Yala National Park

Friday, 1 April 2016
We try to see parts of Sri Lanka beyond Colombo on the weekends so last Saturday we visited Kulu Safaris camp near Yala National Park. We arrived after lunch and were shown to our tent to get ready for the afternoon game drive. There is no air conditioning in the camps and during the dry season it is very hot. We used both fans in our tent during the hottest part of the day and comforted ourselves with the fact that it WOULD cool down eventually.

I adore bird watching and the green bee eater is very common in this part of Sri Lanka. This one posed nicely for us and just preened and flitted around coming back to the same branch.

We enjoyed seeing spotted deer, water buffalo, Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan leopards (a different sub-species than is seen elsewhere), ruddy and badger mongoose, as well as fantastic birds of prey, water birds, and colorful song birds.

This large male elephant was ready to mate (notice what appears to be a sweat line behind his eye running down his head - that lets off a scent to tell the ladies that he is looking for a friend) so he could have been aggressive. We kept our distance but it was great to see this species. The Sri Lankan elephants have shorter ears and are smaller than those you would see in Africa.

Aren't they such cool creatures? I love reading about how smart they are!

There are beautiful small lakes around Yala National Park so there is a plethora of water birds. I especially fell in love with the painted stork. It looks like someone took a can of pink spray paint and sprayed its tail feathers. You can sort of imagine evolution in action when it comes to the flamingo! The painted stork in the photo below had just captured a fish and was keeping it away from his buddies. Nearby a crocodile floated along.

I'll never be a real professional photographer because my photos turn out like the one below - a great shot of a Ruddy Mongoose with a piece of grass in front of its face. Oh well. The point is to show you how colorful this little creature is. Check out those red, beady eyes and that spectacular tail! We watched it for a while and noticed that a mongoose's mannerisms are similar to cats. 

Like we experienced in India, the parks can get very crowded in Sri Lanka during game drives. There, everyone was on the lookout for tigers. At Yala, the king is the LEOPARD! Take a look at the craziness of all of the trucks that rushed to a sighting of a leopard in heavy brush chowing on a spotted deer. You could not even see the animal unless you were in the perfect spot using binoculars.

We had another sighting that was fantastic, though. We were able to see a beautiful male leopard clearly. He paused while crossing the dirt road and gazed at us just long enough for us to snap a few photos. What a gorgeous creature! 

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