
Black Eagle
White-breasted Waterhen
Rock Pigeon
Sri Lanka Wood-pigeon
Spotted Dove
Emerald Dove
Pompadour Green-pigeon
Green Imperial-pigeon
Sri Lanka Hanging-parrot
Plum-headed Parakeet
Sri Lanka Emerald-collared Parakeet
Greater Coucal
Indian Swiftlet
Asian Palm-swift
Little Swift
Malabar Trogon
White-throated Kingfisher
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
Brown-headed Barbet
Sri Lanka Yellow-fronted Barbet
Crimson-fronted Barbet
Lesser Yellownape
Black-rumped Flameback
Greater Flameback
Common Iora
Black-headed Cuckooshrike
Small Minivet
Scarlet Minivet
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike
Black-hooded Oriole
White-bellied Drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Black-naped Monarch
Asian Paradise-flycatcher
Sri Lanka Magpie
Jungle Crow
Great Tit
Hill Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
Black-crested Bulbul
Red-vented Bulbul
Sri Lanka Yellow-eared Bulbul
Common name
White-browed Bulbul
Yellow-browed Bulbul
Asian Black Bulbul
Common Tailorbird
Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler
Sri Lanka Scimitar-babbler
Tawny-bellied Babbler
Dark-fronted Babbler
Sri Lanka Orange-billed Babbler
Yellow-billed Babbler
Sri Lanka Ashy-headed Laughingthrush
Sri Lanka White-eye
Oriental White-eye
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch
Sri Lanka Myna
Hill Myna
Common Myna
Sri Lanka White-faced Starling
Sri Lanka Spot-winged Thrush
Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush
Oriental Magpie-robin
Sri Lanka Dull-blue Flycatcher
Tickell's Blue-flycatcher
Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher
Jerdon’s Leafbird
Golden-fronted Leafbird
Sri Lanka White-throated Flowerpecker
Pale-billed Flowerpecker
Long-billed Sunbird
House Sparrow
White-rumped Munia
Black-throated Munia

Photos: Indrika Pradeepa

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bird Ringing at Horton Plains

Horton Plains National Park is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Sri Lanka because of the misty mountains that surround it and its peculiar wildlife. It is also a popular location for bird watching especially to see highland species. More than 150 bird species are recorded from the Horton plains National Park.

Recently, the Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka conducted a training programme on Bird ringing and other bird study techniques to the staff of the Department of Wild Life Conservation on a request made by Mr. Y.G.B. Karunarathna, Park Warden of the Horton Plains National park. Twenty one officers from the Central region participated in this programme. The workshop was held from 29th to 31st May 2008.

The programme was conducted in a participatory manner and included series of lectures, discussions, field practicals and many other activities.

A total of 23 birds represented by seven species were captured during this period. This included four endemic species, namely Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Sri Lanka White-eye, Sri Lanka Dull Blue Flycatcher and Sri Lanka Yellow –eared Bulbul. Other captured species were Common Tailorbird, Dark fronted Babbler and Eurasian Blackbird.

Chinthaka Kaluthota and Sandun Perera conducted the workshop while Kasun Dayananda, Sarath Sanjeewa and Dayani Rathnayaka assisted them throughout the period.

FOGSL wishes acknowledge Mr. Y.G.B. Karunarathna (Park Warden, Horton Plains NP) for organizing the workshop and providing all the necessary facilities for the participants. Mr. Pathirana and Mr. Dayarathna (Horton Plains NP) helped in many ways to conduct the workshop smoothly. FOGSL also wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to the supporting staff of the park for their active support during the period.

Participants: V.K.G. Nilaweera, B.V.R.I.G. Bandara, Indika De Silva, Sarath Chandrasiri, R.G.R.S. Ranathunga, D.M.S.K. Dissanayake, H.R.D.S. Senanayake, E. Gunadasa, P.G. Chandrapala, Chamath Lakshman, Manoj Vidyaratne, T.P. Dayaratna, W.S. Wijerathna, Chaminda Prasad, Laxman Ranaweera, G.M.T.I. Galapatha, I.G.S. Gunerathne, M.K. Kodithuwakku, C.M. Abeyrathna Banda, H.P. Jayathilak

Photos by Kasun Dayananda.

Monday, June 9, 2008

‘Sri Lanka Birds’ in the month of May

Sri Lanka Birds completed sixth months of its successful journey by the end of May. A brief summary of the results obtained during the month of May is given here. A full analysis of the results of the first six months operation of “Sri Lanka Birds” will be published shortly.

Eight new members registered in the Sri Lanka Birds system during the month of May showing its continued growth.

The number of observations for the month of May was 816. Total of 165 species were recorded in the system during this period. Our members were able to record 23 of the 26 definitive endemic species and six of the seven proposed endemic species during the month of May. Only seven species of migratory birds were recorded in this month.

As in previous months, Red-vented Bulbul (21) was the mostly recorded species. Next five mostly recorded species (and number of observations) were Common Myna (18), Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl (17), Spotted Dove (17), Pale billed Flowerpecker (16) and Common Tailorbird (16).

Observations of nesting birds were recorded for only one species in the system during May. Two nesting observations of Black Bulbul were recorded at two different locations in Sinharaja rain forest.

A total of 22 locations were visited during May by our members. Highest number of observations were made at the Sinharaja Kudawa entrance (114) as in the previous months. Sinharaja forest reserve was the most visited area while a total of 225 observations came from four different locations in the reserve.

Current statistics describing the number of field visits, number of observations and bird species, as well as the number of users registered in the system, are displayed on the login page of ‘Sri Lanka Birds’ - .

More functions are introduced to the system during last month giving more freedom and abilities to its users. Some of the new functionalities for users are as follows.

  • if you have a visit in your list added by another user (where you were one of the observers), their username is now shown at the bottom of the screen for that visit
  • there is now a Filter for My Visits to enable you to subset your visits by date and/or location name
  • the record number is shown on all Top 50 reports and Latest News, with the ability to move through the Latest News items
  • Location and Species reports now have a '?' button (as in the latest news page) to enable the whole visit information to be seen
  • more fields have been added to the download options
  • it is essential to provide co-ordinates for new locations (0,0 is no longer allowed). If the new location is difficult to find in google maps, keep the location tag as it is in the map and provide information about the location as much as possible in the notes section. It will help validators to identify the exact location.

We would like to thank all the members for entering their valuable observations into Sri Lanka Birds. We highly appreciate the contributions of members towards conservation of birds through this initiative.

We wish you happy birding.

Administrator of “Sri Lanka Birds”

Field Ornithology Group of sri Lanka