First complete Photographic Field Guide to the Bird of Sri Lanka

Press Release

A Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne was launched at the British Bird Watching Fair. Although a number of photographic books and guides to the birds of Sri Lanka have been published, this is the first guide to all 462 species of birds recorded in the country. It was written by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne who was also the principal photographer. It uses additional contributions from over fifty photographers from around the world to compile the 850 plus images used in the book.

The contribution from overseas photographers was especially needed to illustrate the 100 species of birds which are vagrants to Sri Lanka. Some species have been recorded in Sri Lanka only once. The field guide’s text is oriented towards identification with the species accounts having distribution maps and where helpful more than one image of the bird to show different plumages where differences arise due to age or sex. This enable beginners and experienced birders to have in one book the key information they need for field use. It also contains introductory information on the key wildlife sites in Sri Lanka and a useful list of specialist wildlife tour operators.

The book launch was preceded by a talk by Gehan in the Author's Forum. The author is a wildlife celebrity in Sri Lanka and British TV Naturalist Bill Oddie has stated no individual has done as much as Gehan to brand a country for wildlife. Gehan spoke about why Sri Lanka is super-rich for wildlife and provided comparisons of the species per unit area of Sri Lanka with Borneo, Madagascar and New Guinea. He also spoke about the wildlife highlights such as the Elephant Gathering, Leopard Safaris, Best for Whales and the biggest Sperm Whale super-pods, stories which he had played a lead role in researching and branding. He also spoke of the Sinharaja Bird Wave, the largest and longest continuously studied bird wave in the word.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) participated at the Bird Fair and attended the book launch and had a range of material on display for visitors to the Bird Fair, the biggest wildlife events of its kind in the world. Nalin Perera from the SLTPB who has exhibited at the Bird Fair for a number of years commented that the book fills a significant gap which existed in the Sri Lanka wildlife literature. He observed that Sri Lanka’s popularity as a wildlife destination continues to grow. The talk was followed by a book signing which attracted a number of buyers who were buying the book with a birding and wildlife holiday in mind. John Beaufoy and Rosemary Wilkinson from John Beaufoy Publishing (JBP) also attended the event. John Beaufoy commented that JBP have already received favourable comments on the book which they believe is the easiest to use field guide for Sri Lanka’s birds. John Beaufoy Publishing have emerged as a leading British publisher of natural history books. Other titles they have published on Sri Lanka include 'Wild Sri Lanka' as well as pocket photographic guides to Birds, Reptiles and a title covering Butterflies and Dragonflies. The book is available on Amazon and other online sites and in high street bookshops in the UK and Sri Lanka.

Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne gehan.desilva.w@gmail.com