Tuesday 23 September 2014

Day 155: Badula - A feathered fiesta

The Indian something bird.
Ok, I know this one: Peacock!
Twenty-nine elephants is not enough.  We demand more.  So we added another safari to the day's itinerary.

Unfortunately Sri Lanka's biggest National Park, Yala, is closed because of drought so we couldn't go leopard-spotting there as we'd hoped.  Instead, we made our way to Budula, a small reserve just south of Yala.

Budula is mostly famous for its feathered inhabitants, particularly wetland species.  Familiar names like lapwings lined up with the less-familiar bulbuls, myna birds, purple coots and rose-ringed parakeets.  We also saw little egrets and black-headed ibises.  Perhaps I have the makings of a twitcher yet?

But the elephants did not materialise.  The crocs did.  So did the jackals.  And the monkeys not only materialised but held a full scale fiesta in the park.  But the elephants slept through their antics.  We will have to stick at twenty-nine.

Worshippers at Kataragama
Leaving the national parks behind we returned to human wonders in the form of Kataragama temple, the most holy place on the island for Hindus.  Worshippers brought gifts of tropical fruit, half of which goes to the gods and half to the poor and hungry.  (Couldn't God also donate his share?)  Unlike some of the magnificent stupas and statues we have seen, this was a simple place and a harmonious one - Hindus and Buddhists share the same place of worship here and revere each other's gods.  The crowds became a little hectic though and I almost needed to grab an emergency pineapple slice to stand on and save my feet from the burning sand.  So in the end, we were glad to retreat to the air-conditioned car.

For the rest of the afternoon we drove towards the coastal resort of Mirissa.  Guy was feeling a bit unwell but he told the driver not to worry: "I have drugs with me," he said.  The driver's response was torn between amusement and concern; possession of drugs carries the death penalty in Sri Lanka.  "He means medicines," I tried to smooth things over.  It isn't always the right time for lessons in colloquial English!

Myna bird
A green bee eater
Troupe of grey monkeys block the road

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