Sri Lankan Wildlife

Trip Start Nov 01, 2005
Trip End Jul 28, 2006

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Friday, January 6, 2006

Thought you might like a change this blog, so today you're getting wildlife, you know the furry, scaley, feathery kind. We've taken to walking to work instead of taking the tuk tuk it gives some exercise but don't worry we haven't sacked Pathirana the tuk tuk driver he's picking up in the evening instead. We had occasionally been walking back in the evening but it's dark by the time we finish work and so we don't really see anything other than the fireflies.
The walk takes around 25 minutes about half is along the beach road and we've been amazed by the things we see. Vivid blue Kingfishers, much larger than our native british ones with long beaks sit on the electricity wires. Small woodpeckers, surprisingly duller than at home, flit amongst the palm and bo trees. The Bo tree is a sacred tree here; it is believed that Budha meditated under one before reaching enlightenment. They have large waxy heart shaped leaves, beautiful yellow flowers that burst out of an acorn shaped pod, turning pinky red after a few days.
The land monitors are scary at first anything up to 5 feet long. They lumber along looking far too like a crocodile but with smooth skin, once you realise they are just big lizards that are scared of you it's not so worrying, even when they decide to move quickly. They wander across the roads, disappearing into the vegetation, surely the cause of more than a few accidents as drivers swerve to miss them. The water monitors are far more sinister growing much larger; they lurk around the lagoons and in the river. They are black, have a long bright blue tongue, barbed claws and a vicious tail and is best avoided. Thank goodness we have only seen one in the river. The small green and yellow lizards, I call chitchats, are cute they scamper about the walls and ceiling of our room at Blue Horizon eating the bugs. Then of course there are the dogs, far too many, most in a pretty poor state, flea ridden and most limping presumably from collisions with vehicles. We have two packs that live down here on the beach, the black dogs and the sandy dogs, each with their own territory. It's fun to watch the manoeuvring, which goes on as they vie for the best spots. They sunbathe nonchalantly, daring the waves to touch them only moving when the sea laps perilously close. One of the sandy dogs now has two puppies both black in colour so there's obviously been some collaboration and we wonder which pack they'll end up in. We were alarmed when Ishan at our guesthouse told us to keep away from one of the black dogs as it was mad. We would, he told us, have to have a big needle in our stomach if it bit us, so presumably it was rabid. We glad now that we coughed up the £80 each for the rabies jabs, sadly of course the dog disappeared, we were told it had been "collected" We've heard that there is a vet team in Sri Lanka going round neutering dogs, we hope it's true. Apart from the wild dogs some people do own pet dogs, which mainly seem well looked after and puppies are sort after, often being snatched. So we can't mention dogs without cats and yes there are lots of them too most seem to be wild and of course the kittens are so cute. Unfortunately they don't seem to be looked after at all.
You might be surprised to hear about the tame deer that thinks it's a cow! The first time we saw it we were sure we must be hallucinating especially as we just had mushrooms in our dinner! (You're lucky to have mushrooms Rohita the chef at the internet café told us, we don't find them very often...........this is after we've eaten them) Well as perhaps you know cows wander freely across most of Asia and here in Tangalle that's true too. They congregate in the centre of town quite happily mingling with the cars, tuk tuks, lorries and buses. We have a herd who live along the beach road and this is where the deer comes in, spotted looking like a fallow deer it grazes quite happily with the cows. It's not scared at all by people and one of these days I'll have the camera with me when we see it.
It's springtime here and over the last 2 weeks we've noticed more and more birds. Much to our joy we had birds nesting at Blue Horizon in one of the palm trees. No idea what they were, small with bright red bums, they had three eggs and within 5 days of hatching we watched them turn from grey scrawny scraps to fully fledged, taking their first flight whilst we all watched. Ahhhhh! There are many lagoons with wading birds of all kinds and sizes, small white ones often around the buffalo, and large painted storks. Peacocks are everywhere grazing like sheep. We've yet to see an elephant but hope that this will be put right when we visit one of the reserves.
We just have to mention the nasty little critters that keep biting us, of course you never see them in action only feel the after effects. There's one little watsit that leaves 3 holes. We've tried everything to deter them mostly without much success and some nights the only solution is a cold shower to relieve the itching and early to bed under the mozzie net. Even then the tiny monsters still get us and then the beach dogs start barking and fighting, oh for a good night's sleep.
So guys hope you enjoy our latest lot of piccies, we're not exactly wild life photographers but think there are one or two decent ones.
Oh and Happy New Year!
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