Birds that appear outside their normal range are known as vagrants. This post summarizes up to date published sight records of vagrants of Ciconiidae and Ardeidae families (Storks, Herons and Egrets) in Sri Lanka.
1) Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)
W.W.A Philllips’s sight record of two birds at the Bagura , South of Pottuvil on the 20th March 1938 and again few days later at another inundation at Helawe, both near Kumana is the first record of Black Stork in Sri lanka (Phillips W.W.A., 1940). Second sight record was reported by C.V. Seneviratne in 1998, again a pair of birds from a marshy land near Aruvakkalu, adjacent to the Kala Oya estuary of Southern most boarder of Wilpattu National Park (Seneviratne C.V., 2000). Third sight record is from a place which is fairly inland unlike two previous occasions by W. L. D. P. T. S. D. A. Goonathilake during the biodiversity survey of the Kala Oya basin in December 2003. He observed a single bird while perching on a Kumbuk tree at the edge of the Kok-maduwa village located near the southern bank of Rajangane reservoir. (Goonathilake, W. L. D. P. T. S. D. A., 2006). Fourth sight record is from Maduru Oya National Park on 21st April 2004 by Dinesh Eransaka Gabadage (Gabadage D.E., 2007). He also reported two birds in a partially inundated area close to the Maduru Oya reservoir.
2) White Stork (Ciconia ciconia asiatica)
According to the Legge, Bligh met with a single bird in beginning of 1879 at Yala and subsequently after receipt of Bligh’s record, Parker informed of his observation of several at the tank of Nikawaratiya, where it appeared to be breeding in company with egrets and herons. However Legge doubted Parker’s identification since White stork doesn't breed anywhere in India and he was of the idea that Parker may have been mistaken it with Pelican-Ibis (i.e. Painted Stork) (Legge V., 1880: 1470). Col. R. C. Wall reported another sighting again at Yala on 13th August 1961 and another one was observed by Osmar Ismail in a paddy field, 10 miles from Anuradhapura on the Maradankadawela roadside during February 1975 (Phillips W.W.A 1978: 9). Next sight record is also from a paddy field near Anuradhapura by a Dutch ornithologist during March 1976 (Hoffmann, T. W., 1977) Finally there is a sighting of a single bird at Kalamatiya on March 1985[Third sight record according to the Hoffman] (Hoffmann, T. W., 1986)
3) Great Bittern [Eurasian Bittern] (Botaurus stellaris stellaris)
A live specimen of a Great bittern was handed over to the Zoological garden, Dehiwela by Sarath Kumara of Panadura on 14th October 1985. It did not feed in captivity and dead on the 16th morning. Later on it was handed over to the museum and preliminary identification of it as Great bittern made at the zoo was confirmed at the Museum. (Gunawardene, W. T. T. P., & Wijesinghe, D. P. 1985)
4) Goliath Heron [Giant Heron] (Ardea goliath)
First time recorded from Sri Lanka in 4th April 1878. It was shot by Le Mesurrrier on the banks of the Mahawelliganga, a few miles above Kandakardu in the Tamankada pattuwa (Legge V., 1880: 1474-75). Again a female was procured in the beginning of 1879 at Palatupana by Exham Swyny. Another bird probably its mate, being seen about the same time at Willapalawewa(Legge V., 1880: 1474-75). According to the Wait all 2 or 3 available specimens obtained from Sri Lanka are of immature birds (Wait W.E., 1931:426). In February 1975 single bird observed at Kokkari villu in Wilpattu by D. Summers-Smith from the UK (Hoffmann, T.W., 1976)) and another single bird in a small tank near Habarana in February 1979 (Hoffmann, T.W., 1980)
Species for which there are only one or two sight records exist listed here as unconfirmed vagrants. Problematic records without sufficient details are also included.
5) Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus)
First time recorded by Dieter Zingel (Germany) on 30th April 1995 at Debera wewa (Hoffmann, T. W., 1996). Later on sight record(s) by Rex. I. de Silva (Kotagama S. & Ratnavira G. 2010: 176)
Gabadage D.E., 2007 Sight record of a Black Stork Ciconia nigra at Maduru Oya Siyoth 2(2) :44
Goonathilake, W. L. D. P. T. S. D. A., 2006 Third sight record of the Black Stork Ciconia nigra from Sri lanka Siyoth Vol 1 34-35.
Gunawardene, W. T. T. P., & Wijesinghe, D. P., 1985). The Eurasian Bittern: An Additional to the list of Sri Lanka Birds. Loris, 17(2), 52-53.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1996. Ceylon Bird Club Notes 1995. Loris, 21(1), 16-18.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1986. Notes from the Ceylon Bird Club 1985. Loris, 17(3), 99-101.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1980. Notes from the Ceylon Bird Club 1979. Loris, 15(3), 157-159.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1977. Notes from the Ceylon Bird Club 1976. Loris, 14(3), 154-156.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1976. Notes from the Bird Club 1975. Loris, 14(1), 35-36.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.
Phillips W.W.A., 1978 Annotated checklist of the Birds of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 1978 revised edition
Phillips W.W.A., 1940. Ornithological observations Loris 2(3) 169 – 175
Seneviratne, C.V., 2000. The second sight record of Black Stork Ciconia nigra from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Naturalist. The Journal of the Young Zoologist Association. 3(1): 1-2Wait W.E., 1931. Manual of the Birds of Ceylon. 2nd edition. Colombo Museum.