Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bird observations during the month of August

Sri Lanka Birds’, web based data entry system for Sri Lanka completed another successful month by the end of August. An analysis of data entered by ‘Sri Lanka Birds’ members for the month of August is provided in this brief report. The analysis is based on the data downloaded on 14th September 2009.

New members 10
FOGSL warmly welcomes new members to the ‘Sri Lanka Birds’ community. FOGSL hopes they will enjoy the system while contributing towards the conservation of Sri Lankan birds.

Total Number of Observations 1714
Number of Species 149
Number of Endemic Species 22
Number of Proposed endemic Species 7
Number of migrant species 9
Observations of Wire-tailed Swallow, which is vagrant to Sri Lanka, at Kanthale tank and Nilaveli Beach by Nadika Hapuarachchi are noteworthy records.

Nesting records
Number of observations 16
Number of species 8
Species (Black-throated Munia, Brown-headed Barbet, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Cormorant, House Crow, Red-vented Bulbul, and Oriental Magpie Robin)
Red-vented Bulbul and Brown Hawk-owl were also reported in breeding stages other than nesting.

Mostly recorded species (No: of observations)
Red-vented Bulbul (67)
House Crow (65)
Common Myna (60)
Yellow-billed Babbler (54)
White-bellied Drongo (48) and Common Tailorbird (48)

Top five users (No: of observations)
Newton Jayawardane (659)
Nadika Hapuarachchi(313)
Rahula Perera (221)
Chinthaka Kaluthota (157)
Nirama (126)

A total of 40 locations were visited during August by ‘Sri Lanka Birds’ members. Highest number of observations was made at Ragama (519) as in many previous months. It is important to notice more visits to the Eastern province, which was rarely visited by birders in earlier months.

Visit the login page of ‘Sri Lanka Birds’ www.worldbirds.org/srilanka to see current statistics that shows the number of field visits, number of observations and bird species, as well as the number of users registered in the system.

FOGSL highly appreciates the contributions of members towards the conservation of birds through this initiative.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Another ‘Lost Bird’ found

Fiji Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi was known from just one specimen collected in 1855 on Gau Island, Fiji, and was lost for the next 130 years. Since 1984 there have been a handful of reports of “grounded” birds that had crashed onto village roofs on Gau. Until now there had been no confirmed sightings of this mysterious seabird at sea.

An expedition to find the Critically Endangered Fiji Petrel at sea, was conducted by a team of researchers recently. The expedition was partially financed by a grant from the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme and its official sponsor, the British Birdwatching Fair. The expedition has been successful, returning with stunning images and new information on one of the world’s least-known seabirds.

The search for the elusive petrel is described in a paper in the latest Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. Up to eight individuals were seen over eleven days in an area around 25 nautical miles south of Gau. The species’ flight, behaviour and detailed comparison to other species are also described for the first time.
Read the story here

Thursday, September 3, 2009

An observation of Jungle Crows feeding on a Brown-headed Barbet

Crows are well known for their opportunistic habits. They are recorded as mobbing, killing juveniles, weaker birds, and adults of several other bird species. Crows are also known to feed on eggs and chicks in the nest.

Following observation was made in a moderately wooded suburban area in Piliyandala. On 24 June 2009 at around 10am, I observed a pair of Jungle Crows (Corvus levaillantii) perched on the branch of a mango tree feed on an unidentified object of moderate size. One of the crows was holding it by a leg and both birds were seen feeding on it. A few moments later, the object was dropped to the ground. When examined, it was clear that it was the skull of a Brown-headed Barbet (Megalaima zeylanica). The whiskers and bare facial skin were intact whereas the rest of the fleshy parts were absent. It was not difficult to recognise that the bird had been recently killed. The appearance of the beak and other parts suggested that the barbet was an adult. The surroundings were searched for any other remnants of the dead bird, but without success. Two other jungle crows were present in the vicinity at the time.

It is not clear whether the crows killed the barbet or if it was scavenged as carrion. Based on the condition of the skull, the barbet was probably a healthy individual; therefore accidental death while possible, is unlikely. Predatory attacks on the barbet cannot be ruled out although no predatory bird or mammal was observed in the vicinity.

Reported by C.D. Kaluthota