Thursday, September 30, 2010

House Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus)


Probably the most common toad of Sri Lanka, usually found in anthropogenic habitats throughout the island, both in wet and dry zone excluding Jaffna peninsula, from sea level up to hills about 1800m a.s.l. Not prefer to live in natural forest floors though sometime found close to forest edges and degraded forest areas (Above right hand side picture was taken at Fishing hut eco lodge situated in the buffer zone of Peak Wilderness sanctuary. I have also observed it in a tributary to Maha oya of Pussella in knuckles range, close to an anicut of an irrigation channel). Active during night and terrestrial, though not uncommon close to water bodies. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oriental White-Eye (Zosterops palpebrosa)

Common resident bird of forests, well wooded gardens and cultivations of lowlands to hills about 1200m in wet zone and 1800m in the drier Uva hills. Keeps in pairs or small parties and arboreal in habitats, but descend to ground for bathing in usually small streams running through undergrowth of forests. Fly from tree to tree in search of its food which mainly consists of nectar, insects, caterpillars and berries. Breeding season is from April to May and probably again in September. Lay 2-3 pale blue eggs in a small cup shape nest slung between two twigs.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Taraka Ibba/Mevara Ibba/Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans)

A Land tortoise of low-country dry zone up to about 300m, usually found in shrub jungles, grasslands, chena cultivations and teak plantations. It feeds mainly on plant matters such as flowers of varies plants, but also scavenges on animal matters. Though illegal it is widely collected for pet trade. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

පොළොස් කොට්ටෝරුවා[Polos Kottoruwa]/Brown-headed Barbet (Megalaima Zeylanica)

Very common breeding resident of all zones while becoming less common at higher hills. Much prefer to village gardens and open lands than dense forests. It lives in pairs or sometime in small loose feeding parties, usually keep in touch by means of its loud monotonous call. Its food consist mainly of varies kind of berries and fruits. It also feed on insects such as beetles taken by fly, since being an arboreal bird it never descending to the ground. The main breeding season is from February to July while secondary season may be possible in August to September. Nest, a hole in a soft-wooded dead stem or branch of a tree pecked out by birds themselves.

Friday, September 17, 2010

වල්සූරියකාන්ති/වටසූරිය[Wal-Suriyakanthi/Wata Suriya]/Wild Sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia)

 A native plant of South America and introduced to many countries including Sri Lanka as an ornamental plant and now considered as an invasive. It is a common weed along roads and on waste grounds particularly at mid elevations (1000-5000ft).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Conjoined Swift (Pelopidas conjunacta)

W. Ormiston while describing of this Swift in 1924 wrote - “It is not rare at Haldummulla, but is difficult to catch in first class condition. I have also taken it at Haputale, Madampe and Galle, and have specimens from Ratnapura” – (The Butterflies of Ceylon). Ironically above ‘First class specimen’ was also ‘caught’ in a plantation of Pines in Haldummulla (6º 45´ 923˝ N, 80º 52´ 986˝ E). It is considered as an uncommon butterfly of all elevations of wet and intermediate zones up to 900m (An Illustrated guide to Butterflies of Ceylon – Rajika Gamage – 2007). However contrary to that above location is 1231m above sea level. Larva of Conjoined swift feeds on paddy and grasses of family Poaceae.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

තිත් පොළඟා/දාර පොළඟා[Thith Polonga/ Dhaara Polaga]/Russell’s viper(Daboia russelii)

Russell’s viper is a highly venomous ground-dwelling snake with wide distribution from sea level to mid-hills of about 1500m a.s.l. But relatively common in dry zone shrub lands and grass lands. It is responsible for large number of human mortalities in agricultural districts since they are common in such anthropogenic habitats due to abundant of its main prey (i.e. rats).Other than small mammals like rodents its diet consists also of lizards, frogs and sometimes birds. Russells’s viper has very remarkable loud hiss emitting through its nostrils when threatened. P.E.P.Deraniyagala(A colored atlas of some vertebrates from Ceylon – Vol 3) mentions that wild specimens have a strong odor resembling that of crushed bed bugs (S: Makunu ganda) or of the flowers of the Mi tree(Madhuca longifolia) but does not emit when in captivity. He also records that it is frequently killed and eaten by the cobra (Naja Naja). This snake can be easily identified by having a light pink or white V shaped mark on head and a row of sub circular dark brown blotches of about 22-24 along vertebral region and two similar but with smaller blotches of rows beside lateral one.
Colour Guide to the Snakes of Sri Lanka

Thursday, September 9, 2010

කෝවක්කා[Kowakka]/Ivy gourd(Coccinia grandis)

A common perennial climber grows in woodlands, forest borders and open areas from sea level to about 800m in low country, especially in dry zone. Indigenous and flowering from June to September. Leaves edible and both fruit and leaves are used in snake-bite treatments. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

කැහිබෙල්ලා/කන්කෑරැස්සා[Kahibella]/Blue Magpie (Urocissa ornate)

An endemic bird inhabits only primary forests and near by home gardens in wet zone and foot hills. Uncommon and declared as a vulnerable bird in IUCN red list of threatened fauna and flora of Sri Lanka (2007). However feeding flocks consisting of up to 6-10 birds are not uncommon in buffer zone villages of Peak Wilderness (Sri Pada sanctuary) and Sinharaja forest. Though gregarious, pairs or solitary individuals are sometimes met with. It feed on insects [grasshoppers, leaf insects, beetles, etc.], caterpillars, shrub frogs, lizards and also some plant matter such as fruits. It is very noisy bird especially while hoping from branch to branch at all levels of trees from ground to canopy in search of foods. It is referred by a very interesting name of Kankaarassa by villagers in some areas around peak wilderness (Udamaliboda, Dikelikanda..etc) due to its  loud crakrakrakrak  call. Breeding season is from January to March and usually nest builds at the top of slender trees in forest and sometime even in home gardens. Once I have found a nest with eggs about 4-5 m above ground in top of small tree growing near a stream in a village. Group of three birds used to visit that during my observation period (only 2 days). Nest is some what similar to crows nest

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Common Garden Lizard (Calotes versicolor)

The most common and widespread agamid lizard of Sri Lanka inhabiting all over the island up to about 1400m above sea level. It is uncommon in forest areas and much common close to human habitations. It is arboreal and diurnal while usually seen on low shrubs and tree trunks waiting for its prey, which primarily consist of insects. It is also feed on juveniles of other agamid, geckos and some plant matters, such as seeds, leaves and buds. Cannibalism also reported among larger individuals of this lizard. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Elusive Adjutant (Aethriamanta brevipennis)

Uncommon dragonfly. De  Fonseka (The Dragonflies of Sri Lanka – 2000 ) mentioned that “it is unrepresented in the Museum collection and has not been recorded from here since first mentioned by Selys in 1897”. Fraser says that it is very local and rare. It is also said that it breeds in small weedy tanks surrounded by forest. However I have observed it in fair numbers during most of the months of the year at Anavilundhawa sanctuary -a  wet land Ramsar site in North-Western province - and also once at Girithale tank of Polonnaruwa district.