- Sunday, December 30, 2012

Makandawa Forest Reserve

A team of six YBA members had the opportunity of visiting Makandawa forest reserve and have a wonderful day there as the last YBA field visit for the year 2012 on 27th December. The team started the journey from Nugegoda at 6.30 am and reached Kitulagala by 9.00 am. Then we crossed the Kelani river by the boat service. The water level has gone high than the normal as heavy rains occurred in past few days. When we were at the river bank we could observe several fish species including the Critically Endangered and endemic Asoka Barb (Systomus asoka, previously known as Puntius asoka). The other species of fish observed there were Rasbora spp., Black Ruby Barb (Pethia nigrofasciata, previously Puntius nigrofasciatus),Black-lined Barb (Systomus pleurotaenia, Previously Puntius pleurotaenia) and Stone Sucker (Garra ceylonensis).
As we walk through the village towards the forest we could observe many animals. Some of the birds we could observe there were the endemic Sri Lanka Orange-billed Babbler (Turdoides rufescens)and several other common species such as Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes indsicus), Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia) and Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalens). During the whole trip we could observe 9 species of endemic birds including Sri Lanka Crested Drongo (Dicrurus lophorinus), Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill (Tockus gingalensis)and Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillum) etc. As we were passing a small stream in the village we found a Chekered Keelback (Xenochrophis piscator) basking at the stream bank.
At the same location we could observe the butterfly Cruiser which is somewhat an uncommon species. Many more butterflies were seen when we were passing the village. They included Great Orange Tip (Hebomoia glaucippe) which is an uncommon species in the wet zone, Indian Cupid (Everes lacturnus), Lime Blue (Chilades lajus), Common Sailor (Neptis hylas) , Common Cerulean (Jamides celeno) etc.
Many dragonflies were also seen, specially at the vicinity of streams. Shining Gossamerwing (Euphaea splendens), Black-tipped Flashwing (Vestalis apicalis) and Spine-tufted Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysis)were among the mostly encountered species. At the large streams with small rapids that are found inside the forest, we could observe dragonflies such as Rivulet Tiger (Gomphidia pearsoni) and Cascader (Zygonix iris). Many land snails were also observed by the team during our visit. Endemic species such as Ratnadvipia irradians, Ratnadvipia karuii and Beddomea albizonatus were some of these species.
Gans's Lankaskink (Lankascincus gansi), Kangaroo lizard (Otocryptis wiegmanni), Hump-nosed lizard (Lyriocephalus scutatus) and green garden lizard (Calotes calotes) were among the reptiles we could observe. We encountered several species of amphibians also. Apart from the usually found species like Kirthisinghe's Frog (Fejervarya kirtisinghei), Bronzed Frog (Hylarana temporalis), Sri Lankan Rock Frog (Nannophrys ceylonensis), Kelaart's Dwarf Toad (Adenomus kelaartii) and Indian Skipper Frog (Euphlictys cyanophlictys), we found an individual of Hollow-snouted Shrub Frog (Pseudophilautus cavirostris) too. It was first observed at about 2 meters above the ground level on a tree trunk near the Makulu Ella.
After observing all these interesting animals and beautiful scenarios inside and the vicinity of Kitulgala-Makandawa forest reserve we started heading back at about 4.00 pm. We had to wait at the river bank for sometime as the boat was not there. As we were waiting there a light rain also started but gladly we were lucky enough to have a totally rain free time while we were inside the forest. We left Kitulgala at 5.00 pm and reached Maharagama at 7.45 pm ending the last YBA field visit for the year 2012 with lots of pleasant memories, knowledge and experiences. Photographs: Indeewara Jayalath, Menana Jayaratne, Sajith Harshana.