NOTES ON FIELD TRIPS TO WILPATTU NATIONAL PARK

  • Wilpattu National Park 4th - 07th February 2021

      7.15am entered the park with Bathiya Senadipathy and our guide Tissa Ratnayake.

      7.22am 3 Spotted Deer at Ranawara pitiya.

      7.28am 7 Spotted Deer at Percy bendi Wewa.

      7.29am 2 Ruddy Mongoose between Percy bendi Wewa and Paaluwilandawa junction.

      7.40am a Spotted Deer stag at Kalagedi Bokkuwa.

      8.23am a Flapshell Turtle at Walas Wala.

      8.29am one Elephant feeding across the water body at Borupan Wila.

      8.31am a herd of 12 Spotted Deer at Borupan pitiya.

      9.33am an Elephant at Nelum Wila.

      9.49am 3 Spotted Deer at Aalam Villu.

      9.54am 19 Spotted Deer at Panikkar Villu.

      10.14am 32 Spotted Deer at Tala Wila.

      10.18am a lone Spotted Deer stag between Tala Wila and Kombansanchaipooval.

      10.36am 7 Spotted Deer at Nelum Wila.

      11.00am 27 Spotted Deer and a large Mugger Crocodile at Manik Wila.

      11.04am 2 Golden Jackal between Manik Wila and Illanda Motte.

      12.25pm one female leopard between Mana Wila and Down Hall Pitiya.
      N 08.46811, E 079.99010

      As we drove towards Downhall pitiya a leopard leaped off the road into the forest ahead of the vehicle. It was a female leopard. I immediately revered the vehicle to give the animal space and after a short while she walked back on to the road. She walked in our direction for about 100 meters and I kept on reversing the vehicle to maintain space between the advancing leopard and my vehicle. After walking for some time, she was alerted by some sounds emanating from the forest walked into the forest. Later upon examination of her spot pattern I was thrilled to note that that this is Borupan Wila Female 3 (BWFC 3), one of the two female cubs of the third litter of Borupan Wila Female 2.

      1.12pm one ruddy Mongoose between Mana Wila and Downhall pitiya.

      1.57pm 2 Wild Buffalo at Mahapatessa.

      1.59pm Thammanna Trees in bloom at Mahapatessa.

      2.08pm one Rat Snake at Demata Wila. The snake was hunting frogs in the shallow waters and moved hurriedly into the forest. This sub species of this common species known as Sri Lanka Rat Snake Ptyas mucosa maximus and is the second longest snake in the country being only second to the Indian Rock Python.

      2.11pm a Flapshell Turtle at Lunu Wila.

      2.18pm a Mugger Crocodile at Lunu Wewa.

      2.31pm a troop of Grey Langur at Borupan Wila.

      2.35pm a Ruddy Mongoose between Borupan Wila and Thimbiri Wila.

      2.38pm a heard of 9 Wild Buffalo at Thimbiri Wila

      3.00pm 12 Spotted Deer at Kumbuk Wila pitiya.

      3.05pm a Ruddy Mongoose at Kokkare Villu.

      4.09pm a Ruddy Mongoose on Kumbuk Wila upper road.

      4.33pm 2 female Sambhur between Humbas Wala and Ibba Wala.

      5.06am a Hoopoe at Maradanmaduwa. Even though regularly seen in Mannar and in most other dry zone national parks this species is rarely seen at Wilpattu.

      5.11pm a Star Tortoise at Galwanguwa.

      5.17pm a Ruddy Mongoose between Galwanguwa and Palukola Wala.

      5.28pm a Sambhur between Divulgas Mandiya and Thammanna Wala.

      5.36pm a Barking Deer between Paaluwilandawa junction and Percy Bendi Wewa.

      5.45pm a Black-naped Hare between Percy Bendi Wewa and Ranawara Pitiya.

      5.47pm another Black-naped Hare between Ranawara pitiya and Konegaha Ela.

      5.49pm a Barking Deer between Konegaha Ela and park entrance.

      6.01pm left the park.

      Mammals - Elephant 2, Leopard 1, Indian Buffalo 10, Sambhur 3, Spotted Deer 124, Wild Boar, Barking Deer 2, Golden Jackal 2, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Black-naped Hare 2, Ruddy Mongoose 7, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Mugger Crocodile 2, Flapshell Turtle 2, Star Tortoise 1, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard, Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

      5th February 2021
      6.30am entered the park with my friend Bathiya Senadhipathy.

      6.52am a well grown male Sambhur antler between Divulgas Mandiya and Palukola Wala.

      7.00am a Wild Buffalo between Palukola Wala and Galwanguwa.

      7.21am 2 Sambhur between Ibba Wala and Humbas Wala.

      7.38am 13 Spotted Deer and a sounder of 10 Wild Boar at Kumbuk Wila pitiya.

      7.55am a Golden Jackal and 4 Spotted Deer at Kokkare Villu.

      10.15am a Collared Dove at Manik Wila.

      10.30am a Ruddy Mongoose between Manik Wila and Downhall pitiya.

      10.33am observed a species of wildflower that I had not seen earlier in the park.  Later upon perusing the field guides on wildflower I was able to determine the species as Gynura lycopersicifolia. I was not able to find a common English name for this species. It’s referred to as Wal Thampala and Hulan thala in Sinhala. This species if confined to southern India and Sri Lankan dry zone.

      11.38am a Mugger Crocodile at Mana Wila.

      11.43pam a Ruddy Mongoose between Mana Wila and Downhall Pitiya.

      12.41pm a Ruddy Mongoose on Mahapatessa upper road.

      1.08pm a troop of Grey Langur between Manikrala Uraniya and Eriyakkulampooval.

      2.41pm 6 Spotted Deer between Panikkar Villu and Kombansanchaipooval.

      2.47pm a sounder of 18 Wild Boar and 37 Spotted Deer at Tala Wila.

      3.05pm a Barking Deer between Panikkar Villu and Nelum Wila.

      3.40pm one Leopard between Kuruttupandi and Manik Wila sand patch. The leopard was lying on the road and moved into the forest upon our arrival. There was no possibility photography thus had no opportunity to Identify the leopard.

      3.55pm a Flapshell Turtle at Kudapatessa. The turtle had moved out of the water and had walked on to the road. When water levels reach

      4.08pm a Ruddy Mongoose at Mahapatessa.

      4.15pm a sounder of 10 Wild Boar feeding on an island in the middle to Demata Wila.

      4.34pm one Flapshell Turtle at Thimiri Wila.

      5.21pm a Black-naped Hare and 4 Spotted Deer at Maradanmaduwa.

      5.57pm left the park.

      Mammals - Leopard 1, Indian Buffalo 1, Sambhur 3, Spotted Deer 64, Wild Boar 38, Barking Deer 1, Golden Jackal 1, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Black-naped Hare 1, Ruddy Mongoose 4, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Mugger Crocodile 1, Flapshell Turtle 2, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard,  Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

      6th February 2021
      6.31am entered the park with my friend Bathiya Senadhipathy.

      6.47am 4 Spotted Deer between Thammanna Wala and Kalagedi Bokkuwa.

      7.28am 16 Spotted Deer at Kumbuk Wila.

      7.41am observed a species of Mushroom that I had not observed before in the park between Kokkare Villu and Kuruttupandi Villu. I was not able to identify the species with the guidebooks available to me.

      8.10am a Forest Wagtail at Kanjuran Villu.

      8.52am a Crested Hawk Eagle perched on an exposed branch flew off offering us an excellent photo opportunity.

      9.06am a sounder of 10 Wild Boar at Eriyakkulampooval.

      9.10am one leopard at Eriyakkulampooval. N 08.43725, E 080.00208
      The leopard was lying across the water body on the sandy area between the forest and the water edge. It was a big male leopard. I managed to get a few record images despite the distance. Within a few minutes he stood up walked into the forest. Later an examination of its spot pattern revealed that it is Nelum Wila Male 5 (NWMC 5).

      10.51am 8 Spotted Deer at Borupan Wila.

      10.54am a troop of Grey Langur on Lunu Wewa road.

      10.59am a Ruddy Mongoose on Lunu Wewa road.

      11.02am 12 Spotted Deer at Lunu Wewa.

      11.20am 11 Spotted Deer at Mahapatessa.

      11.36am one Elephant 6 Spotted Deer and a Wild Buffalo at Borupan Wila.

      1.08pm one leopard between Illanda Motte and Manik Wila. N 08.45453, E 079.98639

      It was a female leopard and looked disturbed by my vehicle and two vehicles advancing on the Manik Wila upper road. I managed to get a few images as she moved into the forest which enabled me to identify the leopard. It was Borupan Wila Female 3 (BWFC 3). The vehicles had been following the leopard. Once the vehicles had moved off, we moved towards Illanda Motte and waited on the road expecting the leopard to come back on to the road. Having waited for 25 minutes decided to drive off and as we did saw the leopard ahead of us on the road walking in our direction. We I reversed the vehicle beyond a bend until she was out of sight, parked a waited with our cameras ready expecting her to continue her walk towards Illanda Motte. But we were out of luck. As she failed to appear, I moved forward and observed that her pug marks had stopped a little beyond the bend and she had moved back into the forest.  

      3.08pm a sounder of 9 Wild Boar at Kudapatessa.

      4.33pm one Ruddy Mongoose between Borupan Wila and Kumbuk Wila.

      4.51pm a Ruddy Mongoose between Kokkare Villu and Kudapatessa.

      5.15pm 2 females Sambhur between Humbas Wala and Ibba Wala.

      5.21pm a Sloth Bear at Maradanmaduwa.

      5.39pm 6 Spotted Deer at Ranawara pitiya

      6.00pm left the park.

      Mammals - Elephant 1, Leopard 1, Sloth Bear 1, Indian Buffalo 1, Sambhur 2, Spotted Deer 63, Wild Boar 19, Barking Deer, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Ruddy Mongoose 2, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles –Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard, Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

      7th February 2021

      6.31am entered the park with my friend Bathiya Senadhipathy.

      7.46am a Sambhur between Percy Bendi Wewa and Thammanna Wala.

      8.12am 7 Spotted Deer at Maradanmaduwa.

      8.21am 2 Sambhur between Ibba Wala and Humbas Wala

      8.43am 3 Spotted Deer at Kokkare Villu.

      9.33am 3 Spotted Deer at Kanjuran Villu.

      10.52am 2 Spotted Deer on Kokkare upper road.

      11.17pm a Sambhur between Ibba Wala and Kuda Boralu Wala.

      11.23am 37 Spotted Deer at Maradanmaduwa.

      11.38am 2 Spotted Deer close to Thammanna Wala.

      11.41am a Barking Deer between Thammanna Wala and Paaluwinlandawa junction.

      12.05pm left the park.

       

      Mammals - Sambhur 3, Spotted Deer 51, Barking Deer 1, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles –Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard, Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

       Birds, Butterflies & Flora observed during the field trip
      Birds – Lesser Adjutant, Painted Stork, White-necked Stork, Hoopoe, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Lesser Sand Plover, Little Ringed plover, Common Green and Red Shanks, Crested Hawk Eagle, Collared Dove.
      Butterflies – Blue Mormon, Banded Peacock, Ceylon Lacewing
      Wild Orchids – Vanilla walkerae

      Fruiting trees -
      Wild Flowers - Dopatrium Junceum Horsefly’s Eye (Bim Savan), Dopatrium nudicaule Small Horsefly’s Eye (Heen Bim Savan), Canavalia virosa Sword Bean, (Mudu Awara), Senna auriculata Tanners Cassia (Ranawara) , Chamaecrista kleinii (Bim Siyambala), Crotalaria verrucosa Blue Rattlepod (Nil Andanahiriya), Crotalaria laburnifolia Bird Flower (Yak-beriya), Crotalaria medicaginea  Trefoil Rattlepod (E), Adanahiriya (S), Hibiscus eriocarpus Maple-leaved Mallow (Kapukinissa), Plumbago zeylanica Ceylon Leadwort (Ela Nithol), Asystasia gangetica Chinese Violet (Puruk), Bacopa monnieri Waterhyssop (Lunu-wila), Crinum defixum Ker Gawl (Heen-tolabo), Gloriosa superba Glory Lily (Niyangala), Gmelina asiatica Asiatic Bushbeech (Demata)

  • Wilpattu National Park 23rd - 24th January 2021

      7.26am entered the park with guide Tissa Ratnayake.

      7.28am 7 Spotted Deer at the park entrance.

      7.31am 3 more Spotted Deer between the park entrance and Weli Ela.

      7.32am a Star Tortoise between Weli Ela and Ranawara pitiya.

      7.38am Acampe praemorsain bloom close to Ranawara pitiya. This is one of the four species of epiphytic wild orchids found in the park with the other five being ground orchids.

      7.42am a Wild Buffalo and two White-necked Storks at Percy Bendi Wewa.

      8.01am one Wild Boar between Palu Kola Wala and Galwanguwa.

      8.06am a single Spotter Deer antler at Eda Kohombagaha pitiya.

      8.10am 17 Spotted Deer at Maradanmaduwa.

      8.13am 2 more Spotted Deer at Maradanmaduwa, “Kukulkatu pitiya.”

      8.17am a single Spotted Deer at Thambioluwa.

      8.26am a Barking Deer between Humbas Wala and Boralu Wala.

      8.54am a Star Tortoise at Kumbuk Wila.

      9.16am an Osprey at Kokkare Villu.

      9.25am a Black-naped Hare at Kokkare Villu.

      9.26am 4 Spotted Deer at Kokkare Villu.

      9.29am 5 more Spotted Deer at Kokkare Villu.

      9.42am 3 Spotted Deer at Kokkare villu sand dune.

      9.45am 2 Ruddy Mongoose between Kokkare Villu and Kudapatessa.

      10.32am a Mugger Crocodile at Kudapatessa.

      10.45am one Leopard between Kokkare Villu and Kuruttupandi Villu.

      N 08.43314, E 079.98274

      It was an adult female leopard and walking towards Kuruttupandi Villu. Examination of its spot pattern reveled that it is Manikrala Uraniya Female 1 (MRUF 1). Her belly flap was low indicating that she is feeding cubs. The leopard walking ahead of us and there was one vehicle ahead me. I managed to get a few images when she stopped to scent mark a couple of times. I was following her and the vehicles in front kept on reversing to accommodate the advancing leopard. However much to our disgust the vehicle in front delayed to reverse forcing the cat to move in to the forest.

      11.13am a troop of grey Langur at Kumutu Villu.

      11.21am an adult Crested Hawk Eagle sunbathing at Kanjuran Villu.

      11.37am a Spotted Deer between Kumutu Villu and Manik Wila.

      1.51pm a Ruddy Mongoose between Panikkar villu and Kombansanchaipooval.

      1.58pm an adult male Wild Boar at Tala Wila.

      3.13pm a sounder of 4 Wild Boar at Lunu Wewa.

      3.16pm an adult Mugger Crocodile was basking at the foot of a large Termite hill at Lunu Wewa.

      3.31pm a Spotted Deer antler at Borupan pitiya.

      3.56pm 2 Wild buffalo at Maradanmaduwa.

      4.12pm a Black –naped Hare at Maradanmaduwa.

      5.10pm 7 Spotted Deer at Maradanmaduwa.

      5. 17pm a Black-naped Hare between Palu Kola Wala and Kalagedi Bokkuwa.

      5.55pm left the park.

      Mammals  - Leopard 1, Indian Buffalo 3, Spotted Deer 51, Wild Boar 6, Barking Deer 1, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Black-naped Hare 3, Ruddy Mongoose 3, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.

      Reptiles – Mugger Crocodile 2, Star Tortoise 2, Land Monitor, Common Garden Lizard, Low-land Kangaroo Lizard,  Devaka’s Fan-throat Lizard.

       

      24th January 2021

      6.40am entered the park with guide Tissa Ratnayake.

      6.47am a Barking Deer crossed the road between Weli Ela and Ranawarapitiya.

      7.05am one Sambhur at Divulgas Mandiya.

      8.00am 4 Spotted Deer at Kokkare villu sand dune.

      8.06an 2 Spotted Deer at Kudappatessa.

      8.25am 5 Spotted Deer and one Sambhur at Manik Wila.

      8.28am 2 Golden Jackal at Illandamotte.

      8.29am a Sambhur at Illandamotte.

      8.36am a Sambhur at Mana Wila sand patch.

      9.51am a mouse Deer darted across the road between Mana Wila and Kuveni Palace.

      10.08am 4 Mugger Crocodiles at Kaali Villu.

      10.30am an immature Land Monitor “sunning” with only its head out of a tree hole at Mare Villu.

      10.44am one Ruddy Mongoose between Mara Wila and Kaali Villu.

      11.00am a troop of Grey Langur between Kaali Villu and Kanjuran Villu.

      11.05am a Ruddy Mongoose between Kanjuran and Kumutu Villu.

      11.20am one Leopard between Manik Wila and Illandamotte. N 08.45568, E 079.98812

      It was a female leopard and was walking towards Manik Wila. Upon seeing the leopard I switched off the engine and the cat responded by lying down on the road. A closer look at the spot pattern revealed that this is the Manikrala Uraniya Female 1 (MRUF 1). She was licking her paws and her body and every now and then looking in my direction. I reversed the vehicle expecting the leopard to start her walk again and she did. As usual I always maintained a distance of about 30 feet to give the leopard space. She would walk for a short distance and rest again. Having walked up to the upper road junction she walked on to the upper road. I then started to follow her up to the end of that road where she started to stalk some Spotted Deer. Her ambush attack was not successful as the deer started to give out alarm calls and ran across the road. A loud alarm call of a Ceylon Jungle Fowl indicated that she had walked very close to the back of the DWC quarters at Manik Wila. There after a few alarm calls of Palm Squirrels indicated that she had crossed the road and moved in to the forest beyond the bungalow. I was observing the leopard for almost one hour and 30 minutes.

      1.05pm 7 Spotted Deer at Manik Wila.

      1.45pm 2 Spotted Deer at Nelum Wila pitiya.

      2.07pm a troop of Grey langur making their booming calls between Panikkar Villu and Kombansanchaipooval.

      2.54pm a black-naped Hare between Manik Wila and Illandamotte.

      3.27pm a Ruddy Mongoose between Nabada Wila and Kok Motte.

      4.14pm observed a few “Roller” Dung Beetles close to a large pile of Buffalo dung at Mana Wila sand pacth. I find these humble insects very interesting and cannot be grateful enough to them for the excellent service they provide. One needs to realize that if not these efficient “poop disposers” our natural habitats would be over run with poop and visiting a national park would be a pretty smelly affair with piles of animal dung all over and covering the park roads. These insects can be broadly categorized under four groups. Rollers or telecoprids will shape the dung in to a ball and roll it to a location of their preference to bury it under ground. These are the most commonly known of the dung beetles and some are able to roll about 50 times their body weight. They’ll feed on it or use it as a brood ball where the females will lay eggs in it. Tunnellers or endocoprids will dig tunnels underneath a pat of dung and drag dung from the pat down to their tunnel. Safe at the bottom of their tunnel they feed and use them as brood balls to raise their families. Dwellers or paracoprids are a lazy lot that do not bother to roll or dig tunnels but just feed and lay eggs on the pile of fresh dung. These “throw caution to the wind” kind and their larvae are exposed to dangers of being eaten by birds and being run over by vehicles and trampled by other animals etc. The fourth category is referred to as stealers or kleptocoprids and is the most devious of them all. They steal dung balls from the rollers and use them lay their own eggs. Their larvae will kill the host beetles larvae as they develop in the dung ball.

      3.58pm a few Dark Blue Tiger butterflies feeding on “Podi Sinngo marang” flowers at Mana Wila sand patch.

      4.27pm 31 Spotted Deer at Manik Wila. Their numbers had increased from 7 to 37.

      4.53pm a large Mugger Crocodile was basking in the sun while an Indian Grey Mongoose walked across the road ahead of the vehicle.

      5.16pm a Golden Jackal and two Yellow wattled Lapwings at Maradanmaduwa.

      5.31pm 3 Spotted Deer at Divulgas Mandiya.

      5.45pm a Black-naped Hare at Ranawara pitiya.

      6.00pm left the park  

       

      Mammals  - Leopard 1, Sambhur 3, Spotted Deer 63, Barking Deer 1,  White – spotted Chevrotain (Mouse Deer) 1, Golden Jackal 3, Toque Monkey, Grey Langer, Black-naped Hare 2, Indian Grey Mongoose 1, Ruddy Mongoose 3, Giant Squirrel, Indian Palm Squirrel.
      Reptiles – Mugger Crocodile 5, 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, Osprey, Yello-wattled Lapwing
      Butterflies – Banded Peacock
      Wild Orchids – Vanda spathulata & Acampe Praemorsa
      Fruiting trees – none.
      Wild Flowers - Canavalia virosa Sword Bean, (Mudu Awara), Senna auriculata Tanners Cassia (Ranawara) , Chamaecrista kleinii (Bim Siyambala), Crotalaria verrucosa Blue Rattlepod (Nil Andanahiriya), Hibiscus eriocarpus Maple-leaved Mallow (Kapukinissa), Plumbago zeylanica Ceylon Leadwort (Ela Nithol), Asystasia gangetica Chinese Violet (Puruk), Bacopa monnieri Waterhyssop (Lunu-wila), Crinum defixum Ker Gawl (Heen-tolabo), Gloriosa superba Glory Lily (Niyangala), Gmelina asiatica Asiatic Bushbeech (Demata)