The common Red Backed Woodpecker seen in many home gardens since a long period
of time has been identified as a new species and endemic to Sri Lanka.
It's peculiar only to Sri Lanka and not even found in India.
Environment Lawyer Jagath Gunewardene told Ceylon Today that The Illustrated
Checklist of the Birds of the World, Vol. 1 Non-passerines 2014, issued by Lynx
and Birdlife International has separated the Red-backed Woodpecker or the red-backed sub-species of the Lesser Golden
Back, from the Golden-Backed sub-species and is named as the Lesser Sri Lanka
"The authors have followed the scoring system provided in the paper
"Quantitative criteria for species delimitation" by Tobian and others
(2010) in making this splitting of the sub-species into a new species,"
Field Ornithologist, Deepal Warakagoda said that the separation between the
Golden Back Woodpecker and the Red Back Woodpecker was made based on the upper
part of the back colour (shining scarlet on back) and wings, the lack of black
on the wings, a screechier voice and larger in size than the Golden Back
"The differences between the two birds can also be identified by the
longer bill, longer wing-span and longer tail in the Lesser Sri Lanka Flame
Back (Red Back Woodpecker). This bird is found in the Wet, Intermediate and Dry
Zones, including in the Western Province," Gunewardene noted.
"The Lesser Sri Lanka Flame Back's distribution is in the Southern half of
the country while the Golden Back Woodpecker's distribution is in the Northern
half of the country. However, both species can be seen at the meeting range, in
the Wilpattu, Anuradhapura and Trincomalee areas," Warakagoda said.
Both can interbreed. Nevertheless, no research has been done whether the
interbred species themselves could reproduce. However, experts believe that it
shouldn't be a problem, that is, of interbred species, themselves, reproducing.
He added that according to Captain Vincent Legge in 1880 the Lesser Sri Lanka
Flame Back was listed as an endemic species in the History of the Birds of
"The bird status was then downgraded to a sub species, until Stuart Baker
listed the two birds as two different sub species of a single species in 1927
and followed by other authors who gave a different name to the Lesser Sri Lanka
Flame Back. Birdlife International has deemed the Lesser Sri Lanka Flame Back
as a Least Concerned (LC) species as regards to the threatened species
criteria. This bird will be one of the most common endemics, if not the
commonest endemic species in Sri Lanka," Gunewardene said.
More food for the animals in Yala, which has been hit by a
severe drought, has been pouring in from the public. This week more lorries
carrying food from Kandy, Ratnapura, Embilipitiya among other areas arrived at
the park. A tusker enjoys the food soon after a truck arrived at the park this
Pic by Janath de Silva
The Yala National Park, Sri Lanka’s renowned wildlife
sanctuary is to close for the month of September due to a prevailing drought –
one that affects the animals far more than usual, due to unexpected severity.
To ease suffering and the possibility of ranged scavenging, Jetwing Yala has
teamed up with the Tissamaharama Independent Jeep Drivers’ Association to
provide more than 190,000 litres of water to the resident wildlife in the park.
Launched in January this year, the resort utilizes reverse
osmosis technology which was the only self sustaining option of obtaining
purified water, especially in a remote location such as Yala. Seawater is
collected and undergoes desalination through reverse osmosis process, which
produces pure water from saline water.
The resultant product water is used for a variety of hotel
operations excluding drinking purposes. Operation of the plant is complemented
by the recently opened solar park, which currently supplies 40 percent of the
hotel’s daily electricity demand and is the country’s largest privately owned
The water harvested is then pumped into bowsers sponsored by
the Jeep Drivers’ Association, and distributed in the Yala National Park. To
date, the quantity donated stands at just over 190,000 litres.
“The Yala National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s greatest
treasures, and we must do our best to protect, conserve, and sustain this
miracle. I commend the Jeep Drivers’ Association for taking the initiative and
for their help in getting the water to the places that need it the most” said
Gamunu Srilal, General Manager of Jetwing Yala.
“Hopefully through this programme we provide the animals
with some much needed relief, and give them adequate time to rest and recover
from the drought before the park is opened to the public once again”, he
It is off season for whale watching at Mirissa however this year boats have started operating from last month. The peak season for whale watching at Mirissa is from November - April when the seas are calmer. Last weekend I was at Galle and decided to experience whale watching during off season and was quite amazed as we sighted about 4 whales, out of which some of them were fairly close encounters. As it is off season with the south west monsoon the ride was a bit bumpy (mostly for the first 45 mins or so) however was very much fun.
Below are some photographs (Taken with a basic digital camera)
Jetwing Eco Holidays were privileged to have Professor Sarath Kotagama & Professor Dewaka conduct field training for our team of naturalist guides which was held at Jetwing Vil Uyana from 1st - 3rd September 2014.