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Volume 14 - January 2021

 


Seriously, a photo? Now?

Getting soaked can put anyone in a grumpy mood, especially the Sri Lankan Brown Fish Owl - the poster bird for an eternal love-hate relationship with water.

Although it’s habitat and food supply are highly dependent on water, these birds hate getting wet. Even when they’re swooping down on an unsuspecting fish or a delectably plump frog, the Brown Fish Owl doesn’t like to get anything more than its feet wet. The most it will do, if the conditions are right, is waddle in the shallows and grab some easy lunch. Fortunately for avid bird watchers, its dependence on water and its preference to hunt in daylight presents excellent sighting opportunities around the waterholes close to the Mahoora Tented Safari Camp in Wilpattu..

Fun Facts

Owls are generally regarded as the “silent-death-from-above” types, but the Sri Lankan Brown Fish Owl lacks certain feather formations that keep things quiet, so it is a bit of a noisy chap when it takes off, as well as when it flies. Since it hunts during the day, it relies a lot more on vision than hearing; so the next time you come across this amazing creature and it turns those gorgeous golden eyes on you, yes it really is evaluating and judging you!

Story of the Photo

This disdainful look was directed at Hasitha, from Encounters Asia (a DMC under the Eco Team Group), for daring to capture its ignominy on a rainy day in the Wilpattu National Park. The poor bird was so wet, that the little ear tufts on either side of its head were matted down. But any sighting is a good sighting and this one is a great look at a less-than-glamorous moment in this bird's life!

 

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Joey doesn’t share food!

Solitary by nature, this big guy can be nastier than Joey when it comes to sharing food. But unlike Joey, the leopard is not a sociable creature. 

Clearly the anti-sharing sentiment works for our feline friend, as he has grown to be one of the largest of his kind in the Wilpattu National Park. A teenager by leopard standards, this 4 year old has another trait similar to his TV counterpart - he is quite the ladies man and is often seen charming the spots off the opposite sex! The Nelumwila area has been his Central Perk for sometime, so you can almost ocertainly spot him if you head that way. But this young cat is just starting out, so expect to see him in other parts of the Park while you’re on safari as he grows his territory day by day.

 

Fun Facts

Unlike Joey, who was always hanging out with his friends, leopards are solitary by nature and not sociable creatures. But this top predator has one more trait in common with humans - soon after a big meal like this, he tends to amble off and find a nice big tree branch to fall asleep on. After all, who doesn’t like a nice nap after a good meal?

 

Story of the Photo

Sometimes, leopards take breaks from their meal, so spotting a half eaten carcass is almost as good as spotting the leopard itself, because you know it’s going to be back to finish it off! Photo ace Hasitha came across this carcass not too far from where the Mahoora Tented Safari Camp in Wilpattu is located, but had to wait a while for our slumbering “Joey” to turn up and finish what he started. The young leopard, however, was not too pleased at having an audience gawk at him while he ate, so he expressed his displeasure with a few angry growls and proceeded to drag his meal into the bush, but not before Hasitha got a few nice clicks in!

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Hmph… I’m not talking to you

When you’re mated for life, a tiff now and then is part of life for the Malabar Pied Hornbill!

If you’re out bird watching and you hear the most ridiculous clucking and braying noise from up in the trees, fear not, it’s not a donkey-chicken-hybrid alien invasion from Mars, it’s just a couple of Malabar Pied Hornbills singing a loving duet to each other… or having an argument; sometimes it’s a little hard to tell. With a striking yellow bill and black & white plumage, this bird is easy to spot during the day and as well as at dusk, thanks to the casque on top of their huge bills presenting an unmissable silhouette, somewhat like the alien hunter in the Predator movie franchise! Fortunately, avid bird watchers don’t have to leave the comfort of their surroundings at the Big Game Camp in Kumana to spot a pair of these beautiful Hornbills, as they’re quite plentiful in the area.

Fun facts

Mated for life, Malabar Pied Hornbills are extremely devoted parents. The mama bird lays her eggs in a tree hole and sheds all her feathers on them to keep them warm. She also blocks off the entrance to keep the warmth in and unwanted visitors out. A small opening allows dad to drop off food at regular intervals and everything stays this way for over a month until the little brood has hatched and is ready to meet the world. 

Story of the Photo

This momentary disagreement between the couple was caught on camera by the ever vigilant Hasitha in Kumana National Park, in February 2020.

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Gadzooks! What are you doing here? Go away… I feel so exposed!

A tell-all, in-depth, investigative interview with the recently exposed Brown Hawk Owl, Percy.

Reporter: So, what really happened?

Percy: Well, after our adventures in the Pea Green boat ended, the pussycat and I parted ways due to…

Reporter: I was asking about that night, when Hasitha caught you in a…. compromising position?

Percy: Ah that, well, it’s embarrassing really. A misunderstanding actually. My bedtime that day was just a mess because of all these annoying little daytime birds that kept bothering me and asking me to move because I was making them “uncomfortable”. I only got a brief nap when they finally gave up and left in the early evening. I was so groggy and trying to get my bearings in the prime of the night, when suddenly I was ambushed by this human taking pictures of me. I mean, I love posing for a nice IG post, but give me half a chance to preen and get my best IG pout on people!

Fun Facts

Reporter: Hmmm, sounds plausible. But why were these daytime birds bothering you?

Percy: Insecurity! They’re just jealous that I fly freely all over Sri Lanka and eat pretty much anything I want; insects, frogs, lizards, small birds, and even mice. They’re especially envious of my mellifluous voice. Here, let me sing for you “oo..uk, oo..uk, oo..uk”. Ohhh yeah! You heard that hit before haven’t you? How good was that?

Reporter: Gobsmacked. Right, thanks for your time but I have to rush. Apparently Joey Tribbiani has been spotted in Wilpattu and I have to get the scoop!

Story of the Photo

Thanks to some smart sleuthing, Hasitha snapped this candid shot just after dinnertime, tracking down the owl within the Mahoora Tented Safari Camp in Wilpattu in late December 2020. As you can see, the owl was quite surprised to be photographed, giving rise to the theory that he may have been engaging in some naughty activity.

 

Much more than just a great place to stay

"Thanks to our guide Avinka we had five great safaris staying four nights just after reopening this February. The staff made us feel so very welcome during the entire stay.

The safaries are just wonderful, and having a great guide in your vehicle makes a big difference. Avinka can spot animals you would never see and we were even lucky enough to sight leopards on the trees, close to our vehicle, and also running through the field. The wildlife is so exciting that you will have a great experience even if you don‘t see any leopards. We also had a great driver, which is essential if you drive through difficult territory. You are being taken care of the entire time, so even for those who do safaris for the first time, you will always feel safe.

The camp itself is very comfortable, you get everything you can think of, and on top of the great food being served with so much attention and friendliness. You also get wonderful vegetarian and vegan options. They put on bonfires at night, which makes it unforgettable.
When booking and making plans, you get great support from the headquarters, even if it gets difficult since you have to change your plans.
The best thing what can happen to you at the end of a vacation is when you are a bit sad to leave the place, having experienced something to remember forever, and the team does everything for this to happen. Thank you so much"

Axel S wrote, Traveled with family
January 2021

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Mahoora Tented Safari Camps Yala - Mahoora Tented Safari Camps Udawalawe - Mahoora Tented Safari Camps Wilpattu

 

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