Pugmarks in the sand (Yala for 31st - Part 4)

The morning run began as last afternoons with two jeeps. This time however we decided to use two trackers with Nana coming with us. The jeeps split apart as we started quartering the park again for any interesting sightings. First up was a couple of rounds down Gonalabe to see what had happened to the leopard cub. Unfortunately a number of other people had the same idea as us and we met more jeeps than wildlife on the road.

On a search for solitude we decided to head down the Akasachayitya sub-route, which is fairly out of the way from the usual haunts in block 1. After a few minutes spent at the Gallukuda Weva, where an extremely photogenic white necked stork kept us company, we headed towards Akasachayitya.

White Necked Stork

Two things sprung out at us as we traversed the road. One was the isolation, not another jeep in sight, though the tracks indicated at least one jeep had gone before us. The other thing was the white sand of the road. The jungle didn’t hide its secrets on this road and all the travelers, big and small, had left marks to show their passing.

We came across an interesting story in the sand with slipper prints and boot prints interspersed with the jeep tracks. Not succeeding in our attempts to interpret what had taken place we moved on to be greeted by the excitement of fresh leopard pug marks in the sand. At one spot where a stream crossed the road, the pug marks stood out and were obviously fresh. At least one big leopard had followed the road, stopped for a drink and then moved into the bush. As our cab moved ahead through the stream, the pug marks were obliterated by the backwash.

Pug Marks

The music played again when we could see the pug marks of another leopard, smaller this time, that had moved along the road as well and we were on full alert. There was an exciting moment as a small herd of deer by the side of the road spooked at something and broke away through the brush, but our luck was not holding. Despite the lack of a sighting, the almost sighting and tracking of the leopards via their spoor was as exciting as any full blown sighting. I would highly recommend this stretch of road to any visitors to the park simply for the experience, despite the thick brush making sightings tough. The feeling of isolation is also a rare commodity in the park these days and is well worth the extra drive.

Excited Deer

On our exit back onto the patanas, we were lucky enough to see a white bellied sea eagle flying across our path and then a bit later an obtuse looking crested hawk eagle.

L-R: White Bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle

A text then told us that a bear was on Patanangala rock, which she was. And what a bear, even from a significant distance away of about half a click, the size of the bear could not be understimated. She was huge and sitting in a most human fashion scratching herself.

Chillin' Bear

It was still relatively early but two days in the park and the mosquito induced lack of sleep had taken its toll. With aching tailbones we decided to call it a morning in order to get some rest and exited the park wondering what our last round yet to come would bring.


Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying these insights into wildlife in your part of the world

Offthebeatentrack said...

Glad you're enjoying them Janet!