Thursday, 27 April 2017

Sri Lanka Mammals 25.2.2017

We spend the whole day in Yala National Park on another safari. Another photo heavy session ensued so I'm going to break this up into a three posts. Starting first with the respectful list of mammals encountered during the day. The undoubted highlight being Leopard of course. We managed to come across four individuals, all found by ourselves after "dipping on" one animal first thing. It looked like this animal had been seen by large numbers of visitors so it was nice to have several Leopards largely all to ourselves. The first animal was first spotted lying right in the middle of the dirt track when we came around a corner, couldn't get much easier than that! Later on we came across another animal on the road. Over the next hour we had three animals in this same small area. It looked like two males and one female were involved. One of the males came very close to the jeep at one stage, almost too close for my 400mm lens. The female retreated up into a tree and was closely followed by one of the males. She wasn't very impressed by his advances and aggressively admonished him with paw swipes and spine-tingling deep roars. Another amazing wildlife experience and certainly one of the highlights of the whole trip.













Spotted Deer

Ruddy Mongoose

Ruddy Mongoose

Indian Elephant

Toque Macaque

Toque Macaque

Marsh Mugger

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Sri Lanka 24.2.2017

Today was to be Blue Whale day. We stayed near Mirissa the previous night and first thing in the morning we heading offshore from the rather busy and maniac harbour. Blue Whales have been found to be a regular sight just off southern Sri Lanka in recent years. The sea bed drops quickly to 1000 metres only 10 km offshore which prove to be productive feeding grounds due to up-welling of cold water from the depths into the warmer waters of the surface. Our first sighting of the morning was a mating pair of sea turtles. They were called out as Green Sea Turtles by the on-board guides but on reviewing the pictures for this post I think they're actually Olive Ridley's Sea Turtles. We also had one large pod of Spinner Dolphins on the way out. The seabird diversity was extremely poor as was to be expected with the only seabirds seen being several tern species which included several Bridled Terns which were a lifer for myself. We eventually seemed to hit a hotspot for whales and managed to see about three Blue Whales. These animals are supposed to belong to the subspecies of Blue Whales called the Pygmy Blue Whale which as the name would suggest are slightly smaller than Blue Whales found in the Atlantic but they were still gigantic animals. It really was an honour to see the largest ever animal that has existed on planet Earth. Several Remora fish were also seen attached to the whales. These fish have specially adapted suckers on the top of their heads which attach to the whales skin. A few ugly scars were seen on one animal and many have been the result of a run-in with a boat propeller. This area has a heavy flow of large container ships which use the deep water to transport goods along the coastline. Whale fatalities are a regular occurrence unfortunately. Another feature of concern was the large number of whale watching tour boats in the area and their behaviour. At one stage I counted 21 whale-watching boats in the immediate vicinity of the whales. Once a whale came to the surface to breath there was a huge stampede of boats rushing towards the whales. I don't think this is potentially the best for the whales welfare. The whole whale watching industry is only a very recent addition here and I'd hate to see what sort of numbers of boats will be involved in these trips in a short number of years.

In the afternoon we visited a few more nearby lakes/marshes and gardens where the birding proved very productive.

Blue Whale

Blue Whale tail with Remora fish.

Close up of Remora fish.

Blue Whale blow on the right with whale watching boat very close-by on the left.

Blue Whale blow.

Blue Whale blowhole.

Remora fish.

Blue Whale

Blue Whale

Blue Whale with three Remora fish.
Spinner Dolphins

Spinner Dolphins

Spinner Dolphins

Olive Ridley's Sea Turtle

Olive Ridley's Sea Turtle

Olive Ridley's Turtle

Summer plumaged Bridled Tern

Summer plumaged Bridled Tern

Winter plumaged Bridled Tern
Black Bittern 
White-winged Black Tern


White-winged Black Tern

Whiskered Tern
Grey-headed Swamphen

Watercock

Blue-tailed Bee-eater

Spot-billed Pelican

Spot-billed Pelican

Spot-billed Pelicans

White-breasted Waterhen

Lesser Whistling Ducks and Red-wattled Lapwings.

Red-backed Woodpecker
Female White-naped Woodpecker

Male and female White-naped Woodpeckers

Male White-naped Woodpeker

White-naped Woodpecker

Male and female White-naped Woodpecker