Saturday, 10 March 2012

Ten more things I love about Yala

1) Tufted grey langurs, with Beckhamesque crests (circa 1994) and soot-black faces, drooping and dangling from the trees.

2) Toque macaques, as yesterday, hearing the sound of jeeps at the lunchtime picnic spot, clambering along a branch over the river, dropping into the water to wade the final metres, and bullying tourists for their leftovers.

3) Unobtrusive, beautiful birds in the shady riverine forest: grey-bellied cuckoo, Asian brown flycatcher and black-naped monarch.

4) Innumerable orange-breasted green-pigeons whirring between trees. If you looked at a blueprint for a bird this colourful you would say it could never work. But it does.

5) Elephants, elephants, elephants; everywhere we looked, elephants. Bulls with no tusks and a bull with tusks, families of females with their young, mudbaths, scratching posts, dustbaths, wallows, little ele-infants; everywhere we looked, wonderful elephants.

6) Two Indian pittas having a tiff, bobbing through the bushes, flashing their celestial bums.

7) A mugger crocodile grinning from every pool of warm milky-tea water.

8) Skies sliced by swifts: crested treeswifts (what a bird!), house swifts and powerfully handsome brown-backed needletails.

9) A house gecko who nonchalantly strolls across my keyboard as I write.

10) Oh, and our final two leopards, at the eleventh hour. One, big-necked and broad-faced, apparently a male, draped over the branch of a tree; the other, slender and agile, perhaps his female, bouncing through the tree around him before, getting no response, settling beside him to doze. 

Long may they prowl here in Yala, these priceless cats, and all the creatures with whom they share their jungle.

New species from a second glorious day in Yala


brown-backed needletail
Hirundapus giganteus
grey-bellied cuckoo
Cacomantis passerinus
black-naped monarch
Hypothymis azurea
sirkeer malkoha
Phaenicophaeus leschenaultii
yellow-eyed babbler
Chrysomma sinense


Indian flapshell turtle
Lissemys punctata

2012 Totals
Mammals: 44
Birds: 394
Reptiles: 11
Amphibians: 3
Fish: 2

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