Friday, June 20, 2014

Annotated checklist of Vagrant Old World Warblers (Family: Sylviidae) recorded in Sri Lanka

    Birds that appear outside their normal range are known as vagrants. This post summarizes up to date published sight records of vagrants of the family Sylviidae (Old World Warblers) in Sri Lanka.
  Confirmed vagrants

     1) Broad-tailed grassbird (Schoenicola platyurus)
Legge found a single specimen of this bird in British museum which was procured by Hugh Cuming [A well known collector of shells and other natural history specimens] from Ceylon. He doubted it as a straggler in Sri Lanka and gave a most probable place where this bird can be occurred since once he met with a bird with similar disposition, which has never before seen in Ceylon from that place. The place he mentioned is Muthurajawela marsh which he described as “great swamp lying between the Negombo canal and the highroad to that place from Colombo”(Legge V. 1880:694-95). Wait while assuming it as a rare resident species writes: “Messrs. Cave [Walter A. Cave] and Symons [C.S. Symons] believe they once saw two specimens in lantana scrub near the government bunglows in Colombo”(Wait W.E., 1931). Phillips mentioned about two more rather doubtful sight records in 1939. Single bird at Gammaduwa in the East Mathale hills and another two birds on a hillside at WaitalawaNugatenna,( 2500ft), in the Rangala hills to the North of Kandy. Both of above instances birds were observed in tall ‘Mana’ grass.(Phillips W.W.A., 1978:79). Wijesinghe discussed the evidence related to the specimen mentioned by Legge and concluded that there would seems to be little or no ground for including it in the Sri Lankan list (Wijesinghe, D. P., 1983). However base on Phillips sight records (Those were reassured to Wijesinghe by Phillips himself by a letter stating that he is almost certain of identification) and several other circumstantial evidence he discussed in his paper suggested that this species could be an occasional visitor to Sri Lanka (Wijesinghe, D. P., 1983Ranasinghe (Ranasinghe, D. B., 1997) believes it as a probable vagrant to low lands and lower hills.

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.

     2) Pale-footed bush-warbler ( Cettia pallidipes )
Single sight record at Kandy in March 1993 by A.J. Vincent is the only record (Kotagama S. & Ratnavira G., 2010:287)

     3) Lanceolated Warbler (Locustella lanceolata)
A sight record by Deepal Warakagoda of a single bird at Bellanwila-Attidiya marsh in 12th October 1991 is the only record of the occurrence of Lanceolated Warbler in Sri Lanka (Warakagoda, D., 1992). It remained there till the end of April/early May of 1992 (Hoffmann, T. W., 1993)

     4) Dusky Warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus)
Deepal warakagoda, U.Sirivardena and Kithsiri Gunewardena recorded it first time in Sri Lanka in March 1999 near Pugoda (Warakagoda, D., 2000). Second sight record is also by Deepal Warakagoda in January 2000 at Bellanwila-Attidiya marsh (Senanayake, N., 2001).

5) Western Crowned Warbler (Phylloscopus typicalis)
First time recorded by Deepal Warakagoda and Paul Holt on February 2010 at Sigiriya (Warakagoda D. & Sirivardana U., 2011)

      6) Green-crowned Warbler [Golden-spectacled Warbler] (Seicercus burkii)
Sight record from Sigiriya in March 1993 by A.J. Vincent is the only record of occurrence of Green-crowned Warbler in Sri Lanka (Kotagama S. & Ratnavira G. 2010: 291)

     7) Grasshopper Warbler [Common Grasshopper Warbler] (Locustella naevia)
First sight record of Grasshopper warbler in Sri Lanka is from the Bellawila-Attidiya marsh in 4th December 1993 by Jagath Gunawardana (Hoffmann, T. W., 1994).  It was recorded again on 15th Oct 1994 at the same location by Deepal Warakagoda (Hoffmann, T. W., 1995)

     8) Small Whitethroat [Desert Whitethroat] (Sylvia  minula)
Probable sight of the Desert lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca minula) in the year 1996 is noted in the reviews of Ceylon bird club notes for 1996 (Hoffmann, T. W., 1997).  It was reported from Embilikala in November 1996 by Deepal Warakagoda (Kaluthota C.D. & Kotagama S.W. 2009 Quoting Warakagoda D., 2000a)

Hoffmann, T. W., 1997. Ceylon Bird Club Notes 1996. Loris, 21(3), 112-113.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1995. Ceylon Bird Club Notes 1994. Loris, 20(5), 226-227.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1994. Ceylon Bird Club Notes, 1993. Loris, 20(3), 107-109.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1993. Notes from the Ceylon Bird Club, 1992. Loris, 20(1), 12-14.
Kaluthota C.D. & Kotagama S.W. 2009. Revised Avifaunal List of Sri Lanka, Occasional Paper No.02, October 2009, Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (Downloaded from
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.
Ranasinghe, D. B., 1997. Gaps on Field data for Sri Lankan Birds. Loris, 21(4), 170-172.
Senanayake, N.. 2001. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2000. Loris, 22(5), 43-44
Wait W.E., 1931. Manual of the Birds of Ceylon. 2nd edition. Colombo Museum.
Warakagoda D., 2000. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 1999. Loris, 22(4), 23-25.
Warakagoda D., 2000a First record of Desert Whitethroat Sylvia (curruca) minula in Sri Lanka, CBCN Aug:134-137
Warakagoda, D., 1992. The Lanceolated Warbler (Locustella lanceolata): A new Species for Sri Lanka With two other rare warblers. Loris, 19(5), 166-168.
Warakagoda D. & Sirivardana U., 2011. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2008-2011, Loris 26 (1&2)
Wijesinghe, D. P., 1983. Notes on some Rare Sri Lanka Birds -1. Loris, 16(4), 205-208.

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