A short distance from Yala was is Bundala National Park. It’s full of waterways and lagoons. On the way we stopped briefly at a stream to see Black-crowned Night Heron, and a little further on White-crested Waterhen and Purple Swamphen. We then moved on to some mud-flats near to the National Park, where during sunrise we watched Brown-headed Gull, Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Open-billed Stork, Lesser Sand Plover, and Pacific Golden Plover.
On entering Bundala NP we quickly saw another Indian Peafowl, surprisingly very common everywhere we went. A Brown Shrike seemed to occupy about 20% of the bushes here, and a variety of cormorant species were easy to see. We then came across a large troupe of Tufted Grey Langurs which we watched for a good 20 minutes, as some fought, others looked after young, juveniles played, and others just lazily watched from the sidelines. Soon a smaller group of Toque Macaque arrived, both species largely uninterested in the other.
Bundala is rich with birds. We saw Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Indian Thick-knee, Ashy Prinia, Indian Robin, Blyth’s Pipit, Little, Great and Indian Cormorant, Lesser Whistling Duck, Moorhen, Ring-necked Parakeet, Purple Heron, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Curlew, Great Reed Warbler, Black-headed Munia, Glossy Ibis, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Brahminy Kite, Pin-tailed Snipe, Grey Plover, Yellow Wagtail, Ruddy Turnstone… the list went on…
With the exception of the primates, we saw less mammals and reptiles at Bundala, though we did still see a Ruddy Mongoose, a single elephant, land monitors and a Sri Lanka Flap-shelled Turtle.
The most rare bird (for Sri Lanka) that we saw on this trip was seen at Bundala. On the far side of one of the lakes we visited, amongst some Painted Storks, was a taller black and white bird – a Black-necked Stork, with a Sri Lankan population estimated at 20-50 individuals.
On leaving Bundala we could hear lots of splashing from behind some trees, and discovered a large elephant having a bath. We spent a good amount of time watching him submerge and spray himself before heading back to base near Yala.
Our next, and final stop would be Mirissa…