We were surveying coastal grassland at Nirmalapura, Daluwa area of Puttlum District on 16th December 2008. One of us (CDK) noticed an unknown species at around 0700 in the morning. Reddish beak and legs caught our attention. The bird was not shy and therefore we could observe it very closely for around 2 hours.
Based on the shape of its bill and other features, we decided that the bird could be a bunting (DS has previous experience on buntings). We photographed the bird by digiscoping. All the features were noted and later examined with the help of a field guide available to us (Grimmet et.al. 1998- Field guide to the birds of Indian Subcontinent).
The bird was observed again at mid day and evening. We could photograph it extensively at mid day. It was feeding busily on grass seeds all the time. During our observation period, bird didn’t accompany any other bird species in the area and remained solitary. Common Mynas, Spotted Doves, Richard’s Pipits, House sparrows, Rock Pigeons and Blue tailed Bee-eaters were frequently feeding on the grassland.
Later we sent few photographs to Dr. Girish Jathar, well-known ornithologist in India. He confirmed the identity of the bird by examining the photographs.
Buntings were recorded only once in Sri Lanka. Two bunting species namely Black headed bunting (Emberiza melanocephala) and Red headed Bunting (Emberiza bruniceps)were recorded at Udawalawe National Park in year 2005. Hence, this is the third record of a bunting species in Sri Lanka.
C. D. Kaluthota, Dammithra Samarasinghe, Hasith de Silva and Dilshan de Silva