NOTES ON FIELD TRIPS TO WILPATTU NATIONAL PARK

  • Wilpattu National Park 4th to 5th July 2020

      1.25pm entered the park with Bathiya Senadhipathy.
      1.36pm a Barking Deer crossed the road between Percy Bendi Wewa and Paaluwilandawa junction.
      2.14pm a Golden Jackal on the road between Ibba Wala and Humabs Wala. This animal looked bald as it had lost most of its body hair. In dogs this condition is referred to as Alopecia and is usually caused by parasites.
      2.24pm a Ruddy Mongoose at Borupan Wila.
      2.30pm a Wild Buffalo immersed in the water at Borupan pitiya Wala.
      3.26pm 24 Wild Buffalo and 4 Spotted Deer at Mahapatessa.
      3.45pm 2 Golden Jackal and Kuruttupandi Villu.
      4.07pm an Osprey perched on a dead tree at Kokkare Villu. This magnificent bird of prey is a rare migrant to the country. This partiquler individual appear to be an exceptional “loiterer” (migrant bird that continues to stay in the migrant locality until the next migrant season without returning back to its breeding grounds).

      4.33pm 3 Spotted Deer, Flashell Turtle and a Mugger Crocodile at Demata Wila.
      4.41pm 2 Spotted Deer at Kumbuk Wila pitiya.
      4.52pm one Leopard at Walas Wala. N 08.41419, E 080.03077
      A leopard was drinking from a pool across the bund from Walas Wala. It was a female leopard and was partly covered by the foliage. Later upon examination of the spot pattern I realized that it is Borupan Junction Leopard 1 that is listed under Leopards of Wilpattu – Guest section on my site.  This female leopard had eluded me for a long time and I was please to have finally captured some images of her despite them being of very poor quality. I estimated her age to be around 4 years and six months. For the purpose of my study I named it Walas Wala Female 4 (WWF 4).

      5.27pm a Ruddy Mongoose at Palu Kola Wala.
      Mammals  - Leopard 1, Indian Buffalo 25, Spotted Deer 9, Barking Deer 1,  Golden Jackal 3, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Ruddy Mongoose 2, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Mugger Crocodile 1, Flapshell Turtle 1, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard, Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

       

      5th July 2020
      8.38am a pair of White-browed Fantail Flycathers had started building a nest on a Margosa tree close to the park office. Both birds were quite busy building the little “cup shaped” nest with fiberious material and lots of cobwebs as plastering material. Every now and then, as if to take a break they uttered a delightful human like whistle which was quite lively.  

      8.45pm entered the park with Bathiya Senadhipathy and guide Tissa Ratnayake.
      8.51am 3 Spotted Deer between park entrance and Weli Ela.
      8.53am wild Orchid species Acampe praemosa was in bloom between Weli Ela and Ranawara pitiya.

      9.04am troop of Grey Langur playing on the road close to Thammanna Wala.
      10.29am I observed a fast flying butterfly settle on a leaf above the road on Panikkar Villu upper road. A look through my binoculars confirmed that it is a Cornelian a very rarely seen species in the park.

      10.45am a small sounder of 5 Wild Boar at Tala Wila.
      1.15am a flapshell Turtle at Panikkar Villu.
      12.44pm 2 Spotted Deer and 2 Golden Jackal between Down Hall Pitiya and Mana Wila.
      12.55pm a slender fruiting tree with striking purple fruits with bright red swollen stems was observed close to Hearthamy Wala. The unripe fruits were green in colour turning purple when ripe. I have not observed these fruits in the park before. The fruits suggested that they belong to the Anacadiaceae  “Cashew Family”.

      2.33pm a herd of 28 Wild Buffalo at Kudapatessa.

      3.13pm 5 Spotted Deer at Kumbuk Wila pitiya.
      3.39pm a Black-naped Hare at Maradanmaduwa.
      4.07pm a Mugger Crocodile at Palu Kola Wala seen in a burrow dug in to the Palu Kola Wala bund. I have observed and photographed a single Mugger Crocodile in this burrow during the months of May, June, July and October. It is interesting to note that from end June until the heavy rains in October this water hole becomes completely dry. Thus the Crocodile appears to use this burrow for hibernation during the dry months. As the incubation period of this “hole nesting” species is 55 to 75 days the female Mugger seen at this water hole should be laying eggs in the beginning of the rainy season with the expectation of the water hole filling up by October. I have observed hatchlings here in December and January.

      4.40pm 2 Wild Buffalo at Thammanna Wala.
      4.42pm 3 Spotted Deer between Thammanna Wala and Paaluwilandawa junction.
      4.57pm left the park.

       Mammals  - Indian Buffalo 30, Sambhur, Spotted Deer 13, Wild Boar 5, Golden Jackal 2, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Black-naped Hare 1, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Mugger Crocodile 1, Flapshell Turtle 1, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

        Birds, Butterflies & Flora observed during the filed trip
      Birds – Lesser Adjutant, Painted Storks, White-necked Stork,
      Butterflies – Blue Mormon, Common Sailor, Chestnut streaked Sailor, Gladeye Bushbrown, Great Orange Tip, Blue Wanderer, Cornelian, Red Spot Duke, Banded Peacock, Lesser Albatross, Crimson Rose, Blue Tiger, Dark Blue Tiger,
      Wild Orchids – Acampe praemorsa, Vanda tessellate, Vanilla walkerae
      Fruiting trees – Nuga, Kiri Koone, Pulima, Keena Dan in fruit. Palu & Weera ( very few), Madan trees bearing flowers.
      Wild Flowers – Common Emetic (Kukuruman), Horse fly’s eye (Bim Savan) and both species of Ochna’s in bloom

  • Wilpattu National Park 20th to 21st June 2020

      9.40am entered the park with safari jeep driver Gayan. The DWC does not permit any of the guides to accompany the private vehicles. Since my last visit on the 6th of March 2020 no visits were possible as the park was closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
      9.48am a heard of 06 Spotted Deer crossed the road between park entrance and Weli Ela.
      10.02am 2 Wild Buffalo at Thammanna Wala.
      10.45am I had received information that the big tusker named “Mega”/ “Borupan Wila tusker” had ben found fallen at Borupan pitiya. DWC had closed the road towards Lunu Wewa to prevent visitors from approaching the elephant.
      11.01am 11 Indian Buffalo and 4 Wild Boar at Borupan Wila.
      11.21am a Ruddy Mongoose attacked a Land Monitor at Kokkare Villu. The savage attack ended in the pugnacious hunter pulling the reptile in to a thicket.

      11.34am 3 Golden Jackal at Kurutupandi Villu.
      11.39am one Osprey at Kokkare Villu.
      11.45am 5 Spotted Deer and a lone Indian Buffalo at Nelum Wila.
      11.49am a Ruddy Mongoose at  Nelum Wila.
      1.30pm a Barking Deer on Kumbuk Wila upper road.
      1.46pm a Leopard on Kokkare Villu upper road. N 08.41198, E 079.98727
      The Leopard was lying on the edge of the road but moved a short distance in to the forest as we arrived. I was pleased to note that this is Nelum Wila Male 5 (NWMC 5). Despite its young age (3 years and 5 months) he has grown in to becoming a large bodied impressive male. He was lying at the foot of a tree but I was able to get a few images adequate enough to identify the animal. A few more jeeps arrived and I left giving way for them to observe the animal.

      2.43PM a lone adult male Wild Boar at Manik Wila.
      3.08pm a Golden Jackal trotting in our direction at Manik Wila sand patch.
      3.44am one Leopard at Tala Wila. N 08.37961, E 079.94435
      Having arrived at Tala Wila I observed two Indian peafowl in an agitated manner across the villu. Scanning the area with binoculars I was pleased to see a Leopard lying in the tall grass. The animal was hardly visible. After a few minutes the leopard stood up and moved to the edge of the water, lowered its body and was not visible again. As it was apparent that it was drinking I waited for it to move back in to the forest and when it did managed to get a few images. Later the study of its spot pattern confirmed that it was Kombansanchaipooval female 1 (KSPF 1).

      4.42pm an impressive adult Tusker approached a herd of Elephants at Pallekandal pitiya. The group also had a young adult Tusker of about 10 years and the herd included two baby tuskers.

      5.00pm a Ruddy Mongoose between Phill Motte and Tala Wila.
      5.26pm at a distance an adult female Sambhur crossed the road between Kumbuk Wila and Borupan junction. When we arrived the spot another young Sambhur was seen at the edge of the forest.
      5.47pm a Black-naped Hare at Maradanmaduwa.
      6.28pm left the park.
      Mammals  - Elephant 23, Leopard 1, Indian Buffalo 14, Sambhur 2, Spotted Deer 11, Wild Boar 5, Barking Deer 1, Golden Jackal 4, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Black-naped Hare 1, Ruddy Mongoose 3, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Mugger Crocodile 1, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard,  Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

      21st June 2020
      7.10am entered the park with safari jeep driver Gayan.
      7.19am a Ruddy Mongoose picked up a “road kill” of a frog and quickly moved in to the forest at Percy Bendi Wewa.
      7.43am a Black-naped Hare at Maha Wewa.
      7.46am 15 Spotted Deer and 2 Indian Buffalo at Maha Wewa.
      7.48am 11 more Spotted Deer at Maha Wewa.
      7.53am a troop of Grey Langur and 3 more Spotted Deer at Maha Wewa.
      7.56am 6 more Spotted Deer at Maha Wewa.
      8.16am 27 Indian Buffalo at Maha Wewa.
      8.19am Wild orchid Vanda tessellatein bloom at Maha Wewa.

      8.25am a colony of nesting Painted Storks at Maha Wewa.

      8.33am a Little Ringed Ploverof the resident race jerdoni at Maha Wewa.

      8.55am a Sloth Bear at Thammanna Wala walked a short distance, stopped to sniff the ground and scrap. Then walked along the road towards Kalagedi Bokkuwa.

      11.19am a Flapshell Turtle at Palu Kola Wala.
      11.28am a Golden Jackal at Maradanmaduwa.
      11.40am the rare endemic vine Uvaria sphenocarpa (Anonnaceae) was in fruit. I have not observed these bright orange fruits being consumed by any animals.

      12.04pm one Elephant at Kokkare Villu
      12.07pm the endemic Painted-lip Lizard on Kokkare Vullu upper road.
      12.08pm a Giant Squerrial on Kokkare Villu upper road.
      12.14pm one Leopard on a tree between Kokkare Villu and Kuruttupandi Villu. N 08.42824, E 079.98279
      The female leopard was sleeping on a branch of a tree above the road. It was Manikrala Uraniya Female 1 (MRUF 1). She had a full belly and changed her position on a few occasions but remained on this tree for almost 3 hours before getting off the same. She was quite at ease and did not even look in my direction despite my moving the vehicle a few times to get images each time she changed her position. Having got off she defecated at the foot of the tree, crossed the road by walking very close to a safari jeep parked in front and climbed another tree. As there were other jeeps that arrived I left the leopard and moved off. I observed this leopard from 12.14pm until 2.52pm.

      3.42pm2 Flapshell Turtles at Palu Kola Wala.
      5.08pm a Barking Deer between Weli Ela and the park entrance.
      5.15pm left the park.
      Mammals  - Elephant 1, Leopard 1, Sloth Bear 1, Indian Buffalo 29, Spotted Deer 35, Barking Deer 1, Golden Jackal 1, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Black-naped Hare 1, Ruddy Mongoose 1, Indian Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles –Flapshell Turtle 2, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Painted-lip Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard,  Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

      Birds, Butterflies & Flora observed during the filed trip
      Birds – Osprey, Lesser Adjutant, Painted Storks (nesting at Maradanmaduwa and Maha Wewa), White-necked Stork
      Butterflies – Red-spot Duke, Blue Mormon, Banded Peacock, Blue Wanderer, Blue & Dark Blue Tiger, Tawny Raja (males), Common Crow, Crimson Rose, Common Rose, Common Mormon
      Wild Orchids – Acampe praemorsa, Vanda spathulata, Vanda tessellate
      Fruiting trees – Pulima, Kiri Koone, An Kenda in fruit. Madan trees have started to fruit. The rare endemic species Uvaria sphenocarpa (Anonnaceae) was also in fruit.

  • Wilpattu National Park 6th to 9th March 2020

      6.47am entered the park with guide Tissa Ratnayake.
      7.14am a Spotted Deer stag between the park entrance and Kone Gaha Ela.
      7.15am a Barking Deer at Kone Gaha Ela.
      7.18am a Mugger Crocodile at Percy Bendi Wewa.
      7.34am one Leopard between Percy Bendi Wewa and Paaluwinlandawa junction.
      N 08.33618, E 080.12701
      We spotted the leopard at the “Boralu Wala” beyond the turn off to Makalanmaduwa road. The animal was hardly visible as it was lying down behind a fallen log. Thankfully in a few minutes the leopard broke cover and walked on to a mound of earth.  It was a young female and she was observing something in the undergrowth. Perhaps staking some prey. Prior to walking in to the forest she looked back in our direction permitting me to get a few images of her face. Later upon examination of her spot pattern I was delighted to find that this is one of the two female cubs of the Maradanmaduwa Female 1 (MMFC 1), which I had not seen before. I have named her as Maradanmaduwa Leopard 4 under Leopards of Wilpattu – Guest section. As this is my first sighting of this leopard I named it as Maradanmaduwa Female 3 (MMF 3). Based on the age of her sibling, Maradanmaduwa Female 2 (MMFC 2), I had already photographed as a cub she is around 3 years and 2 months now. The distance between Maradanmaduwa where she was born and Percy Bendi Wewa is almost 8km. Usually female cubs are known to remain close to their mother’s territory upon leaving the mother.

      8.09am 7 Buffalo at Maha Wewa.
      8.12am 7 Spotted Deer and an Indian Grey Mongoose at Maha Wewa
      8.15am 32 Spotted Deer at Maha Wewa.
      8.19am 14 more Spotted Deer, an adult male Wild Boar and 25 Buffalo at Maha Wewa.
      8.25am 2 large Mugger Crocodiles at Maha Wewa.
      9.05am a Barking Deer between Maha Wewa and the first Culvert on Maradanmaduwa road.
      9.25am Kiri Kone Walsura trifoliolatain bloom between the second and third culvert on Maha Wewa road and at many locations in the park.

      10.20am a Ruddy Mongoose on Kumbuk Wila upper road.
      10.38am 5 Spotted Deer at Nelum Wila.
      10.39am 7 Spotted Deer at Nelum Wila pitya.
      11.14am 8 Spotted Deer at Aalam Villu.
      11.15am photographed Wellangiriya Capparis brevispinaat Aalam Villu. This species was in bloom at many other location s in the park as well.

      11.18am 2 Spotted Deer and a lone Elephant feeding on the sage plants growing in the water at Panikkar villu.
      11.36am an intermediate morph male Indian Paradise Flycatcher on Tala Wila upper road. This is an interesting species, with a resident and migrant race, which usually occur in two colour morphs in the country during the migrant season. The Indian Paradise FlycatcherTerpsiphoneparadisiparadiseis the migrant race of which the male is white in colour. The males of the resident race, Ceylon Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi ceylonensis, are rufous in colour. In Sinhalese the white male is referred to as the “Sudu Redi Hora” and the rufous male is referred to as the “Siuru Hora”. The females of both races are rufous in colour with shorter tails and grey throats. Interestingly the young males of the Indian race are also rufous in clour. These young birds can be differentiated from the resident males as their crest is shorter and the tails are longer than the birds of the local race. The bird in the image is referred to as an intermediate morph Indian Paradise Flycatcherand is said to carry this colour throughout its life. This colour morph has not been observed in the resident race so far.

      11.41am 12 Spotted Deer, two Yellow-wattled Lapwings and a sounder of 21 Wild Boar at Tala Wila.
      12.28pm “Ira Wara” Cadaba trifoliatein bloom at Tala Wila.

      12.39pm a Large-billed Leaf Warbler in worn plumage at Vilanda Wala.

      1.13pm a Star Tortoise at Borupan Wila.
      1.35pm an Indian Grey Mongoose on Kokkare Villu upper road.
      1.43pm a lone male Wild Boar at Kuruttupandi Villu.
      2.18pm 3 Spotted Deer at Herath Hamy Wala.
      2.21pm 2 Golden Jackal at Mana Wila.
      2.25pm a Ruddy Mongoose between Mana Wila and Down Hall Pitiya.
      3.02pm a small flock of Gargany in breeding plumage at Kumbuk Wila.

      3.29pm 2 Spotted Deer at Humbas Wala.
      3.36pm a troop of Grey Langur at Thambioluwa pond.
      3.43pm a Ruddy Mongoose at Maradanmaduwa.
      3.52pm a sub adult Sambhur trotted across the road between Maradanmaduwa and the first culvert on Maha Wewa road.
      4.18pm a Ruddy Mongoose between the last culvert and Maha Wewa.
      4.23pm a large Mugger Crocodile sunning at Maha Wewa.

      5.03pm a Black-naped Hare at Divulgasmandiya.
      5.06pm a Buffalo with an injured eye at Palukola Wala.
      5.36pm a Philippine Shrike  Lanius cristatus lucionensis between Palu Kola Wala and Divulgasmandiya. This is a rare subspecies of the Brown Shrike  Lanius cristatus cristatus, which is a very common migrant to the country.

      5.37pm two Ruddy Mongoose between Palu Kola Wala and Divulgasmandiya.

      5.40pm a Barking Deer at Thammanna Wala.
      5.47pm a Leopard between Thammanna Wala and Percy Bendi Wewa. N 08.33915, E 080.12389
      The female Leopard was seated on the left edge of the road and was observing some ting to her right. Her behavior indicated that she was focused on the movements of some prey. As I was photographing she moved across the road and started to run away from us while having her attention on some animal in the undergrowth. Thereafter she moved in to the forest.  Upon examining her spot pattern I noted that this is the same female I observed in the morning, Maradanmaduwa Female 3 (MMF 3). As the leopard moved in to the forest we drove off a short distance beyond Percy Bendi Wewa, turned back and arrived at the same location to find the Leopard on the road again. Unfortunately she was disturbed by another vehicle that arrived and moved in to the forest.

      6.25pm left the park
      Mammals  - Elephant 1, Leopard 1, Indian Buffalo 33, Sambhur 1, Spotted Deer 92, Wild Boar 23, Barking Deer 3, Golden Jackal 2, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Black-naped Hare 1, Indian Grey Mongoose 2, Ruddy Mongoose 6, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Russell’s Viper, Mugger Crocodile 4, Star Tortoise 1, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard,  Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

      7th March 2020
      7.04am entered the park with guide Tissa Ratnayake.
      7.06am 12 Spotted Deer at the park entrance.
      7.12am 2 Spotted Deer at Ranawara pitiya.
      7.21am a Ruddy Mongoose between Paaluwilandawa junction and Thammanna Wala
      7.43am a Black-naped Hare, 15 Spotted Deer and 8 Indian Buffalo at Maha Wewa.
      7.48am a herd of 63 Spotted Deer at Maha Wewa.  The showers observed at the park entrance are the previous night had extended even up to Maha Wewa.
      7.52am an Osprey perched on a dead tree stump at Maha Wewa.

      7.56am 8 Wild Boar at Maha Wewa.
      8.46am a sounder of 16 Wild Boar including 8 tiny piglets.
      8.51am 7 more Spotted Deer at Maha Wewa.
      8.52am a Ruddy Mongoose at Maha Wewa.
      9.13am a lone Indian Buffalo at Thammanna Wala.
      9.36am a Star Tortoise drinking at Divulgasmandiya pond.

      9.39am the lone Buffalo with the infected eye at Palu Kola Wala.
      9.44am a herd of 7 Buffalo including a playful calf between Palu Kola Wala and Galwanguwa.
      9.52am a Star Tortoise and a single Spotted Deer at Maradanmaduwa.
      10.20am another male intermediate morph Indian Paradise Flycatcher between Kokkare Villu and Kuruttupandi Villu.

      11.09am 6 Spotted Deer at Kanjuran Villu.
      11.42am 12 Spotted Deer at Mara Wila.
      11.42am started to rain.
      11.43am a Little Grebe in Mara Wila had caught a large tadpole.

      12.24pm a Ruddy Mongoose at Ilanda Motte.
      12.25pm another Ruddy Mongoose between Illanda Motte and Down Hall pitiya.
      12.34pm 2 Golden Jackal at Mana Wila.
      12.45pm the Moonamal Mimusops elengi (Spanish Cherry Tree) at the Mana Wila bungalow was in fruit and had attracted a few Giant Squirrels who were gorging on the fruits. These fruits are edible and the fruits and bark of this tree is used in Ayurveda medicine.

      1.34pm a Wild Boar at Kattarambuwa. The water plant, Giant Ambulia were in bloom.
      1.42pm an adult male Wild Boar ran across the road at Herathhamy Wala.
      1.45pm “Ira Wara” Cadaba trifoliate in bloom between Herathhamy Wala and Mana Wila.
      2.07pm large areas of Kuruttupandi Villu are covered with millions of Small Horsefly’s Eye Dopatrium nudicaule(Heen Bim Savan) and Pipeworts Eriocaulon sp (Kok Mota).

      2.18pm 3 Spotted Deer and a Large Cormorant at Kudapatessa.
      2.46pm Kala Wel Derris parviflora in bloom one Kokkare villu upper road. The beautiful inflorescence had attracted many species of nectar feeding insects.

      2.54pm 23 Spotted Deer at Nelum Wila
      3.05pm a troop of Grey Langur between Nelum Wila and Panikkar villu.
      3.59pm a Spotted Deer between Panikkar Villu and Nelum Wila.
      4.06pm a Nest of Black-naped Monarch at Nelum Wila.

      4.17pm 8 more Spotted Deer at Nelum Wila pitiya.
      4.25pm 8 Indian Buffalo at Kokkare Villu.
      4.29pm 23 Spotted Deer at Kokkare Villu.
      4.43pm a large Mugger Crocodile at Mahapatessa.
      4.44pm 16 Spotted Deer at an Indian Buffalo at Mahapatessa.
      4.48pm 22 Spotted Deer at Thimbiri Wila.
      5.05pm one Elephant with tiny two stubs of tusks drinking at Borupan Wila.

      5.39pm a Sloth Bear, sleeping by the side of the road at Maradanmaduwa.
      6.13pm 3 Sambhur about 100 meters from the park entrance.
      6.20pm left the park.
      Mammals  - Elephant 1, Sloth Bear 1, Indian Buffalo 26, Sambhur, Spotted Deer 214, Wild Boar 34, Golden Jackal 2, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Black-naped Hare 1, Ruddy Mongoose 4, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Mugger Crocodile 3, Star Tortoise 2, Flapshell Turtle 1, Parker’s Black Turtle 1, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard,  Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

      8th March 2020
      6.53am entered the park with guide Tissa Ratnayake.
      6.55am a Barking Deer between the park entrance and the Tamarind Tree.
      6.56am a Spotted Deer stag between park entrance and Kone Gha Ela.
      7.25am a Sambhur stag between Percy Bendi Wewa and Nuga Gala on Makalanmaduwa road.
      7.43am a troop of Grey Langur between Nuga Gala and “Maha Galthalawa” on Makalanmaduwa road.
      9.13am the lone Indian Buffalo at Palu Kola Wala.
      9.32am 2 Sambhur close to Ibba Wala.
      10.03am a sounder of 16 Wild Boar at Borupan Wila.
      10.43am an adult and a sub adult Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher on Lunu Wewa road. The adult was feeding on a caterpillar.

      10.44am troop of Grey Langur on Lunu Wewa road.
      11.02am 15 Spotted Deer at Borupan Wila.
      11.08am 13 Spotted Deer at Thimbiri Wila.
      11.39am an adult male Wild Boar at Kuruttupandi Villu.
      11.47am a Ruddy Mongoose on Kokkare Villu upper road.
      12.12pm a Yellow Wagtail belonging to the race thunbergi at Aalam Villu.

      12.34pm another Ruddy Mongoose on Kokkare Villu upper road.
      12.41pm one Leopard at Borupan pitiya. N 08.42414, E 080.02631
      We arrived at Borupan pitiya and my attention was immediately drawn at a female Indian Peafowl with three chicks in the open filed. Her neck feathers were puffed up and her agitated behavior indicated the presence of a predator. Our search was fruitful as we spotted a young male leopard at Borupan pitiya. It was a very brief sighting where we observed the leopard walking in to the jungle from a small patch of foliage. However upon examination of its spot pattern I was able to identify the leopard as the Borupan pitiya Leopard 2 that I had listed under Leopards of Wilpattu – Guest section. I was pleased that I finally managed to see this Leopard but wished I had a better sighting. As this is my first sighting of this animal I named it Borupan Pitiya Male 1 (BPM 1). Its estimated age is around 2 years and 4 months.

      2.08pm  2 Spotted Deer at Kombansanchipooval.
      2.11pm a sounder of 24 Wild Boar and 2 Spotted Deer at Tala Wila.
      2.19pm troop of Grey Langur between Tala Wila and Phill Motte.
      2.23pm a Ruddy Mongoose between Tala Wila and Phill Motte.
      2.34pm another Ruddy Mongoose at Pallekandal pitiya.
      2.46pm a colony of Striated Weaver’s had commenced building nests in the reeds beds at Pomparippu. Despite using the same material (strands of Reeds or Bulrush leaves) to build their nests this species unlike the nests of the Baya Weavers, which are built on trees, will always built their nests a few feet above the water in reed beds. Even though the nests of this species are devoid of the striking long cylindrical exists of their cousins, the Baya Weavers, it never fails to amaze me as to how such a small bird is able to build a nest so neatly woven using only its tiny beak.

      2.54pm an immature Mugger Crocodile at Uththamadaru Bridge.

      3.35pm one Leopard at Tala Wila. N 08.37915, E 079.94404
      We arrived at Tala Wila from Pomparippu and heard the alarm calls of Spotted Deer from the direction of the road to Kombansanchaipooval. We quickly drove down expecting to see a leopard on the road but the direction of the alarm calls shifted towards the villu. Upon returning to Tala Wila we spotted a Leopard close to the Pomparippu road. It was an adult female and she walked along the edge of the forest, crossed the road and continued to walk and mark the bushes along the forest edge across the villu. Upon examining the spot pattern I was happy to note that this is Kombansanchaipooval Female 1 (KSPF 1). In late January this female was observed with two small cubs at Tala Wila. She appeared to have taken them across the villu as she walked across purposefully and moved in to the forest.

      4.04pm a White-necked Stork sunning it self with its wings extended at Nelum Wila pitiya.

      4.24pm a large Mugger Crocodile on Kokkare Villu upper road. The smell of rotting flesh from the jungle indicated that the reptile had moved out of the water in search of a carcass, perhaps the remains of a leopards kill.
      4.31pm a Russell’s Viper on the road at Madangaha Wala on Kokkare Villu upper road.
      5.49pm a Black-naped Hare at Percy Bendi Wewa.
      5.50pm we arrived at Percy Bendi Wewa and spotted a bull Elephant on the bund across the water body. I stopped at the park entrance end of the bund. In a short while two young bull Elephants walked down and started to drink. Soon thereafter I was thrilled to see three females walking hurriedly towards water along with a small calf. The rest of the herd totaling up to 8 animals arrived at the waters edge and started to drink. Watching wild Elephants at water is always a treat. As the vehicles started to arrive and the human noise levels on the bund increased the herd, having quenched their thirst, moved back in to the forest.

      6.20pm left the park.
      8.40pm after dinner Susil Kumara, the owner of Dolosmahe guesthouse, kindly agreed to accompany me on a nocturnal game drive on roads out side the park.
      8.44pm Susil spotted a Jungle Cat with his powerful torch. The cat was at a distance of in a paddy field that had been harvested. We got off the vehicle and walked about 200 meters in to the filed in pursuit of the elusive feline. Each time we got close the cat would move further away. Walking in the dark along the narrow uneven bunds of the paddy field while carrying the camera was no easy task for me. Every now and then I wanted Susil to flash the torch around to look for Elephants that often frequent these fields. As the moon is almost full it is not too difficult to detect Elephants with the torch, if they around sir Susil whispered. I nodded in agreement. The Jungle Cats are attracted to these fields as they are full of mice and frogs at night, he whispered again. They also attract Russel’s Vipers and Cobra’s I thought. Despite my fascination for snakes I wished “not now”. After some effort we managed to approach the cat close enough and the elusive feline obliged me with a few photos.

      9.10pm while walking back observed a small Flapshel Turtle in the muddy water of the paddy filed.
      9.20pm Susil spotted another Jungle Cat in a paddy field close to Rada Wewa tank on our way to Holambalagama tank. 
      9.45pm the next subject that was of interest was a Long-tailed Nightjar that kept calling out while perched on an exposed dried up branch. This species unlike its cousin the Indian Nightjar is very difficult to spot during the day.

      9.50pm a Parker’s Black Turtle on the road to Holambalagama.
      9.56pm a large Mugger Crocodile at Holambalagama tank.

      10.10pm 2 Golden Jackal and 3 Spotted Deer at Holambalagama Tank.
      10.32pm the highlight of the tour was a Rusty Spotted Cat that Susil managed to locate while we were driving back from Holambalagama Tank. We were fortunate enough to observe this elusive cat for almost 30 minutes. It was seated on the fork of a tree by the side of the road.  The cat was quite relaxed and was not too bothered by our presence or the torchlight. Susil ensured that the torch beam was not aimed directly at the animal but the “ring light” was used enabling the animal to have its eyes opened and giving just enough light for me to get some shots. After some time the cat started licking itself and I as I expected within a few minutes moved out of sight. I have noted on many a occasion that domestic cats as well as leopards will start liking their paws and bodies just before getting up and walking away. When it moved I observed that it was a male. Even though I had seen Rusty Spotted Cats at Wilpattu this is my opportunity of getting some images of this elusive nocturnal cat, which is the smallest wildcat species in the world.

      11.15pm spotted another Jungle Cat on the main road. This animal was feeding on the dead frogs and other small road kills.

      11.45pm we arrived back at Dolosmahe Guest House.

      Mammals  - Elephant 9, Leopard 2, Indian Buffalo 1, Sambhur 3, Spotted Deer 34, Wild Boar 41, Barking Deer 1, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Black-naped Hare 1, Ruddy Mongoose 4, Rusty Spotted Cat 1, Jungle Cat 3, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Russell’s Viper 1, Mugger Crocodile 2, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard, Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

      9th March 2020
      6.50am entered the park with guide Tissa Rtanayake.
      7.00am 3 White-necked Storks, Two Ruddy Mongoose and a large Mugger Crocodile at Percy Bendi Wewa.
      7.30am 2 Barking Deer between Thammanna Wala and Maha Wewa.
      7.39am 8 Indian Buffalo at Maha Wewa.
      7.44am a Sambhur stag at Maha Wewa.

      7.47am a Barking Deer and 27 Spotted Deer at Maha Wewa.
      7.59am 2 more Spotted Deer on Maha Wewa bund.
      8.00pm 2 Mugger Crocodile and a herd of 28 Buffalo at Maha Wewa.
      8.29pm a Rufous-bellied Hawk Eagle at Maha Wewa. This is my first sighting of this species at Wilpattu.
      8.36am 4 Spotted Deer at Maha Wewa.
      8.46am troop of Grey Langur between Maha Wewa and Thammanna Wala.
      9.00am a baby Mugger Crocodile and 4 Flapshell Turtles at Palu Kola Wala.

      9.40am one Leopard at Borupan pitiya. N 08.42391, E 080.02543
      On my way from Maradanmaduwa many jeep drivers informed us that they had observed a male leopard at Borupan pitiya in the morning. Upon arriving at the location I was fortunate to spot the leopard among the dried grass (Boru Pan Eleocharis dulcis). After lying at the edge of the grass filed for a few minutes the young male leopard moved through the grass towards Borupan pitiya Wala. Perhaps he was keen to drink at the small pool. I signaled the others to wait until the leopard reached the pool. But unfortunately the guests in a few vehicles were impatient and reversed at great speed disturbing the leopard. Much to our dismay he stopped and started walking in the opposite direction. Thankfully the vehicles gave him space this time with the more experienced jeep drives stopping at a distance to allow adequate space for the animal to cross the road. After a bit of hesitation the leopard crossed the road that leads to Lunu Wewa and walked in to the forest in the direction of Vilanda Wala. Upon checking the spot pattern I was pleased to note that this is Borupan Pitiya Leopard 1 (BPM 1) that I photographed yesterday.

      10.38am three White-necked Stork at Nelum Wila pitiya.
      10.44am one Golden Jackal between Nelum Wila and Panikkar Villu.
      10.57am 3 Spotted Deer and a lone bull elephant at Panikkar Villu.
      10.58am an adult male Wild boar in a muddy pool at Panikkar Villu.
      12.13pm a nest of Purple-rumped Sunbird at Nelum Wila. The female visited the nest and moved inside.

      1.34pm one Elephant at Kokkare Villu.
      2.32pm one Leopard at Kokkare Villu upper road. N 08.42165, E 079.98225
      The leopard was lying on the forest floor at the foot of a tree about 50 meters inside the forest and was hardly visible. We spotted him with the greatest of difficulty and managed to get a few record images just adequate to arrive at accurate identity. The leopard was Nelum Wila Female 2 NWF 2.

      3.53pm a herd of 6 Buffalo at Nelum Wila pitiya.
      3.54pm 5 Spotted Deer and a lone Wild Boar at Nelum Wila pitiya.
      4.35pm 10 Spotted Deer at Mahapatessa.
      4.38pm a baby Mugger Crocodile sunning it self atop some Elephant dung on Eriyakkulampooval.

      4.41pm 2 Mugger Crocodiles at Mahapatessa.
      4.48pm a single flower of the leafless wild orchid Vanilla walkerae at Thimbiri Wila.

      4.50pm a sounder of 15 Wild Boar and 2 large Mugger Crocodiles at Borupan Wila.
      5.11pm a Sloth Bear at Thambioluwa.
      5.22pm a Ruddy Mongoose between Galwanguwa and Galwanguwa pond.
      5.41pm a lone Buffalo and 2 Spotted Deer at Percy Bendi Wewa.
      6.15pm left the park.
      Mammals  - Elephant 2, Leopard 1, Sloth Bear 1, Indian Buffalo 43, Sambhur 1, Spotted Deer 53, Wild Boar 17, Barking Deer 3, Golden Jackal 1, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Ruddy Mongoose 3, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Mugger Crocodile 9, Flapshell Turtle 4, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard,  Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

       Birds, Butterflies & Flora observed during the filed trip
      Birds – Rufous-bellied Hawk Eagle, Gargany, Long-tailed Nightjar, Crested Honey Buzzard, Lesser Adjutant, Painted Storks, Yellow-wattled Lapwings, White-necked Stork, Striated Weaver, Philippine Shrike, Red-winged Crested Cuckoo & Osprey
      Butterflies – Tawny Rajah, Blue Mormon, Great Orange Tip, Red Spot Duke, Lime Butterfly, Crimson Rose, Common Rose, Common Mormon, Monkey Puzzle, Blue Tiger, Common Tiger, Lemon Migrant, Lesser Albatross, Common Indian Crow & Tawny coaster
      Wild Orchids – Vanda spathulata, Vanda tessellate, Vanilla walkerae
      Fruiting trees – Moona Mal trees in fruit
      Wild Flowers - Sudu Kala Wel Derris parviflora, Asiatic Bushbeech Gmelina asiatica, Wellangiriya Capparis brevispina, Ceylon Osbeckia Osbeckia zeylanica, Chinese Violet Asystasia gangetica, Yellow Bell Bauhinia Bauhinia tomentosa, Indian Cadaba Cadaba trifoliate, Swamp Foxglove Centranthera indica, Small Horsefly’s Eye Dopatrium nudicaule, Dwaf Morning Glory Evolvulus alsinoides, Giant Ambulia Limnophila aquatic, Malabar False Eranthamum Pseuderanthemum latifolium, Fire Cracker Flower Crossandra infundibuliformis & Wild Nightshade Solanum sp.
      Ranawara, Kiri Kone Walsura trifoliolata & Lunu Warna Crataeva adansonii trees were in bloom.

  • Wilpattu National Park 1st to 4th February 2020

      7.09am entered the park with guide Hashan Madushanka
      7.41am a Barking Deer between Paaluwinlandawa junction and Thammanna Wala.
      8.06am 2 Wild Buffalo at Maha Wewa.
      8.17am 14 Wild Buffalo at Maha Wewa.
      8.21am 2 Spotted Deer at Maha Wewa.
      8.43am 6 Wild Buffalo at Maha Wewa
      8.52am 27 more Wild Buffalo at Maha Wewa
      9.00ama pair of Brown Fish Owls at Maha Wewa. The male of this species can be identified by the slight orange colour of its iris.

      9.13am a male Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher between Maha Wewa and Thammanna Wala.

      9.31am 3 Sambhur between Palu Kola Wala and Galwanguwa.
      9.33am an adult male Wild Buffalo between Palu Kola Wala and Gal Wanguwa
      9.35am a Barking Deer between Palu Kola Wala and Galwanguwa
      9.40am 6 Wild Buffalo including a newly born calf at Maradanmaduwa.
      9.44am 2 Spotted Deer at Maradanmaduwa.
      10.09am a Barking Deer crossed the road between Borupan junction and Kumbuk Wila.
      10.10am a Ruddy Mongoose between Borupan junction and Kumbuk Wila.
      10.11am a troop of Grey Langur between Borupan junction and Kumbuk Wila.
      10.24am 4 Spotted Deer on Kokkare Villu upper road.
      10.25am one Elephant at Kokkare Villu.
      10.49am a Common Skink Eutropis  carinata lankae at Eriyakkulampooval.

      11.31am we arrived at Aalam Villu and decided to drive around in the direction of the road to Erenapala motte. Hashan spotted some thing unusual inside the forest and asked me to reverse the vehicle. It was an Elephant lying flat on the ground about 15 feet inside the forest. We observed the animal for a while and realized that he was asleep. After a few minutes the Elephant woke up and moved in to the forest.
      1.57pm one Elephant at Aalam Villu. It’s very likely that this is the same animal that we observed sleeping in the morning.

      2.25pm a Spotted Deer at Kokkare Villu.
      3.50pm one Leopard at Kokkare Villu upper road. N 08.42128, E 079.98223
      The leopard was lying at the foot of a tree and was partially covered with foliage. I managed to get a few images for record purposes and moved off to permit the others to have a view. Upon examining the spot pattern I realized that this is the female leopard that I have named as Nelum Wila Leopard 4 under Leopards of Wilpattu – Guest section. It is the same litter sibling of Nelum Wila Male 5 and Nelum Wila Female 3 (two tone) As this is my first sighting of this elusive female I named it Nelum Wila Female 2 (NWF 2).

      3.52pm 2 Spotted Deer on Kokkare Villu upper road.
      4.36pm a Golden Jackal between Palu Kola Wala and Kalagedi Bokkuwa.
      5.01pm a lone Bull Elephant was on the road at Weli Ela. He walked slowly towards the park entrance. After a few anxious moments of him turning in our direction the standoff was over when he moved in to the forest. As I drove past he trumpeted and turned but did not charge.
      6.15pm left the park.
      Mammals  - Elephant 3, Leopard 1,Wild Buffalo 56, Sambhur 3, Spotted Deer 11, Barking Deer 3, Golden Jackal 1, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Ruddy Mongoose 1, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles –Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Green Garden Lizard 1, Painted-lip Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard,  Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.
       2nd February 2020
      6.17am entered the park with guide Hashan Madushanka
      6.40am a Ruddy Mongoose at Palu Kola Wala.
      6.42am 2 Sambhur between Palu Kola Wala and Galwanguwa
      6.49am a heard 8 Spotted Deer and of 7 Wild Buffalo at Maradanmaduwa.
      6.53am a troop of Grey Langur between Maradanmaduwa and Thambioluwa.
      7.35am a male and a female leopard at Kudapatessa. N 08.43129, E 079.99345
      I was informed of a mating pair of Leopards seen the previous day evening at Kuruttupandi Villu. Thus I arrived at the park entrance at 2.30am to ensure that I will be the first vehicle to enter the park. We drove down to Kuruttupandi Villu and had no luck but arrived at Kudapataess to spot the two leopards in the nick of time before they moved in to the forest. The male and the female exhibited typical leopard mating behavior but did not mate. They walked together in the direction of the sand dune across the villu but thankfully the female stopped and laid down resulting in the male to stop as well. After a few minutes the male resumed the walk followed by the female. Both the leopards walked over the sand dune in to the forest. The male was the Nelum Wila Mlae 5 (NWMC 5) and the female was Manikrala Uraniya Female 1 (MRUF 1). I received images of these two leopards mating on the 14th of February in 2019 and thereafter again on the 12th of June the same year. However this female is yet to conceive.

      8.04am 4 Spotted Deer and a Wild Boar at Nelum Wila.
      8.20am three leopards at Aalam Villu. N 08.40289, E 079.95450
      We drove down to Aalam Villu and spotted an adult female Leopard lying down on a small sand patch across the water body. Two other young female leopards were seen to our right and were walking towards the female. Their walk would suddenly break in to a sprint, as one would playfully chase the other. Upon reaching their mother the two cubs started to rub their heads against her. After a few minutes the adult female stood up and moved in the direction of the forest followed by one cub. The other was still lying down on the sand patch. Having walked up to the forest edge the adult female turned and looked back at the cub still lying down. Almost instantly the cub walked up to her mother.  There after they all moved in to the forest. Later upon examination of their spot patterns I was able to identify the mother as the Panikkar Villu Female 2 (PVFC 2). I had photographed this female in January 2015 at Panikkar Villu sand patch when she was a cub of 5 months. In August 2017 I observed her with an adult male (Aalam Villu Male 2) at Aalam Villu. There after in November 2018 I was fortunate enough to see her two cubs for the first time at Panikkar Villu when they were about 4 months of age. I was only able to photograph one of them then and named it Panikkar Villu Female 3 (PVFC 3). Upon receiving images of the other cub from those who share their images with me I have listed it under Leopards of Wilpattu – Guest section as Panikkar Villu Leopard 3. I was thrilled with this sighting as this female is quite elusive.  Until now I was not able to determine the mother of these two cubs, as I had not received any images of them with their mother. The mother is 5 years and 4 months and the cubs a year and six months of age as at now. As this is my first sighting of the second cub I named it Panikkar Villu Female 4 (PVFC 4).

       8.55am a Mugger Crocodile at Aalam Vullu.
      9.06am 2 Crested Hawk Eagles mated at Aalam Villu.
      10.05am one Elephant at Kokkare Villu.
      10.39am we drove up to Illanda Motte and were surprised to see another Leopard on the road. N 08.45756, E 079.98941
      It was a shy young male leopard and had its body lowered to the ground upon our arrival. As soon as we saw him he ran in to the forest. As it was obvious that this is not a leopard that is habituated much with vehicles I revered and waited for some time expecting the leopard to move back on to the road but had no luck. Thus I drove passed the location where the leopard enter the forest and saw him seated about 15 feet in the thicket. I continued to drive well beyond where the animal was seen, as I wanted him to be relaxed with the vehicle and turned back. When I arrived at the spot the leopard was still there and I managed to get a few images of this shy animal before he disappeared further in to the forest. Having examined its spot pattern I realized that this is not a leopard that I was familiar with and suspected that it is an animal that is not in my database. My suspicion was confirmed upon comparing his spot pattern with all the others. It was a young well-built male leopard of about 2 years and six months in age. As this is my first sighting of this animal I named it Illanda Motte Male 1 (IMM 1).

      11.04am troop of Grey Langur between Down Hall Pitiya and Mana Wila.
      11.19am a Sambhur that was drinking at Herathhamy Wala trotted in to he forest upon our arrival.
      11.45am  I photographed two sub adult Little Grebe at Kumutu Wila. While I was waiting for these tiny birds to emerge from their frequent dives two Wild Boars came to water across the villu.

      12.38pm 9 Spotted Deer at Nelum Wila pitiya.
      12.47pm  a Ruddy Mongoose between Nelum Wila and Nelum Wila sand pacth.
      1.48pm a Spotted Deer at Aalam Villu.
      2.48pm a Lesser Adjutant Stork at Pallekandal pitiya.
      2.58pm 24 Elephants in three herds of 7,8 and 9 individuals at Pomparippu. The herd of 9 included a small tusker as well.

      3.00pm A Ruddy Mongoose at Pomparippu.
      3.28pm a sounder of 21 Wild Boar at Tala Wila.
      3.43pm one Leopard at Tala Wila. N 08.37965, E 079.94736
      The leopard was stalking a Peahen and had its body lowered to the ground with its ears flat. It was on a patch of shade and was observing the movements of the bird intently. While I was photographing all at once she charged but was not successful. The Peahen flew off with a series of loud alarm calls. With the arrival of another two vehicles the Leopard moved in to the forest. I was pleased to note that this is Kombansanchaipooval Female 1 (KSPF 1), the mother of the two small cubs seen at this location. Unfortunately for me the two cubs were not with her, as she appear to have left them behind to go on a hunt.

      4.47pm a Yellow Wagtail of the race Thunbergi at Eriyakkulampooval.
      4.49pm a Mugger Crocodile and a sounder of 12 Wild Boar at Mahapatessa.
      5.00pm one Elephant and a Wild Buffalo at Borupan Wila.
      5.01pm 5 Spotted Deer at Borupan Wila.
      5.08pm one male Wild Buffalo between Borupan Wila and Borupan junction.
      4.46pm a Leopard between “Eda Kohomba Gaha pitiya” and Palukola Wala. N 08.36157, E 080.09512
      It was young male leopard and he was seated behind some foliage. Much to my relief the leopard moved out within a few minutes and lay down on a small mound of earth permitting the visitors to get some clear images. After a few minutes, with the increase in the number of vehicles, the young male walked in to the forest. Later upon examining its spot pattern I was pleased to note that this is the male cub of the Kalagedi Bokkuwa Female 1 (KBFC 1), the female that was found close to Thammanna Wala in a very feeble condition on the 19th of December 2019 and was removed by the park officials on the same day to administer treatment. It was later learnt that she had died within a few days of being removed from the park. I had listed this male cub as Thammanna Wala Leopard 1 under Leopards of Wilpattu – Guest section on my site. At the time of her death this male cub was only one year and 2 months. Usually leopard cubs would stay with their mothers until they are close to two years. I was concerned over the survival of this cub and was keen to find out whether he would be able to hunt and survive. I had requested the guides and jeep drivers to keep me informed of any sightings of this cub and had only two records from them supported by images for confirmation. Thus this sighting was very special and I was thrilled to note that despite the untimely death of his mother this young leopard has managed to survive. As this is my first sighting of this leopard I named it Thammanna Wala Male 1 (THWMC 1). Its current age is one year and 4 months.

      6.00pm left the park.
      During the day I was fortunate to observe and photograph 8 different leopards. This is the highest number I had seen during a single day at Wilpattu so far.

      Mammals  - Elephant 26, Leopard 8, Wild Buffalo 9, Sambhur 3, Spotted Deer 27, Wild Boar 36, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Ruddy Mongoose 3, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Mugger Crocodile 2, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard, Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.
      3rd February 2020
      6.15am entered the park with guide Hashan Madushanka.
      6.16am 4 Spotted Deer at the park entrance.
      6.27am one Wild Buffalo between Percy Bendi Wewa and Paaluillandawa junction.
      6.36am another Wild Buffalo between Kalagedi Bokkuwa and Palu Kola Wala.
      6.42am an adult male Sambhur sporting an impressive pair of antlers was on the road looking in our direction between Palu Kola Wala and Galwanguwa. Unfortunately the impressive beast trotted in to the forest before I was able to get any images.
      6.45am about 12 Spotted Deer at Galwanguwa.
      6.47am one Leopard at Maradanmaduwa. N 08.37157, E 080. 07440
      It was a big male leopard and he was marking the bushes by the side of the road. It was a very brief sighting as the animal quickly moved in to the forest. Upon examination of its spot pattern I was pleased to note that this is Maradanmaduwa Male 3 (MMM 3), referred to as “Gota” by the guides and jeep drivers.

      6.51am about 12 Spotted Deer at Maradanmaduwa.
      7.37am a troop of Grey Langur at Maradanmaduwa.
      8.16am one Ruddy Mongoose between Thammanna Wala and Maha Wewa.
      8.25am 2 Ruddy Mongoose at Thammanna Wala.
      8.48am a troop of Grey Langur at Percy Bendi Wewa.
      8.53am another troop of Grey Langur between Ranawara pitiya and the park entrance.
      9.01am about 13 Spotted Deer between Weli Ela and Ranawara pitiya.
      9.26am 3 Sambhur between Palu Kola Wala and Galwanguwa.
      9.50am 5 Wild Buffalo at Thambioluwa.
      9.54am one more Wild Buffalo at Ibba Wala.
      10.21am one Mugger Crocodile at Borupan Wila.
      10.37am 2 Spotted Deer on Kokkare Villu upper road.
      10.44am one Elephant at Kokkare Villu.
      10.47am a troop of Grey Langur and one Barking Deer at Kokare Villu.
      12.01pm a Spotted Deer on Kokkare Villu upper road.
      12.24pm one Ruddy Mongoose on Panikkar Villu upper road.
      1.26am an adult male Wild Boar at Kombansanchaipooval.
      1.29am 12 Spotted Deer at Panikkar Villu.
      2.01pm a sounder of 8 Wild Boar on Kokkare Villu upper road.
      3.34pm 2 Elephants at Percy Bendi Wewa. They had walked in to the water and were bathing.

      3.47pm a Star Tortoise between Ranawara pitiya and Weli Ela.
      4.25pm left the park.
      5.17pm photographed a Blue-throated Flycatcher at Holambalagama Tank. This is a rare migrant and my first record of this species at Wilpattu.

       Mammals  - Elephant 1, Leopard 1, Wild Buffalo 8, Sambhur 4, Spotted Deer 55, Wild Boar 8, Barking Deer 1, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Ruddy Mongoose 4, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Mugger Crocodile 1 , Star Tortoise 1, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard,  Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.
      4th February 2020
      7.16am entered the park with guide Hashan Madushanka
      8.25am 4 Spotted Deer between “Nuga Gala” and Percy Bendi Wewa on Makalanmaduwa road.
      9.02am a Barking Deer at Thammanna Wala.
      9.27am a Ruddy Mongoose between Thammanna Wala and Paaluilandawa junction.
      9.37am another Ruddy Mongoose between Thammanna Wala and Paaluilandawa junction.
      9.50am one Wild Buffalo between Palu Kola Wala and Galwanguwa.
      10.02am a bachelor party of 9 Spotted Deer stags between Maradanmaduwa and Maha Wewa.
      10.13am 3 more Spotted Deer stags between Maradanmaduwa and Maha Wewa.
      10.19am 4 Spotted Deer and 9 Wild Buffalo at Maradanmaduwa.
      10.20am 2 Spotted Deer at “Kukul Katu” pitiya.
      10.50am Chestnut-headed Bee Eaters darting at flying insects and returning to the same perch at Borupan junction.

      11.02am 9 Wild Boar at Borupan Wila.
      11.20am 4 Spotted Deer crossed the road at Lunu Wewa.
      11.30am 4 Spotted Deer at Borupan Wila.
      11.52am 6 Wild Buffalo in the water at Eriyakkulampooval.
      12.10pm a Flapshell Turtle at Illanda Motte.
      1.51pm one Elephant at Kokkare villu.
      2.25pm a Crested Honey Buzzard at Maradanmaduwa.

      2.45pm a sounder of 18 Wild Boar at Tala Wila.

      3.41pm 2 Ruddy Mongoose between Illanda Motte and Manikrala Uraniya.
      3.44pm a Golden Jackal at Mahapatessa.
      4.11pm 2 Spotted Deer at Kokkare Villu.
      5.46pm one Elephant at Weli Ela.
      5.48pm a Golden Jackal between Weli Ela and the park entrance.
      6.15pm left the park.
      Mammals  - Elephant 2, Wild Buffalo 16, Spotted Deer 32, Wild Boar 27, Barking Deer 1, Golden Jackal 2, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Ruddy Mongoose 4, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles –Flapshell Turtle 1 , Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard,  Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

      Birds, Butterflies & Flora observed during the filed trip
      Birds – Lesser Adjutant, Painted Storks, White-necked Stork, Blue-throated Flycatcher
      Butterflies – Red Spot Duke, Tawny Rajah, Ceylon Lacewing, Blue Mormon, Banded Peacock, Crimson Rose, Common Mormon, Great Orange Tip, Quaker, Blue Wanderer, Dark Blue Tiger, Blue Tiger, Tailed Jay, Great Eggfly.
      Wild Orchids – Vanda spathulata, Vanda tessellate
      Fruiting trees -
      Wild Flowers - Ceylon Osbeckia Osbeckia zeylanica, Chinese Violet Asystasia gangetica, Yellow Bell Bauhinia Bauhinia tomentosa, Indian Cadaba Cadaba trifoliate, Gray Nicker Caesalpinia bonducella, Bird Flower Crotalaria laburnifolia, Small Horsefly’s Eye Dopatrium nudicaule, Dwaf Morning Glory Evolvulus alsinoides, Glory Lily, Flame Lily Gloriosa superba, Maple-leaved Mallow Hibiscus eriocarpus, Ceylon Leadwort Plumbago zeylanica,  Wild Nightshade Solanum sp.
      Ranawara & Lunu Warna Crataeva adansonii trees were in bloom.


  • Wilpattu National Park 10th to 12th January 2020

      6.22am entered the park with guide Tissa Ratnayake.
      15 Spotted Deer at the park entrance.
      6.45am 4 Leopards on the road between Percy Bendi Wewa and Thammanna Wala. Even though I was able to see them at a distance there was no opportunity to get any images, as there were about 7 vehicles ahead of me. By the time they were able to give way the leopards had moved in o the forest.
      6.56am 7 Spotted Deer at Thammanna Wala.
      6.57am 4 Spotted Deer at Divulgas Mandiya.
      7.08am 4 Spotted Deer at “Eda Kohombagaha pitiya”.
      7.11am 16 Spotted Deer at Maradanmaduwa.
      7.12am 4 more Spotted Deer at Kukulkatu pitiya.
      7.22am 2 Spotted Deer between Ibba Wala and Humbas Wala
      7.31am a Mugger Crocodile at Walas Wala. The renovation of the bund has resulted in this water body expanding to become a small reservoir, which is filled to the brim due to recent rains. This water body should be of great value to the animals during the dry season.
      7.32am 2 Sambhur between Walas Wala and Borupan junction.
      7.46am 5 Spotted Deer on Kumbuk Wila upper road.
      7.56am 2 Spotted Deer at Nelum Wila.
      8.39am 2 Spotted Deer between Nelum Wila and Panikkar Villu.
      8.46am 9 Spotted Deer at Nelum Wila.
      10.15am a troop of Grey Langur between Maradanmaduwa and Maha Wewa.
      10.33am 3 Spotted Deer between Maradanmaduwa and Maha Wewa.
      10.36am 26 more Spotted Deer between Maradanmaduwa and Maha Wewa.
      10.57am 17 Wild Buffalo at Maha Wewa.
      10.58am 2 more Wild Buffalo at Maha Wewa.
      11.03am 2 more Wild Buffalo at Maha Wewa
      11.33am 1 adult male Wild Buffalo between Palu Kola Wala and Maradanmaduwa.
      11.42am a Leopard darted across the road between Maradanmaduwa and Thambioluwa.
      1.21pm a Blue Mormon feeding on some Ceylon Leadwort flowers on Kokkare Villu upper road.

       1.30pm 4 Spotted Deer between Kokkare Villu and Kuruttupandi Villu.
      2.00pm 2 Spotted Deer at Mana Wila.
      2.05pm 4 more Spotted Deer between Mana Wila and Herathhamy Wala.
      3.15pm a Mugger Crocodile at Kuruttupandi Villu.
      3.29pm 2 Ruddy Mongoose on Kumbuk Wila upper road.
      4.21pm 2 Golden Jackal between Palu Kola Wala and Kalagedi Bokkuwa.
      5.37pm a Golden Jackal at Percy Bendi Wewa.
      5.41pm a Barking Deer between Ranawara pitiya and Weli Ela.
      5.55pm left the park.

      Mammals  - Leopard 5, Wild Buffalo 22, Sambhur 2, Spotted Deer 105, Barking Deer 1, Golden Jackal 3, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Ruddy Mongoose 2, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Mugger Crocodile 3, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard, Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

      11th January 2020
      6.11am entered the park with guide Tissa Ratnayake.
      6.15am a Leopard walked across the road ahead of us between the park entrance and Kone Gaha ela but photography was not possible due to low light. A carcass of a Golden Jackal was lying by the side of the road where the leopard crossed but the predator did not show any interest. The injuries to the neck suggested that it was killed by a predator.
      6.30am a Leopard that was on the road moved in to the forest between Thamanna Wala and the first glade on the road to Maha Wewa. The animal gave me no opportunity for photography.
      6.40am 7 Spotted Deer at Thamanna Wala.
      6.52am 11 Spotted Deer between Galwanguwa and Eda Kohombagaha pitiya.
      6.57am a herd of 7 Wild Buffalo at Maradanmaduwa.
      8.48am a Black-naped Hare at Maha Wewa.
      9.21am 4 Spotted Deer between Kalagedi Bokkuwa and Palu Kola Wala.
      10.01am a Ruddy Mongoose at Borupan junction.
      10.20am one Leopard that was lying on the road between Borupan Wila and thimbiri Wila moved in to the forest as we arrived. Again there was no opportunity to get any images. During this trip so far I had seen 8 leopards but there was no opportunity for photography.
      10.41am 8 Spotted Deer at Kokkare Villu.
      10.42am a Ruddy Mongoose at Kokkare Villu.
      10.45am the carnivorous plant Tropical Sundew Drosera burmannii was observed at Kokkare Villu.
      11.29am a sounder of 18 Wild Boar between Kombansanchaipooval and Tala Wila.
      11.43am 6 Spotted Deer at Panikkar Villu.
      12.12pm a pair of Barking Deer between Nelum Wila and Thamanna Gaha junction.
      1.24pm a sub adult Crested Hawk Eagle in its first year of life was feeding on a Slender Loris kill on the road at Herathhamy Wala. The raptor flew up on to a tree permitting me to get a few record shots of the bird with its prey.

      2.20pm pair of Crimson-backed Woodpeckers was nesting on a Thelambu tree at Manik Wila. They chased away a few persistent Rose-ringed Parakeets that were also interested in examining the tree holes on the same tree. This species is much less common than the Golden-backed/ Red-backed Woodpeckers, which are usually seen in the park. They are more often heard than seen. The female was more aggressive than the male. She would alight on nearby trees and launch her attack on the Parakeets.

      2.24pm a male Wild Boar at Manik Wila.
      2.47pm a Spotted Deer on Kokkare Villu upper road.
      2.59pm  2 Ruddy Mongoose at Borupan junction.
      3.37pm a  Star Tortoise on the road to Lunu Wewa bungalow from Borupan Wila.

      4.48pm a Spotted Deer at Thambioluwa.
      5.07pm a Black-naped Hare at Galwanguwa.
      5.48pm left the park.

      Mammals  - Leopard 3, Wild Buffalo 7, Spotted Deer 38, Wild Boar 19, Barking Deer 2,  White – spotted Chevrotain, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Black-naped Hare 1, Ruddy Mongoose 4, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.

      Reptiles –Star Tortoise 1, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard,  Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

      12th January 2020
      I received information that a leopard had entered the Lunu Wewa bungalow around 7pm causing much distress to the visitors who are in occupation of the bungalow. One of the two bungalow keepers had moved them in to a room upstairs. The leopard had walked up the stairs and the videos were showing how the animal was moving inside the bungalow and even trying to enter the room through the window grills. Around 10pm one of the Bungalow keepers who was downstairs had managed to light a few crackers used to drive away elephants  (Ali Wedi) and managed to chase away the leopard. The terrified visitors had hurriedly moved in to the safari jeep they had kept over night for their game drive the next day and driven out of the park. I spoke to the jeep driver Danushka (popularly know and “Take”). Having listened to the account of what had taken place and having watched the video’s that were received I was quite surprised by the abnormal behavior of this animal. I arrived at the park entrance at 3am to ensure that I can enter the park before any one else. Many of the jeep drivers who arrived later were of the view that this is one of the Borupan Cubs that had been seen close to this bungalow in the recent past. I was aware that a male Leopard that was kept in an enclosure close to Maradanmaduwa by the DWC on a capture-rehabilitate and release program had escaped around 19th of December last year.  Considering this abnormal behavior I suspected that it could to be the same leopard. But without a proper spot pattern identification there was no way I could be certain of the identity of the animal. Upon a request made by me a Veterinary surgeon attached to the DWC had kindly provided me with a few images of the leopard that was kept in the enclosure to enable me to identify the animal id he was seen in the park.

      6.05am entered the park with guide Tissa Ratnayake. I decided to drive to the Lunu Wewa bungalow area expecting that the leopard could still be around. 
      6.31am a Wild Buffalo between Palu Kola Wala and Maradanmaduwa.
      6.32am 11 Spotted Deer and two Golden Jackal at Maradanmaduwa.
      6.33am a herd of 8 Wild Buffalo including a small calf at Maradanmaduwa.
      6.54am 22 Spotted Deer at Borupan Wila.

      7.12am we drove on the Lunu Wewa bungalow road expecting to see the leopard on the road but as we had no luck arrived at the bungalow.
      Upon arriving at the bungalow I was surprised to see the Leopard in one of the downstairs bedrooms of the bungalow. Bungalow keepers Nethmin and Asanka informed me that after the visitors had left the leopard had entered the bungalow again they had managed to lock the animal inside the room. The leopard was quite relaxed and was busy feeding on a piece of meat provided by the DWC officials. I photographed the leopard through an open window and compared the spot pattern with the images I had received. I was relieved to note that this indeed is the leopard that escaped from the enclosure in December 2019. Having observed the leopard for about 15 minutes I noted that he was not at all concerned of us being around and exhibited no stress of being kept inside a room. The DWC Officers and the two bungalow keepers had acted extremely intelligently in managing the situation that prevailed and ensured safety of the visitors as well as the safety of this magnificent leopard. It was quite apparent that this animal is not fit to be released in a forest as it had become quite tame and had no fear of human beings. Based on my GPS readings the distance between the enclosure from where the animal escaped and the Lunuwewa bungalow is about 9.5 KM (on a straight line) while the distance from the same through Maha Wewa to Katupaththewa village out side the park is only 7 KM. If this leopard moved out of the park and entered a village it is very likely that he would have suffered a tragic death at the hands of villagers due to its abnormal behavior of seeking human association and entering human dwellings. On the other hand this animal could well have walked up to Kumbuk Wila campsite during the day, where foreign and local visitors are allowed to get off their vehicles, causing absolute pandemonium. It was extremely lucky to have arrived at this bungalow and for this incident to have ended the way it did. Having observed the leopard we left the Lunuwewa bungalow.

      The survival of most wild animals depends on their ability to avoid human beings and this is more so when it comes to any large carnivore. Wild leopards will instinctively avoid any contact with humans and even become purely nocturnal and quite elusive when they live close to human habitations. Once a leopard losses its fear of humans and starts seeking human association the opportunity for it to adapt to the wild is almost non-existent considering the extents of wilderness areas in Sri Lanka.

      In the forests leopard cubs grow up in a community where territories are maintained. There is also a hierarchy that exists between animals that live in close proximity to each other. Often dominant males will tolerate young male cubs within its territory. When a male leopard such as this one is suddenly introduced to a settled community of leopards he will be attacked and pushed out resulting in the animal having to move for long distances. Considering the smaller size of our national parks this can often result in such leopards even being pushed out of the parks close to human habitations. Young male leopards usually will leave their mother when they reach around 2 years and instinctively move for long distances exploring to find a territories of their own. The female cubs usually do not undertake such long distance travels and will often stay close to their mother’s original territories. A wild male leopard cub learning from its mothers behaviour will avoid humans if they move to areas where there are human habitations and learn how best to hunt and survive in he wild. Without any such opportunities life will become very hard for a caged leopard to be introduced suddenly to a very competitive environment.

      I estimated the age of this animal to be around 2 years. After having occupied the enclosure for almost two years this animal would have been driven by its instinct to wonder. In Wilpattu I have recorded some young male leopards leaving their mothers and some times moving as far as 9 to 16 km. In these circumstances it is important for the safety of the animal and people alike for this leopard to be removed from this enclosure as soon as possible and ideally placed at the open zoo at Ridiyagama in Hambantota where his quality of life should be somewhat better than those animals kept in small cages in other zoos.

      Later that day I was told that the animal was moved back to the same enclosure from where he once escaped and was quite disturbed to learn that there was discussion to release this leopard in Wilpattu after fitting him with a collar.  

      I have already written to the Director General of DWC expressing my point of view and have confidence in the senior officials of the DWC to take the right decision in this regard.

      7.46am 12 Spotted Deer on Kumbuk Wila upper road.
      7.50am a leopard was observed on Kumbuk Wila upper road. N 08.41848, E080.00203
      The leopard was lying down on a small patch of sand about 20 feet from the road. It was a male and he walked in to the forest almost as we arrived. I managed to get a few images in the nick of time to identify the animal. It was Nelum Wila Male 5 (NWMC 5).

      8.00pm a Ruddy Mongoose on Kumbuk Wila upper road.
      8.36am a Lesser Adjutant at Kokkare Villu.
      9.23am a Golden Jackal on the road between Tala Wila and Phill Motte.
      9.38am a Blue-faced Malkoha permitted a few images at Pallekandal pitiya.

      10.04am a troop of Northern Purple-faced Leaf Monkey at the Uththamadaru Bridge.

      10.06am a Purple Heron perched among many newly bloomed Scarlet Mallow flowers at Pomparippu.

      10.17am a Ruddy Mongoose between Pallekandal pitiya and Phill Motte.
      12.20pm a Black-headed Oriole nest between Panikkar Villu and Nelum Wila.

      12.32pm 2 Spotted Deer between Panikkar Villu and Nelum Wila.
      12.46pm a troop of Grey Langur drinking water from a pool on the road at Madan Gas Wala.
      1.00pm a Ruddy Mongoose between Walas Wala and Boralu Wala.
      1.11pm 2 Spotted Deer at Thambioluwa.
      1.18pm a Flapshell Turtle at Palu Kola Wala.
      1.35pm 6 Spotted Deer between Kalagedi Bokkuwa and Thamanna Wala.
      2.30pm left the park.
      Mammals  - Wild Buffalo 9, Spotted Deer 55, Golden Jackal 3, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, Ruddy Mongoose 3, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Flapshell Turtle 1, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard, Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.
      Birds, Butterflies & Flora observed during the filed trip
      Birds – Lesser Adjutant, Painted Storks, White-necked Stork,
      Butterflies – Blue Mormon, Banded Peacock, Blue Wanderer, Great Orange tip, Crimson Rose, Common Rose, Lime Butterfly, Lesser Albatross, Tailed Jay, 
      Wild Orchids – Vanda spathulata
      Wild Flowers - Ceylon Osbeckia Osbeckia zeylanica, Chinese Violet Asystasia gangetica, Yellow Bell Bauhinia Bauhinia tomentosa, Indian Cadaba Cadaba trifoliate, Gray Nicker Caesalpinia bonducella, Swamp Foxglove Centranthera indica, Bird Flower Crotalaria laburnifolia, Small Horsefly’s Eye Dopatrium nudicaule, Dwaf Morning Glory Evolvulus alsinoides, Glory Lily, Flame Lily Gloriosa superba, Maple-leaved Mallow Hibiscus eriocarpus, Ceylon Leadwort Plumbago zeylanica