People living in villages around Vettangudi bird sanctuary in Sivaganga district are gazing at the sky now and then to have a glimpse of the winged visitors as and when they land in the sanctuary. They are happy that the season has already commenced this year and the birds are turning up in large numbers. According to forest officials the visitors to the sanctuary include White Ibis, Grey Heron and Darter.
Describing their daily routine, the officials say that the birds leave the sanctuary early in the morning and return in the evening. At 5 pm the pond in the sanctuary would be completely covered by birds. “In the last two years, the number of birds which had visited the sanctuary was very less. This was mainly due to insufficient rainfall,” said the officials.
The arrival of the birds is considered as a good omen by the villagers. They strongly believe that the birds have a strong sense of the intensity of the year’s monsoon. “Here, we believe that if birds visit us in large numbers that means we will have good rains in the areas surrounding the sanctuary. The more the merrier,” said a villager happily.
Rajamanickam, a farmer from Vettangudi, said that the migratory birds would arrive to the bird sanctuary only if they know that there would be good rainfall. The birds have good intuition power and will sense the monsoon season accurately. “They are good indicators of monsoon. As they did not arrive in large numbers in the last two years, most of us did not invest much in cultivation,” he added
More than treating them as mere monsoon indicators, the locals keep away from the usual Deepavali fanfare of bursting crackers as a mark of respect. “We celebrate the festival with pomp but we keep the area silent as we do not want to shoo away our winged guests,” said Ayyadurai, another villager.
“We see them as a sign of prosperity for the area and therefore will not fire crackers and scare them,” said a group of villagers.
Vettangudi bird sanctuary is a protected area near Tirupattur town in Sivaganga district and is home to migratory birds from North Asian countries. Birds like White Ibis, Painted Stork, Asian Open Bill Stork, Grey Heron, Eastern Grey Heron, Dartar and so on frequent the bird sanctuary between the months of September and February.