Friday, January 22, 2010

Training Programme for ECO-V members

We conducted another very successful training session for ECO-V members on 16th and 17th January at the Sarvodaya training centre in Bandaragama in the vicinity of beautiful Bolgoda River. After very successful KSMA training we were well equipped with tools, material and more importantly with confidence to conduct training. This training was conducted for ECO-V members to celebrate our 9th anniversary which falls on 7th of February. Harsha, Nanda and me conducted the training which included meditation, yoga and a guided field trip along Bolgoda River. Same fishermen who helped us last time came to take us along river safely on their fishing boats (eco friendly boats). It was amazing to see how they have improved themselves in sighting things and describing them to us. I was so thrilled and we planned to train them properly one day to encourage them in eco tourism. All the members wanted to start a project to protect this wonderful eco system, Bolgoda Lake and river after completing the guided tour. Everyone appreciated the training at the end of the day and requested more awareness campaigns in the future .

Let’s plant trees for future generation - The first activity for 2010

What an event to start the New Year!!! We all like to follow the ritual of planting a tree on a good occasion so this time all at ECO-V started the New Year with planting 90 plants around a tank. We had around 100 more plants remaining from our nursery we started for Pelican Conservation Project at Udawalawa. All were very healthy Kumbuk (Terminalia arjuna) plants which is a very important tree species to enrich catchment areas at the water sources.
There were 10 volunteers at the tree planting campaign which took place at Panahaduwa tank in Udawalawa where we have recorded around 230 Spot-billed Pelicans once. It was a very short notice we gave to the “Friends of Pelicans” to join with us on the 7th of January to plant the trees. We started the mission at 10am and completed it by 2.30 pm and came back to Colombo on the same day. All were very tired but were very satisfied about the great mission accomplished. It was very nice to see the plants which we planted last year at the same tank. They had grown up (about 4 feet) and looking healthy. It’s a known fact that these plants have to protected from the free roaming buffalos in the area. Buffalos love tender kumbuk plants. Once they graze the plant gives new leaves and slowly the stem become much harder and after that level plants will grow slowly with out any threat from buffalos. Therefore it takes at least 2 to 3 years for a plant to grow up to a certain level. One day these will be fully grown trees and hopefully they will provide roosting and breeding habitats for many Pelicans and other birds .

Friday, January 8, 2010

Wow! Many birds are still around Attidiya Bellanwila sanctuary.

As you may aware our new house and ECO-V office is at Boralesgamuwa, 15km south to heart of Colombo. Even you can see the tall buildings in Colombo from our balcony. We are facing a part of Bellanwila Attidiya bird sanctuary which is a marsh and situated next to Ratmalana domestic airport. It has become a controversial habitat as many private lands within the sanctuary being developed and by filling them damaging the wildlife . This is the place where I started my career as a bird watcher and I did my first ever research project for my Bsc. degree 15 years ago.

We have been living in this new house for past one year and every day we enjoy the green environment and the water front from our balcony (picture with Boo looking at the lake). I conducted few bird watching sessions for ECO-V members during last year but I hardly had time to watch quietly as my attention was always taken by the two Purple faced langur troops who live in my neighborhood. I usually watch their behavior whenever I look through my windows. I never had the opportunity to get a checklist of birds recently. I was watching birds with John Pilgrim when he visited us and it triggered my enthusiasm again for bird watching which I could not do systematically for a long time. I used my binoculars, note book and guide books and sat in my balcony for one for few hours yesterday and day before.

Believe me, I managed to watch them only for 45 minutes in the morning from 7.30am to 8.15am and another 45 minutes in the evening from 5 pm. I recorded 42 bird species, 2 troops (11 individuals) of Purple faced langurs, thousands of fruit bats and few micro bats. Bird list includes 7 migrants and our dear Spot-billed pelicans (I managed to take a photo when they were flying above my roof).

Isn’t it still a bird paradise? My dear bird loving have to plan your next holiday with us at ECO-V. You can see them all by just sitting comfortably in our balcony having a good breeze and sun shine. I am sure our dear friends, Sarah Hawkins, Ramesh Kannan, Paul Herbatson, Mark Chappell, John Pilgrim who already visited us will agree with me. You all are welcome!

Happy New Year – 2010

A new year has begun. When we look back at 2009 we can be very happy as we were able to achieve almost all the goals we had for 2009. We will be celebrating our 10th anniversary on the 7th of February 2011,therefore we will set the targets for this year and they will continue up to next year.

Training 20 youth as “Friends of Mother Earth” and completing basic work for habitat conservation in Udawalawa area for Conservation leadership Programme (CLP) award were the main highlights of year 2009. Personally getting training on wetland management from Netherlands, Invasive species management from Durrell; Jersey zoo and scientific writing from India were great opportunities to get developed skills. Also those ave me opportunities to meet new friends from all over the world and had the time to meet my old friends from UK and India.

At the beginning of 2010, John Pilgrim who works for BirdLife Vietnam, an old friend of mine visited us during his bird watching tour in Sri Lanka. It was really nice to have him with us share our experience. I think he really enjoyed the setup at ECO-V office and facilities for our international volunteers.

All at ECO-V and my family are really looking forward to have another successful year. We are looking forward to residential training workshop for ECO-V members which is scheduled for 16th and 17th of January including a nature watching boat tour along Bolgoda lake. We are also getting ready for another awareness campaign in Colombo which will take place in March.

I take his opportunity to thank everybody who were with us for year 2009 by encouraging and admiring our efforts and will very much hope that you all will be with us in 2010 too. We are determined to commit our selves to do our duty to protect Mother Earth.

Thank you and wish you all the best for year 2010 which is the International year of Biodiversity. Kanchana, Thushara, Boo and Nipu