HIKKADUWA.GREEN TURTLES IN THE SEA

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Sri Lanka offers great opportunities to spot turtles nesting or swimming near the coast.Five of the seven species of sea turtles come ashore to nest in Sri Lanka.Rekawa, near Tangalle, is an excellent place where you can observe turtles nesting.It’s an inexpensive activity.You can take a tuk-tuk from Tangalle at night and go to Rekawa Turtle Observation Camp, pay the fees there,and then a guide will take you with a group of other people to see the turtles nesting.When a turtle is spotted you must keep a distance and be silent cause turtles could feel stress and avoid to nest there.Flash is not allowed as well,that’s why i couldn’t take a decent shot to post in my blog.

Another excellent place to do turtle watching is Hikkaduwa. Hikkaduwa is a peaceful town located 17 km north of Galle.It’s an excellent place to chill out on the beach.In my opinion,it has one of the best beaches in the world i’ve ever seen,although the sea was a bit rough when i visited it.However, my main purpose there was to spot green turtles that swim near the coast.

Just walking along the beach, in broad daylight you can easily see them.From my guesthouse it took me about 30 minutes walk along the beach but finally, next to a rocky area that is near some luxury hotels, i could see a few turtles swimming very close to the beach.Some tourists were touching them and the turtles seem careless about it.However, as any wild animal,it’s not advisable to touch or feed them as they could change their behaviour and suffer from stress.I just took some shots of this nice Green Turtle that you can see on the top of my post.

Sri Lanka is a gem to do any wildlife activity.It’s very affordable ( I spend 25 euros a day on average )  and peaceful country, the days of the tamil guerrilla are gone, and you can have a safari experience for much lower cost than in Africa.I totally recommend it !!

Next post Nepal !!  Amazing and wonderful country to visit as well, but unfortunately i suffered the earthquake of 2015 and i couldn’t finish my travel properly !

See you soon my friends !

MIRISSA.BLUE WHALE WATCHING

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Mirissa is one of the top tourists destinations to see blue whales in the sea.This little fishing town is a nice place to stay whether you want to spend time laying on its sandy beach or going on a tour for spotting whales.

April is the best month for blue whale watching in Mirissa.Many individuals approach near the coast at that time.Blue whales are the largest animal of the world.They are up to 30 meters long and they can weight more than 170 tones.They belong to the family Balaenopteridae,that includes the Humpback whale, Fin whale and Bryde’s whale among others.

Whales ( Mysticetes ) are easy to distinguish due to its size and its pair of blowholes that they use for breathing, and its plates to filter the water and eat plancton. They breathe by lungs.Larger red blood cells allow whales to transfer oxygen more effectively than humans and other land mammals, and when submerged underwater their diving reflex allows them to distribute oxygen and blood to vital organs while restricting it in other non-essential areas.They have a thin layer of hair and mammary glands to feed their calves.Their milk contains lots of fats and they have on the largest gestation periods in the animal kingdom, lasting between 10 to 12 months depending on the species.Dolphins ( Odontocetes ) are smaller ( except Sperm Whales ),they have teeth and  only have one blowhole on the back.

I booked a tour with Rajah and the Whales.This reputable company was strongly recommended by Lonely Planet.I woke up around 8:00 am and went to the boat.It took almost one hour to spot the first whale.One the way, i could see lots of dolphins swimming near the boat.

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The first whale that i could see was relatively near the boat.It breathed and submerged into the water.With long intervals of time, the blue whale come up to surface again and after a while,approached very close to the boat,where i could appreciated its massive body moving on the surface. I was stunned !!!!

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To photograph whales is not an easy task.Although it was a sunny day, the camera could get just a few shots on focus,maybe due to the reflection of the water.However,it didn’t matter at all !!! It was one of my best experienced of my life to get so close views of this magnificent animal !!!

The boat spent a couple of hours with the blue whales and finally we head back to the port,adding one more hour to this great tour.The company was very professional and the guides gave me accurate explanations of these impressive mammals.

I strongly recommend this experience at least once in your life !!!!!!

See you soon my friends !!!!

YALA NATIONAL PARK

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Yala National Park is the most famous national park in Sri Lanka.It’s the national park with the highest density of leopards in the world.It’s an excellent park to spot mammals,where they can be found in good numbers, and to see birds as well.

I set up the safari in my guesthouse for early morning, around 6 o’clock.It costed about 70 euros, including car, driver and entrance fees.

I was very excited to see leopard in the wild for the first time of my life.I woke up early and the driver took us to the main entrance in about 30 minutes.

The first mammal that we saw was an Asian Sloth Bear,one of my favourite and most desirable mammals that i wanted to see.The bear appeared on the left side of the car.I got very close views of this magnificent animal,which remained for a few minutes in our range sight.This animal,that is small and very cute,can be quite dangerous although.It has powerful claws that can severly injure and kill a person in a matter of seconds.See picture below.

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Indian Peafowls were here in decent numbers.Painted storks were common here as well as other species as Eurasian Spoonbill,Black-headed Ibis,all types of Egrets,Lesser Whistling Ducks,see picture below, and many other waterfowl seen on the many lakes that abound in Yala.

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In Yala I could get close views of the magnificent Spot-billed Pelican.See picture below.

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Mammals were very abundant.Spotted Deer and Asian Elephants were easily seen grazing on the lush green grass.See picture below.
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Wild Boar were on the breeding season and their calves and protective mothers were searching for food around.See picture below.

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Mongooses sometimes made their appearance along the dirt track and looked at us with curiosity.See picture below.
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Time was running out.We saw many excellent mammals and bird species but no signs of the main attraction of the park,the Asian Leopard.It’s a quite shy animal and difficult to observe due to its eating habits.During the day this animal usually lays on the branches of trees or in some shadow area while it’s active mostly in the first and last hours of the day.

Finally our driver could find an individual hiding among the branches and leaves of a dense tree.It remained there for a long time.We waited almost 20 minutes expecting that he would move and we would have a great view of him.After almost losing our hope to have a good glimpse of the animal,the animal suddenly went down the tree.We could see all his majestuous dotted body under the shadow.This was the time i could take the picture.Then he jumped and went to a narrow trail and disappeared among the bushes in a matter of seconds.See picture below.
img_2058I expected to get better views of the animal,but i was very satisfied to be able to watch and photograph him,even just for a few seconds.

Around 12 o’clock we went back.The heat was hard to stand and our driver brought us back to the guesthouse.

Another great day in Sri Lanka,specially for mammal watching and some interesting birds spotted !!!

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See you soon my friends.Next stop, Mirissa !!!!!

BUNDALA NATIONAL PARK

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Dear friends, I apologise for my big delay posting information about birds and mammals around the world.I have been working and traveling and i couldn’t find time to post again.It’s getting harder to travel and going to national parks due to its expenses plus the fact that i am travelling alone, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

Bundala is an incredible national park located in the south of Sri Lanka.With more than 190 species of birds,it’s a paradise for any bird watcher and a must see place for anyone willing to see wildlife in Sri Lanka.

Tissa was my starting point from where i visited Yala and Bundala.It’s a nice town with affordable guesthouses.I arrived there around noon.Eager to start a safari as soon as possible, I asked to my guesthouse to do a safari to Bundala in the afternoon.There was another person willing to visit it in the afternoon so it was perfect for sharing costs.It costed around 60 euros with a 4 wheels car,driver, guide and entrance fee.

At 2 o’clock we started the trip to Bundala.After 20 km drive we entered the national park.The park is quite a dry area with some bush sparsed vegetation.Birdwatching is quite easy to do here,as well as to take pictures of birds as light is wonderful and my camera could worked fast without bumping the iso.

Eurasian Spoonbill,see second picture below, and Black Ibis,see first picture below, seemed to be quite common there,in and on the outskirts of the park,at least during the month i visited the park.

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Painted storks were in good numbers as well.See picture below.

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Purple Herons were always ready to hunt their prey.See picture below.

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Other common waterfowl were Grey Heron, Little Cormorants, Gull-billed, Caspian and Sandwich Terns, (see picture on top ), Oriental Darters, Cattle Egret, Great, Intermediate and Little Egret and Lesser Whistling  Duck, see picture below.

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 Indian peafowls were a nice appearance along or near the dirt tracks.See picture below.

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The male sometimes even displaying their feathers and courtship the female.See picture below.

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Blue-throated Bee-eaters were perched closed to the tracks and easy to photograph.See picture below.

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Grey-headed Fish Eagle were magnificent birds seen on the top of the trees,exploring the terrain and waiting for the right moment to hunt.See picture below.

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Other interesting birds seen were Yellow-wattled Lapwing,see first picture below, and Indian Thick-Knee,see second picture below.

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Mammals, not in great numbers as in other Sri Lankan national parks,made its appearance as well.I saw a couple of times Asian Elephants,and other mammals as Wild Hoars,Spotted Deers,Tuffed-Grey Langurs,see first picture below, Kotti Macaque,one Black naped Hare ,Mongooses and some interesting reptiles as Blue turtles,Monitor Lizards,and even a Sea water Crocodile,see second picture below.

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The driver brought us near the coast,where sea turtles can be seen if you are lucky enough.

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Our trip was coming to an end.It was getting late.We exit the national park and the driver stopped in a lake beside Tissa where you can see a colony of Rose-ringed Parakeets roosting there about 6 pm.See picture below.

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There,on the lake,i could enjoyed one of the best sunsets on my life.The sun in Sri-Lanka,in my opinion, radiates one of the best lights i’ve ever seen.

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It was a superb afternoon,although we didn’t spot Great Flamingoes,probably cause it was not the right time,we enjoyed a lot spotting lots of wildlife and magnificent scenery.

Next stop,Yala !!! See you soon my friends !!