IDCD 1 – A wetland awakening, and home garden dawn chorus

A wetland awakening, and home garden dawn chorus

Today, International Dawn Chorus Day, I planned to visit a wetland to experience the dawn chorus there, while my daughter and wife agreed listen to the dawn chorus at our home garden. I reached Talangama tank by 5.10 am while it was still dark about 20min before to the dawn of the day.  When I arrived there a male Oriental Magpie-Robin had already started to sing its beautiful songs from a tree along the tank bund. Soon an Asian Koel started to call and then a White-bellied Drongo began its repertoire, while shrub frogs vocalizing from plants in the area nearby. Those birds started to sing well before dawn as this is their breeding season.

 

Before the dawn waterbirds that vocalized was only a pair of White-breasted Waterhen while the magpie-robin  was still singing its powerful and melodious song. It was also lightning and thundering that time.

 

Dawn was around 6.30am when other birds at the wetland began to fill the chorus with their sounds. White-breasted Kingfisher, White-breasted Waterhens and an egret were amongst others in the dawn chorus.

 

Soon after the dawn the chorus became significantly rich with bird sounds. More individuals of most of the birds mentioned earlier contributed to the dawn chorus.  There was also a Purple Heron calling while it was leaving the night roost (heard between 33 sec. and 36 sec. in the sound track below).

 

At dawn egrets and herons were roosting at their regular night roost began to flying out while Asian Openbills and Black-headed Ibises were still remaining at the roost. Mainly the Black-crowned night Herons were heard while they were leaving the roost.

 

 

Common Kingfisher, a pair of Little Grebes and Red-wattled Lapwing heard  at other places.

 

There were other birds, such as Greater Coucals, Green-imperial pigeons, Spotted Doves, White-browed Bulbuls,  Red-vented Bulbuls, Common Mynahs, Black-headed Orioles, etc. from trees on bank of  the tank or from surrounding home gardens participated in the morning bird chorus. Heavy rain began by 6.30 am following the lightning and thundering that continued from predawn.

As it expects from having an International Dawn Chorus Day it indicates profusely to the listeners the presence of a rich birdlife at wetlands and adjoining habitats in suburban areas, and also it signifies the importance of preserving these habitats.

Deepal Warakagoda, 3rd May 2015

Dawn chorus at home garden

In the end of April my father told me that the International dawn chorus day is on 3rd of May. He told that he is going to Talangama Tank to listen to the dawn chorus there on that day and asked whether my mother and me can do the same at our home garden. So, today my mother and me went in to the garden at 5.20 a.m. equipped with an audio recorder which my father set up for me yesterday. At first there was only insects and shrub frogs calling and it was still dark. Dawn was around 6.30 a.m. and the first one to call was the Asian Koel.

 

Then the other birds began to call, Red-vented Bulbul  and Yellow-billed Babbler joined the koel.

 

The Oriental  White-eye joined the chorus with singing its rather soft, undulating and melodious song. And the Red-vented Bulbul continued to sing with more of its different types of songs.

 

And there were two Red-vented Bulbuls singing from their own territories while the other birds continue their chorus. The finest songbird in our home gardens the Oriental Magpie-Robin participated only with a single ‘peee..’ note in the background.

 

As the dawn chorus continues more birds joined in. Such as Common Tailorbird, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Black-headed Oriole, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Greater Coucal,  and the Rose-ringed Parakeet flew over.

 

Two Common Tailorbirds joined in the chorus with their very loud calls. The Brown-headed Barbet came in to the chorus with its fast, loud song while the parakeets flew over and thunder  rumbled in the sky.

 

While I was recording my mother wrote down the birds which called. At about 6.20 a.m. we had to stop our listening session, because the rain started to pour down. The dawn chorus day is meant to listen and enjoy the chorus of birds in the morning, so actually my mother and me enjoyed it very much today. Also it was an opportunity to learn about the bird calls further.

Himesha Warakagoda, 3rd May 2015

 

 

Subsong of Oriental Magpie-Robin

Male Magpie-robin sings its subsong in a flower tree.

Subsong of Oriental Magpie-Robin 

A male Oriental Magpie-Robin is singing its subsong these days in my home garden. It sings from inside of a dense flower tree, fairly well hidden in the foliage, perched about six feet from the ground, and sings mostly in mid morning and afternoon. These singing sessions are long, and also phrases of the subsong are much longer than those of the magpie-robin’s full song.

Male Magpie-Robins start to sing their subsong when their breeding season approaches. Once they are ready to start their breeding activities the males sing their loud, full song from a quite exposed, high positions (i.e. top of tall trees, top of TV antennas) within the territory of each pair. Their subsong is quite soft and hardly heard beyond several metres unlike the full song.  Composition of the subsong is also very much different to that of the full song, a phrase of it is quite long and composed of a number of different softly uttered notes.

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Tail of this male magpie-robin is in moult. It’s another sign that it is getting ready for on coming breeding season (they moult their feathers and get ready to breeding with their newly grown fresh plumage). Once it gets its tail feathers fully grown it will soon start to sing its loud phrases of full song from tree tops and the like.

I recorded a couple of sessions of the singing male and parts of these phrases of its subsong are featured below. (A Spotted Dove also sings in the background).

Male Magpie-robin sings its subsong in a flower tree.

 

‘Ginger beer ‘ song of Red-vented Bulbul

‘Ginger beer ‘ song of Red-vented Bulbul

I hear two male Red-vented Bulbuls are singing from tree tops in the morning these days in and around my home garden. They utter a sequence of  ‘ginger beer’ song on and off during their singing sessions.

The Red-vented Bulbul (pycnonotus cafer) is a familiar garden bird and very common everywhere in the country. Male Red-vented Bulbuls sing quite pleasant songs during the main breeding season of the birds in the country, which is the first half of year, although this bird nests almost throughout the year. Song repertoire of this bulbul is quite varied and consists of many songs with pleasing sounds. Amongst these ‘ginger beer’ is one distinct song uttered in sequence with other songs in the repertoire.

Red-vented Bulbul (pycnonotus cafer), photo by Uditha Hettige.

The ‘ginger beer’ song featured below was recorded by me in May 2008 in my home garden.

G. M. Henry in his classic work on the Sri Lankan birds ‘A Guide to the Birds of Ceylon (1955)’ writes this onomatopoeic name ‘ginger beer’ under the account of Red-vented Bulbul (pages 19-20) to describe this distinctive song type of the bird.

Deepal Warakagoda, 28 March 2012

Koels in song

Koels in song

The Asian Koels (Eudynamys scolopaceus) in my home area are still singing. They started singing in February and still continuing it. Males start to sing well before dawn and going on with it almost throughout early part of morning, and then sing on and off during the day time. Then frequency of singing increases again by evening.

They were singing frequently almost throughout the day time during last few months, and in that time they were also singing in some nights.  There are about five males are singing and several females are calling within the area which I can hear.

 Asian Koel, male. Photo by Uditha Hettige.

 

I still did not notice the  Jungle or Large-billed Crows (Corvus macrorhynchos)  are attempting to nest in this area.  But, about just quarter of a kilometre away along the Highlevel road there are few pairs of House Crows (Corvus splendens) started to build nests on electric and telephone posts. However, I wonder whether the  females in my home area will ever get a chance to lay eggs in these House Crow nests as there are already other koels are singing in the vicinity of these nests.

Besides the males’ very distinct and familiar song they also sing another type of song time to time, of which the purpose appears to be also for advertising their presence to the females.

The familiar song of the males featured below was recorded on 03rd May 2012 in my home garden. It is the sound which connects the koha (the Koel) with the Sinhala Awrudu (the Sinhala New Year) in April.

[ca_audio url=”https://www.srilankanaturesounds.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Asian-Koel_male_song-1.mp3″ width=”300″ height=”27″ css_class=”codeart-google-mp3-player”]

 

The other song of the males featured below was recorded on 12th May 2012 in my home garden. In this recording other koels in the area are also heard, including the call of the females described below.

[ca_audio url=”https://www.srilankanaturesounds.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Asian-Koel_male_song-2.mp3″ width=”300″ height=”27″ css_class=”codeart-google-mp3-player”]

 

Females have a very different vocalization in contrast to the songs of the males. Males also utter the same call on and off, and it is the only vocalization heard from both sexes during non-breeding season when the males do not sing.

 Asian Koel, female. Photo by Uditha Hettige.

 

Call of female featured below was recorded on 03rd May 2012 in my home garden.

[ca_audio url=”https://www.srilankanaturesounds.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Asian-Koel_female_call.mp3″ width=”300″ height=”27″ css_class=”codeart-google-mp3-player”]

 

Deepal Warakagoda,  15 May 2012.

Singing Red-vented Bulbuls

Singing Red-vented Bulbuls

Red-vented Bulbul (pycnonotus cafer ), photo by Uditha Hettige.

At times in the morning I now hear up to four male Red-vented Bulbuls singing from their regular ‘song posts’ within vicinity of my home garden. Two of them sing from their regular tree tops (i.e. ‘song posts’) of two immediate neighbouring  gardens and the other two from their ‘song posts’ in the gardens further up. I recorded few song repertoires of one of the males in close vicinity and parts of three repertoires are featured below showing some of the different songs that these bulbuls sing during their breeding season.

Sound track below features a part of repertoire with about four different types of songs. Singing of one of the distant bulbuls can also hear in background of this track.

[ca_audio url=”https://www.srilankanaturesounds.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Red-vented-Bulbul-songs.mp3″ width=”400″ height=”27″ css_class=”codeart-google-mp3-player”]

Sound track below features a part of repertoire with about three different types of songs including the ‘ginger beer’ song at the end (the last two songs), which I described in my last posting in the blog.

[ca_audio url=”https://www.srilankanaturesounds.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Red-vented-Bulbul-songs-2.mp3″ width=”400″ height=”27″ css_class=”codeart-google-mp3-player”]

Sound track below features a part of repertoire with about six different types of songs including a song sounds ‘sweet potatoes’ at the end (the last two songs), as G. M. Henry names this song type under description of vocalization of the Red-vented Bulbul in his classic book on Sri Lankan birds ‘A guide to the Birds of Ceylon’ (1955).

[ca_audio url=”https://www.srilankanaturesounds.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Red-vented-Bulbul-songs-3.mp3″ width=”400″ height=”27″ css_class=”codeart-google-mp3-player”]

Deepal Warakagoda, 5 Apr. 2012

White-throated Kingfisher singing

White-throated Kingfisher singing

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), photo by Uditha Hettige.

 

A male White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) has been singing almost every day from tall tree tops in and around my garden since early last month (March). This male was trying to attract a female while establishing a territory for breeding. Its regular ‘song posts’, of which it sings at each post for a considerable time, are fairly wide apart but most of them can be seen easily from my garden.

I observed a female came on and off to one of the trees where the male was singing from and started displaying to male with its wings spreading out showing distinct white patch in the wings.

I assume the male has now paired out with the female and nesting somewhere within the territory which male has established as now frequency of singing of the male has reduced a lot. The White-throated Kingfishers do not sing like this outside their breeding season.

Sound track below features song of the male kingfishers, recorded on April 29.

[ca_audio url=”https://www.srilankanaturesounds.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/White-throated-Kingfisher-song.mp3″ width=”300″ height=”27″ css_class=”codeart-google-mp3-player”]

 

Deepal Warakagoda,  04 May 2012.

Red-vented Bulbuls and Scops Owls

Red-vented Bulbuls and Scops Owls

In the morning yesterday I heard calls of mobbing Red-vented Bulbuls from direction of my backyard and inspecting on that I came across a Collared Scops owl (Otus bakkamoena) roosting at a fairly high place on a Bread Fruit tree in the adjoining garden. It was sitting under a clump of large leaves of the tree and two pairs of Red-vented Bulbuls mobbing at the owl while uttering their loud scalding calls. The four bulbuls were later joined by a pair of Purple-rumped Sunbirds (Nectarinia zeylonica) for mobbing the owl.

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Collared Scops owl (Otus bakkamoena), photo by Uditha Hettige

Sound track below features scalding calls the mobbing bulbuls, and also scalding calls of the Purple-rumped Sunbirds towards end.

[ca_audio url=”https://www.srilankanaturesounds.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Red-vented-Bulbuls-scalding-calls.mp3″ width=”400″ height=”27″ css_class=”codeart-google-mp3-player”]

I heard the bulbuls were mobbing the roosting owl time to time almost throughout the day. This was not a regular roosting place of the scops owls in the area, the pair in this area roosts in the day time at some other place in their territory.  At the late evening I stood in the vicinity of the Bread Fruit tree equipped with my sound recording gear expecting the owl may call at dusk before or after it leaves from its roost. But just at dusk I suddenly heard call of a young scops owl from some distance away. The young owl kept calling for some time and then flew and landed on another tree nearby me.  Although the adult owl didn’t call the young one kept calling and it was soon joined by another calling young owl which flew in from a different direction. Both young birds kept calling for some time before they flew away.

Sound track below features calls of a young scops owls. A hissing sound of the juvenile is very much different from the calls of adult birds.

[ca_audio url=”https://www.srilankanaturesounds.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Collared-Scops-Owl-call-of-juvenile.mp3″ width=”400″ height=”27″ css_class=”codeart-google-mp3-player”]

Deepal Warakagoda, 12 Apr. 2012