Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wader study workshop at Bundala

FOGSL organized the annual Wader Study Workshop for its members from 12th to 14th December at Bundala wetland complex and its surroundings. The main highlight of the trip was participating in the National Bird Ringing Programme conducted jointly by the FOGSL and the Department of Wildlife Conservation.

We left the FOGSL office on the 11th December around 2.30 pm in a coach that was fully packed with members and their belongings! The only stop of the journey was at Kuruwita for a well deserving cup of tea. It was around 10.00 pm when we arrived at Walligaththa junction and had to wade through flood waters which were rushing in to the Embilikala lagoon. No one wanted to put up tents at the ‘Heritage’, our base camp for the trip, and opted to sleep on the mats for a change. But sadly many didn’t sleep well that night due to “large herds” of mosquitoes and snoring of their neighbors! Sounds of crackers that are lit to chase the wondering elephants were very common, indicating an accelerating human-elephant conflict in the village and its surroundings. Weather gods were good to us during the following three days and as indicated in the list below, 124 bird species were recorded, of which the only endemic was the Sri Lanka Jungle fowl. More than 30 migrants were present in the lagoons, tanks and slatterns. A Fulvous Whistling-duck was spotted amongst the resting Garganyes in the Bandu wewa. Large numbers of terns and cormorants were observed in the Bundala salterns where the bird ringing activities were taking place. The most common migratory waders caught in the mist nets were the Common Redshanks. Capturing White-cheeked Tern, Sterna repressa in the mist nets was a rare treat, especially for Rex whose record of the species 20 years ago was not well received locally at that time.
During dusk, Small Pratincoles and two Nightjar species (Jerdon's and Indian) were observed resting on the saltern banks and on the roads. Spotting a pair of White-naped Woodpeckers at a home garden near the Debarawewa, was an exiting event for many members.
List of birds recorded

Common name Scientific name

Sri Lanka Junglefowl Gallus lafayetii
Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus
Fulvous Whistling-duck Dendrocygna bicolor
Lesser Whistling-duck Dendrocygna javanica
Garganey Anas querquedula
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala
Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans
Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis
Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis
Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Indian Pond-heron Ardeola grayii
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Great Egret Casmerodius albus
Intermediate Egret Mesophoyx intermedia
Little Egret Egretta garzetta Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis
Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger
Indian Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscicollis
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster
Brahminy Kite Haliastur Indus
White-bellied Sea-eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus
Great Thick-knee Esacus recurvirostris
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
White-headed Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus
Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus
Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus
Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Little Stint Calidris minuta
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Small Pratincole Glareola lactea
Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis
Great Crested Tern Sterna bergii
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Little Tern Sterna albifrons
White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Spotted Dove Stigmatopelia chinensis
Green Imperial-pigeon Ducula aenea
Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri
Pied Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus
Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus
Grey-bellied Cuckoo Cacomantis passerinus
Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus
Blue-faced Malkoha Phaenicophaeus viridirostris
Sirkeer Malkoha Phaenicophaeus leschenaultii
Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
Collared Scops-owl Otus bakkamoena
Jerdon's Nightjar Caprimulgus atripennis
Indian Nightjar Caprimulgus asiaticus
Crested Treeswift Hemiprocne coronata
Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis
Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis
White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
Little Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis
Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
Brown-headed Barbet Megalaima zeylanica
White-naped Woodpecker Chrysocolaptes festivus
Indian Pitta Pitta brachyura
Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus
Common Iora Aegithina tiphia
Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus
Asian Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi
House Crow Corvus splendens
Jungle Crow Corvus levaillantii
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Jerdon’s Bushlark Mirafra affinis
Ashy-crowned Sparrow-lark Eremopterix griseus
Ashy Prinia Prinia socialis
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata
Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer White-browed Bulbul Pycnonotus luteolus
Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
Tawny-bellied Babbler Dumetia hyperythra
Yellow-billed Babbler Turdoides affinis
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Brahminy Starling Sturnus pagodarum
Rosy Starling Sturnus roseus
Oriental Magpie-robin Copsychus saularis
Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicatus
Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica
Jerdon’s Leafbird Chloropsis jerdoni
Purple-rumped Sunbird Nectarinia zeylonica
Purple Sunbird Nectarinia asiatica
Long-billed Sunbird Nectarinia lotenia
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Streaked Weaver Ploceus manyar
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata
Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata
Tricoloured Munia Lonchura Malacca
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Paddyfield Pipit Anthus rufulus
Participants: Prof. Sarath Kotagama, Rex De Silva, Shamila Perera, Rahal Fernando, Gayan Budhdhika , Akila Kularatne, Ayanthi Samarajeewa, Rohantha Samarajeewa, Madubashini Jayawardhane, Yuraji Karunaratne, G.K. Kumara, A.S.M. Rufki, Rohan Kaththiriarachchi, Mahitha Kaththiriarachchi, Chameera Senavirathne, G. Herath, Thena Perera, Nishanthi Perera, P. Amudesh, Wilson Kulasuriya, Thilaka Batagoda.

Indrika Pradeepa provided the bird list and photos.

Reported by Nishanthi Perera.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

‘Sri Lanka Birds’ in the month of November

‘Sri Lanka Birds’ web based data entry system for Sri Lanka completed another successful month by the end of November. Detailed analysis for the past year will be published shortly. Summary results of the analysis for November are given in this report. This analysis is based on the data downloaded on 24th December 2008.

New members 15
Total members 205
We warmly welcome new members to the ‘Sri Lanka Birds’ community.

Total Number of Observations 2238
Number of Species 208
Number of Endemic Species 19
Number of Proposed endemic Species 5
Number of migrant species 39

Nesting records
Number of observations 14
Number of species 8
Species (Cattle Egret, Intermediate Egret, Brown-headed Barbet, Oriental Magpie Robin, House Crow, Common Myna, Black-throated Munia, Scaly-breasted Munia)

Mostly recorded species (No: of observations)
House Crow (97)
Common Myna (91)
Red-vented Bulbul (77)
Yellow-billed Babbler (64)
Spotted Dove (64)

Top five users (No: of observations)
Newton Jayawardane (646)
Kusum Fernando (393)
Dilshan De Silva (351)
Salindra Kasun Dayananda (324)
Rienzie Fernando (176)

A total of 39 locations were visited during November by ‘Sri Lanka Birds’ members. As in the previous month, highest number of observations was made at Ragama (330).

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’ - www.worldbirds.org/srilanka .

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 new year with full of birding.

Administrator of “Sri Lanka Birds”
Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka

Monday, December 8, 2008


Birds are a common sight in Sri Lanka but many of us fail to appreciate them. To increase the awareness of the public about our feathered friends, the Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (FOGSL) has launched its annual nationwide program to assess and study the distribution and presence of birds in Sri Lanka.

December has been declared Bird Counting Month as migrant birds that arrive from other countries too peak in this month. Participation is simple and one need not be an expert birder to get involve. Those who would like to participate has only to watch birds in as many places as possible - own home gardens, school premises, workplace, lakesides, paddy fields -anywhere that is frequented by birds. They can make a list of birds that they can identify in a given location and either email or post it to FOGSL. The list should include the date, location, weather at the time, the habitat that the bird was observed in, birds seen and the name with the contact details of the observer. Participants can also enter data directly to “Sri Lanka Birds” which is a part of the international database used to analyze status of birds.

The numbers of birds in various areas are also dwindling due to causes such as deforestation, wetland reclamation and changes in habitat. Even the birds that are common today can be diminished without our knowledge. So no species can be labeled as safe, no matter what its number is today. It is only when the public become aware of the value of these beautiful creatures, can more be achieved towards protecting them. Creating this awareness is another aim of Bird Month.

Prof.Kotagama on the ‘Value of observing birds and keeping records’

“Numbers can have great meaning. It helps us to keep track of changes, gives us confidence to effect changes, and to make good decisions”

“Birds are good indicators of environmental changes. For instance, an increase in the crow population of Colombo would indicate that there has been poor garbage clearance, and a polluted environment. An increase in beautiful birds such as the Sunbird would show that we live in an environment of quality”

Another example is the House Sparrow decline. A decade ago, most of the houses had nest boxes inviting this cute bird. But they are not to be seen in many areas, where they were previously common. So no species can be labeled, as safe no matter what its number is today. It is only when the public become aware of the value of these beautiful creatures, can more be achieved towards protecting them.

‘Bird Counting Month’ as a Citizen Science Project

‘Bird Counting Month’ exercise can be considered as a Citizen Science project where general public can participate. Citizen science is a term used for projects or ongoing program in which a network of volunteers, many of whom are not experts in the field perform or manage research-related tasks such as observation, measurement or computation. The use of citizen-science networks often allows scientists to accomplish research objectives more feasibly than would otherwise be possible. In addition, these projects aim to promote public engagement with the research, as well as with science in general.

Bird Month 2008 – FAQ

1. Why a Bird Counting Month..?

The environment around us is changing, How do we know this? One easy indicator is the common birds that visit our garden, the Magpie Robin that was present may not be there any more, The Crow population in the area may be on the increase; these changes are indicators of what is to come - inhospitable surroundings. To be more aware of this change and to commence a method to change this trend would be to keep tag of the birds in the area. - So count the birds at least once a year on the same day at the same time. You are sure going to help to make the environment - more importantly your own environment better. Beyond your home, in your neighborhood, in the province and the country needs this help from you.

Bird counting month is an opportunity for you to pay attention to the birds around you, count them and record them.

2. Why ‘December’..?

In ‘December’ we will be having the peak number of birds in Sri Lanka as it is middle of the migration season. December too is a holiday month, where you visit various locations, so you get more opportunity to observe birds. December is the last month of the year, so that you can also compile the records that you keep during the year and compile together.

3. How can I participate..?

Participation is simple.

i) Observe birds in as many places as you can. This need not necessarily be a wilderness - your home garden, school premises, workplace too are good places for starting this exercise.

ii) Keep a note about Birds. We all have "pencils and papers". The traditional reliable devices will never get replaced. If you have a computer and suitable software do so electronically.

iii) Send your records to FOGSL or feed the data directly to ‘Sri Lanka Birds’, a part of a global database “Worldbirds”.

4. I’m not an expert at identifying birds. Can I still participate..?

Definitely YES. We all can identify a "bird". Do not worry about what bird to start with, Just the bird. Black, blue or gold does not matter. You will be surprised at what you will see when you begin. Your own initiative will make you seek to get to know your friends, thus to identify them by name - here is the beginning - seek the help of a person or a field book at that point. (Note- To record at Sri Lanka Birds, you need to identify the species)

5. If participants are not expert, this won’t be accurate..?

Do not worry about that, If you only let us know that this is your first time we will compensate that situation. The important thing is we have to be more responsible to our environment, and birds can help us for that.

6. Do I necessarily have to visit a jungle to observe birds..?

You do not necessarily visit a wilderness to watch birds. You can do this in your home garden, school premises or at your workplace. It is through that wetlands and rainforests carries rich bird diversity, but the home gardens in Sri Lanka too are home for many birds. First learn about these neighbors.

7. How many birds may I see from my Home Garden..?

From an average home garden, you can observe at least 15 - 20 birds. Following are some of the common birds that most of the Srilankans can identify.

1. Red-vented Bulbul (konda kurulla)
2. Yellow-billed Babbler (demalichcha)
3. Oriental Magpie-robin (polkichcha)
4. Rose-ringed Parakeet (Rena girawa)
5. Common Tailorbird (battichcha)
6. Common Myna (myna)
7. Asian Koel (koha)
8. White-throated Kingfisher(pilihuduwa)
9. Spotted Dove (alu Kobeiya)
10. Red-backed Woodpecker(kerala)
11. White-bellied Drongo (kawda)
12. Brown-headed Barbet (kottoruwa)
13. Pale-billed Flowerpecker (pilalichcha)
14. Black-hooded Oriole (kaha kurulla)

This list includes the smallest bird in Sri Lanka, Pale-billed Flowerpecker and some of the best singers like Oriental Magpie Robin. Some species of Birds of prey (ukussa) or owls (bassa) too are sometimes visiting the Home gardens.

Perhaps your Home Garden is home for many other birds, you will never know. So go out and watch the birds and participate Bird Counting Month.

8. Can I see Migrants too from my Home Garden..?

Yes, some of the migrants can be seen in your home gardens. This includes beautiful birds like Indian Pitta (avichchiya), Forest Wagtail (kele halapenda), Asian Paradise Flycatcher (sudu redi hora), Blue-tailed Bee-eater (nil peda binguharaya), Brown Flycatcher (dumburu masimara), Barn Swallow (atu wehilihiniya).

9. Is there an Ideal time of the day to observe birds..?

Birds are most active in the morning, thus a morning count will be the best - Between 07.30 and 09.30.am. Evening hours from 0500 – 0630 pm will also good to observe birds.

10. I do not have internet. How can I participate..?

Just send your records by post. Indicate your postal address and the closest town so that we can place your information in the right location.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sri Lanka Birds reached another milestone

Sri Lanka Birds, web based data entry system for Sri Lanka (www.worldbirds.org/srilanka) reached another milestone yesterday. Number of bird observations recorded in the system reached 20,000 marking the success of the system. This is very important achievement for the conservation of Birds in Sri Lanka. Members achieved this within a period of less than one year. 'Sri Lanka Birds' was launched on 7th December last year with three other web sites dedicated to dissiminate information on birds, Important bird Areas and FOGSL.

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

FOGSL wishes to thank all the members who contribute to the system by providing their valuable observations.