Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

April 29, 2017

Help Green Park

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 6:26 am

More Anuradhapura lakes.

This morning I got up early at 6am and headed down the road to see what was at some of the ponds. On the way, I spotted a few Green Imperial Pigeons and these Rose-ringed Parakeets having breakfast that some nice person had left out for them. I continued on to the kada Panaha Wewa, a small lake but there was nothing there.

Rose-ringed Parakeets
Rose-ringed Parakeet

Behind the Teaching Hosptial I found Help Green Park, a small wetlands area. I found this relic in the toxic drain.

Water Monitor
Water Monitor

There were heaps of White-breasted Waterhen running around everywhere. I have never seen so many. Notice the massive feet for walking on lily pads.

White-breasted Waterhen
White-breasted Waterhen

I was quite delighted to spot this Stork-billed Kingfisher. I had not seen one in Sri Lanka before and had only photographed one in Sabah, but was not happy with the quality. This is still far from good, using ISO 0f 1600. ugh.

Stork-billed Kingfisher
Stork-billed Kingfisher (Halcyon capensis)

Check out the ridges in the massive bill. They probably have to be like that otherwise the whole structure would collapse and just flop around.

Stork-billed Kingfisher
Stork-billed Kingfisher (Halcyon capensis)

And I was just lucky to get this fantastic shot of a Black-hooded Oriole on the way back.

Black-hooded Oriole
Black-hooded Oriole

Anuradhapura bird list

Green Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea)
Stork-billed Kingfisher (Halcyon capensis)
Asian Koel
Rose-ringed Parakeet
White-breasted Waterhen
Common Moorhen
Great Egret
Grey-headed Fish-eagle
Brahminy Kite

An Anuradhapura Tank

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 3:44 am

Kumbichchan Kulam

I caught the bus this morning from Mannar at 9:30am and got to Anuradhapura about midday, so that was a quick bus ride for Sri Lanka. Only 100 kilometers! I got to my hotel and turned on the Air-conditioning immediately. It is the first time I have had AC in this country and I am enjoying it immensely.

White-bellied Sea-eagle
White-bellied Sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

About 4pm I get my rental bicycle and pedalled off to the local tank, kulam, water reservoir. The first thing I see is this massive White-bellied Sea-Eagle fly over and snatch someting out of the water. Not sure what it is yet, I am still processing the photos. She drops it and then the other one swoops down and grabs it for certain. It looks a bit like a tortoise to me. (still not sure).

White-bellied Sea-eagle
White-bellied Sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

Then I saw something I had not saw in Sri Lanka before now. A Great Cormorant. It took me a while to latch onto what it was. They are only seen around central Sri Lanka in large tanks. That is why I had not seen them yet.

Great Cormorant and Asian Openbill
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) and Asian Openbill

Then this Water Monitor started swimming across the tank. I thought it was a mongoose at first.

Water Monitor
Water Monitor

I took some nice photos of a lone Spot-billed Pelican to round things off. Nothing new or exciting but some interesting photos nevertheless.

Spot-billed Pelican
Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)

Spot-billed Pelican
Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)

Anuradhapura bird list

Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)
White-breasted Waterhen
Red-wattled Lapwing
White-bellied Sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)
Little Cormorant
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Darter
Grey Heron
Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans)
White-throated Kingfisher

April 27, 2017

Working in the Salt Mine

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 6:11 am

Greater Flamingo.

I am in Mannar to take some photos of the Greater Flamingo. I was not sure if I would find them, but I hired a bicycle and was riding around the salt pans and there they were. So at 6am this morning I loaded up the camera and trundled off to get some photos.

Greater Flamingo
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)

There was quite a large flock on the salt pan. I thought they might be liking the fresh water, but I remembered that in Bolivia they were on the salt pans in the altiplano.

Greater Flamingo
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)

I could not get very close to them. I had to clamber over the levees and endanger limb and life by nearly falling into a ditch.

Greater Flamingo
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)

A few of them were fighting. I was not sure if it was a fight or some courting ritual. Most probably a fight.

Flamingos fighting
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)

There was not much else except a few Black-winged Stilts, sandpipers and these , which I cannot ID. I am hopeless at identifying waders. It is a little stint (Calidris minuta) in breeding plumage. Thanks Tom Tarrant for the id.

ID needed please
little stint (Calidris minuta)

The workers at the salt mine had to carry a basket on their heads from the salt pans.

Working in the salt mine
Salt Mine workers

And then dump them in piles at the side.

Unloading salt
Dump the salt

There are a lot of donkeys around Mannar. They just wander the streets like dogs. I have no idea what their story is.

donkey
Lazy Donkey

April 25, 2017

Sri Lanka Budget

Filed under: General — admin @ 2:37 pm

How much I spent in a Month

I have been keeping a meticulous record of my expenses for thirty days in Sri Lanka. Let us call that a month. I wanted to see exactly where I spent my money. I started off recording on a pad, but graduated to a spreadsheet. My thirty days started in Mirissa, then Kalamatiya, Bundala National Park, Tissa/Yala, Ella, Nuwara Eliya, Colombo, Kandy, Arugam Bay, Kalkudah, Uppuveli, and Jaffna.

The totals in Rupees and USD , then daily Average, were as follows.

Rupees USD Daily Av.
Transport 11225 US$74.83 US$02.49
Food 34397 US$229.31 US$07.64
Tips 2135 US$14.23 US$00.47
Food 34397 US$229.31 US$07.64
Hotel 56450 US$376.33 US$12.54
Food 34397 US$229.31 US$07.64
Tours 29000 US$193.33 US$06.44
Food 34397 US$229.31 US$07.64
Other 3200 US$21.33 US$00.71
Food 34397 US$229.31 US$07.64

The Grand Total in Rupees is 136407 .
The Grand Total is USD is US$909.38.

Making a Daily Average of US$30.31 and 4546 Rupees.

So, a good idea would be to keep to a budget of 4000 rupees per day. Put that in a separate money wallet and that is your money for that day. Try and only spend that money for the day and not go over it. If you have any left over, put it back in the kitty and give yourself another 4000 rupees for tomorrow.

Looking back over the expenses, the biggest ones were Hotel and Food. If you can keep those two down, then you will be going a long way to having a much lower budget. I stayed mainly in single rooms and ate at the hotels quite a bit. You can save heaps of money if you are a couple or three people. And stay in dormitories.

You can also save lots of money by eating what the locals do. Rice and curry, Vegetable roti, roti and dahl, kottu, etc. Tourist restaurants are a rip-off.

I also spent quite a lot on jeep safaris to Kalamatiya Bird Sanctuary, Bundala National Park, Yala , Kithulgala, and Kumana National Park. They cost heaps but mostly they were worth it, because I photographed heaps of birds and animals and I was very happy with the results.

I tip quite a bit in Sri Lanka. I give waiters and bus conductors 20 rupees most of the time. It is not much but they seem to appreciate it. I also tipped some of the wildlife guides/drivers if they were good, but gave nothing if they were crap. The guides at Yala harassed an elephant so I did not give them a cent. They were lucky I did not report them.

Other is personal items like soap, razors, ear plugs, medicine, O.R.S. , skin cream, sunburn lotion, etc.

Transport is very cheap in Sri Lanka. It is not really an issue. Do not worry about it at all. Buses and Trains are very cheap. Tuk-tuks are where the transport costs can escalate. Pay them about 100 rupees per kilometer. The locals pay about 50 rupees per kilometer. Haggle them down if you are a major tight-arse but remember petrol costs a lot and they have to pay for their tuk-tuks which are quite expensive relatively speaking. So try and be fair and not too mean. I usually walk away from an obviously ridiculous price and if they quote a reasonable price, I usually give them an extra 50 or 100 rupees at the destination.

The Tanks of Jaffna

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 9:03 am

Jaffna Kullams

I took the bus from Trincomalee to Jaffna. It took about four hours over pretty flat and dry country. I think I slept most of the way. I found my hotel and hired a bicycle. I wished I had done this a lot earlier. It is very convenient for getting around. During the late afternoon I discovered the kulam near my hotel. A kulam is what is called a tank in India, a water reservoir.

Lesser Whistling Duck
Lesser Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna javanica)

Ariya Kulam is just past the junction of Palaly Road and Point Pedro Road.

Pheasant-tailed Jacana
Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus)

Kannathiddy Kulam, at Kannathiddy Junction.

Brown-headed Barbet
Brown-headed Barbet (Megalaima zeylanica)

Pullu Kulam, just behind the library.

Grey-headed Swamphen
Grey-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio poliocephalus)

I am not sure if this one has been split from the southern flameback. So, for now I am saying that this is Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense) race jaffnense, better known as the Golden-backed Woodpecker (Dinopium benghalense jaffnense), found in the north of Sri Lanka.

Golden-backed Woodpecker
Golden-backed Woodpecker (Dinopium benghalense jaffnense)

These pair of Pied Kingfisher were sitting over the Pullu Kulam.

Pied Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)

Pied Kingfishers seem to fish different to other kingfishers who sit on branches above water and dive from there. Pied Kingfishers hover over the water, then dive in.

Pied Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)

A Black Kite was hovering over the tank, being harassed by crows. I had not seen any before in Sri Lanka. They seem to be only found in the north. They are such incredible flyers and this is a typical manouver.

Black Kite
Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

Jaffna Bird List

Grey-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio poliocephalus)
Lesser Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna javanica)
Black-winged Stilt
White-breasted Waterhen
Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus)
Little Cormorant
Darter
Grey Heron
Cattle Egret
Little Egret
Indian Pond Heron
Indian Roller
Red-vented Bulbul
Asian Koel
Common Myna
Brown-headed Barbet (Megalaima zeylanica)
Black-hooded Oriole
House Crow
Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense) race jaffnense, aka Golden-backed Woodpecker (Dinopium benghalense jaffnense)
Common Sandpiper
Caspian Tern
White-winged Tern
White-throated Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)
Brahminy Kite
Black Kite (Milvus migrans), only in the extreme north.
Black-headed Ibis
Asian Openbill

April 23, 2017

Bicycle Birding in Sri Lanka

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 6:03 am

Uppuveli, Eastern Sri Lanka

The last post was from Arugam Bay. Since then I have been to Baticaloa. Batti was a nice town with a large lagoon but not much in the way of birds excepth millions of crows and thousands of Brahminy Kites. Hence to Kalkudah which had a nice deserted beach on one side and the other side hordes of Sri Lankan tourists. Now here I am in Uppuveli, about 6 kilometers north of Trincomalee, on the east coast of Sri Lanka.

Zitting Cisticola - please confirm ID
Plain Prinia (Prinia inornata)

I got the bicycle out this morning and went around the lake. A bicycle is a great way to go birding. You can cover a lot of ground and then stop and walk for a while if you need to. This was not a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, as I originally thought, but a Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis). I think so , but I am not sure. ha ha. Edit: Laugh is on me. It is a Plain Prinia. Thanks to Khaleb and Tom for the ID. doh!

Yellow-billed Babbler
Yellow-billed Babbler (Turdoides affinis)

Very sure about these. They are very common and hang around in groups squabbling and doing the babbler thing.

Asian Koel  female
Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea)- female

As I rode off the highway into some scrub, I crashed into some thorn bushes and lost control, hit a bump and the camera came flying out of the basket at the front of the bike. Luckily the strap caught on the handlebars, otherwise it would have smashed the lens. doh! Lesson one – wrap the strap around the handlebars.

Red-wattled Lapwing
Red-wattled Lapwing

Brahminy Kite
Brahminy Kite

That was it. On the way back I had a cup of tea and a couple of vegetable rotis for breakfast and found a cafe for an Americano espresso coffee. Made with genuine Sri Lankan coffee, which is very excellent. The barrista told me that the Dutch had planted the coffee, then the British came and planted all the tea. Ergo: Dutch > British.

Uppuveli Bird List

Indian Robin (Saxicoloides fulicata)
Common Myna
Red-wattled Lapwing
House Crow
Loten’s Sunbird
Red-vented Bulbul
Little Cormorant
White-breasted Waterhen
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea)
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Spotted Dove
Brahminy Kite
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Yellow-billed Babbler (Turdoides affinis)
Grey Heron
Plain Prinia
Common Redshank

April 17, 2017

Arugam Bay Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 1:41 am

Kumana National Park.

Well, just outside of it anyway. The guy at my hotel said he would take me on his motor-bike to see the elephants and crocodiles outside of the Kumana National Park, about twenty kilometers south of Arugam Bay. We took off down the road and soon afterwards we saw a couple of elephants by the road.

Asian Elephant
Asian Elephant (Eplaphus maximus)

So I jumped off and took a few photos of them. Jumped back on and continued down the road. We turned right at Panama and on the levee of a rice paddy, there were a couple of Mugger Crocodiles with their mouths open, catching flies.

Mugger Crocodile
Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris)

Keeping on, we skirted a few more levees on the edges of the rice paddies and wetlands/lagoons. No more crocodiles, but we saw some more elephants in a wetland area.

Painted Stork
Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala)

There were not a lot of birds, mainly billions of egrets and Indian Pond Herons. Lots of Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, a few Grey Heron and Painted Storks.

Malabar Pied Hornbill
Malabar Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus)

We made it all the way to the gates of the national park, had a drink, and then turned back. We saw a few mongoose, but they always disappeared by the time we stopped and I got my camera ready. The Crowning achievent of the day happened by chance. I saw this Malabar Pied Hornbill up a tree and we screeched to a halt and done the deed.

Malabar Pied Hornbill
Malabar Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus)

Here is a big close up of the massive bill, just to show you how amazing they are.

Kumana National Park bird list

Malabar Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus)
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Sri Lanka Jungle-fowl
Indian Pea-fowl
Indian Roller
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Red-rumped Swallow
Spotted Dove
Brahminy Kite
Indian Robin
Oriental Magpie-robin
Common Myna
Red-vented Bulbul
Plain Prinia
Paddyfield Pipit
Purple Sunbird
Black-winged Stilt
White-breasted Waterhen
Common Sandpiper
Red-wattled Lapwing
Yellow-wattled Lapwing
Whiskered Tern
Little Cormorant
Darter
Eurasian Spoonbill
Grey Heron
Cattle Egret
Indian Pond Heron
Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala)
Black-headed Ibis
Asian Openbill
White-throated Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher

Reptiles and Mammals

Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris)
Mongoose
Asian Elephant (Eplaphus maximus)
Spotted Deer
Water Buffalo
Tufted Grey Langur.

April 16, 2017

Arugam Bay

Filed under: Surfing — Tags: — admin @ 7:04 am

Surfing.

This morning I slept in a bit. But eventually I made it to the restaurant before 8am and had a coffee and cheses and egg roti for breakfast. Then I set out to find my way to the main point at Arugam. Which was a bit harder than I expected.

Main Point
The main point

I got a tuk-tuk and he took me miles away to the back beach and I had to trudge through the sund dunes to get there. The trick is, there is not road out to the point. You have to walk along the tourist beach to get there.

An early surf
An early surf

I finally made it to the main break and took a few photos. The waves were pretty small and there were no decent surfers out there shredding.

Watch out for the boat.
Watch out for the boat.

Hopefully, the swell will get bigger tomorrow so that I may even go for a surf myself. But I am going to go early about 6am because I will fry if I go later. It is so hot here. I already had my brains fried surfing at noon in northern Peru.

the croucher
the croucher

Arugam Bay – Sri Lanka

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 1:37 am

Pottuvil Lagoon.

I spent 3 days in Kandy doing nothing. I hardly ventured out of the hostel. I lived on banana sandwiches and biscuits. But I finally needed to move and caught the bus this morning to Monaragala. It took nearly 5 hours to get there. When I got there, there was no bus because it was a public holiday.

Great Thick-knee
Great Thick-knee (Esacus recurvirostris)

So I went and had some lunch and see what happens. When I got out of the restaurant some tuk-tuk driver offered to take me to Arugam Bay for 1500 rupees because he had just dropped off some people and was going back empty. So I took it. And here I am in Arugam Bay.

Great Egret
Great Egret

This evening I went for a walk to the lagoon to see what I could find. Nothing new or earth-shattering, but some good photos nevertheless. And here they are.

Whiskered Tern
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus)

Common Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

Arugam Bay bird list

Indian Pond Heron
House Crow
Rose-ringed Parrot
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Brahminy Kite
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus)
Great Thick-knee (Esacus recurvirostris)
White-throated Kingfisher
Great Egret
Cattle Egret

April 13, 2017

Hornbills I have seen.

Filed under: Birds — admin @ 11:58 am

Hornbills.

I was wondering how many hornbills I had taken photos off. So I did a search on my flickr account and here they are. Most are from Kinabatangan River in Sabah.

Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis).

The Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis), is a Sri Lanka endemic.
Kithulgala, sri lanka. April 2017.

Malabar Grey Hornbill
Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus)

The Malabar Grey Hornbill is very similar to the Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill. Photographed at Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala, India on 1st June 2017. Along the Pugmark Trail.

Malabar Pied Hornbill
Malabar Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus)

The Malabar Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus), was seen at Kumana National Park, south of Arugam Bay on 16th April, 2017.

Rhinoceros Hornbill
Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros)

Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Malaysia. November 2016.

Wrinkled Hornbill. male
Wrinkled Hornbill (Aceros corrugatus)

Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Malaysia. November 2016.

White-crowned Hornbill
White-crowned Hornbill (Berenicornis comatus).

Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Malaysia. November 2016.

Black Hornbill
Black Hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus).

Kinabatangan River , Sabah, Malaysia. November 2016.

Wreathed Hornbill
Wreathed Hornbill (Rhyticeros undulates )

Mount Kinabalu. sabah. October 2016.

Oriental Pied Hornbill
Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris).

Koh Chang, Ranong, South Thailand. June 2102.

Great Hornbill
Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis)

Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kumily, Kerala, India. May 2017.

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