Last post of the year

Meet Gloriosa!
This flower is as a deadly beauty.
Every part of this plant, belonging to the lilly family, can kill you! Eating the flower itself should only make your hair fall out (if you're lucky) and of course you'll be violently ill but if you start nibbling on the stem or the root you're a gonner.
So I thought this would make a nice last post of 2019.


Gloriosa grows in Africa and Asia and is also native to Sri Lanka. Families with children who find this plant in their gardens usually destroy it immediately.
Allegedly it's been used to commit suicide. Weird choice if you ask me because it's a slow and painful death.
Strangely enough, Zimbabwe (formerly known as Rhodesia) gave a a diamond brooch in the shape of this flower to the queen of England.

A Sunny Day

Birds of prey enjoying the morning sun

Yesterday was the first day of sunshine after many days of heavy rain, which had turned the streets into canals and forced the temperature to below 25 degrees Celsius. 
It was really quite unacceptable! 
This morning looked promising. The sun was bright and clear and a surprising amount of birds of prey enjoyed the warmth of the new day. This is quite unusual for carnivorous birds. Normally they don't really tolerate competition. But this morning was just too beautiful to argue and everybody got along just fine.

A little while later on a bunch of Gray Langur monkeys decided to enjoy the sunshine on our roof. It was nice to see the families having a relaxed time, grooming each other.

I like these guys, a feeling which the locals don't share because they raid the mango trees and steal bananas.

Monkeys relaxing and grooming each other


Nilaveli is on the east coast of Sri Lanka and possibly has the best beach I've ever seen. This one and the beach in Sematan, Borneo are competing for the number one spot.

The Nilaveli beach offers a special extra I've not seen anywhere else. Cows!

That of course doesn't sound very special. We all have seen cows. Most of us like a bit of beef on our plate which is why recently some people get very upset when they are told, cows produce an excessive amount of greenhouse gasses. 'They're trying to take our burgers away!', they say, revealing their own stupidity.

But cows on a beach is kind of weird.

You need to know, these cows are free! They don't have an owner. They go where they please and nobody objects. I saw them at the beach almost every morning. Some days they didn't turn up or maybe I was too late, who knows.

One morning a lot of fishermen were busy dragging in a huge net. The net was maybe a couple of hundred meters long and it was hard work hauling it onto the beach. The cows were there to watch it. The net had only captured a few dozen fish which in relation to such a large net was rather pathetic. But the fishermen were apparently tired now. They withdrew into the shade while the fish was slowly dying in the sun. Some crows had joined the cows and watched the fish dying. Their interest is a much more sinister one, of course. One crow couldn't control itself any longer and abandoned its vantage place, on top of a cows head, and tried to pick at the eye of a dying fish.

In most places the fishermen try to get their catch to the market as fast and fresh as they can. Not here though. In Sri Lanka stress is avoided at any cost.


Badulla is in the 'mountains' on the southern side of Sri Lanka and much cooler.

I found a small guest house near the botanical garden. The people there were very friendly as most Sri Lankans are. In the evening after a lovely dinner I sat outside with the owner for a little chat and a beer. As we were getting to know each other I saw a big 'bird' passing by. I mentioned this to the man and he corrected me. 'Not bird', he said 'Bat!'. 
Wow, that thing had a wingspan of at least a meter. He said, 'If you go to the botanical garden you will see many.'

Next morning after coffee I went to that garden which was just round the corner. First thing I noticed, it was a graveyard! Then my gaze went up to the treetops and I couldn't believe my eyes. There were thousands and thousands of bodies hanging upside down in the trees.

I've seen bats before, small ones about the size of a postcard, but these ones were huge. They are Fruit Bats and belong to the Megabats like the Flying Fox.

As I was walking through the 'Botanical Garden' taking photos the inevitable happened. Something dropped on me and I asked myself how do they do it hanging upside down?
Youtube has the answer.