Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Black-tipped or Ruddy Mongoose (Herpestes smithii)


This mongoose can be distinguished from other three of same family inhabiting Sri lanka by having black tip at the tail end and not having of black strip in neck. Common in jungles and vicinity of forested areas in both dry and wet zone lowlands and becoming scarce in hills above 3500-4000ft. It hunts during both day and night though mostly active in early morning and evening hours. It has a habit of carrying its tail curved upward and can be recognized it even at a distance due to this. Its prey consists mainly of birds, small mammals and reptiles and any carrion that it comes across.

Changeable Hawk-Eagle(Spizaetus cirrhatus)


Changeable hawk-eagle is a rather common breeding resident mainly inhabits low country dry zone(less common in wet zone) and medium elevations of the hills up to 1500m. It keeps its habitats to open forest areas and grasslands with trees such as chena cultivations and tank borders spending much of its time perch on an exposed branch of a tree, looking out of prey which consists mainly of lizards, rodents and birds upon which it pounces with unexpected rush. It breeds during early months of the year and sometimes in June-July. Nest a large platform of sticks and twigs build about 12 – 30m up in a tall tree generally on a hill side or edge of a ravine. Both sexes share in building the nest though only female incubate. Most of the time clutch size is a single egg.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata)


Introduced from West Africa and now widespread in moist lowlands and sub montane region up to about 1200m elevations of the island. Cultivate as ornamental and shade tree in home gardens and roadsides. A large tree of about 30m height branching widely at top. Bright Orange-Red flowers blooms during June-September months of the year.

Asian Skimmer (Orthetrum glaucum)


Common dragonfly of hill country streams, ponds and marshes, not usually found in the plains. Characteristic dark face help to distinguish this dragonfly from similar other Skimmers. Abdomen about 32mm and hind wing 36mm.

කිතුල්[Kithul] (Caryota urens)


Native tree with 12-18 m high cylindrical stem of wet lowlands of south-west of the island up to 2000m elevation and Kurunagala, Badulla areas of intermediate zone. Also distributed in South India. Found in rain forest sub-canopy and as cultivated trees in home gardens. It has multitude of uses especially jaggery and toddy being produced from the inflorescence sap. Leaves and stems as elephant fodder and pith an edible starch.

Green Skimmer (Orthetrum sabina)


Very common insect of plains and submontane regions of the country. Usually encountered in weedy edges of tanks, irrigation channels, paddy fields and perennial and seasonal ponds where it breeds. Both male and female are similar in shape and color. The extraordinary swollen abdomen of this dragonfly is remarkable and a useful identification feature of it.

Common Jezebel (Delias eucharis)


It is abundant everywhere in island wherever its larval food plant flourishes (i.e. Loranthus species - Common parasitic plants called Pilila in Sinhala) at all elevations and flies all the year round. Flight is weak and fluttering. Although flies rather high it comes readily to flowers in all weather conditions. It is not frequently mud puddling as the males of its mimic (Painted Saw-tooth) but in very hot weather few settle on damp spots on the river beds. Rather rare wet season form of this butterfly described with white of the upper surface is replaced by yellow, said to be frequent in Ratnapura district. Common jezebel sometimes flies with the company with its mimic of entirely different genus (Prioneris sita/ Painted Saw-tooth) which in normal flight appear very similar to the jezebel with coloration, wing shape and size. But once disturbed Painted Saw-tooth has rapidly ascending flight unlike Common jezebel.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

හම්බූ පන්[Hambu Pan] (Typha angustifolia)


Indigenous reed-like marsh herb with about 150-250cm tall stem grows in low country tanks, ditches and marsh lands. It is most commonly found in the low country dry zone. Leaves use for thatching houses, weaving mats and basket works. Cigars like spikes or inflorescences where very small female flowers in lower part and male flowers in upper, are frequently used for interior decorations.

Asian Pintail(Acisoma panorpoides)



Asian Pintail is a very small dragonfly of lowland plains up to lower hills. It has a very weak and short flight and hence keeps close to vegetation around heavily weeded water bodies such as tanks, marshes etc. and breed on them without moving far away. It is about 15-18mm of body size (Abdomen) and wing span of 16-22mm. Juvenile female is pale ochreous and which is replaced by azure blue of both sexes of adults.

Common Tiger (Danaus genutia)


It is a common butterfly of all over the island all the year round but less common over 4000ft. The sexes are similar but the male has the scent-pouch on the hind wind which is more prominent in the under side as can be seen in the picture. Larva feeds on various plants of the family Ascepiadaceae mostly කන් කුඹල [Kan-kumbala ](Asclephias curassavica & Cynanchum tunicatum). Migratory species and it join on limited extends in the plights. The female of this butterfly is mimicked by the females of Common Palmfly (Elymnias hypermnestra) and Indian Fritillary(Argynnis hyperbius)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Common wood Frog/Bronzed frog (Hylarana temporalis)


Common wood Frog is a semi-arboreal common frog in shaded rocky streams of wet zone rain forests. It may be also inhabits paddy fields and such anthropogenic habitats. Anslem de Silva recorded it on the road to Horton plains at 1830m above sea level and it is considered as the highest location where this frog is recorded so far. It is endemic to Sri Lanka. It lives mainly on wet rocks in streams rather than in the water itself and diurnal activities also observed in rain forest areas though mostly active during night and hide among rock boulders during day time.

පලා පොළඟා[Palaa Polaga]Green Pit Viper (Trimeresurus trigonocephalus)


Green Pit Viper is a moderately venomous endemic snake to Sri Lanka. It is arboreal and nocturnal, occasionally descending to the ground in search of food comprises of frogs, small mammals and birds. This sluggish pit viper is usually encountered on low shrubs during morning hours. It is widely distributed in all three climatic zones of the island except higher hills and arid zones while relatively much common in wet zone grasslands and rain forest areas and occasionally in plantations. It produces live young most of the time during months of June-July. When threatened vibrate its tail and lashes out to bite seldom with hissing sound.

Ictinogomphus rapax(Rapacius Flangetail)



Rapacius Flangetail is a locally common dragonfly of tanks and paddy fields of low country up to mid hills. It is comparatively large insect of about 52mm of abdomen with appendages and wings with a span of 55-60mm. It breeds on both running and still water while preferring the latter. It is recorded from Kantalai, Wilpattu,Passara, Polonnaruwa,Kandy,Periyakulam, Haldummulla(Fonseka, 2000) and Anawilundawa(Personal observations)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Baron (Euthalia aconthea vasanta)


Baron is a common butterfly found in all over the island up to about 3500ft in all year round. Larva of this butterfly feed on Mango (Mangifera psittacus) and Cashew, (Anacardium occidentale) both are extensively cultivated fruit trees. However both Woodhouse and Ormiston mentioned that it had not been recorded from Jaffna at that time even though mango trees are abundance in peninsula. It is also unclear current status of its distribution in Jaffna since latest works on butterfly fauna of Sri Lanka are silent on that issue. It has a very strong flight and they are fond of mud puddling at wet road sides or on forest tracks. Frequently it comes to decaying fruits.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lesser Grass Blue(Zizina Otis)


While describing distribution of this butterfly Ormiston – One of the pioneer in butterfly studies of Sri Lanka – stated “Very common everywhere from Galle to Jaffna, and from sea level to the Horton Plains”. Even today it is not much different of Ormiston’s observation in early last century. It is a butterfly of all elevations throughout the year. But less common in higher elevations. Larva feed on various plants of the Fabaceae such as Sesbsnia bispinosa a very common weed of paddy fields.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

හීරළුවා/හිකනලා[Heeraluwa/Hikanala]Dotted Garden Skink (Lygosoma punctatum)


A subfossorial skink with wide distribution in all climatic zones of the island. Relatively much common in the dry zone plains although occurs in wet lowlands and mid-elevations. There are records even from Colombo gardens and under coral stones in some offshore islands (Delft, Nagadeepa). it sometime enters houses. Dotted Garden Skink is frequently seen among leaf litters and when disturbed burrowed swiftly into loose sand or leaf litter. Diurnal and feed on small insects. Characteristic scarlet tail of young and subadults becoming brown or pink with age and faded out completely in adults. This highly fragile tail of young let them to escape from predators while attacker would be satisfied with seized brighter tail part. Both adults and juveniles can be diagnosed by having 4 to 6 longitudinal lines of black spots bordered by two cream color broad strips on dorsum.

පිළිහුඩුවා[Pilihuduwa]/White -Throated Kingfisher(Halcyon smyrnensis)


Very common breeding resident of all zones though less abundant at higher elevations. Usually perch on roadside telephone wires or similar vantage point in open areas, often well away from water and pounce upon its prey which basically consists of grasshoppers, small lizards, frogs, earthworms, beetles, mantises, etc. It is said that fish only a secondary food item of this kingfisher unlike other members of its family. Its call note which is a loud rattling scream somewhat like red-backed woodpecker’s flight call, uttered when it takes wings and short chick often uttered when waiting on a post or an exposed branch for its prey. Nesting burrow of this kingfisher is a dug in a river bank, a tank bank or even road side cutting (again not closer to water) and sloping upward tunnel ends in a widened egg chamber. Nesting period extends from December to June while peak season is March -April. It is observed that to feed its young white-throated kingfisher take small birds such as sunbirds, Munias and tailor birds.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Common Mormon (Papilio Polytes)




Common butterfly occurs all over the island though becoming scarce at higher elevations above 2000ft. There are three varieties of female of this butterfly. One similar to the male and known as cyrus and second one mimic Crimson Rose (Pachliopta hector) and has been named as Romulus. Third one is known as Stichius and which mimic Common Rose (Pachliopta aristolochiae). Food plant of Common Mormon is Toddalia asiatica (Kudu-mirissa) when it occurs in jungles and also favored all type of citrus trees such as Citrus limon(Dehi) and various plants of family Rutaceae ( Murraya koenigii – Karapincha, Limonia acidissima – දිවුල් [Divul], Aegle marmelos – Beli ) Common Mormon is considered as a migratory species and joins the flights in great numbers usually in November –December.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

සිවුරු හොරා/සුදු-රෙදි හොරා[siwuru hora/ sudhu redhi hora ]Paradise-Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi)

Two distinct races T.P.paradisi a winter visitor to island during North-East monsoon from India and resident race T.P.ceylonensis occurs in Sri Lanka. It is also believed that resident race which is confined to the low country dry zone during its breeding season, has local migrations in other months of the year. Migrant race with white phase of male popularly known as Sudu redi hora (Sudu redi - white cloth, Hora - thief) can be seen all over the island up to 1700m in forests and garden habitats but only in migratory season. Endemic sub species with orange brown males got its vernacular name Siwuru hora( Siwuru - robes of Buddhist monks) due to its plumage color which is very much similar to color of robe of Buddhist monks is a bird of low country dry zone though move into the wet zone during the migratory season. Female of both races and juveniles like brown phase male but lack the streamers. Food consists entirely of insects taking on the wings.