Monday, November 17, 2014

Vagrant Gulls and Terns (Family: Laridae) 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 Laridae (Gulls and Terns) in Sri Lanka.

 Confirmed vagrants

     1) Sooty Gull (Larus hemprichii)
First time recorded in Sri Lanka from Mutwal by Deepal Warakagoda on 9th January 1993 (Hoffmann, T. W., 1994) Several sight records since then (Kotagama S. & Ratnavira G., 2010: 227))

     2) White-cheeked Tern(Sterna repressa)
First sight record is from Galle Buck of Colombo in 1983 and second from Negombo lagoon in 1990 ( De Silva R.I, 1990:31, De Silva, R.I. 2001 and De Silva, R.I., 2011). Single specimen was captured at Bundala salterns situated within the Bundala National Park on 13th December 2008 during the bird ringing session carried out by FOGSL and DWC. (Kaluthota, C.D., 2009). It is the third record (Kaluthota, C.D., 2009).

     3) Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)
Rex I. De SilvaEnoka Perera, Lester Perera and Kanishka Samarasinghe reported a Black Tern among flock of around 60 Whiskered Terns in 1st November 1992 on the tidal mudflats in the Northern part of Negombo lagoon (De Silva, R.I. et. al., 1992). It is the first sight record of it in Sri Lanka and again Rex I. De Silva, LesterPerera, Trevor Roosmale-Cocq, Carl Fernando, Kathleen Wickremaratne, Sita and Amrita Hapuarachchi reported another sight record of three adult birds in winter plumage on 9th January 1993 at Alangkuda (near Etalai on the Palavi-Kalpitiya road ). Again they were in a mixed flock of Whiskered and White-winged terns (De Silva, R.I. et. al., 1992). Another sight report available on 1995 April, a single bird with breeding plumage near Hambanthota (Hoffmann, T. W., 1996)

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.

     4) Black-naped Tern (Sterna sumatrana)
Single sight record available on 3rd September 1994 by Laksiri Karunaratne off the coast of Colombo (Hoffmann, T. W., 1995 & Ilangakoon, A., 2001)          

     5) Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei)
Single sight-record made by a group of foreign ornithologist in September 1978 at Mannar is the first record of it in Sri Lanka. (Hoffmann, T. W., 1979). Arnaud B. van den Berg, Cecilia A. W. Bosman & Frank G. Rozendaal three Dutch ornithologists on 2nd September 1978 around 9.00AM observed this single adult bird in summer plumage flying over the Mannar causeway (Van Den Berg, A. B., Bosman , C. A. W.  & Rozendaal  F.G., 1982)
Sudheera Bandara, Kiran Kumaranayagam and Udaya Sirivardena reported 43 Slender-billed gulls near the Sangupiddi Bridge, Pooneryn-Navatkuli road on the 8th and 9th February of 2015. Shalinka De Silva also reported some unusual gulls with photographs on 2nd February 2015 at the same location and  those were later on identified as of the same species. This is the seconds record of it in Sri Lanka (


De Silva, R.I., 2011. Comments on Sri Lanka's Avifauna with a note on observing the seabird migration. Sethsamudra.(Downloaded from
De Silva, R.I., 2001. Seabird Studies off the West Coast 1981-2001. Loris. 22(5):41-42.
De Silva, R.I. et. al. 1992. The Black Tern Chlidonias niger in Sri Lanka. Loris. 19(6):204-205.
De Silva, R.I., 1990. Sea Bird of Sri Lanka. Ceylon journal of science. 21(1):28-33
Hoffmann, T. W., 1996. Ceylon Bird Club Notes 1995. Loris, 21(1), 16-18.
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., 1979. Note from the Ceylon Bird club 1978. Loris, 15(1), 6-8.
Ilangakoon, A., 2001. Observing Seabirds off the West Coast of Sri Lanka. Loris, 22(5), 15-18.
Kaluthota, C.D., 2009 A Sand Martin and White-cheecked Tern : Two vagrant species captured at Bundala national park. Malkoha 30(1):3.(Downloaded from
Kotagama, S., Ratnavira, G. 2010. An illustrated Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka. Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka, Colombo.
Van Den Berg, A. B., Bosman , C. A. W.  & Rozendaal  F.G., 1982. First record of a Slender billed Gull Larus genei in Sri Lanka. Ardea, 70, 82. (Downloaded from

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