Friday, April 18, 2014

Annotated checklist of vagrant Ducks(Family:Anatidae) of Sri Lanka

    Birds that appear outside their normal range are known as vagrants. This post listed up to date published sight records of vagrants of the family Anatidae (Ducks) in Sri Lanka.

    Confirmed vagrants

    1) Fulvous Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna bicolor)
First reference of its occurrence in Sri Lanka is from Wait (Wait W.E., 1931:447). He noted about few specimens once obtained near Mannar and a single sight record from Balapitiya in Southern province. He further noted that he had been told of a sighting of it near Giant’s tank (Wait W.E., 1931:447). C.E. Norris wrote in 1951 that Fulvous Whistling Duck has been recorded as a breeding resident though not recent reports have been received regarding its status. And he suspected that it may still breeds on some of larger tanks and has been overlooked (Norris, C. E., 1951). There is an unconfirmed report of a small flock in Wilpattu National Park in 1962 (Savage, C. D. W. ,1968) and another sight record at Andankulam tank near Tricomalee in the last week of February 1967 (Phillips W.W.A, 1978:11). Some recent sight records of it are 
  1) Single bird at Bellanwila-Attidiya on December 1990 (Hoffmann, T. W., 1991),
  2) Single bird at Ridiyagama on December 1992 (Hoffmann, T. W. , 1993)
  3) Two birds at Wilmitiya tank on March 1995 (Hoffmann, T. W., 1996
  4) Two ducks counted during 15th annual waterfowl census conducted in January 1998 (Hoffmann, T. W. 1998)

    2) Greylag Goose (Anser anser rubrirostris)
Single specimen of small, young male procured by then museum collector in March 1922 from a paddy field about 6 miles from Kesbewa of Colombo district is the only instance of its occurrence in Sri Lanka. It was feeding with two others at the time (Wait W.E., 1931:444). Phillips noted of "non authenticated sight records during recent years from Hambantota and Jaffna areas of parties of Geese". Those he believed as possible vagrants of either this species or Bar-headed goose (Anser indicus) (Phillips W.W.A, 1978:11)

    3) Ruddy Shelduck [Brahminy Duck] (Tadorna ferruginea)
Vincent Legge noted an observation of a pair at the ‘long lagoon which runs inland from Mullaittivu’ by Capt. Wade-Dalton of the 57th Regiment during February 1876 (Legge V., 1880: 1404). Flocks of 8 observed at Rufouse kulam lagoon on the east coast by Iris Darton on her visit to Arugambay on 4-5 visits on March of 1948 (Phillips, W. W. A., 1948) and solitary bird was seen at Hambantota 2-3 times during 1949-50 migrate season. (Norris, C.E., 1950). In 29th November 1974 a pair reported from Malala lewaya by K.G.H. Munidasa (Hoffmann, T. W., 1975 & Phillips W.W.A. 1978:12). Subsequent sight records are -
  •     During the survey of migratory waterfowls in Sri Lanka Anthony Powel observed 2 ducks on  the edge of the Jaffna lagoon near the Vaddukoddai jetty (Kayts islands road to abandoned ferry point) on 29th January 1984 (Powell, A., 1984,  Hoffmann, T. W., 1985a &                Hoffmann, T. W., 1985)
  •     Single female was observed in the Jaffna during 1989 waterfowl census conducted by CBC in  January 1989 (Hoffmann, T. W., 1989)
  •     During the 7th annual waterfowl census in 1990 observed 3 in Vankalai of Mannar. [It is the  5th record of this duck ] (Hoffmann, T. W. 1990 & Hoffmann, T. W., 1991)
  •     Single bird from Bundala during 2009-2010 migrate season (Warakagoda D. & Sirivardana U., 2011) See also - and 
  •      Moditha Kodikara Arachchi recorded 3 birds at the Vankalai Sanctuary on 8.2.2015. (
    4) Gadwall (Anas strepera strepera)
Single specimen collected at Palatupana of Hambantota district is the first report of its occurrence in Sri Lanka. (Wait W.E., 1931:450). Single duck seen at Bundala in early January of 1984 by Robert Tolk a Dutch visitor is the 2nd record of it (Hoffmann, T. W., 1985a) & Hoffmann, T. W., 1985). Kotagama & Ratnavira mention about a sight record in 1993 quoting CBCN 1993, Jan: 01 (Kotagama S. & Ratnavira G. 2010: 159).  Two birds were seen at Mannar area during the 2003 water bird census. (Siriwardana, U., 2003). It is the 4th record of it in Sri Lanka (Warakagoda, D., 2004)

    5) Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
First record of Tufted Duck in Sri Lanka is the specimen of a male taken from a small flock of 30-40 birds on a tank near Dandagamuwa by H.G. Pandittesekera in 4th February 1949 (Phillips  W.W.A., 1949 & Savage, C. D. W. ,1968). Two male birds also observed by R. Mc. L. Cameron on 4th February 1962 at Giant tank of Mannar (Phillips W.W.A, 1978:13)

Unconfirmed vagrants:
Species for which there are only one or two sight records exist categorized here as unconfirmed vagrants. Problematic records without sufficient details are also included.

    6) Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos)
In his monograph on Sri Lankan birds Vincent Legge had added a note on Mallard stating– “I have sportsman’s authority for the occurrence of the Mallard (A.boschas, Linn.) in the Jaffna district; but I am inclined to think that the Indian Wild Duck has been mistaken for it” (Legge 1880: 1426). W.W.A. Phillips also included it in his article supplied to Loris volume 4 on ducks, stating that it is possibly a rare winter straggler to some of the coastal lagoons in the West and South (Phillips, W.W.A., 1948) though he excluded it from his annotated checklist of the Birds of Ceylon (Phillips W.W.A, 1978). Kotagama S. & Ratnavira G. noted a recent sight record of a single bird at Kalamatiya on 19th January 1986 (Kotagama S. & Ratnavira G. 2010: 160 quoting CBCN 1986, Jan: 04). However CBC listed it in their Appendix 1 ( under the criteria ‘It is likely to occur as a migrant in Sri Lanka, and is reported with sufficient detail, but also could be of domesticated or captive origin in Sri Lanka

    7) Marbled Teal (Marmarnetta angustirostris)
Three unconfirmed but independent reports of sightings in January 1984 are the only record of occurrence of Marble Teal in Sri Lanka (Hoffmann, T. W., 1985a) & Hoffmann, T. W., 1985). The first was reported from Deberawewa and Bundala area, second from the Chilaw and the third again from Deberawewa. In all three cases observers were not familiar with the duck and looked it up in guides and came to the conclusion that it is this duck. In the first instance the identification was confirmed by a foreign visitor familiar with the species(Hoffmann, T. W., 1985a)CBC has listed these sight records under Appendix 2 of its country list ( under the criteria of the reports ‘lacks sufficient diagnostic detail or, where necessary, sufficient comparison with ‘confusion’ species or subspecies; and there is therefore doubt as to the identification of the bird concerned’.

    8) Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Base on Layard’s information Legge doubtfully added this species to his list. According to the Legge, Layard has observed two or three pairs through his telescope for several weeks on a piece of brackish water between Jaffna and ChavagacherryLayard also got a confirmation from a native by showing a head of F.rufina (i.e. N.ruffina) which he received from Calcutta. It was identified by that native as a bird which he is familiar with and had killed on that very piece of water though he had not seen them elsewhere.  Layard had also written to Legge subsequently that he is sure he identified the bird correctly (Legge V., 1880: 1428-1429). Layard’s observation was made in 1854 and later on it has certainly been seen at Hambantota (Savage, C. D. W., 1968 & Phillips, W.W.A., 1948)

    9) Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Vincent Legge noted this species as a likely to occur one in Ceylon based on information he received from the Varian of the public work department. A duck with “Canvas-back” which Varian had shot on Topoor tank may have been a Common or red-headed Pochard (Anas ferina) according to the Legge. (Legge V., 1880: 1430).  Other than that up to date no other observation of it has been reported in Sri Lanka. 


Hoffmann, T. W., 1998. The 1998 Waterfowl census in Sri Lanka. Loris, 21(5), 204-209.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1996. Ceylon Bird Club Notes 1995. Loris, 21(1), 16-18.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1993. Notes from the Ceylon Bird Club, 1992. Loris, 20(1), 12-14.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1991. Notes from the Ceylon Bird Club, 1990. Loris, 19(3), 103-105.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1990. The 1990 Waterfowl census in Sri Lanka. Loris, 19(1), 38-41.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1989. The 1989 Waterfowl Census in Sri Lanka. Loris, 18(4), 160-164.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1985a. The 2nd Duck count in Sri Lanka. Loris, 17(1), 19-24.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1985. Notes from the Ceylon Bird Club 1984. Loris, 17(1), p10-12.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1975. Notes From The Ceylon Bird Club, 1974. Loris, 13(5), 275-276.
Kotagama, S., Ratnavira, G. 2010. An illustrated Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka. Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka, Colombo.
Legge V., 1880. A History of the birds of Ceylon  1983 second edition.
Norris, C. E., 1951. Decrease of Wildfowl. Loris 6(1), 315-317.
Norris, C. E., 1950. Migrants, 1949-1950. Loris, 5(4), 171.
Phillips W.W.A., 1978 Annotated checklist of the Birds of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 1978 revised edition
Phillips W.W.A., 1949 The Tufted Duck Loris 5(1), 88.
Phillips W.W.A., 1948. Ducks 1947/48. Loris, 4(6), 498 - 504.
Powell, A., 1984. A Survey of Migratory Waterfowl in Sri Lanka. Loris, 16(5), 260-263.
Savage, C. D. W., 1968. Wetlands and wildfowl of Ceylon. Loris, 11(3), 147-150.
Siriwardana, U., 2003. The 2003 Waterbird Census in Sri Lanka. Loris, 23(3&4), 32-35.
Wait W.E., 1931. Manual of the Birds of Ceylon. 2nd edition. Colombo Museum.
Warakagoda D. & Sirivardana U., 2011. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2008-2011, Loris 26(1&2), 46-50
Warakagoda, D., 2004. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2003 Loris, 23(5&6), 37-41

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