Archive | September, 2013

Our feathered friends from across the seas are back

22 Sep

The birds are back and one of the earliest migratory visitors to Sri Lanka away from the harsh winters in the north is the Blue-Tailed Bee-Eater, point out Ornithologists. 

Blue-tailed Bee-eater (c) Rajiv Welikala - Copy

One of the early migrants: The Blue-Tailed Bee-Eater. Pic by Rajiv Welikala

These birds leave their breeding grounds mainly in northern India and settle down here in various parts of the country, even in our home gardens. As its name implies the bird’s staple diet consists of flying insects such as bees dragonflies and butterflies. In the absence of trees their favourite perching platforms consists of television antennas and electric wires, making them a common sight even in a busy urban environment.

It has been recorded that some migratory birds arrive in Sri Lanka as early as August, but a majority make their journey from mid-September to October.

While some of these migrants fly into wetlands and forested areas, many of them opt for home gardens in urban areas. The Barn Swallow, Forest Wagtail, Brown Shrike, Brown Flycatcher, Asian Paradise Flycatcher (sudu redi hora) and Indian Pitta (Avichchiya) are a familiar sight in home gardens this time of the year.

The Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (FOGSL) has this year too asked bird enthusiasts and other householders to keep an eye on who comes when and who leaves when, to help build up more data on migrant birds. In 2011 the group launched the programme, Migrant WATCH, to promote the observation of migrants and in turn their safety.

A Slaty-legged Crake rescued from the heart of Colombo a couple of years ago

Sometimes these migrants exhausted by their long-distance flight collide with window panes and get hurt. They can also become easy prey to domestic cats and dogs.

Bird experts say if one finds a migrant bird in distress put it in a cardboard with a few holes for ventilation and place the box in a quiet warm place. It if is too weak to fly it is recommended that small amounts of low concentrated glucose saline with Vitamin C be given. When the bird is able to fly again release it in a proper environment, the experts say.

Join these events 

The Migrant WATCH will be launched on September 29 (Sunday) with a birding session at the Thalangama Tank in Battaramulla at 7 a.m. A lecture on ‘Waders and Other Migrant Birds’ will be delivered the day before, September 28 (Saturday) at 9.30 a.m. at the Zoology Department of the University of Colombo. The FOGSL especially welcomes those who are new to bird watching to take part in these events

Some of the other events organised include a wader workshop at the Bundala National Park (from October 16-20)) and a field visit to Mannar (December 13-16). For more information about these programmes contact FOGSL on 2501332 or 0718440144 or email


Migratory birds under threat

22 Sep

by Dhaneshi Yatawara (22.09.2013 SundayObserver)

Most of the wetlands in the country where many migratory water birds gather are under increasing pressure due to human activities such as land filling, said environmentalists.

The Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka citing an example said that flamingoes found in large numbers at the Bundala wetland have become scarce in the recent past. This could be due to the decreasing number of small crustaceans on which flamingoes feed.

“The change of salinity of the lagoon due to the inflow of freshwater from irrigated lands had killed small crustaceans.

Hence the birds move away looking for new feeding areas,” a spokesperson for the Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (FOGSL) said. These migratory birds comprise around 36 percent of the total number of bird species in Sri Lanka.

This is the time when birds start migrating to Sri Lanka. 

The worldwide habitat destruction is affecting the regular migratory routes including resting and feeding sites, threatening their survival. Sri Lanka has become the destination for many migrant birds, who fly in the Central Asian Flyway covering a large area from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean. Some common migratory birds include Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Brown Flycatcher, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Forest Wagtail and Indian Pitta.

The FOGSL has launched a program ‘Migrant Watch’ to promote observation and conservation.

This is also a citizen science project where the public can help gather data. The ‘Migrant Watch’ will be launched on September 29 to watch birds at the Talangama Tank in Battaramulla at 7 am. A lecture on ‘Waders and other migrant birds” will also be held on September 28 at 9.30 am at the Department of Zoology, University of Colombo. It is open to the public free. 

Bird watching season begins

22 Sep

September 20, 2013, 9:58 pm – By Ifham Nizam  written to The Island newspaper

article_imageThe Migrant watch, a much awaited event among bird lovers, will be launched this year on Sunday (29) with a watching session at Talangama Tank in Battaramulla starting at 7.00 a.m. Migrant watch is a concept promoted by Prof. Sarath Kotagama of the Department of Zoology, University of Colombo.

A lecture on ‘Waders and Other Migrant Birds’ will also be held on Saturday (28) at 9.30 a.m. at the Department of Zoology. Both these events are free and open to public. The Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (FOGSL) specially welcomes those who are new to bird watching to take part in these events.

September to end of April is the period for many birds to migrate to Sri Lanka to avoid the harsh winters in the north. Few of these migrants, such as Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Brown Flycatcher, Forest wagtail, Asian Paradise Flycatcher (sudu redi hora) and Indian Pitta (avichchiya) even visit home gardens.

“Hundreds of Greater Flamingos, Gargenies, Plovers as well as globally threatened Spoonbill Sandpiper are known to feed in our coastal wetlands. They provide a boost to the biological wealth and economy and therefore it is our responsibility to safeguard them until they leave our shores,” a spokesman for the FOGSL said.

Aiming to provide an opportunity for public to get closer to nature through birds, the FOGSL initiated Migrant watch in 2011 to promote observation and keep records on migrants.

MigrantWATCH 2013/14 – Welcome to the Birds..!!

21 Sep

Its time to welcome the migrants to our island once again.  While recording their arrivals we also must be vigilant on threats they are facing while wintering here. All are welcome to the two events, and please do circulate it amongst your friends..!!

Invitation - MIGRANT WATCH 2013-14

World Migratory Bird Day 2013

7 Sep

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World Migratory Bird Day – Raising Awareness for Migratory Birds

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) was initiated in 2006 and is an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the protection of migratory birds and their habitats. On the second weekend each May, people around the world take action and organize public events such as bird festivals, education programmes and birdwatching excursions to celebrate WMBD.

Migratory birds connect all corners and almost every environment of the world along their migration paths. WMBD is a global event and also hopes to connect the world, and bring together organizations, governments and dedicated people to protect migratory birds for future generations. WMBD works as a network to increase public knowledge about migratory birds and their importance and also connects groups of people to share, celebrate with and learn from each other.

However the day is fallen during non-migratory season for Sri Lanka, so we had launched MigrantWATCH with the aim of covering best of the bird migration season..!!