Sunday, March 31, 2019

Painted Stork

The painted stork is found in India, Sri Lanka, portions of Thailand and portions of the east coast of China. The "painted" moniker comes from their beautiful and distinct pink tertial feathers. It reminds me a lot of the yellow-billed stork we've seen in Africa, which may be my favorite stork so far. 
Painted stork coming in for landing in Minneryia NP. 

Lots of painted storks in flight over Minneryia NP.
The head is bare and orange or reddish and it has a heavy yellow bill with a down-turned tip that gives a hint of ibis-ness. It has a black breast band that continues around to the under-wing and white tips on the black coverts that give the look of a white stripe along the side. The secondaries are black with a greenish gloss and the rest of the body is white. The long tertials are tipped in bright pink and extend over the back and rump. The legs are yellowish to red, but they defecate on their legs when at rest, like turkey vultures, which can turn the legs white. 
A beautiful bird.
Uduwalawe NP.

Although the painted stork comes close to the yellow-billed stork, its face and legs just don't quite measure up. The probably come in second on my stork scale. 
I think my favorite photo of all. A little bit of ugly. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Indian Rose-Ringed Parakeet

There are four subspecies of rose-ringed parakeet, also known as the ring-necked parakeet. The Indian rose-ringed parakeet, also known as the Indian ringneck parrot, which we saw in Udawalawe National Park and Bundala National Park in Sri Lanka originated in southern India and now has feral populations around the world, including Australia, Great Britain (primarily around London), and the U.S. (with stable populations in Naples, Florida, Los Angeles and Bakersfield, California and Hawaii). 
Rose-ringed parakeet in Udawalawe NP.
They are bigger than any parakeet I'm familiar with, and actually are a parrot.  They are sexually dimorphic. The male has a red and black neck-ring and the female and all juveniles either have no neck-ring, or have a shadow-like pale to dark gray neck-ring. They are a beautiful green color and have a bright red bill. They average about 16 inches in length, including their tail. 
In Bundala NP.
In Bundala NP
They are popular as pets (it is pets that have gone wild that have spurred their introduction around the globe) and can be taught to speak. Their is a blue morph which is popular in the pet trade. 

Friday, March 29, 2019

Sri Lanka Gray Hornbill

The Sri Lanka gray hornbill is endemic to Sri Lanka and the Wikipedia article says they are common. However, our guide Sanjay belied that, indicating they are difficult to find. He was happy when we saw and photographed one at Anuradhapura our first day. I did not get another photo the rest of the trip and only saw a few others in fleeting glimpses. 
This immature bird has grayer underparts and looks thinner than the hornbills I see in other photos.
It has a gray back and wings, white underparts, a brown crown, a blackish tail with white sides and a curved bill with no casque. Males have a cream colored bill and females have a very cool black bill with a cream stripe. Immature birds, like what I saw, have dark gray upperparts, a cream bill and a tail with a white tip. 
I love hornbills and this is another bird I really wanted to see on our trip. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Sri Lankan Junglefowl

There are four species of junglefowl, all found in southeast Asia. One of those species, the red junglefowl, is the likely ancestor of the domestic chicken. One of the other species, the Sri Lankan junglefowl, also known as the Ceylon junglefowl, is endemic to Sri Lanka and is the national bird of Sri Lanka. 
Sri Lankan junglefowl in Yala NP.
Male and female Sri Lankan junglefowl are sexually dimorphic. The male is much larger than the female and resembles a large rooster. It has orange/red body plumage, a purple/black tail and wings, feathers on the mane (from the head to the bottom of the spine) are gold, and the face has bare red skin and wattles. The comb is red with a yellow center. 
Yellow mark on comb, red face and wattles, gold neck feathers. 
Purple/black wing and tail feathers.
The female has dull brown plumage with white patterning on the lower belly and breast. 
Female in Yala NP.
We saw our first one in Minneriya National Park and subsequently saw many of them in Yala National Park and a couple in Bundala National Park. 

One particularly fun sighting was a male and female in a mating ritual where the male was doing some frantic scratching in the dirt and both were bobbing and weaving. 
Male and female together.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Blue-Tailed Bee-Eater

The blue-tailed bee-eater, found through much of southeastern Asia, is yellowish/green with a blue rump and tail and a chestnut throat. Its face has a narrow blue patch with a black eye-stripe. 
No question about this being a blue-tailed. Found in Bundala NP. 
Same with this one, found in Udawalawe NP. 
I struggled with wanting to identify some as chestnut-headed bee-eaters because of the prominence of red, but for several reasons ended up deciding they were blue-tailed instead. First, the red was not red enough and as extensive as it should be, and second, many have the narrow blue patch near the black eye-stripe. 
This one, found in Bundala NP, was a little more difficult to identify becuase it has pretty strong red and yellow. The blue patch near the eye-stripe does it for me. 
The same bird with a head-on shot showing the yellow. 
This one gave me the most problem of all. It does not have an obvious blue eye-patch. But by process of elimination, decided it has to be blue-tailed. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Green Bee-Eater

The green bee-eater is found in Sub-Saharan Africa, and western Arabia and Asia, through India to Vietnam. It is green overall with a green-blue throat and a thin black throat band. Some subspecies have a rusty crown or a bright blue throat. 
This green bee-eater was found in Udawalawe NP and looks like the subspecies ceylonicus given the golden brown sheen on the head. 
The same bird from a different angle. 
I found this photo later, taken in Yala NP with my point and shoot. It was right next to our vehicle. 
A different photo of the same bird.
In Sri Lanka, the subspecies Merops orientalis orientalis has a head and neck tinged with rufus, while the suspecies M.o. ceylonicus has a nape and hind neck with more pronounced golden brown sheen.
Also found in Udawalawe NP, this green bee-eater has a darker red head
We saw lots of bee-eaters and one of my regrets is that I did not insist on stopping for more photos of them. I find great variety in their appearance and wish for more and better photos.  
This green bee-eater was found in Yala NP. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Ceylon Paradise Flycatcher

The Indian paradise flycatcher has three subspecies, one of which is the Ceylon paradise flycatcher found in Sri Lanka. The adult male has a long ribbon-like tail and occurs in two color morphs: one white and the other cinnamon or rufus. Each morph has a glossy black head with a blue ring around the eye. The white morph is entirely white below the head. 
Male white morph Ceylon paradise flycatcher.

The cinnamon morph has cinnamon upperparts and tail and dirty white underparts. 
Male cinnamon morph. Not a great photo but gives a good perspective of the tail. 
Another tail perspective. 

This photo captures the blue eye ring. 
Females are cinnamon above with a grayish throat, a much shorter tail and lack a blue eye ring. 
Female Ceylon paradise flycatcher.

While in Udawalawe National Park in Sri Lanka we encountered a female and both male morphs, all within a short period of time and those were the only ones we saw our entire trip. Watching the white morph male was magical. It looked fake, the tail winding and whirling around like a ribbon in a ribbon dance. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Malabar Pied Hornbill

When we visited Sri Lanka one of the animals that I really wanted to see was the Malabar pied hornbill. Hornbills have become one of my favorite birds and the bill on this species reaches gigantic proportions. It has a huge bony structure on top of its bill known as a casque which is hollow and amplifies the birds' calls.  
Male Malabar pied hornbill in Udawalawe NP. 
Male and female in Udawalawe.
It is found only in portions of India (central and eastern and southwestern) and Sri Lanka. It is mostly black, but has a white belly, throat patch, tail sides and trailing edge to its wings. The bill is yellow with a large casque that is mostly black. Females have a white ring around their eyes which the males lack. 
Female in Yala NP.
Close-up of the head.
They love figs which are 65% of their diet in the non-breeding season (May to February) and 75% of their diet during breeding season. They also eat other fruits, small mammals, birds, small reptiles and insects. 
It is listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List. 
We had several good sightings. Two were in Udawalawe National Park, one solo male and a couple. We also saw a solo female in Yala National Park. We had a number of other sightings where they were flying or too far away to get good photos.