Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cyperus pilosus

Rather common native plant of moist low country to higher hills. Also in Intermediate zone.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Rhynchospora corymbosa

Common native plant occurs in open marshy areas and margins of paddy fields at low elevations. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Fuirena umbellata

Common native perennial herb found on open wet or swampy places from sea level to about 1800 m a.s.l.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

උගුඩුවා/කලවැද්දා[Uguduwa/Kalawadda]/Common Palm Civet/Toddy Cat/Palm Cat (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus)

Common animal distributed throughout the island, inhabiting rocky outcrops and/or trees in the country side and roofs of houses in urban areas. It is a purely nocturnal mammal and spends the day time curled up, asleep in its day time hideout usually a ceiling of a house in cities where rocky areas or tall trees are not readily available. It is mainly an arboreal animal and  feeds fruits and berries such as papaw, passion fruits, pineapple, kithul (Caryota urens) etc. But Common Palm Civet also eats rats, mice, frogs, birds, spiders, cockroaches as well as domestic chickens. It has a habit of depositing its droppings which often contain large quantities of undigested kithul and other hard-shelled seeds, on the top of large rocks and fallen tree trunks. It breeds throughout the year though more young are seen in the latter part of the year before the North-East monsoon. The young are brought forth in a hole in a tree, dry nook under overhanging rocks or often in a dry corner of a ceiling. Usually litter size is 3 or 4 in Sri Lanka. Except when a mother is accompanied by her broods it is usually seen singly.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Kyllinga bulbosa

Common native perennial of grasslands, roadsides waste places and scrub lands, mainly in the dry lowlands.

* As per Senaratna L.K., 2001 Kyllinga bulbosa Beauv. is a synonym of Cyperus triceps (Rottb.) Endl. But according to the http://www.theplantlist.org Cyperus triceps Endl. is a synonym of Cyperus dubius Rottb. http://www.theplantlist.org accept Kyllinga bulbosa as a separate species.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Kyllinga polyphylla [Syn: Cyperus aromaticus]



An introduced weed native to the tropical Africa and Madagascar. According to the Flora of Ceylon Vol 5 it was only known from a place between Pussellawa and Ramboda at mile 28/10 along Kandy -Nuwaraeliya Rd (950 m a.s.l. ) in the Nuwaraeliya district. It is also noted that apparently it was a rather recent introduction. Since then (1985) it seems that it has become a widely distributed weed in paddy fields, marshes and roadsides, at least in the moist areas from lowland to the hill country (Personal observations). 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Umbrella papyrus/Umbrella sedge (Cyperus alternifolius)

An introduced tall perennial, native to the tropical Africa and Arabia. Widely cultivated as an ornamental and also escaped and naturalized in grassy places. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

අනිත්ත[Aniththa] (Rhinacanthus flavovirens)

Rhinacanthus flavovirens is a recently described endemic perennial herb distributed in secondary forests of North Central, Central and Southern province dry lowlands. It occurs under shade of trees close to watercourses.

Reference : Amarasinghe A.P.P.R.& Wijesundara D.S.A., 2011, A new species of rhinacanthus (Acanthaceae) from Sri lanka, Edinburge Journal of Botany 68(3): 333-337 (2011)

Monday, April 3, 2017

මහ රතඹලා[Maha Ratambala]/Torch Tree(Ixora pavetta)

Common native shrub or small tree distributed in dry deciduous forests of the low country and lower montane zones. Flowering from March to July.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

මොට්ටු තණ[Mottu Tana] (Cyperus kyllingia)

Very common grass like native perennial herb occurs in waste places, roadsides, home gardens and grass lands of both wet and dry lowlands up to mid hills(?)

* According to http://www.theplantlist.org Cyperus kyllingia Endl. is a synonym of Rhynchospora colorata (L.) H.Pfeiff. - http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-237155 and Kyllinga nemoralis (J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.) Dandy ex Hutch. & Dalziel is an accepted name but it is a synonym of Cyperus kyllingia Endl. as per Senaratna K., 2001 - http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-251375

Saturday, April 1, 2017

ගල් ඇඹල[Gal Ambala] (Begonia cordifolia)

An indigenous perennial stemless herb occurs mainly in pockets of humus on rock surfaces, mostly in shade, but occasionally on exposed moist surfaces. It grows mainly in the Southeastern intermediate zone from 100 to 500 m elevations. Flowering from December to March. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

වල් තේ කොළ [Wal te kola]Ceylon tea/Spanish needle/Beggar's tick (Bidens pilosa var. pilosa)

An introduced herb native to temperate and tropical America. Naturalized in Sri Lanka and occurs as two varieties.
var. pilosa (Above pic) - Without or usually with very small white ray flowers. Only known from Peradeniya-Kandy area. Flowering from November to March.
var. minor - Very common weed of roadsides, disturbed places, cultivated grounds, etc. in the montaze zone. Flowering occurs throughout the year.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

පඹුරු[Pamburu](Pamburus missionis)

An indigenous small tree, rather common in dry lowland areas. Often occurs in sandy coastal areas. Flowering in April

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

ගිණිහිරිය[Ginihiriya] (Sauropus quadrangularis)

An indigenous shrub of dry and intermediate zones.

* Sauropus rigidus Thw. which was considered as a rare endemic species is now treated as a synonym of Sauropus quadrangularis (Willd.) Muell. Arg.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Eriocaulon ceylanicum

An endemic perennial herb grows in swampy grasslands, ditches and stream margins of the higher hills from 2000 to 2400 m elevations. Flowering from October to May.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Grewia bracteata

An indigenous shrub or small tree grows in lower montane forests of the intermediate zone.

Friday, March 24, 2017

දියමිත්ත[Diyamitta]/Velvet leaf(Cissampelos pareira)

Common native slender woody climber occurs throughout the island up to 1200 m a.s.l. Scrambling and twining over shrubs and in trees of forests. Roots, stem and leaves are used in medicine.

Male flower (Picture) Size = 3 mm 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

දොඩම් පනා[Dodam Pana](Glycosmis pentaphylla)

An indigenous shrub or small tree  found in secondary thickets and forest borders of dry and intermediate zone up to about 1000 m a.s.l.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Justicia tranquebariensis

Common native herb or small undershrub grows in light shade among rocks or in sandy ground among short grass in the dry lowlands. Flowering from January to September.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

වැල් කරල් හැබ[Wel karal Haba]/Forest Burr/Creeping Cock's Comb(Pupalia lappacea var. lappacea)

An indigenous herb occurs as two varieties in the island.
  •  P, l, lappacea (Above Picture) - Grows open dry places along forest edges.
  •  P. l. orbiculata  - Common in the sandy places behind the shoreline.

Monday, March 20, 2017

කෙකිළි මැස්ස/කුකුළු මැස්ස[Kekili Messa/Kukulu Messa](Miliusa indica)

Common indigenous shrub or small tree widespread from sea level to about 1000 m a.s.l. in both wet and dry zone forests. But confined to the secondary vegetation in the wet zone. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

රත පඹ/රට පඹ/බඹු[Ratha Pamba/Rata Pamba/Bambu](Ipomoea quamoclit)

An introduced vine native to the tropical America. Widely cultivated in gardens as an ornamental and also escaped and naturalized in thickets and other disturbed sites. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

බෝවිටියා/හීන් බෝවිටියා [Bowitiya, Heen Bowitiya](Osbeckia octandra)

An endemic much-branched shrub occurs in grasslands, open places and disturbed grounds along roadsides in both wet and dry lowlands and sometimes also in high elevations in the montane zone. Leaves and roots are used in medicine. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Utricularia graminifolia

Common native small herb found on wet rocks and other such wet places from 500 to 2400 m elevations. White stems of this plant with traps (Stolon), running in the moist underground can capture small aquatic animals. Sometime large leaves also have traps. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Mitrasacme indica

An indigenous small herb occurs in wet open patana lands from sea level to about 700 m elevations.

* Size of the flower 3-4 mm across.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

පිහිඹිය[Pehimbiya] (Filicium decipiens)

An indigenous medium to large size tree common in intermediate and wet zone forests up to 900 m elevations. Flowering and fruiting occurs from January to April. Often planted as an ornamental and shade tree. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

නෙළු[Nelu] (Strobilanthes diandra)

An endemic under-shrub grows in primary and secondary montane forests and scrubs mainly in the northern part of the Kandy district from 900-1600 m a.s.l.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thornless mimosa (Aeschynomene americana)

An introduced herb native to tropical and subtropical America. Cultivated as a green-manure cover crop and as hay. Escaped and naturalized along roadsides and waste places.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

ගස් ගොනික[Gas gonika] (Pseudarthria viscida)

Common native erect, trailing or more or less twining perennial herb in light woodlands of the low country up to about 1000 m elevations. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

වල් අසමෝදගම්[Wal Asamodhagam] (Pimpinella heyneana)

An indigenous annual herb occurs in moist areas among grass under trees, along roadsides and waste grounds, mainly in the dry lowlands from 70 to 170 m elevations and up to about 1300 m elevations in the Uva province. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sunday, March 5, 2017

තරණ[Tarana]/(Tarenna asiatica)

Common native shrub or small tree occurs in dry scrub and open secondary vegetation of the low country. Flowering from February to April.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

බූ නෙළු[Bu Nelu](Stenosiphonium cordifolium)

An indigenous small shrub grows along streams and river banks of secondary forest undergrowth in the dry and intermediate zones. Common and gregarious plant flowering from December to April. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

නාහ[Naha](Gnidia glauca)

A much-branched native shrub or occasionally a small tree. Locally common along dry roadsides, dry ground above rock outcrops, open patana lands and rarely in forests from 610 to 1200 m elevations in the western part of the Uva province and eastern part of the Central province.  

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Common Hawk Cuckoo/උකුසු කෝකිලයා/උකුසු කොහා[Ukusu Kokilaya/Ukusu Koha] (Hierococcyx varius)

Race ciceliae is rather uncommon breeding resident from foot hills to the higher hills. Migrant race varius is also very rarely recorded from the lowland areas.  It inhabits well wooded gardens, tea estates, forests, etc. Common Hawk Cuckoo feeds mainly on insects in canopy. But it is said that it also eat some berries and wild figs. It is mostly a solitary bird though sometimes encounters in pairs. It calls day and night during the breeding season though a silent bird out of the season. The breeding season is from January to April and it is a parasitic on babblers.

Common Hawk Cuckoo very closely resembles the Shikra not only in both adults and juvenile coloration, but also by habitual posture, style of flight and even size.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

රම්පේ[Rampeh](Pandanus amaryllifolius)

An introduced shrub native to the Indonesia. Widely cultivated for the musky-scented leaves, commonly used in cooking as a flavoring. Probably introduced several centuries ago. Its Indonesian name Pandan rampeh is long used in Sri Lanka as Rampeh. This species doesn't flower. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Blyth's Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum)

Rather common winter migrant to gardens, reed-beds, plantations and scrublands throughout the island. It arrives in October to November and during its stay in the island Blyth's Reed-warbler entirely feeds on small insects, while hopping actively among bushes and trees in search of them. In the evening it likes to settle on a dense shrub or a reed-bed in a marsh. It breeds in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia and leaving the island in April to May.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Comb Duck/Knob-billed Duck/Nukhta/කැබැලිත්තා/කැබැලිතියා[Kebalitta/Kebalitiya](Sarkidiornis melanotos)

Comb Duck or Knob-billed Duck is now considered as a very rare winter migrant to the weedy tanks and water holes adjoining or in forests of the dry lowlands (Warakagoda D. et, al., 2012). However earlier it was considered as a common breeding resident, though nowhere numerous (Legge, V, 1880) In Legge's time it was not uncommon on the tanks of the Vanni and common though not plentiful in the North-Western province and Anuradapura district, frequenting the Medawachchiya and other tanks. It was also found at Mulative and Toopoor, south of Trincomalie. In the eastern province it was inhabited Ambare [Ampara?], Irukkaman and other tanks. Fisher, C.C.S. found it breeding near Yala and there were also records from Tissamaharama tank and probably from Urubokka and other tanks near Tangalla (Legge, V, 1880).

As per W.E. Wait this large duck is nowhere common but may be met with in small flocks on large weedy tanks in the heart of the jungles in the north and east of the island (Wait, W.E. 1931)

While contributing an article to the Loris magazine on the Decrease of Wildfowl in 1951 C.E. Norris doubted whether Comb Duck can be considered as a resident breeding species or even present any longer in the island. The extermination of this duck from the island he considered occurs due to extensive shooting by [so called] 'sportsmen'.

W. W. A Phillips
in 1948 and C.E. Norris in 1974,  considered it as an extirpated bird species from Sri LankaG.M. Henry in 1955 noted that it does not appear to have seen for many years and feared that it was extinct in the island (Henry, G.M., 1955).

On 4th December 1960 two large ducks believed to be of this species were observed by C.E. Norris at Lahugala and again on 21st February 1961 a courting pair was observed at the same location. The second observation was made by a game ranger P. Jayawardena and he had obtained excellent view of them and identification was confirmed.  Referring these observations W.W.A. Phillips noted that few ducks may be still survive as residents in that area though it had not been observed during that century and was believed to be extinct from the island. (Ebbels, D.L, 1961Phillips, W. W. A., 1978) It was also observed at Ruhunu National Park (Yala) during the same period and not been seen again (Savage, C.D.W., 1968)

Sarath Kotagama & Prithiviraj  Fernando in 1994 and J. Harrison & T. Worfolk in 1999 considered it as an extirpated bird species from Sri Lanka.

Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2002 recorded two Comb Ducks at Vaddukoddai on March 2002 (Siriwardana, U. 2003a) and it was also observed during the annual waterbird census for 2003 conducted from mid January to mid February by the CBC, in association with Wetland International [Observed location was not mentioned](Siriwardana, U. 2003b). 2004 CBC Report also given two observations. One at Uduvil of Jaffna peninsula on February 2003 and another 3 birds at Giant tank on April same year. (Warakagoda D. & Sirivardana U., 2004)

Probably considering these occasional observations, in their second edition of the Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka Harrison J & Worfolk T. noted that Comb Duck is possibly becoming re-established in the island. However Kotagama S. and Ratnavira G. in 2010 while mentioning above two observations in Mannar and Jaffna areas considered it as a status uncertain bird also stating that it was a former resident but was considered as an extirpated bird later on.

It re-appeared again in 2012 with several sightings. Weeratunga V. et. al. reported flock of five males from Wewegama tank in the proposed Mattala Manage Elephant Range in July 2012. Even before that Dr. Thilak Jayaratne made an observation at Vankali lagoon on 16th April and Asith Jayewardhane reported 13 birds at Magalle tank in Nikawaretiya on 21st July (It was the largest number of birds recorded from Sri Lanka in the recent history.) Also 10 individual were reported from Debarawewa by H.K. Janaka on 3rd August 2012 and 3 females in Bundala on 15th September by H.K. Janaka and Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando. (Weerathunga V. et. al., 2013 ). Report from the CBC for 2012 contains several more sightings (A bird was seen by Nanda Senanayake and others in early July, 3 males observed at Giant tank on July, 12 at Debera wewa on August, Single bird at Embilikala and 6 at Debara wewa on September and another single bird at Mannar during December same year) - (Samaraweera P., 2013)

Two more subsequent sightings were reported at CBC web site -
  • Single female from Navadankulama tank on February 2013 by Tara Wickramanayake & Kithsiri Gunawardena.
  •  On 7th November 2016 Uditha Hettige has observed 47 birds at Debera wewa
Although not formally recorded so far, several sightings of Comb Ducks were reported  during last year and early this year in Social media from Navadankulama, Kirala kele and Maramba tank of Matara, Kibulawela of Kotte, Jaffna, Trincomalee and Weerawila. (FOG, Birds Thaprobanica,  Sri Lanka Birding Circle)

* Above single bird was photographed at Olupattawa wewa near Polgasowita of Colombo district on 25th January 2017.

Habits:
Comb Duck inhabits weedy tanks and lives as small flocks. It feeds on varies vegetable substances like grains, grasses, seeds of water plants, paddy and also variety of aquatic animals. It has a powerful speedy flight. It is less nocturnal contrary to most ducks and roosts at night on larger boughs of trees. The breeding season on Sri Lanka was reported as February to March. The nest is a collection of grass and sticks mixed with feathers and placed in a large hollow in the trunk of a big tree growing near water where it lays 7 to 12 or more eggs. It breeds in Africa, India, South China and South America.

References:
  • Ebbels, D.L, 1961, Notes from Ceylon Bird Club January - June, 1961, Loris Vol IX, No 2, December 1961.
  • Harrison J. & Worfolk T., 1999 A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka
  • Harrison J. & Worfolk T., 2011 A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka, Second Edition
  • Henry G.M. 1998 A Guide to the birds of Sri Lanka. (3rd edition). 
  • Kotagama S. & Fernando P., 1994, A field guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka.
  • Kotagama, S., Ratnavira, G. 2010. An illustrated Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka.
  • Legge 1880 A History of the birds of Ceylon 1983 second edition. 
  • Norris C.E., 1974, The Waterfowl of Sri Lanka, Loris, Vol XIII, No 4, December 1974.
  • Norris C.E, 1951, Decrease of Wildfowl, Loris Vol VI, No 1, December 1951.
  • Phillips, W. W. A., 1948, Ducks-1947/1948, Loris Vol IV, No 6, June 1948.
  • Phillips, W. W. A., 1978, Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), 1978
  • Savage, C.D.W., 1968, Wetlands and Wildfowl of Ceylon, Loris Vol XI No 3, June 1968
  • Samaraweera P., 2013, Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2012, Loris Vol 26, No 5 & 6
  • Siriwardana, U. 2003a Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2002, Loris Vol 23 No 3&4. 
  • Siriwardana, U. 2003b The 2003 Waterbird Census in Sri Lanka, Loris Vol 23 No 3&4.
  • Wait, W.E. 1931, Manual of the Birds of Ceylon , second edition, 1931. 
  • Warakagoda, D., Inskipp, C., Inskipp, T. & Grimmett, R. 2012. Helm Field Guides - Birds of Sri Lanka. 
  • Warakagoda D. & Sirivardana U., 2004. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2003, Loris Vol 23, No 5 & 6
  • Weerathunga V. et. al., 2013, Return of the Comb Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) to Sri Lanka, Siyoth, Vol 3.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

කජු[Caju]/Cashew (Anacardium occidentale)

An introduced small tree native to tropical America. Introduced to Sri Lanka by Portuguese and now widely cultivated as a fruit tree in both wet and dry zones. Also naturalized in the dry zone. The seeds are edible and known as Cashew nuts. Flowering mainly after the wet season. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Erebus hieroglyphica

Location - Arankele
Wing Expanse - 5- 5.4 cm
Reference - The Lepidoptera of Ceylon - F. Moore, F.Z.S. Vol 3 Page 153-154 As Taramina torsa ?