Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2010 International Year of Biodiversity

The United Nations declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity. It is a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity for our lives. The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bird watching during the Christmas period - December 2009

Sri Lanka Birds’, Sri Lankan section of the global effort of bird conservation named ‘Worldbirds’ completed highly successful month by the end of December 2009. Number of observations recorded in the system reached 50,000; marking an important landmark during this month. Summary results of the analysis for December 2009 are given in this report. This analysis is based on the data downloaded on 17th January 2010.

New members (21)
Total members (407)
FOGSL warmly welcomes new members to the ‘Sri Lanka Birds’ community.

Number of visits (151)
Total Number of Observations (3331)
Number of Species (234)
Number of Endemic Species (21)
Number of Proposed endemic Species (7)
Number of migrant species (55)

Total number of observations, number of species, and number of migrant species recorded for the month marked the highest values so far.

Bar-tailed Godwits recorded at Giant’s Tank and Vankalai National park were noteworthy observations recorded during the month.

Nesting records
Number of observations (17)
Number of species (13)

Species - Baya Weaver, Brahminy Kite, Shikra, White-bellied Sea-eagle, Brown-headed Barbet, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Common Myna, Dark-fronted Babbler, House Crow, White-browed Fantail, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Red-vented Bulbul, and Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush.

Mostly recorded species (No: of observations)
Red-vented Bulbul (109)
Yellow-billed Babbler (88)
Common Myna (88)
White-throated Kingfisher (84)
House Crow (84)

Top five users (No: of observations)
Newton Jayawardane (980)
Chandanie Wanigatunge (733)
Nadika Hapuarachchi (546)
Rahula Perera (224)
Nishantha Ganeshapriya (205)

A total of 84 locations were visited during December by ‘Sri Lanka Birds’ members. Highest number of observations was made at Ragama (560) as in many previous months. It is important to note that some of the locations of North and Eastern provinces were also visited by the members during the month.

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’ .

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

Friday, January 22, 2010

Common English names of Sri Lankan Birds

Are you confused by different common names given for a single bird species? Probably yes. Different books provide different names for the same birds.

Common names of birds are often a controversial topic. Although common names have no place in scientific taxonomy there are many arguments on the use of common English names among laymen and sometimes even among scientists. However, because of the unusual interest in birds and the growing public interest in “bird watching” both internationally and locally, we felt that it would justify a comparison of the common names given in different authorities. This document compares the names given by three different authorities namely BirdLife International, Oriental Bird Club (OBC) and International Ornithological Congress (IOC), for Sri Lankan birds.

Download the document at FOGSL web site.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Second record of Black-headed Bunting in Sri Lanka

During a field visit on 4th January 2010, we recorded a Bunting feeding in a grassy area at Uraniya pitiya near Palugaswala No 1 of Yala National Park. We were able to observe it for about 20 minutes continuously and later we identified it as a Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala).

At around 16.00 hours in the evening, we spotted the bird which was feeding on the grassy area. After few minutes the bird came on to a pile of dry Elephant dung and started to search food on it. We were able to shoot few photographs using a 200-500mm zoom lens while the bird was on the pile of dung. After few minutes, bird started to feed on the grassland again. Few minutes later, bird flew away to a bush in the vicinity and settled for a moment there, before vanished into the scrub forest.

Observation was made by Nikon 8x40 binoculars around 20m from the bird. The bird was photographed using a Canon 350D SLR from the same distance.

This is the second sight record of the Black Headed Bunting in Sri Lanka. It was first recorded in January 2005 at Udawalawe National park along with another bunting species namely Red-headed Bunting (Emberiza bruniceps). The species is considered as a vagrant to the island.
Reported by Thilanka Ranathunge and Nilantha Kodithuwakku of Nature Odyssey
Photographed by Thilanka Ranathunge

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

'World's least known bird' found breeding in Afghanistan

The World of ornithology was stunned by the rediscovery of Large-billed Leaf Warbler after 139 years in 2006 in Thailand. Until that the bird was known by only one specimen collected in 1867. Several other specimens were found later in museums with different tags due to misidentifications. However, the species was considered world’s least known bird since almost nothing was known about the bird.

The breeding site of Large-billed Reed-warbler Acrocephalus orinus, has been discovered in the remote and rugged Wakhan Corridor of the Pamir Mountains of north-eastern Afghanistan.

Using a combination of field observations, museum specimens, DNA sequencing, and the first known audio recording of the species, researchers verified the discovery by capturing and releasing almost 20 birds earlier this year, the largest number ever recorded.

Read the paper on the findings in the most recent edition of BirdingASIA, the magazine of the Oriental Bird Club.

Photo Credit: WCS Afghanistan