Monday, 5 March 2012

A happy marsh

Mention a marsh and a birder's pulse quickens. In marshes lurk bitterns and rails, in marshes are warblers and waders, over marshes are terns and hirundines. Marshes, yes, they are a very good thing. The one we visited this afternoon, Kiralakale, was a very good thing indeed and pulsed with exciting birds, including many new to our tour and to my yearlist. However before we got to the marsh we saw another new creature; new both to our list and quite literally new, having just hatched from his egg under the sands of the beach. As we waited to leave, we watched a tiny green turtle hatchling flap himself down the beach towards the sea and, eventually, tumble away on a rushing wave. Good luck little one; it's an ocean out there.

At Kiralakale blue-tailed bee-eaters looped over the marsh where purple gallinules, black-headed ibis, intermediate egrets and watercock plied their several trades. White-browed bulbuls bounced through the trees, a female Loten's sunbird picked delicately at flowers with her ridiculously long bill, and both Blyth's and clamourous reed warblers wove through stands of marshy grass. Four dazzling kingfishers were here too: white-throated, stork-billed, common (what a dreadful name for such a creature) and pied. Three yellow bitterns in turn burst from waterside vegetation at our approach, a male Asian paradise flycatcher quivered his silver ribbon of a tail through a banana palm and a plain prinia buzzed out his little song. Everywhere we looked there were birds, or sometimes squirrels, but always somebody, up to something. As we climbed back into the bus a pair of the splendid crimson Sri Lankan subspecies of black-rumped flameback called in to a nearby tree and, with the morning's whales still blowing and diving in our heads, we drove home happy.

New this afternoon


white-browed bulbul
Pyconotus luteolus
Gallicrex cinerea
Sri Lanka hanging parrot
Loriculus beryllinus
plain prinia
Prinia inornata
clamourous reed warbler
Acrocephalus stentoreus
pied cuckoo
Clamator jacobinus
yellow bittern
Ixobrychus sinensis
Asian paradise flycatcher
Terpsiphone paradisi
Asian brown flycatcher
Muscicapa dauurica
zitting cisticola
Cisticola juncidis

black-rumped flameback
Dinopium benghalense psarodes


green turtle
Chelonia mydas

2012 Totals
Mammals: 36
Birds: 363
Reptiles: 8
Amphibians: 3
Fish: 2

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