Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Yala presents a rich mixture of habitats, with the predominant being coastal dry deciduous forest; there are also very diverse types of ecosystem including scrubland, brackish lagoon, freshwater lagoon and coastal dunes. Due to robust plantlife, the Asiatic elephant is present in surprisingly large numbers, Sri Lanka as a whole having the highest density of this elephant of any world country. Other notable mammals are the Sri Lankan Leopard, Mongoose, Spotted Deer, and a variety of bats. There is an unusually large number of avifauna, includi ng forest birds as well as aquatic species drawn to the water features. Viewing of wildlife is particularly favourable, owing to the healthy wildlife population densities and to the relatively open forests. Birds readily seen during my March visit included: Green bee eater, Crested serpent eagle, White-bellied sea eagle, Yellow wagtail, Indian peafowl, and Chestnut petronia.

Frequent interesting sightings were made of small herds of the Asian elephant or Water buffalo bathing in the watering holes or deep marshy reaches of the river system. This is particularly evident in the hot afternoons, when temperatures could reach thirty degrees Celsius even in March. In the case of the elephants, they often engage in elaborate mud bathing rituals, not only to cool down, but also to carefully apply mud packs to their skin, in order to create a sunblock. The mother elephants can be seen assisting her children and teaching them the full technique.

There are interesting sightings of the Bengal monitor, especially excavating for amphibians in the dry streambeds. The Ruddy mongoose was in evidence, and bunches of Langurs and occasional Muggar crocodile were seen.

The forest architecture is beautiful, although not as diverse as i just saw in India and Nepal. In Yala the dominant canopy top trees are Rosewood and Ceylon oak, although seldom seen as dense stands. Understory elements are dominated by Cassia fistula, with large areas infested by Lantana; the latter invasive woody shrub is attractive, but diminishes habitat value for other organisms in this ecoregion.

The massive coastal boulders, some of which stand 40 metres in height, form a scenic backdrop to the forest, often with horizon views of the Indian Ocean. The most fascinating of these mammoth rocks features a staircase cut by man approimately two thousand years ago. The boulders have picturesque local names such as "Elephant Rock", "Leopard Rock" and "Man Head Rock".

While the National Park rules limit access to dunes and beach areas, there are ample opportunities to beachcomb by selecting a lodge with Indian Ocean frontage. Not only are the dunes magnificent landscape elements, but they provide good habitat for Warthogs, Buffalo and other wildlife, who will escort you across your resort property. There is also a plethora of washed up Mollusk shells and backshore/dunes vegetation to explore and photograph.

Posted on May 04, 2017 03:46 PM by c_michael_hogan c_michael_hogan

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 26, 2017 12:19 PM PDT

Description

Amazing detailed weaving architecture of these nests.

Photos / Sounds

What

Sri Lankan Elephant (Elephas maximus ssp. maximus)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 2017

Description

This small herd of wild Asian elephants was seen bathing in a pond in Yala National Park at a range from me of about forty metres. They were quite relaxed and unconcerned by my presence, as i watched their bathing ritual for about twenty minutes

Photos / Sounds

What

Pied Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 26, 2017 06:45 AM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Sri Lankan Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer ssp. haemorrhousus)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 25, 2017 04:15 PM PDT

Description

Seen near a pond in Yala National Park

Photos / Sounds

What

Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 2017

Description

Mugger napping near a streambed in Yala National Park

Photos / Sounds

What

Malabar Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 2017

Description

Yala National Park near coastal zone

Photos / Sounds

What

Tufted Gray Langur (Semnopithecus priam)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 2017

Description

Yala National Park

Photos / Sounds

What

Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 26, 2017 06:54 AM PDT

Description

In a wetland part of Yala National Park

Photos / Sounds

What

Ruddy Mongoose (Urva smithii)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 26, 2017 07:47 AM PDT

Description

Yala National Park

Photos / Sounds

What

Blue-tailed Bee-Eater (Merops philippinus)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 26, 2017 08:35 AM PDT

Description

Yala National Park

Photos / Sounds

What

Crested Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis cheela)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 26, 2017 10:34 AM PDT

Description

Yala National Park

Photos / Sounds

What

Sri Lankan Elephant (Elephas maximus ssp. maximus)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 2017

Description

Dry deciduous forest of Yala NP

Photos / Sounds

What

Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 26, 2017 07:53 AM PDT

Description

Perching and displaying in a tree at a range of five metres from me.

Photos / Sounds

What

Human (Homo sapiens)

Observer

c_michael_hogan

Date

March 26, 2017 03:06 PM PDT

Description

These steps carved into a massive boulder have been traced to approximately two thousand years before present,, as some of the earliest monumental evidence of humans in Sri Lanka.

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