Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Large Oak Blue (Arhopala amantes amantes)

Rather rare butterfly found in and around forest areas from lowlands to foothills, especially close to water courses.  When resting It often settles on the under side of leaves and males sometimes comes to damp earth to absorb minerals.  Larva feeds on කොට්ටම්බා/කොට්ටන්/Indian almond/Country almons (Terminalia catappa)දං/හීන් දං (Syzygium caryophyllatum), and කුඹුක් (Terminalia arjuna) leaves.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

මල් පිළිහුඩුවා/Common Kingfisher/Malpilihuduwa (Alcedo atthis)

Common resident bird of almost all fresh water bodies throughout the island while getting less common in higher hills. Lives in pairs and each pair occupy a demarcated territory which they guard from others of its own species.  Breed during first half of the year (February to June) in a burrow dug out in a bank of a stream, tank or sometime in a side of manmade well. Male birds can be distinguished from female by having all black bill while females and immatures have reddish lower mandible base.  

Friday, March 25, 2011

ගල් ගොරකා[Gal goraka]/Pitch apple/monkey apple/Balsam apple/(Clusia rosea)

Shrubby tree native to West Indies and introduced as an ornamental plant to Sri Lanka. Naturalized in the hill country, mainly on rocks in open areas and it is considered as an invasive plant.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rhino horn Lizard (Ceratophora stoddartti)

An endemic lizard of Sri Lanka inhabiting central hills from 1500-2200 m a.s.l. It can be found in home gardens, natural forest areas and cultivations in Nuwaraeliya, Horton plains, peak wilderness, Hakgala, Namunukula etc. Namunukula population is restricted to very limited area and geographically isolated from central hills. It feeds on insects, caterpillars and also earth worms when foraging on ground. It is usually found in tree trunks though not uncommon in terrestrial habitats too.  It can change its color from green to brown in a considerable rapidity when descending from tree trunk to the ground (Lizards of Sri Lanka - Ruchira Somaweera 2009)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Adam’s Gem (Libellago adami)

An endemic damselfly inhabiting canals, streams and rivers of lowland wet zone to lower hills.  It is rather common comparative to other three Libellago species.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Little Cormorant/ Punchi Diyakawa (Phalacrocorax niger)

Little Cormorant is very common resident bird in water bodies of low country. Large flocks can be seen in dry zone and occasional visitors in the hills. It is a good swimmer as well as a diver and while fishing it can stay underwater for a while and re-emerged some distance from where it dives. Usually it sits for long period on a dead tree, half sub-merged rock or river bank with its wings spread to dry them up.  It breeds during North-East monsoons starting from October to April in colonies on trees standing in water in tanks, often with many other water birds such as Indian cormorants, night herons, pond herons, egrets, storks, etc.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Giant sensitive plant/Creeping mimosa (Mimosa invisa)

Woody herb with long trailing stems native to Brazil and introduced to other tropical countries. It is considered as a serious invasive plant. In Flora of Ceylon Volume 1 it is mentioned that this species was once found along the road outside Agricultural station in Peradeniya and it was imported as a green manure (Dassanayaka & Fosberg 1980). However today it is one of widely spread weed of waste lands, along roads and secondary shrub lands etc. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

පුත්තලම් බූරුවා[Puttalam Booruwa]/Puttalam ass (Equus asinus)

Feral donkeys found in both Mannar Island and Kalpitiya peninsula of Sri Lanka are believed to be decedents of domestic breeds imported during either colonial time or even earlier by Arab traders. (Manual of the Mammals of Sri Lanka - Phillips 1984) They are usually light grey color animals though  blacks and browns are also known.  According to the Santiapillai (Sri Lanka Nature 2000) species in Sri Lanka is Equus afcricanus with close affinities with the wild Nubian sub species.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pioneer (Belenois aurota taprobana)

Pioneer is a common butterfly found in the dry zone of low lands and sometime in wet zone, though not common in all year rounds. Its best months appear to be between September and February (The Butterflies of Ceylon - D'abrera 1998).  It joins with migrating flights during North-East monsoons and mud-pudding with other species can be observed too. Its larva feeds on plants of Capparaceae family such as Capparis sepiaria, Capparis zeylanica[Sudu Welangiriya] (An Illustrated guide to the Butterflies of Sri Lanka _Rajika Gamage  2007)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Skipper Frog/Utpatana Madiya (Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis)

Widely distributed frog, inhabiting all types of water bodies (prefer still water) from Sea level (Ex: Bundala) to higher elevations (Ex: Nuwaraeliaya).  It can be distinguished from its close relative Euphlyctis hexadactylus by its smaller size (50-60 mm from snout to vent) and smooth throat (hexadactylus has warts on its throat).  It is well adapted to aquatic life and frequently can be seen floating in water while keeping its bulging eyes and the nostril above the water surface. It can skip over the water surface when alarmed and hence its Vernacular names(Skipper/Utpatana).  

Saturday, March 5, 2011

පැණි කුරුල්ලා[Pani kurulla]/Long-Billed Sunbird/Loten’s Sunbird (Nectarinia lotenia lotenia)

Long-Billed Sunbird is a very common bird of all climatic zones of the island while getting less common in higher hills.  Often found close to human settlements probably due to abundant of flowering plants, nectar of them it feeds on. Beside that it also feeds on several small insects, spiders and caterpillars. Breeding season is from February to May and the nest a hanging pear shaped structure with an entrance in the side in wet zone. And in dry zone it utilizes a larger communal nest of a certain spider by pressing a cavity into the side of it. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Baobab (Adansonia digitata)

         Genus Adansonia to which this tree belong has 6 species in Madagaskar, 2 in Australia and one species in tropical Africa. African species was introduced to Sri Lanka and naturalized in arid zone of the country. It is believed that it was introduced to Sri Lanka by Arab traders in several centuries ago. Here it grows in Mannar peninsula and opposite mainland, Delft island, Wilpaththu and Puththam. Trunk of it is hollowed out by African natives and made into houses, Fibers of the bark use to manufacture of ropes and young leaves as a vegetable. Pulp of the capsule contain tartaric acid and make a drink mix with water. Baobab has Tamil vernacular names – Perukku-Maran and Papparappuli. English Name  ‘Monkey bread tree’ since monkeys are fond of capsules. Aliyagaha – Sinhala name (Sri lanka wild life interlude vol l ) It is said that the tree in Pallimunai of Mannar island is the oldest and largest one of 800 years old. Local tradition is that this tree brought to SL by Arabs to feed their camels by its leaves.