Monday, December 31, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Kaha-yatimal Kirala/Yellow-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus malabaricus)

An uncommon breeding resident found usually in very dry habitats of dry lowlands. It is common in coastal belt from Puttalam to Jaffna peninsula and in Hambantota district. It also occurs in Eastern province and there are recent breeding records from Udawalawe and Anuradhapura too. It lives as small flocks or pairs in arid wastelands, fallow fields, dry paddy fields, stony pastures etc. Yellow-wattled Lapwing feeds on grasshoppers, ants, termites, beetles and other such ground dwelling insects. It breeds from May to July, laying four eggs arranged in cross-formation on stony ground among clods, stones, etc. well camouflage with the surrounding. It flies often low and in flight feet project beyond the tail. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Asystasia variabilis

An indigenous common herb found in waste lands, forest edges, along borders of paddy fields etc. in wet lowlands and hill country.  An indigenous herb common under shade along streams and footpaths in wet lowlands to mid country secondary forests. Flowering from August to March.*

* Text and species name of the initial post was changed according to the Jep de Vlas's comment below and correct identification given in the subsequently published his second book on flora of Sri lanka.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tailed Jay/Green Jay (Graphium Agamemnon menides)

Tailed Jay is a common butterfly found in all elevations of the country throughout the year. However it is much common in wet zone. It flies very fast and only stops a very short time at each flower. Also when disturbed it take off vertically to considerable height before fly away. So that Tailed Jay is considered as a very difficult butterfly to photograph. The larva feeds on various plants of family Anonaciae such as Katu Anoda/Katu Atta/Rata Anoda (Annona muricata), Anoda/Weli Aththa (Annona reticulata), and Custard apple/Sini Aththa (Annona squamosa) and various plants of family Magnoliaceae like Sapu/Champak (Michelia champaca)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

ඇත් උඳුපියලිය[Et-Undupiyali]/Asian ticktrefil (Desmodium heterocarpon)

An indigenous herb found in grasslands, roadsides and waste lands in moist low country and lower montane areas. Very common plant flowering from May to September and again in November. Sometimes white flowers occur instead of usual purple. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Spot-billed Pelican/තිත් හොට පැස්තුඩුවා/ඔටුමානා[Thith-hota Pasthuduwa/Otumaana] (Pelecanus philippensis)

Spot-billed Pelican is a common breeding resident in tanks, lagoons and marshlands of the low country dry zone. Birds originally released from National Zoological Garden of Dehiwela have established a breeding colonies in and around Colombo marshy areas in the wet zone also. It lives as flocks from two or three birds to a hundred or more. It spend much of its time in fishing, usually as a flock. The breeding season is from March to May and the nest is a large platform of sticks and reeds, placed on trees growing in flooded areas or swamps. Usually several nests can be seen in a single tree together with other storks, herons, egrets and cormorants. It is a strong flier and sometime flies great heights, usually forming V formation. Although it is common in Sri Lanka Spot-billed Pelican is considered as a globally endangered species.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Grey Pansy (Junonia atlites)

Common butterfly found in everywhere from lowlands to about 1000 m a.s.l. Grey Pansy is a migratory species and Ormiston noted that it appears up-country usually in October, before the regular flights begin, and the swarms only lasts a few days (Ormiston W., 1924). The larva feeds on varies plants of family Acanthaceae.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Brown-breasted Flycatcher (Muscicapa muttui)

Brown-breasted Flycatcher or as it was previously known as Layard’s Flycatcher was initially discovered by E. L. Layard around 1854 from Pt. Pedro of Sri Lanka. While quoting Layard, W.V. Legge in his monograph on Sri Lankan bird - A History of the birds of Ceylon- mention that after describing the specimen brought to Layard: “ I name this new species after my old and attached servant Muttu, to whose patient perseverance and hunting skill I owe so many of my best birds. This one he brought to me one morning at Pt. Pedro during the month of June.”(Legge W.V. 1880) That is how it got its 'Tamil' zoological name Muscicapa muttui.
                Brown-breasted Flycatcher is a rather uncommon winter migrant to the wet zone lowlands to the lower hills while local and rare in dry lowlands and mid hills. It is a solitary bird often found in the vicinity of streams in forests and well-wooded areas. It can be easily distinguished by superficially similar Asian Brown Flycatcher by Flesh colored lower mandible, legs and feet with white throat with dark moustachial stripe in contrast with dark brown legs and dark tipped pale lower mandible of Asian Brown Flycatcher. It flies out and catches small flying insects usually returning to the same perch or to a neighboring one since it is very attached to its territory.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dark Grass Blue (Zizeeria karsandra)

An uncommon butterfly found in grasslands from sea level to about 1500m elevations.  It can be easily distinguished from bit similar Lesser Grass Blue(Zizina Otis) by the presence of a spot in the cell on the under side of the fore wing. Its larva feeds on Kura Thampala(Amaranthus viridis) and Maha-aswenna (Zornia diphylla) plants.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

පලා කොකා/කඩොල් කොකා[Pala Koka /Kadol koka]/Striated Heron/Little Heron/Little Green Heron/Green-backed Heron (Butorides striata)

An uncommon breeding resident from lowlands to lower hills inhabiting mangroves, marshes, dense vegetation of tank edges and river banks,  lagoons, salt-pans etc. It feeds on small fish, prawns and aquatic insects.  Striated Heron lives mostly as solitary birds and can be seen usually during dawn and dusk. It breeds from March to July in a nest placed low in a tree. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pale 4-Lineblue (Nacaduba hermus)

Rather rare butterfly found in the mid country (Gamage R., 2007). No records available on its feeding plant and about early stage of the life cycle.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dumbonna/Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)

Indian Roller is a common breeding resident in dry lowlands up to lower hills, while uncommon and local in wet lowlands. It is common mostly in coconut plantations, chena cultivation and such open areas, usually as solitary birds or in pairs. It is known as Dumbonna among Sinhalese people meaning Smoke-drinker since it has a habit of flying over the grass and shrub fires usually when burning jungles for chena cultivation to catch grasshoppers, beetles and other flying insects disturbed by the fire. Indian Roller spend much of its time sitting on a telegraph wires, fence posts or any such vantage points and flying down to catch its prey, which consists of grasshoppers, beetles, lizards and such little animals. It breeds from January to June laying 2-4 white eggs in a tree hole of a dead tree or in a rotten palm trunk. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

වල් ඌරා[Wal Ura]/Indian Wild Boar/Wild Pig (Sus Scrofa)

Wild boar is distributed throughout the island wherever dry zone scrub lands or wet zone forests provides it with enough cover, from coastal lowlands to the higher hills. It occurs in herds sometime up to around 30 or more individuals in dry zone national parks while rather small herds or solitary animals occurs in wet zone forests. It is an omnivorous mammal and scavenge on carcasses of dead animals, kill and eat snakes, worms, eggs and young of ground-nesting birds and also feeds on fallen fruits and uprooted rhizomes etc. It causes lot of damages to the chena cultivation, paddy fields, home gardens and other plantations during its night time forays in search of food. Wild boar is a prolific animal and breeds at least twice annually and W.W.A. Phillips noted that it is always the last of the larger mammals to be ousted from a district where the forest is being opened up (Phillips W.W.A, 1984).  Generally the herds are composed of sows with their young of all ages and the older adult males live solitary or form small parties on their own and join the herds of females only to the mating. They feed usually early morning and late afternoon while lying up in a shade during heat hours of the day. It also feeds during night. Leopards, crocodiles and pythons can be considered as its enemies other than Man. Leopards mostly take young piglets whenever the opportunity occurs and there are instances of desperate fights between leopard and old boars sometimes end up with leopard being killed. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pointed ciliate blue (Anthene lycaenina laycaenina)

Pointed ciliate blue can be easily distinguished from other similar species by pointed fore wings and two ‘tails’ of the hind wings.  It flies all over the island but common in the southern half of the island up to about 500m a.s.l. Larva believe to be feeds on Kiri-palu (Buchanania axillaris)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Freycinetia walkeri

An endemic woody climber around tree trunks in wet zone and hill country. Common in forest areas. Flowering during March-April and fruits red when ripe. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Brahminy Starling/Brahminy Mynah(Sturnia pagodarum)

Brahminy Starling is an uncommon winter migrant to the open and shrubby areas and cultivation of dry lowlands mainly in coastal areas, though unconfirmed reports available of breeding in nineteenth century.  Occasional sight records also available from wet lowlands, apparently on their way to the dry lowlands from India where it breeds. It lives in flocks and feed on the ground while large flocks gather at a communal roosting place in the evening. Brahminy Starling mainly feed on grasshoppers and other insects, but it also eats fruits and drinks nectar from certain flowers. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

හාවා[Hawa]/Black-naped Hare/Indian Hare (Lepus nigricollis)

Black-naped Hare is well distributed in scrub and grasslands throughout the island. It is nocturnal in habit in most areas and during day time lies up in a well camouflaged sheltered patch in the undergrowth. But in the protected areas such as in national parks, it is active even during the day time, mostly in the morning hours. Black-naped Hare is an almost entirely herbivorous mammal and feeds on grasses, shoots, young leaves etc. It doesn't have definite breeding season and produces one or two young ‘leverets’ at any time of the year. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

පිඹුරා[Pimbura]/Indian Rock Python (Python molurus molurus)

Indian Rock Python is the largest snake in Sri Lanka (with average length of an adult about 3 meters while 4.6m being the longest record (de Silva Anslem, 2009)) inhabiting varies ecosystems from tropical rain forests to coastal scrub lands throughout the country.  It has been also recorded from an off-shore island near Trincomalee and from the Horton plains (Somaweera R., 2006). It is mostly active during the night though diurnal activities are also recorded especially during rainy season. Even though it is terrestrial snake arboreal and aquatic habits have been also observed. Indian Rock Python feeds on warm-blooded animals from rodents to adult deer and also monitor lizards and even frogs. There are records of Rock Python preying on leopards and occasional human too. The female python deposit 10-50 eggs inside a rock cave or large tree hole and incubates by coiling around them. It is threatened by skin-trade and also consuming of flesh for medicinal purposes. Rock Python is a non-venomous snake though its bite can cause severe wounds. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lama-Ran Batagoya/Laya-ran Batagoya Orange-breasted Green Pigeon (Treron bicinctus leggei)

Common resident bird in shrubs and wooded patches of dry lowlands. Local and rare in wet lowlands and lower hills. It lives as small flocks and sometime congregates freely in large flocks of same species or with other pigeons (Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Emerald Dove, GreenImperial Pigeon etc.) in the places where food is plentiful such as when a Banyan tree is fruiting. Although strictly an arboreal bird it descends to the bank of a stream/river or a water-hole for drink water, mostly in the morning and in the afternoon. It breeds from December to May and probably again from August to September. The nest is a platform of small twigs place in a small tree beside the jungle path. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Plains Cupid (Chilades pandava lanka)

Common butterfly of wet zone up to about 1000m a.s.l. Males sometimes settle on damp earth in numbers. Its larva feeds on Ferns (Cycas spp.), Jambu (Xylia spp.) and sometimes Wagatea  spicata and larva are attended by some ant species. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

සැළලිහිණියා[Salalihiniya]/Lesser Hill Myna/Common Grackle/Sourthern Grackle (Gracula indica)

Common breeding resident in forest edges, wooded areas and adjoining home gardens of wet zone lowlands to mid hills and sometime locally in dry zone tall forests. It feeds mainly on fruits as pairs or small flocks, usually high in trees, keep in touch with each others by uttering very loud musical whistling sound. It breeds from May to August laying two eggs in a deep cavity in a tree.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tamil Yeoman/Yeoman (Cirrochroa thais lanka)

An uncommon butterfly found in lowlands to mid hills in all the year round. The male settles on the wet patches to absorb minerals and Ormiston has an interesting observation on this butterfly of thousands of males mud puddling on the first five miles of Wellawaya - Koslanda road in November (Ormistom W. 1924). Larva feeds on Makulu plant of family Flacourtiaceae (Hydnocarpus venenata)

Friday, November 16, 2012

පැණි කුරුල්ලා[Pani kurulla]/Purple-rumped Sunbird(Nectarinia zeylonica zeylonica)

Common breeding resident in home gardens, forests and cultivation from lowlands to mid hills while scarce in higher hills. It lives in pairs and visit flowers all day long to feed on nectar.  Also it eats many small insects. Purple-rumped Sunbird breeds from February to June and probably second brood again in August- September. The nest is a small hanging structure from a twig, composed of soft fibers, scraps of lichens etc. bound with cobweb where hen lays two eggs.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Smallest Swift (Panara bada bada)

An uncommon butterfly found in all climatic zones of the island throughout the year. Its larva feeds on paddy and various other grasses of the family Poeceae.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Intermediate Egret/Sudu Madikoka/Kuda Sudu Koka (Mesophoyx intermedia)

Intermediate Egret is a common breeding resident from lowlands to the hills excluding north. Paddy fields, marshes, lakes, mangroves and rivers are its habitats where it can be found solitary or as flocks of few individuals. Intermediate Egret feeds mainly on fish but frogs, grasshoppers and other insects are also eaten. It breeds from December to May and the nest built in a heronry usually mixed with other herons and egrets on a tree standing in shallow water. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Yamfly (Loxura atymnus arcuata)

Locally common butterfly found mostly in southern part of the island from 800 – 2000 ft a.s.l.  It prefers wet dense jungle areas. Larva feeds on young shoots of Heen Kabarassa (Smilax zeylanica).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

Rather common breeding resident in lowland tanks, marshes and such water bodies while much common in the dry zone and less in wet zone. It is also known as rare breeding resident of higher hills (Warakagoda D. et. al. 2012). It lives as small flocks though solitary birds are sometime seen. Little grebe’s diet consists of small fish, various water insects and prawns. It breeds from December to February and probably again in June. The nest is a floating mass of water weeds where it lays three white eggs. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Schneider’s leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros speoris)

Schneider’s leaf-nosed bat is a common insectivorous bat in lowlands and lower hills of the island. It roosts in large colonies in caves and abandoned buildings during the day time and leaves early in the evening to feed on flying beetles, mosquitoes, flies, termites and such other low flying insects. It flies close to the ground among bushes and trees and human dwellings (sometime entering verandas and even rooms to catch small flying insects).  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Common Banded Demon (Notocrypta paralysos alysia)

Rather rare butterfly found in wet zone jungles upto about 1500m a.s.l . Its larva feeds on plants of family Zingiberaceae such as Aran-kaha/Wal-inguru (Zingiber zerumbet). It has a rather fast up and down flight with frequently settling on foliages. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Scarlet Minivet/Flame Minivet/Orange Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus)

 Locally common breeding resident of open forest and other wooded areas throughout the country while much common in hills. It lives in pairs or family parties. Scarlet Minivet feeds on caterpillars, crickets and other insects among foliage and follows one another from one tree to other in 'follow my-leader' fashion. It breeds in February-May and again from August to September. The nest is a small cup in the canopy well camouflaged with lichens, flakes of bark etc and composed with lichens bound together with cobweb and lined with dead-leaf midribs, etc.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blue Wanderer/Dark Wanderer (Pareronia ceylanica ceylanica)

Rather uncommon butterfly found in low country below 1800 ft a.s.l. all the year round while seldom also flies in the hills.  Its female occurs in three forms and those forms vary greatly in width of blue markings though all of them are darker than the male. One such form mimics poisonous Blue tiger and one of another form mimics Euploea species (Crows) -also poisonous- and by that escape from its predators.  Its food plant is Sudu Welangiriya of family Capparaceae (Capparis zeylanica)

Monday, October 29, 2012

කොටිකන් වවුලා[Kotikan Waula]/Great horse-shoe Bat/Lesser Woolly Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus beddomei sobrinus)

Great horse-shoe bat is restricted to forested areas of both wet and dry zone lowlands. However a specimen from Madamahanwara (1077m a.s.l ) was also collected ( Bats of  the Indian Subcontinent – P.j.j. Bates and D.L. Harrison, 1997). It spends the day time hanging by one foot, with their wings wrapped around them in a hollow tree or a small cave. Great horse-shoe Bat lives solitary, in pairs or as small parties of up to three individuals. It emerges in the late evening from its diurnal roost and flies low over the ground among low bushes and along jungle paths in seeking of its prey which consists of beetles, termites and other flying insects. Race sobrinus is endemic to Sri Lanka.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Brown Awl (Badamia exelamationis)

Rather rare skipper found in all elevations of the country in all the year round while scarce in higher hills. It is a migratory species and sometimes appears in great numbers usually in company with Ceylon Banded Awl (Hasora badra lanka) and White-banded Awl (Hasora taminatus taminatus). It is less afraid of sun unlike other two and often visits flowers even on a bright day. The larva feeds on Terminalia spp., Lumnitzera spp., and Kaduru-ketiya wel (Combretum albidum)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

බෝ[Bo]/Peepal/Sacred Bo (Ficus religiosa)

An introduced tree from Himalayan forests of India to Sri Lanka. Bo is the tree it is said that under which the Lord Buddha attained the enlightenment. A sprig of that same tree was brought to Sri Lanka in the year 288 B.C. and still survives at the Mahamevna garden of Anuradhapura – the ancient capital of Sri Lanka – and which is known as the oldest historical tree. In Sri Lanka it is commonly cultivated at temples, parks, along roads etc. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

නීලකොබෙයියා[Neela-Kobeiyya]/Emerald Dove/Bronze-winged Pigeon (Chalcophaps indica robinsoni)

Common breeding resident of forests and well wooded home gardens and plantations of all climatic zones while rare in higher hills and less common in drier areas. It feeds on various seeds, grains and berries and spends mainly on ground solitary or in pairs. Emerald Dove breeds all the year round but peak in February to March and possibly again in September. The nest is placed in a small tree or bush in jungle usually not very high from the ground where it lays two eggs.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

Common winter migrant to the coastal areas of the dry zone and also to the some inland water bodies.  During its stay here Black-tailed Godwit inhabits marshes, coastal mudflats, lagoons, paddy fields and tanks singly or as small to large flocks.  Black-tailed Godwit was formerly considered as a rare vagrant but in 1944 W.W.A Phillips recorded 200 to 300 birds at Mullativu lagoon (Phillips W.W.A 1978) and since then it has become a common winter visitor to the island. It breeds in Europe and Western Asia

Monday, October 15, 2012

American mint (Hyptis suaveolens)

An introduced weed common in wastelands, roadsides, coconut plantations etc. from sea level to about 525m a.s.l. It is a native plant of tropical America

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bush Hopper (Ampittia dioscorides singa)

Common insect found in lowland paddy fields and grasslands up to about 500 m a.s.l. Its larva feeds on paddy and various grasses of family Poaceae. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Common Redshank (tringa totanus)

Common Redshank is a common winter migrant mainly to the dry coastal areas. It is less common in wet zone and occasionally occurred in inland  It feeds on crabs, mollusks, worms and other aquatic animals in shallow water in mudflats, salt marshes, coasts, lagoons, etc solitary or as small groups, sometime with other waders. Race eurhinus (status of the other race terrignotae in Sri Lanka is considered as uncertain) which is the most common in Sri Lanka breeds in Central Asia.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Indian Cupid (Everes lacturnus parrhasius)

Rather uncommon butterfly occurs all over the island in all the year round from sea level to about 1500m a.s.l. Larva feeds on varies plants of family Fabaceae

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Brown Shrike (lanius cristatus)

Brown shrike is a migrant to the island. It occurs as two races in Sri Lanka and race cristatus is the most common while Philippine Shrike or race lucionensis is uncommon. Both races can be seen in open areas with trees or bushes throughout the country. While its stay in Sri Lanka it feeds on insects like grasshoppers, beetles, etc. Brown shrike (race cristatus ) breeds in central Asian region and ‘Philippine’ in Eastern Asia

Monday, October 1, 2012

වද/සපත්තු මල්[Wada/Sapaththu Mal]/Shoe-Flower/Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Large shrub with flowers with varies colors such as red, white, orange, pink, purple, yellow and sometimes brownish-yellow with a red center etc. It is native plant of China and introduced to Sri lsnka and cultivated in home gardens. Escapees also occurs in waste lands. Flowering throughout the year.