Friday, 21 July 2017

Sri Lanka July 2017

Following a meeting with Anoma Alagiyawadu, (resident naturalist at the excellent Jetwing Lighthouse hotel, in Galle,) during our February visit and subsequent correspondence with Daniela Noehlen, I found myself heading for Galle again on July 12th. This time, to be involved in the Sri Lanka ExChange, offering English lessons and natural history sessions to children from the Galle region of South West Sri Lanka. A great opportunity!
After the 11 hour flight and 3 hour taxi to Galle, I set up base at the Sanras Rooms and headed over the road to the Lighthouse to meet Anoma and Daniela. Certain plans had been made and after a day to catch up and discuss ideas, have a short bird wander to an area in Mahamodara the locals call The Jungle, I found myself heading in a tree laden tuk tuk, to the Kottawa Conservation rain forest to plant endemic canopy trees with 70 mothers and daughters who had travelled down from Colombo to help with the replanting scheme. This programme has been organised and supervised by Krishan and Sameera, members of BEES, (Biodiversity in Education and Exploration Society) A superb morning was had by all in good temperatures and a fantastic habitat. Basically, the ancient rainforest here was partially cut down for timber and to plant a tea plantation. When this finished, non native pine trees were put in around about 1978. Krishan and his team are now working hard to replant the correct trees to establish the original biodiversity of the forest, to improve the habitat for the resident creatures that would have utilised the rain forest over 100 years ago. On the other side of the road is a preserved area of ancient rain forest, so the expansion of the resident creatures range into the newly planted area should be swift and successful.
White throated kingfisher



Grey Fancy butterfly

Monitor lizard

Red wattled lapwing on the ground where the new test match ground is being constructed

Tiger butterfly

Sailor butterfly

red vented bulbul

white browed bulbul




Bar winged flycatcher shrike: a new bird for me

Giant squirrel

white bellied drongo

Volunteers in the rain forest replanting

Handbags vital for this habitat

Finding the ready dug holes for the saplings

The future view, large canopy trees

Hole digging in 34C

Making sure it is straight

Looking pleased to be here.

snake checking tree holes for frogs and geckos

same snake

A bit closer, probably 5 feet in length.
Following this adventure, we headed off to the centre where I ran a session for a group of children on kite making and flying.

Kite flying

2 of the tree planting party

Kite making


A few more local wanders, plus time spent at the Lighthouse hotel having further discussions and meetings before a 2nd chance to go tree planting. This time, in another area where we first entertained a group of Chinese teenagers and then a group of similarly aged English youths. Here, I planted an endemic mango tree, again, in an area cut back for a tea plantation.
Path to the replanting area

My first oriental white eye, wonderful bird, perpetually moving through the lower branches.

Oriental magpie robin

Sri Lankan drongo

Much better photo of the Oriental white eye

Black hooded oriole

View from the forest across the valley north of Galle

Interested Oriental honey buzzard, another 1st for me.

It circled overhead for a while

Asian palm swift

The best way to photograph these fast flying birds is to find a gap in the canopy and fire off many shots as they zoom through the frame finder.
Another visit to an excellent English Language Centre, run by Anura called the EnglishWay Institute. Here we spoke to teenagers about England, their interests and aspirations before a wonderful meal with Anura and his wife. We were also entertained by Anoma and his wife Anusha and also at Krishan's house. On each occasions, lovely curries, rice and dhall.
On one occasion I took a tuk tuk to Koggala for a meal with Dimuthu whom we met back in February. Again, curry, this time tuna with potato curry and dhall. Dimuthu then returned me to Galle for another evening meeting.
On my last day, some free time before taking the train to Colombo for an overnight stay before a taxi to the airport for a 1pm flight home. I spent time visiting several people including Chaminda, Raja, Nona, Nilantha, all of whom we have met on each visit and also a final trip to The Jungle for more bird shots.
Rose ringed parakeet

White breasted waterhen

Sri Lankan view of the moon, mid morning

a fast flying Shikra, a sparrow hawk type species

Scaley breasted munia

juvenile black hooded oriole

yellow billed babbler

brown headed barbet


One evening was spent a few minutes uphill from my room, where Anoma, Daniela and I wandered around with head torches and net, catching any moths that appeared. We were only there between 6,30 and 8.30 so very few species caught. However, came across a black scorpion, always good when walking around in flip flops, several caterpillar species, frogs on walls and all in all, a great two hours. These insects yet to be identified to species.

Hawkmoth caterpillar, possibly Oleander hawkmoth




Possible mantis species feeding on a grasshopper/cricket species



A superb time and one that I shall be repeating. Thanks to all for the support, hard work, planning, guidance, especially: Anoma, Daniela, Sameera, Krishan, Anura. A wonderful organisation in its infancy. It will surely grow and become a very strong institution that will benefit the children of Galle.

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This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird

Caley Wood view

Caley Wood view
sunshine through the canopy 29.05.08

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007
Best birds on this walk: black and middle spotted woodpecker and short toed treecreeper

About Me

My photo
A primary school teacher for 30 years, I retired from teaching in July 2009 to set up my own science enhancement and communication company. The Primary Works offers science clubs, workshops and staged science shows nationwide. I have always been interested in bird watching since my early years. Apparently my first tick was after inquiring about a chaffinch and then receiving the Observer book of birds. By the age of 9 I had moved on to Tory Peterson's collins guide and was now involved on YOC birding holidays to Northumbria, Essex coast, Slimbridge and Yorkshire. My twitching rule is that I will willingly travel 1km for each gram the bird weighs. However, I have had many rarities just by being in the right place. I have travelled widely throughout Europe and also visited Australia and Sri Lanka. Further European destinations are planned and a bigger trip to The Crimea was planned for 2014 but now not possible. so 2014: Sri Lanka in January, Poland in April, Madeira in June and The Camargue in July. So far 2015 has been Sri Lanka in Jan, Poland in Feb, Sri Lanka in April and The Camargue coming up in 1st week of September.

Grey heron

Grey heron
Over the allotment 28.09.08

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker
Ridge footpath 27.08.08

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)
Note the stripes, denoting a bird fledged this year.

common blue

common blue
Ash Valley G.C. 15.08.08

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)
River Ash

azure damselfly

azure damselfly
River Ash 28.07.08

marbled white

marbled white
Discovered at Westland Green 22.07.08

ruddy darter

ruddy darter
Bush Wood 21.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08
growing in hedgerow in Chapel Lane

cinnabar moth caterpillar

cinnabar moth caterpillar
Photographed on ragwort 19.07.08

Bittersweet

Bittersweet
Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer
08.06.08

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly
06.06.08

River Ash

River Ash
looking south from the bridge at Hadham Ford

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)
in rape field 29.05.08

Caley Wood sunshine

Caley Wood sunshine
29.05.08

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox
24.05.08

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)
06.05.08 banks of the River Ash

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)
flowers, leaves and fruit edible . Good in salad and pesto

April showers

April showers
Double rainbow 30.04.08

Caley Wood bluebells

Caley Wood bluebells
22.04.08

Yellow Archangel

Yellow Archangel
Chapel Lane (20.04.08)

sunlight 16.04.08

sunlight 16.04.08
looking south west from Bush Wood

snowy buds

snowy buds
06.04.08 in Bush Wood

Looking north west

Looking north west
05.04.08 evening shower approaching

Back Garden

Back Garden
Easter Sunday (23.03.08)

Brick Kiln Hill

Brick Kiln Hill
Looking east (23.03.08)

No play today

No play today
The 2nd hole at Ash Valley golf course

Teasel head

Teasel head
Bush Wood (21.03.08)

Reflections

Reflections
daffodils at Bush Wood pond (21.03.08)

Swollen River Ash

Swollen River Ash
The river at the bottom of Winding Hill 16.03.08

Daybreak over the chapel

Daybreak over the chapel
Thursday 13th March

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)
growing in Bush Wood

January snowdrops

January snowdrops
Banks of River Ash, north of Much Hadham

Good Moon

Good Moon
From garden 24.01.08

Village Green

Village Green
Looking east towards Acremore Street

Looking south before Hadham Ford

Looking south before Hadham Ford
rare January blue sky

Useful sites

The following are some useful websites that may interest readers of this blog.
Firstly, Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society http://bsnhs.webplus.net/

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. http://hairybirders.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.hertsbirdclub.org.uk/ The official herts bird club website. Frequently updated, listing bird sightings around the county. Offers links to many other websites. Both of these sites also offer links to yahoo discussion groups.
http://www.birdforum.net/ An international site. You can enter as a guest but become a member( free) to post comments, bird sightings and just about anything to do with wild birds. Good news updates, classified section for binoculars, cameras etc.
http://www.guidedbirdwatching.com/ A new site set up where you can contact people worldwide who will help you find good birds in their country. UK section being set up presently.
http://www.britainsbirder.co.uk/
Fellow birders blog. Strtford resident, Graeme Smith regulary birds the area south of Stortford as well as around Spellbrook and the River Stort from Spellbrook to Twyford Locks. Some superb bird photography: Graeme uses a digital camera attached to his powerful telescope to get detailled images of the birds he sees. Well worth a browse.
Two local sites that may be of interest can be found at
http://www.thehadhams.com/ www.thepelhams.net/content/section/12/139/

South Easterly walk

South Easterly walk
black, normal, red extended walk

South Westerly route.

South Westerly route.
Black usual, red extended

North Easterly walk

North Easterly walk
black short, walk. Red, extended

North West Patch

North West Patch
black route regular. Red route the extended wander