Yagirala Field Visit

Butterfly Conservation Society of Sri Lanka had organized a field visit to the Yagirala Forest Reserve in 31st of July to 2nd of August 2015.Yagirala is a tropical rain forest located in the low country wet zone of Sri Lanka, about 90km away from Colombo. It is rich in biodiversity, natural beauty and also has a religious value. The forest consist lots of streams, waterfalls and bordered by Benthota river in south.It is also, surrounded by the village, rubber plantations, tea plantations and paddy fields. The area of the forest reserve is around 3000ha. The elevation ranges from 10-260m. Annual precipitation is over 4000mm which is primarily received from south west monsoon and temperature ranges from 27-28.5 degrees of celsius. Fourteen members were participated the visit. We started our journey from the University of Colombo on 31st of July early in the morning. We could reach the forest reserve around 1000 hrs. The Field Research Centre maintained by the University of Sri Jayawardhanapura was the place we were accommodated. This research centre is established to facilitate researchers and visitors as well. Also, there is a small museum containing specimens collected from the area such as snakes, birds, fish and bones of large animals.

We walked along theWalallawitaroad to observe butterflies untilthe lunch was prepared.We came across a small stream near a tea estate and also we stepped into the Benthotariver. The scenery of the river and the mountain range behind was very beautiful. During this walk we could observe various species of butterflies such as Gray Pansy (Junonia atlites), Chestnut Streaked Sailor (Neptis jumbah), Philippine Swift (Caltoris philippina) and some larval food plants, fish, frogs, birds and orchids as well. We returned to the research centre for a late lunch.

After the lunch we entered into the forest behind the research station around 3.30pm. It was a secondary forest dominated by Pinuswhich had been grown after the felling of the forest. We walked into the forest along a narrow foot path. There was also a stream across the path. On the way we found Southern Duffer among the bamboo bushes in the dusk and many other butterflies such as Sri Lanka Birdwing (Troides darsius), Sri Lanka Rose (Pachliopta jophon), Restricted Demon (Notocrypta curvifascia), Sri Lanka Cerulean (Jamides coruscans), Great Crow (Euploea phaenareta) and different early stages of the lifecycle of several butterfly species, especially the species associated with bamboo. Also, we went on a night hike along the same trail later that day. During that we could observe roosting butterflies, moths, frogsand heard the calls of owls including Brown Hawk Owl (Ninox scutulata).

On the second day (1st August), we started walking along the road which lead totheYagiralaBuddhist Monastery. It was a 5 km walk, along the rain forest and the forest buffer zone. We found manybutterfly species and their early stages, including Rustic (Cupha erymanthis), Clipper (Parthenos sylvia), Commander (Moduza procris), Chestnut Streaked Sailor (Neptis jumbah), Baron (Euthalia aconthea), Tamil Yeoman (Cirrochroa thais) and Cinghalese Bush brown (Mycalesis rama). There were streams across the footpath where we could record a lot of colorfulfish, which the great majority were endemics. In this adventurous journey some of us snorkeled to enjoy the aquatic diversity of the streams. We had our lunch sitting near a stream. We reached the village around 1700 hrs and returned to the research centre by the vehicle.

On our third day, early in the morning we walked along the road leading to the Deiyagala Buddhist Monastery.Thenwe reached a bridge across a large stream at the destination where a waterfall is located.The monastery was located on the other bank of the stream. As it was the last day of our field visit, we decided to enjoy by having a bath in the river and observing fish. It was a beautiful place due to the waterfall and natural pools where we could swim, snorkel and have fun. There we found Blue Bottle (Graphium sarpedon) and common Jay (Graphium doson) mud sipping and Blue Mormon (Papilio polymnestor) feeding by the river. Sri Lanka Milky Cerulean (Jamides lacteata), Common Mormon (Papilio polytes), Tailed Jay (Graphium agamemnon), Angled Pierrot (Caleta decidia) and Lace Wing (Cethosia nietneri) were also recorded along the footpath.

The early stages of the butterflies we found include the larvae of Commander (Moduza procris), Angled Pierrot (Angled Pierrot), Oriental Common Awl (Hasora badra), Mime (Papilio clytia), Southern Duffer (Discophora lepida), eggs of Common Palmfly (Elymnias hypermnestra), Angled Pierrot (Caleta decidia), Mime (Papilio clytia) and Pupa of Banded Blue Pierrot (Discolampa ethion). Not only butterflies, we could observe other varieties of animals such as birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, dragonflies and amphibians. Three Toad Kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca), Jerdon’s Leafbird (Chloropsis jerdoni), Yellow Fronted Barbet (Megalaima flavifrons), Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), Sri Lanka Wood Shrike (Tephrodornis pondicerianus), Chestnut Headed Bee Eater (Merops leschenaulti), Brown Capped Babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillus), Changeable Hawk Eagle (Spizaetus cirrhatus) were some of the interesting bird species we observed. Banded Mountain Loach (Schistura notostigma), Werner’s Killifish (Aplocheilus werneri), Combtail (Belontia signata), Scribbled Goby (Awaous melanocephalus), Brown Snakehead (Channa kelartii),Cherry Barb (Puntius titteya), Vateria Flower Rasbora (Rasboroides vaterifloris), Silver Barb (Puntius vittatus), Sri Lanka Stone Sucker (Garra ceylonensis) are some of the fish species;Pseudophilatus schneiderei, Pseudophiltus hoipolloi, Pseudophilatus stictomerus, Lankanectes corrugtus are the frogs and Green Vine Snake (Ahaetulla nasuta), Kangaroo Liard (Otocryptis wiegmanni) and Green Garden Lizard (Calotes calotes) are some of the reptile species recorded. As mammals, Purple Faced Leaf Monkey (Semnopithecus vetulus), Toque Monkey (Macaca sinica), Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura) were seen and foot prints of Sambur (Rusa unicolor) and Wildboar (Sus scrofa) were also observed. Adem’s Gem (Libellago adami), Shining Gossamerwing (Euphaea splendens), Two Spotted Threadtail (Ellatoneura oculata), Brinck’s Shadow damsel (Drepanosticta brincki), Dark Forest damsel (Platysticta apicalis) and Sri Lanka Forktail (Macrogomphus lankanensis) are some of the dragonfly and damselfly species recorded. A full list of observed butterfly species is attached as an appendix.

Around 12.00 noon we returned to the research centre. After capturing our group photo we left that prestige forest reserve. We could return to Colombosafely around 6.00pm on 2nd August completing another successful field visit of the Butterfly Conservation Society of Sri Lanka.

  • This field visit was successful only because of the support given by Dr. Priyan Perera, Mr. Trishan Perera, Mr. Nishantha and the local family that prepared food for us during our stay. Our sincere thank goes to all of them.

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