Friday 26 January 2007

Another tank was visited this morning where Indian Stone-curlew was the highlight. These are a close relative to our stone-curlew and were recently split. They are very similar, though to my eye the bill may be thinner and the legs looked a much more paler straw colour. Six species of tern were flying over the water and perching on some fallen trees and we had the opportunity for a workshop on the identification of these winter-plumaged birds.

Next, we drove to a further tank where we walked a path along its edge. Two White-naped Woodpeckers flew over the water to land conveniently in view on an exposed tree bough. After searching for this species yesterday they had now come to us! There were hundreds of jacanas on this lily-filled tank and the petite Cotton Teals were well liked.

After an early lunch we departed for Yala National Park. There had been heavy rain a few days back and we had heard that the main entrance road was flooded and impassable. There was a different route but it was to take us longer. At an agreed meeting point a jeep met our bus, then led the way to the reception area. We transferred and headed into the park. The track was in a bad way in places, the floods had left deep ruts some filled with water or gooey mud. We bounced along, often sliding in the tracks, but we made it!

Inside the park the rain started again. It became heavy, after that a continuous drizzle. The birds were soaking wet and many of the woodland species kept to cover. With no songs or calls it was difficult to locate these birds. The compensation was the water birds = we found a Black-necked Stork and a new wader for us, Pacific Golden Plover.

We drove to a rocky corner within the park and I commented to Jonty ‘looks ideal for a leopard’ when we came across a traffic jam of jeeps – there had been a leopard only moments before! It was frankly chaotic, the jeeps revving, reversing, moving and just so much noise. We decided to leave as we had concern about driving the tracks in the dark. As we left the alarm call of a Sambar rang out….the leopard was still there somewhere….

On the return drive a Baya Weaver was seen attending to its downward-hanging domed nest and a tiny Barred Buttonquail flew across the front of the vehicle, though seen by all. As we changed vehicles Deepal heard an Indian Little Nightjar. We soon had one in flight and another was seen sitting on the road ahead of us. We returned to the hotel for dinner and the daily log call.