Monday, August 27, 2018

Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill

Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill - Female

Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill - Male

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Howering Death

Pied Kingfisher
Ceryle rudis

ගෝමර පිළිහුඩුවා / මල් පිළිහුඩුවා

This couple of birds were noted perching at a branch close to a small lake in Kilinochchi, located in the Northern Part of Sri Lanka. 
I was able to note the other two commoner types of Kingfishers as well, namely the White Throated and Common Kingfisher. 
Compared to its coloured counterparts, the Pied Kingfisher shows a unique hunting style. It is able to hower over a body of water for about a minute or two and then dive in at a right angle to the water and snatch its pray, in a speed that it is difficult to fully appriciate this feat by the naked eye.
They do perch on a tree branch hanging over the water like others, but they dont dive directly from the perched position to capture its prey like the other two Kingfishers I observed in the tank. The perching is more a resting and preening phase than hunting, for the black and white bird. 
The last couple of pictures show the hower position which reminds one a bit of a howering Sunbird suckling nectar from a flower, but these birds of prey can be noted to focus sharply on a point before they dive. 
It was simply fascinating to see the sharpness and the grace of the dive ending with a loud splash and a successful hunt almost all the time !

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Remembering the Ultimate Sacrifice

A day like today, almost a decade back, things took a turn for a little island.

A decade later I live and serve on a land that one could never even imagine walking. I feel the rich soil under my feet and the welcoming rain in my hair, all that belongs to all of us in this tiny island, once made forbidden to the majority. I wander free and roam the pristine beaches, savour the heavenly mangos oozing the goodness of nature.. all that belong to all of us, kept out of reach for years from most of the inhabitants.  The warm winds, the night calls of the peacock, the shiny leaves of palms creating a unique silhouette in the setting sun, all the love of nature held hostage from the many nationalities who share this tiny island.

Most importantly, as a person who got the opportunity to make friends with the most generous and humble human beings who call this place their home and listen to their heart wrenching stories of war, I can appreciate the immense relief and freedom brought by putting an end to the ravaging battle.

Remembering the thousands of Sons, Fathers and Husbands whose sacrifices enrich every inch of this land, fall on earth in every drop of rain, kissing the beaches in every gentle wave…

Now that I live on the land they rest, every day is a victory day where one remembers the fallen heroes. Warm winds will carry their last breath and the stories of their valour till the end of time..

People may forget, but the land will not.

Salute to our heroes of all nationalities…

Monday, March 26, 2018

Land meets Sea

In one of my many excursions around the northern part of the country, I had quite a few memorable days of stay in Mannar. The north western coast of Sri Lanka is known for its rugged shore line, giving rise to many an interesting natural land and seascapes.

Mannar is a very unique town, with its centre located in an island. It connects to the main land through a narrow strip of land comprising the road. The coast line takes a rather twisted course sometimes letting the sea merge with the land so much that one does not know where land ends and sea starts. The dilemma is further complicated by the tide which lets sea water in to low lying land. During high tide, whole areas of parched land come alive with sea creatures and birds when it fills up with sea water. 

As you proceed to the island, one unique creature right in the middle of the town attracts the attention of anyone who had not been to Mannar before. The roads lined by boutiques and shops are busy with vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. And there stands the mighty donkeys oblivious to all the hustle around them. They appear to be in a different parallel universe altogether, slow, steady and unfazed by the world moving on around them. One may find a donkey standing right in the middle of the road with its head bent deep in thought, while the lorries, tuk tuks, bicycles find their way around it. As (no pun intended) the night falls, the pace of these idle creatures becomes even slower as if they are frozen in time. Mannar doggies, having shared the roads with these lazy cousins for generations seems to have given up on troubling the Donkeys. Dogs themselves happily lie about on the middle of the road. Basically, the cars give way to motor cycles, which give way to push cycles and all give way to donkeys and the dogs. The hierarchy is not to be questioned !

When one manages to find its way around these gentle beasts Mannar has so much to offer. Hidden away in the fringes of the island lies the most beautiful parts only for the eyes of those who dare to stray away from the beaten path. Driving towards the railway station, the large piles of salt neatly stacked, shine white in the setting sun, against a backdrop of fields of sea water drying up to make the next harvest of salt. Driving past the railway station, one comes to a landscape of vast areas of sand with thorny bushes in the shape of summer huts scattered at the fringes of sand planes. There would be a few puddles of sea water trapped from last night’s tide and in them, several opportunistic sea birds making the most of the feast of crustaceans on offer.

Those who are brave enough to wander further will find their way in to a natural strip of land extending from the main island, bordered on both sides with sea. The gravel road winds its way through a line of thatched huts on one side and long strips of coir mats on the other. These are laden with silver shine of drying up fish to make “karawala”, another pride of Mannar which draws people from other parts of the country in for trade.

A Journey through Mannar is not complete without the story of meeting the Baobab, an ancient giant with a width many times its height. No, this is not a mythical being hiding in the island but a tree with a very unique look. It is said to have been introduced several hundreds of years ago by Arabian merchants, but its origins lie in the island of Madagascar. It is a mystery why it was brought here in the first place, but it goes on to add a sense of mystery to the island too. 

Surrounded and invaded with abundant sea water, the creatures of the island are in a constant battle to thrive in the parched land. The irony of sea water prevails !
The rain comes sparingly and only for a couple of months, when the shrubs come alive with new sprouts and flowers.

As the night sets in, a quiet walk on the bridge would bring one to a sanctuary of shallow sea water. The water laps gently on the low lying islands made of mangrows and fleets of boats docked at the pier for the night. The warm wind brings in the smell of the brine, mangroves, mud of the tidal bed and fish, which is why I would know where I am if someone decides to kindnap me to Mannar, blindfolded.

Monday, January 9, 2017


සෙවූ දේ හමු නොවී
ලැබූ දේ සුව විඳිම්
පසක් කර හෙට දිනේ
මගෙන් ගිලිහෙන බවත්

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pest control

It all happened when my mother called war against her mates in the kitchen. She tolerated them through the cases of missing onions, bananas with tell tale holes and the flour spilled out from the damaged packs. Even the occasional half chewed dried sprat was regarded with much patience. They were happily making themselves at home on the scrubbed kitchen tops once the lights went out for the night. Life was getting better by the day for the furred friends up to a point it couldn’t get any better... Literally. That was when one (probably someone who wanted to know exactly how far their luck could be stretched) developed a taste for my mother’s newly bought slipper.

The war weaponry was brought in in different forms... rather mercilessly. It seemed that they have struck a rather dangerous cord. Poisons disguised as crumbs of tasty food, pads that stuck you the moment you stepped on it, and the tempting cage that held the elusive piece of cheese which trapped you for good, were some from the list. Several succumbed to the weaponry but the rest learnt the art of the game and proved difficult to eliminate.

That was when my mother decided to bring in the killing machine which looked really cute in a rather eerie way. It mewed, hissed, spat and worst of all played with the half dead enemy before she felt it was meal time. And say hello to Bindu...( hope she is ok with the introduction)
Introducing the new generation pest control device...
In for a kill

Cat with an attitude !

Who said looking cute was easy ?
Ps- I am back after an year, and thought it is better late than never... I missed my blog but was too caught up in many other things in life. In fact, I am here after so many omissions and additions that one wouldn't expect to happen in one year ! Hoping not to abandon my own tiny space again, because it is where I found solace during the darkest phases of my life....