I had been looking for a Blue-throated Flycatcher in Sri Lanka for a very long time as it had been known as an extremely rare migrant here. Due to the close resemblance of the male Blue-throated in the general appearance of plumage to the resident Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae) a male can easily be overlooked by being mistaken for the latter in the field. Thus, a rare occurrence of a Blue-throated in the country can possibly go unrecognized and unrecorded. This may have been the reason why this migrant flycatcher did not come to our attention in the past many years.
Early last year there was a pair of Blue-throated Flycatchers photographed in Wilpattu National Park. But I had no chance to visit the site. Then in October of the same year I very closely missed one in South India, which was moving in a small ‘bird wave’ seen by my colleague Uditha while photographing birds at a site where I was too busy recording bird sounds. On our subsequent search for the bird there we failed to find it again.
Thereafter, on 12th January this year on a visit to a forest patch in Tanamalwila I noticed a small flycatcher capturing insects near the ground. Close observation of this bird revealed that it was a male Blue-throated Flycatcher! I was thrilled. Finally I had managed to find one by myself. I managed to get a few photographs and make some recordings of its songs on the second visit to the site on 14th.
The two photos above feature the male I came across on the first occasion.
Its songs are reminiscent of the song of Tickell’s Blue but richer and more “musical”, and varied too. The sound clip below features a couple of songs of the Blue-throated, that from the recordings I made.
Although I spotted the flycatcher closely at two sites and managed to get a few photos on both occasions, on my second visit I did not realise that actually two males were involved in the sightings. My fellow birders (and bird photographers) Dulan Ranga, Gehan Rajeev and Uditha Hettige who visited the site later found that there were two males. It was confirmed by the difference in their markings seen in the very good photographs they took.
On my third visit to the site on 25th January, together with Palitha Antony and Gehan Rajapaksa and my family, I managed to make out the two birds by the small differences in their plumage. Below is a (poor) photo I was able to take of the second male.
I missed participating in the International Dawn Chorus Day this year, which was on Sunday 1st May (http://idcd.info/idcd/). While participating in the 2nd Global Big Day (http://ebird.org/ebird/globalbigday) on 14th May at the Talangama wetlands, together with a fellow birder Dr. Senaka Abeyratne, I thought experience the dawn chorus there as it was the place where I was on the IDCD last year. We reached the wetland just before dawn and began to count the bird species for the Global Big Day event. At the same time, while the dawn was disappearing I recorded calling of birds at the location. Sound track below features a part of the recording I made.
In the bird chorus above calls of the following birds can be heard in order of their appearance on the sound track: Red-vented Bulbul, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, White-browed Bulbul, Common Myna, Asian Koel, White-breasted Waterhen, Lesser Whistling Duck and Common Moorhean.
This March I spent several days bird watching on two occasions at Sinharaja rainforest. Every day early morning I heard Spot-winged Thrushes (Zoothera spiloptera) start singing their melodious songs as they were breeding at the time. Some already had young ones either still in the nest or fledged and hoping on the ground behind mother, calling a soft trill requesting to be fed. Males of the pairs mostly spent time singing of their beautiful songs while their females incubating on the nest or feeding young.
One evening while it was raining, not heavily though, I came across a male thrush singing on top of a small tree nearby a stream. It carried on singing despite the rain continues till late evening. I captured its sessions of singing on my new sound recorder I have been putting on test during my field visits.
At one time there was a ‘mixed-species feeding flock’ moving in the canopy above the tree where the thrush was singing, trying to find last bit of food for the day before dark. A part of the recordings of its songs is produced below. Calls of Orange-billed Babblers and a few other birds in the flock heard in the background of the sound clip below.
[Photo by Uditha Hettige]
New Zoom H6 digital recorder that I’m trying on recording nature sounds.