Kandy Lake

Kandy Town, or downtown Kandy, has one corner that touches on the shore of a man-made lake, called Kandy Lake (at least in English!) The lake has a rectangular shapes whose long axis runs roughly east-west. Attached to its east end is a narrower “tail” that points a little south of east.

Kandy Town from far end of lake

Kandy Town from south shore of Kandy Lake

Aside from the part of the lake that touches the downtown, the rest of the lake shore consists of the grounds of the Temple of the Tooth (most of the north shore of the rectangular part), of some of the religious devales (mostly on the south shore of the lake), of Lakeside Adventist Hospital, of numerous older hotels, and of some very lucky residences. The entire lake shore is very much a public park and there is a pleasant path that encircles the lake. There are many park benches along the path to sit and admire the view, but their availability varies. It seems that persons unknown are so offended by young couples sitting together on park benches that they pour noxious liquids on the benches from time to time to prevent their use by anyone.

The lake is abundant with creatures of the air. I use “creatures of the air” and not “birds” because

Great egret

Great egret

some of the creatures are of class Mammalia and not of class Aves. Three types of egrets are present in large numbers: the little, the intermediate, and (a bit more rare) the great  egret. The egrets tend to hang around on the south shore all along the length of the lake. Currently there is a downed tree, completely bare of leaves, that has fallen into the lake. At any given time, its branches hold a few dozen egrets, Indian pond herons, and little cormorants. Often found there as well is a water monitor, resting on a branch and warming his cold blood in the sun.

Another bird in abundance is the crow, both the jungle crow and the house crow. The crows tend to stay close to downtown, at the northwest corner of the lake, presumably to be close to their food supply.

And, as I mentioned, some of the “creatures of the air” are of class Mammalia, that is, the fruit bats.

Fruit bat AKA flying fox

Fruit bat AKA flying fox

Fortunately for the photographer, the trees around Kandy Lake are not generally as tall as the trees in the Botanical Garden in Peradeniya and so I was barely able to get some pictures that are recognizable as bats. The photos hint at another name used for the fruit bats: flying foxes. The bats roost in trees during the day, mostly in the central part of the south shore. There are not as many bats on the lake as there are at the Botanical Garden in Peradeniya, but there are probably between one and two hundred lakeside residents.

I have enjoyed my books of photographs of the birds of Sri Lanka, but am disappointed in their coverage of ducks and geese.

Some kind of goose

Some kind of goose

Both of my two books only have entries for only one or two of each type. And who would not want to know the species of goose on the right? You have read the story of the “Ugly Duckling,” right? This is how the tragic (Russian or Irish) version turns out: he grows up into a really  ugly goose.

A great time to visit the lake is at dusk. For starters, the city turns on the fountain in the lake and the setting sun produces a rainbow from the fountain’s mist, visible from the promenade on the west end of the lake. From the south side of the west end of the lake, you can see the golden rays of the sun reflect from the copper along the edges of the roof of the Temple of the Tooth giving the Temple an electric-bright, golden, halo.

And then the aerial activity begins. Egrets of all types start coming in from the surrounding country side in squadrons, to spend the night with their brethren. This is best observed from the south and east sides of the lake. The crows retreat from the city to roost in trees along the northwest shore, but not before exhausting themselves with bursts of acrobatics and a sound us old folks have only heard after we closed our eyes during the scary parts of Hitchcock’s The Birds. If you want the experience, check the ground for the absence of bird droppings to find a safe place to stand. Meanwhile, the bats are rubbing the sand of sleep from their eyes and heading out in the direction opposite to that of the egrets. From appearances, it is if the bats work the night shift and the egrets work the day shift in some ecological factory.

The “shift change”  is not the experience one has at Carlsbad Caverns, but it is impressive in its own way.


PS I have uploaded thirty photographs taken on the shore of Kandy Lake over a two day period to myPicasa website.


1 Comment

  1. February 20, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    […] sky in the background. So actually my best photos of bats were the ones I took along the shore of Kandy Lake, but maybe the pictures here give you an idea of the density of bats in residence. I briefly […]

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