by Sandy Garland

Collage of some of Jeewa's many photos of local wildlife

Collage of some of Jeewa’s many photos of local wildlife

We see thousands of snow geese take off from a field near Winchester, a stunning scarlet tanager calling to a rival from the top of a spruce tree, a nest of baby blackbirds developing to fledgling size, a pair of trumpeter swans, and a coyote staring curiously at the woman behind the camera – who, we are told, was howling wildly at the time.

Jeewa Mendis was the woman behind the camera, and she showed us some of her amazing videos on Saturday night at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden interpretive centre.

Jeewa has an incredible ability to discover drama occurring where the rest of us might pass right by. She also has tremendous patience, once waiting for 2 hours to see a Virginia rail emerge from a cattail marsh (and you should hear her imitation of the sound it makes).

Her husband, Vajira, was also on hand to help load videos, while Jeewa introduced them. He often accompanies Jeewa on her filming excursions, and she claims she “wouldn’t do anything without his support and dedication.”

The evening was very informal. Lots of chatting with friends, examining a collection of bird nests and owl pellets that Jeewa has found during her photo expeditions, exchanging information about the creatures we were watching on screen, and munching on popcorn and chips.

As an added treat, Jeewa showed us a video she had taken on a recent trip back “home” to Sri Lanka. Painted storks, leopards, and other exotic creatures crossed the screen. Jeewa has promised to arrange another video night to show us more of the biodiversity of Sri Lanka where 14% of the country is reserved as protected nature parks. I can hardly wait.