Friday, December 30, 2011

Ceylon spinach, Florida spinach, Philippine spinach [Talinum fruticosum(Synonyms: Talinum triangulare)]

A perennial herb, native to tropical America. Now a pantropical weed which is common along roadsides, waste places and forest edges of the island. Leaves edible.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

White-browed Bulbul (Pycnonotus luteolus insulae)


Common breeding resident of  entire low country and hills up to about 1000m a.s.l. while most common in dry lowlands. It inhabits home gardens, secondary forests, plantations and scrub lands. White-browed Bulbul feeds largely on varies type of berries as well as many insects. The main nesting season is from February to March and the nest, a cup of small twigs, rootlets etc. place on a bush, usually of 2-3 feet above the ground. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

නිදිකුම්ඹා[Nidi-kumba]/Sensitive plant/Touch-me-not (Mimosa pudica)


Nidi-kumba is a native plant of Brazil and now pantropical. It is said to be introduced by Alexander moon then director of Peradeniya Botanical garden to the Sri Lanka. However it may have been introduced much earlier (Flora of Ceylon - Vol 1). It is very common weed of roadsides, waste lands, etc throughout the island being much common in wet and intermediate zones.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Small branded swift (Pelopidas mathias mathias)

A rare butterfly more likely to be found in low country. Similar species Little branded swift replace it from up country while both may be fly in intermediate mid-country.  Small branded swift is much smaller than Little branded and has complete arc of 5 spots in its under-side of the hind wings while it is incomplete of Little branded swift. Its larva feeds on varies plants of family Poaceae( Paddy or grasses)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spotless grass yellow (Eurema laeta laeta)


Rather uncommon butterfly, found all the year round in patana grasslands of mid hills (500ft to 3000ft).Spotless grass yellow is a migratory species and its larva feeds on Peni thora (Cassia occidentalis) trees.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Shrub vinca (Kopsia fruticosa)



Native plant of India and Malay Peninsula, cultivate as an ornamental plant in home gardens due to attractive white or pink flowers with dark pink eye. Flowering mainly during June to August months of the year.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

පොල්කිච්චා[Polkichcha]/Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis)


Very common breeding resident of gardens, cultivations and scrublands of all zones. It avoids deep forests. Oriental Magpie Robin feeds mainly on insect, hopping on the ground solitary or in pairs. But vegetable foods such as rice, bread and etc thrown out of the houses are also taken. It is active even after dusk and territorial call of the male can be heard again before sunrise often uttered from a top of  tall tree or a lamppost. Fierce combats between males occur occasionally. Main breeding season is from March to September and the nest is a mass of grasses in a tree hole.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Aggressive Riverhawk (Onychothemis tonkinensis ceylanica)


Though the type has come from Sri Lanka, there is no specimen in the Museum collection, nor have any of the usual authors reported on having seen any specimens from here” noted Terrence de Fonseka in 2000 (The Dragonflies of Sri Lanka WHT Publication). However Aggressive Riverhawk is a rare dragonfly of streams and rivers of lowland and mid-hill forest areas.  Above picture  of Aggressive Riverhawk was taken at the Kanneliya forest reserve while it was preying upon a Grey Pansy (Junonia atlites)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

සුදු-පරවිමල්[Sudu-parey-mal]/Pigeon orchid/white dove orchid (Dendrobium crumenatum)


An introduced epiphyte often cultivated in low country wet zone home gardens. Pigeon orchid is believed to be introduced from Malaya since it is native plant of Malaya, South-east Asia and Indonesia. Vernacular names related with white dove since resemblances of it flowers with Pigeons. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

බළල් සේරා(Balal Sera)/Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus)


Common breeding resident bird of weed covered tanks and marshes in the low country. It lives as scattered flocks walking on the floating vegetation using their long toes and claws. It has a cat-like high-pitch mew, mew…. loud call and hence the Sinhala name Balal Sera. It feeds on seeds of varies water plants, grains and some aquatic insects, shrimps etc.. Breeding season is from February to July and nest, usually a water-logged pile of weeds among lotus leaves where it lays 3-4 bronze brown color eggs.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ජපන් ජබර [Japan Jabara]/Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)

A floating herb native to Brasil and other South American countries, which introduced and naturalized in tropical African and Asian countries including Sri Lanka. It was introduced to Sri Lanka in 1905 as an ornamental plant and now a common invasive plant in most water bodies such as tanks, canals, ponds etc of lowland dry and intermediate parts of the island . Propagated mainly by runners (stolons) which produced new plants.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Orange cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus)


Very common herb which was originally cultivated in gardens and now escaped and naturalized in waste lands, roadsides etc. A native of tropical America

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kirala/Red-wattled Lapwing/Did-he-do-it (Vanellus indicus)


Common resident of tank edges, paddy fields and open areas, usually not far from the water in the low country and lower hills while much common in dry zone. Usually it is encountered as pairs or small groups feeding on ground-dwelling insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, ants, termites, etc. walking hither and thither in typical plover fashion.  Breeding season is from April to September and lays four eggs in a shallow scrape on the ground among stones or debris. If an intruder approaches the nest it takes to wing and circles around the disturber screaming with its loud call did-he-do-it until the enemy has withdrawn.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Impatiens henslowiana

This Impatiens species is only found in scrub and rocky places - often close to streams- of hill country rain forests of Sri Lanka and South India. It is a large herb of about 60-150cm tall.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Red star cluster/Star flower (Pentas lanceolata)

Native to Eastern Africa and Southern Arabia. Widely cultivated in wet zone and intermediate zone home gardens while escaped and naturalized plants can be found in the vicinity of those home gardens. White and pink color varieties are also occurred.   

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thamba Seruwa/Lesser whistling Teal ( Dendrocygna javanica)

Common resident bird found in tanks, paddy fields and marshes of low country of the island. It lives as flocks of a dozen or so birds and feeds on paddy, insects and other small animals.  It is partially nocturnal and uttered its whistling call frequently in flight when heading to its feeding grounds during dusk from the day retreat which is usually a small islet in a tank or boughs of a dead tree standing in water. Breeding season is from December to January and again from July to August. Nest often place in a water side vegetation or holes in trees usually standing in water.

Monday, November 14, 2011

පුවක්[Puwak]/Betel-nut palm (Areca catechu)


Common palm of home gardens in wet and intermediate zones of the island up to about 900m a.s.l. Also cultivated close to paddy fields and canals in dry lowlands. Seed betel-nut mastication with betel leaves, flowers use as temple offering and also use in traditional rituals, Leaf sheath as trays, bags and plates. Trunk – as timber in construction works.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Common Palmfly (Elymnias hypermnestra fraternal)


A common butterfly of low country up to about elevation of 1500ft. Much common in areas where coconut cultivations are abundant since its larva feeds on varies plants of family Arecaceae (Palmae) including coconut. Female common palmfly (shown in above picture) is very different from males and it mimic Plain tiger

Thursday, November 10, 2011

කෝමාරිකා[Komarika] (Aloe vera)

perennial herb which is believed to be a native plant of North Africa and desert regions of Arabia. Naturalized in North and North –West seashore and cultivate in home gardens in other areas of the Sri Lanka. Juice of the leaves is used to treat varies types of diseases in traditional Ayurvedic medicine including coughs, asthma, eye diseases, etc. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

හීන්තලා[Heen-tala]/American basil/Hoary basil ( Ocimum americanum)


An indigenous annual herb of waste grounds, road sides and such other places in low country dry zone. The leaves have pleasant camphor like scent.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Little ringed plover ( Charadrius dubius jerdoni)


Little ringed plover is a resident bird of marshes, mud-flats, drying tanks and paddy fields, sand banks etc. of the dry zone coastal areas supplemented by race curonicus during winter migrations. Occasionally it is recorded from Colombo and near by marshy areas like Kotte and Bellanwila-Attidiya, probably of migrant race. It feeds on varies small animals taken from dry ground or shallow water. Often feed as scattered flocks and when alarmed mass together and fly in a dashing manner. It breeds from May to July on gravely shores, sand dunes or islets of large tanks. Usually three stone colored eggs are laid in a small hollow scraped in a gravel bank.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

කැකිල්ල[Kekilla]/Wire fern (Dicranopteris linearis)

Kekilla is one of the commonest fern of the country, found in degraded open areas of rain forests, along paths in secondary forests, waste lands, vicinity of streams etc. from sea level to about 1850m a.s.l. in the wet zone.  

Monday, October 31, 2011

තලහොයා[Thalagoya]/Land Monitor(Varanus bengalensis)



Land monitor is widely distributed throughout the country from sea level to mid hills up to about 500m a.s.l. It is diurnal and usually active after having got it body temperature up by basking in the morning. It spends the night in tree holes, crevices and even in the ceilings of the houses. Juveniles mainly feed on insects while adults prey on frogs, small mammals (rats, squirrels), snails, insects, grubs, crabs, eggs, etc. Its flesh is a delicacy among indigenous Vedda people. Also other jungle villagers hunt these lizards for its flesh which is believed to be easy to digest and hence good for pregnant women and invalids. Fighting among males during breeding season take place in ‘bipedal fashion’ can be occurred and it is believed that they probably breed all the year round and lays 10-30 eggs in a burrow in the ground, in termite mounds or inside decaying logs.

Friday, October 28, 2011

තල්[Tal]/Palmyra palm (Borassus flabellifer)


Introduced from India in unknown period of the history and cultivated and naturally spreading in dry coastal areas of North, North, East and South-Eastern part of the country including Mannar Island. Almost all part of the tree are used extensively for various purposes such as timber, leaves for thatching and as olas for writing,  inflorescence tapped for sugar and toddy,  fruit edible, etc. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tawny coster ( Acraea violae)


Common butterfly of the Sri Lanka found in open areas and scrub lands throughout the island, whole the year round. But it is much common below 2000ft a.s.l. Tawny coster is the only species of the family Acraeidae large number of butterfly species of which are found mainly in the Africa. Its larva feeds on varies plants of family Cucurbitaceae and Passifloraceae such as Delbatu(Passiflora foetida), Hodala (Adenia hodala), etc.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Impatiens acaulis

Locally common Impatiens species on wet rocks and stream banks of hill country forests (750-2050 m a.s.l.). Also found in South India.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

රෑන ගිරවා/මාල ගිරවා [Raana Girawa/Mala Girawa]/Rose-ringed Parakeet(Pstittacula krameri)


Very common breeding resident of low lands and foot hills of the island. It has a characteristic fast and noisy flight often in flocks. Rose-ringed parakeet feeds on fruits, buds and seeds and does considerable damages to ripening paddy. The breeding seasons is from November to June and nest usually a hole in a dead tree or decaying palm trunk.  


Thursday, October 20, 2011

අරලිය[Araliya]/Frangipani/Temple tree (Plumeria rubra)


A native of Central America from Mexico to Panama. Introduced during some unknown period of the history and cultivate in home gardens and especially in temple premises since flowers are widely used as temple offerings. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Common paddy field frog/Vel madiya (Fejervarya. cf syhadrensis [Fejervarya limnocharis])


Common paddy field frog can be distinguished from similar two other Fejervarya species by the absence of the longitudinal ridges on the dorsal area of the body and having more or less round tubercles instead. It is one of the commonest frog of the island found in paddy fields, streams, ponds and such other water bodies. However sometimes it encounters even far away from the water. It is distributed in both wet and dry zones of the country below about 1400m a.s.l

Sunday, October 16, 2011

වැල් රුක් අත්තන[Wel-ruk-attana]/Golden trumpet/Yellow allamanda(Allamanda cathartica)

Widely cultivated plant in home gardens and also naturalized in the wet zone and in the hill country. It is a native plant of Brazil and introduced as an ornamental plant due to its attractive yellow flowering throughout the year.  Variety hendersonii bear large flowers with about 10cm across while it is about 6cm of the other. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hedge Hopper (Baracus vittatus vittatus)


Common butterfly of patana grasslands above 1500m a.s.l.  Ormiston (Ormiston W. The Butterflies of Ceylon 1924) especially mentions it as a common insect on the Horton plains where above picture was also taken.  However he further says that it is occasionally taken along roadsides of Haldummulla (3000ft) and found common at Galaha near Kandy.  According to him those taken below 4500ft are usually smaller than those from the highest elevations. It is not uncommon in  Sinharaja (Guide to Sinharaja - IUCN) and some other lowland wet zone forest areas (personal observations). No records available on its food plant.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

තල[Tala]/Talipot palm(Corypha umbraculifera)


Leaves of Talipot palm tree have been using for writing since ancient times and it has a very restricted distribution (1) and it is always associated with human habitations. So it is believed that it was introduced to the Sri Lanka from India for the purpose of documenting Buddhist sacred text and other writings. Flowering occurs when the tree is around 40 years old and most probably all the trees in the vicinity blooms with flowers simultaneously possibly because they are of same age due to seed crop of same parent tree. Other than for writing, leaves use for thatching, as umbrellas and for basket and mat weavings.               

(1) According to the Flora of Ceylon Vol 14 its distribution is limited to the narrow belt bordering northern wet and intermediate lowlands [Molagoda, Warakapola, Mirigama, Gampaha Mathale, Gampola, Galewela] and the eastern intermediate lowlands [Badulla, Ranwala, Godakawela]

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

වල් ලූනු[Wal lunu]/Barbados lily (Hippeastrum puniceum)


Native plant of tropical America. It is cultivated in home gardens as an ornamental plant from lowlands to mid hills. Also occurred as an escaped and naturalized plant in waste lands and roadsides. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

වී කුරුල්ලා[Wee Kurulla]/Scaly-breasted Munia/Spotted Munia (Lonchura puntulata)


Very common resident bird of grasslands, gardens and paddy fields throughout the island. It lives as flocks of about ten birds and feeds on grass seeds and paddy. Scaly-breasted Munia breeds throughout the year though most nests are found in the period of October to May. The nest is a ball of grass blades in trees or shrubs. Thorny trees like lime or orange and sometime areca palm flowers are much favored nesting sites.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

කටු කිතුල්[Katu Kithul] (Oncosperma fasciculatum)

An endemic palm with ‘black compressed spined trunk’ unlike much common Kithul palm (Caryota urens). It grows in wet lowland hilly areas such as foothills of Peak wilderness, Sinharaja, knuckles range etc. Usually found in steep rocky outcrops as clusters of trees.  


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Common Cerulean (Jamides celeno tissama)


A Common butterfly of the island found in all climatic zones throughout the year.  W.Ormiston described unusual habit of male Common cerulean of taking up a position for days, and attacking every butterfly of about its own size that passes (The Butterflies of Ceylon Ormiston W. 1924). Larva of Common cerulean feeds on Gal-karanda(Pongamia pinnata), Ashoka (Saraca asoca), Gas - Kela (Butea monosperma) and Olinda (Abrus precatorius) (An Illustrated guide to Butterflies of Ceylon – Rajika Gamage – 2007)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Indigo Dropwing (Trithemis festiva)


Common dragonfly of ponds, streams and rivers from lowland plains to montane areas. It is usually found close to the water and can be seen settling on mid-stream rocks or overhanging twigs.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sleeping hibiscus (Malvaviscus penduliflorus)


Native plant of tropical America from Mexico to Venezuela and Ecuador, cultivated in other tropical countries including Sri Lanka as an ornamental plant. Escaped and naturalized plants can be found along roadsides and scrub lands (Above picture was taken at Corbet's gap - Meemure road of the Knuckles range).  Flowering all the year round. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

ලේනා[Lena]/Palm Squirrel (Funambulus palmarum)

Most common squirrel of the country distributed throughout the island as four sub species. It is found in almost everywhere except in heavy jungles. Palm squirrel feeds on nuts, seeds, fruits, flowers, barks of the trees and when lives around houses rice, bread and such other scraps of humans. Usually it can be seen associated with yellow billed babblers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Red ginger (Alpinia purpurata)


Large herb with flowering in most of the year. Introduced from its native countries probably of Malaysia or Pacific islands and widely cultivated in Sri Lanka as an ornamental plant with possible escaping to natural habitats.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)


Mainly a winter visitor to the Sri Lanka, arriving in August and spread throughout the island avoiding deep forests, till May of next year though scarce breeding populations reported from South-Eastern coast. It preys on flying insects such as bees, wasps dragonflies and butterflies sallying out from top of trees where it perch often as flocks of few birds usually less than ten. It frequently bath in rivers and tanks plunging into the water while on the wings.