Yala Block 5 (Lunugamvehera National Park)

10 March 2020

A day in Yala.  Yala National Park is the second largest but far away most visited national park in Sri Lanka.  The park is split into a number of blocks some of which can be visted and some which cannot.  The vast majority of visitors to the park take a safari in Block 1, the coastal part of the park, the reason being that you supposedly stand the best chance of seeing Leopard which, for most people, appears to be all that they are interested in.  The result of this is that Block 1 is frankly over-run with jeeps which does tend to somewhat spoil the experience.

As we had allowed plenty of time in our schedule to explore Yala we decided on out first day we would avoid Block 1 but instead visit the much quieter Block 5, perhaps foregoing Leopard sitings for an allround better experience ( we had of course had very good Leopard sitings in Wilpattu earlier in the trip).

So at dawn we were at the Block 5 entrance gate waiting for the park to open, us and just one other jeep ! – we had already seen an elephant on the road in the dark as we headed to the park entrance.

Yala Block 5 (also known as Lunugamvehera National Park) has a variety of habitat with forest, scrub, large areas of water and rivers/canals, like Wilpattu it is an interesting and attractive place to look for wildlife.

YB5 (9 of 14)
Tracks in Yala Block 5
YB5 (3 of 14)
Weheragala Reservoir – Yala Block 5

We spent the full day in the park, with a lengthy lunch break at the hight of the heat of the day, and had good sitings of a variety of birds and mammals, unfortunately no Leopard although we did see fresh tracks.

YB5 (4 of 14)
Evidence of a large cat – Leopard
YB5 (12 of 14)
Asian Elephant
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Spotted Dear in golden morning light

Some subjects were distant requiring use of my MC 20 2x converter giving a FF equivalent of 1,200mm – in the case of the Stork-billed Kingfisher this was hand held at a shutter speed of just 1/60s in very poor light.

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Green Bee-eater – Olympus OM-D EM1 mkII – Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro + MC20 – f/8 – 1/200s – iso 500
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Stork-billed Kingfisher – Olympus OM-D EM1 mkII – Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro +MC20– f/8 – 1/60s – iso 3200
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Sri Lanka Swallow – Olympus OM-D EM1 mkII – Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro + MC14 – f/5.6 – 1/250s – iso 200
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White-bellied Sea Eagle – Olympus OM-D EM1 mkII – Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro – f/4 – 1/2000s – iso 200
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Indian Roller – Olympus OM-D EM1 mkII – Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro + MC14 – f/5.6 – 1/1250s – iso 200
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Crested Hawk Eagle Olympus OM-D EM1 mkII – Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro + MC14 – f/5.6 – 1/200s – iso 3200
YB51 (1 of 1)
Crested Serpent Eagle – Olympus OM-D EM1 mkII – Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro – f/4 – 1/250s – iso 200
YB5 (1 of 14)
Tufted Grey Langur – Olympus OM-D EM1 mkII – Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro – f/4 – 1/250s – iso 400

 

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