Lesley and Gill’s Sri Lankan wildlife adventure began with a 3 day Whale watching tour from the 17-20 January off the coast of Mirissa in the South of Sri Lanka. On the first day, there were sightings of 6 Blue Whales and 15 Bottle-nosed Dolphins. The next day 10 Blue Whales were sighted and in the final day 8 Blue whales (including mother and calf) and about a 100 Spinner and Bottle-nosed Dolphins were spotted. Overall Lesley and Gill had sightings of over 20 Blue Whales and around 115 Dolphins in just 3 days and to finish off the whale watching, three Manta Rays put on a display, leaping out of the water as we returned to the mooring on the last day, a very satisfactory conclusion.
From whale watching in Mirissa, the attention turned to big game watching at the Yala National Park from the 21-23 January, a park renown for its regular sightings of leopards. On the first afternoon, there were sightings of a large male leopard who was stretched out on a warm rock watching us watching him for nearly an hour. This proved an excellent opportunity for him to observe the live action of humans in the jeeps in between dozing, grooming and stretching. There was also a mother leopard with 2 cubs and a good sighting of a tusker. On the following day, a male leopard and over 25 elephants were sighted in the morning while in the evening we were privileged to have a sighting of a rare shaggy-coated Sloth Bear – such a wonderful way to finish our time in Yala National Park. On the following day, the 23rd January, a pair of Collared Scops Owl were sighted at Tissamaharama.
The next leg of our tour was a visit to Nuwara Eliya from the 23-25th January, situated in Sri Lanka’s hill country. On the 24th, a visit to Horton Plains National Park produced sightings of the montane race of the purple-faced leaf monkey, toque macaques as well as numerous species of birds which included the Sri Lanka Yellow Eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka Dull Blue flycatcher, the Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka White Eye and a Pied Bushchat. On the 25th January, a Kashmir Flycatcher and Forest Wagtail were sighted at Victoria Park in Nuwara Eliya.
From the 29-31 January, we were at Sigiriya and managed to sight the endemic Sri Lanka Grey Horn Bill and a White-rumped Shama. On the 29th January, a visit to the Eco Park near Habarana produced sightings of over 50 Asian Elephants in the wild.
Overall, during two week travels around Sri Lanka, Lesley and Gill managed to have sightings of over 20 Blue Whales, 115 Dolphins, around 75 Elephants, 5 Leopards, a Sloth Bear and an astonishing sighting of over 200 species of birds as well as other mammals.
We had a truly a wonderful holiday mostly thanks to the remarkable spotting skills of our Guide Lasantha, who’s kindness and perseverance has meant that we will always have superb memories of the island and the diverse wildlife that we were so privileged to observe.