Monday, August 30, 2010

Four-claw Gecko (Gehyra mutilata)

Most abundant house gecko of Sri Lanka found in both anthropogenic habitats and forests of the island up to 1500m a.s.l. But so far not recorded from the northern part of the island and also rare in thick forest areas. It can be easily distinguished from other geckos by having characteristic carrot-shaped smooth tail and the absence of a claw on the inner digit. Four-claw gecko can changed its body color from white to dark and spotted to plain rapidly according to the inhabiting micro environment. Nocturnal in habit and feed on varies type of insects. Its foraging grounds are most of the time around artificial lights of houses and they are often competing with each others for better such places.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Crimson Rose (Pachliopta hector)

Crimson rose is a common butterfly of all over the low country up to mid hills of about 1000ft a.s.l. However it is much plentiful in dry zone than in other areas, even during driest of seasons. They fly close to the ground and flight is fast and straight. Female can be distinguished from the male (see above picture) by having much duller yellowish color spots on the upper side of the hind wing. Also female is generally larger than males. It take part in migrations and Ormiston recorded of seeing fair number of crimson rose butterflies “far out to sea, off the Indian and Ceylon coasts” in November 1914 and stated further that several of them came on board the ship. Its feeding plant in larva stage is Sapsanda (Aristlchia Indica Or Aristolochia bracteolate).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

අන්දර[Andara] (Dichrostachys cinerea)

Common tree found in dry and arid zones of the country. It is very drought resisting and flowers and fruits can be seen in varies time of the year according to localities. Leaves use as a fodder and tender shoots and roots have medicinal value. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

දඬු ලේනා[Dandu Lena]/Giant squirrel (Ratufa macroura)

Giant squirrel is distributed throughout the island in suitable habitats as three different subspecies.  Wet zone and highland subspecies have blackish brown to jet black above with totally black or ‘frosted with white’ tail, while dry zone subspecies has grizzled grey or brown upper parts with heavily frosted tail. They are diurnal and arboreal, always live in forests or near by villages with some trees. Its diet consists of leaves, barks and young twigs and shoots of trees and also wild fruits, berries and nuts in their seasons. It is said that insects, grubs and occasionally bird eggs are also included in its food. They build their nests among branches of tall tree within its territory demarcated by a solitary squirrel or a pair, using small branches and twigs. Usually they build 3-4 nests and use them both for sleeping and bringing forth young.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Common bronze-back/තුරු හාල්දණ්ඩා/මූකලන් හාල්දණ්ඩා[Thuru/Mookalan Haal Danda] (Dendrelaphis schokari)

Non–venomous arboreal snake inhabiting forest and open areas of all climatic zones of island from lowlands to about 750m a.s.l. Diurnal and though a tree snake it is observed of foraging on land as well in searching of its prey which consist of frogs, lizards, geckos, skinks, insects and also eggs of small birds. It can make long jumps among trees if necessary while chasing its prey. It can be distinguished easily from other Dendrelaphis species by having a cream color spotted line on its olive green dorsal from neck to mid fore body along the spine. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spotted tree frog (Polypedates maculatus)

Spotted tree frog is widely distributed in both low country dry and wet zones including arid zone up to 460m above sea level. It is commonly encountered in anthropogenic habitats and during day time it use to hides in cool places such as inside bath rooms and banana groves.  This frog can change its color up to certain extent and dorsal color may vary from light brown and yellow to reddish brown. Dark brown patches on dorsal surface can be seen sometimes and hence the name maculatus, since maculatus in Latin is the one who bear spots or patches on its body.  Loreal region is dark brown and dark cross bars can be seen on dorsal side of limbs. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

කිතලා[Kithala]Purple Swamphen/Purple coot(Porphyrio porphyrio)

Common resident bird of low country tanks, swamps and reed-beds of both wet and dry zones. Usually keeps in small parties of less than 10 birds and can be seen walking over floating vegetation or stalking through the reed beds. However bigger congregations are not uncommon. Though it can swim well does not often do so unless compelled.Flight is fast and also can make long flights. It keeps its feet extending beyond tail in flight. Feed mainly on vegetable matters and some insects. Nesting on heap of vegetation in reed-bed during the first half of the year while peak is from March to May. It is very noisy and quarrelsome especially during the breeding season and birds chasing one another are frequently occurred at that time. 

Green Garden Lizard (Calotes calotes)

Green garden lizard or Pala Katussa is a common lizard with wide distribution from low lands plains to mid hills. It is highly arboreal and found in both forest and anthropogenic habitats such as home gardens, plantations, etc... However it is rare in Northern part of the country and higher hills (Not recorded of above 1500m a.s.l). It has very characteristic long tail and it can be considered as the largest Calotes species in the country. It feeds mainly on insects but may also take plant materials such as tender buds and flowers. Several color variations has been recorded of this species and it has been observed a quite distinct population from Kachchativu Island

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Shining Gossamerwing(Euphaea splendens)

This beautiful endemic damselfly with brilliant metallic blue or green hindwings of males (visible only when it flies )  is a common insect of montane and sub-montane streams surrounded by some vegetation. Rarely seen females can be found in near by jungle. Male has a habit of using its forewings as propellers while keeping the hindwinds fully spread out as wings of a plane. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

ගඳපාන/රටහිඟුරු[Ganda-Pana/Rata Hinguru]/Common Lantana/Wild Sage (Lantana camara)

A native shrub of South America (probably West Indies) and now widely distributed throughout the tropic. It was introduced to Sri Lanka in 1926 through the Royal botanical garden as an gardening plant and later on escaped and naturalized at all elevations of the country.  It is very common in wastelands, open areas in jungles, abandoned chena cultivations etc….Now it is considered as an invasive plant and measures are being taken to eradicate or control spreading of this plant specially in national parks such as Udawalawe, Bundala..etc where invading Lantana shrubs greatly reduced grazing lands available for Elephants and other wildlife. However ripe berries of this plant are widely eaten by birds and they act as dispersers of seeds. Also it provides nectar for butterflies.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Oriental Green-Wing (Neurobasis chinensis chinensis)

Oriental Green-Wing is a comparatively large damselfly with very long slender legs. Male insect - shown in picture - can be easily identified by having beautiful metallic green body, shining metallic green hind wings and hyaline forewings while female has brown tinted wings. It is a common damselfly of montane and submontane streams usually with surrounding forests. It is observed that this species is frequently found together with Black-tipped Flashwing (Vestalis apicalis ) and Shining Gossamerwing(Euphaea splendens)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Club Beak (Libythea myrrha rama)

Club Beak is a locally common butterfly distributed in wet forested areas of hills from 600-1200 m a.s.l. It usually found near streams and wet roads. If disturbed, it only flies few meters and probably return back to the same location in a few seconds. It flies very fast but once settles on a flower or wet road or on a boulder in a stream, sits absolutely still few minutes. The larva feeds on celtis species of family Ulmaceae (Celtis.philippensis [මැදිතැල්ල] and Celtis timorensis [ගූරැන්ද/බූරැන්ද]).