Early arrival of migratory species in sanctuaries like Vedanthangal and Karikili indicates a good season ahead, say wildlife enthusiasts.
Following the region witnessing reduced number of migratory birds due to the destruction unleashed by the Vardah and Gaja cyclones in 2016 and 2018 respectively, the early arrival of a few migratory species such as the open bill stork, pelicans and cormorants now seems to indicate the season picking up this monsoon. Kickstarting the migration, the open bill stork species has even started nesting at the Vedanthangal bird sanctuary, hinting a regular monsoon for greater Chennai region comprising parts of Kancheepuram district.
“The rainfall in September and October has been scanty, forcing the initial set of migratory birds to return. However, the November rains have helped Vedanthangal attract about 1000 birds, mostly open bill storks and cormorants, thus kickstarting the season,” said Chennai Wildlife Warden C H Padma.
Besides, channels have also been desilted and the Vedanthangal lake deepened for the better catchment of water. Further encouraging the migratory ducks, artificial ponds have also been set up in the lake, the Wildlife Warden said, adding that they were now keeping their fingers crossed for the rains to lash Kancheepuram. Once the number of birds visiting Vedanthangal multiplies, which is usually by December, the Forest department will release fishlings to support the migration, Padma said.
KVRK Thirunaranan, founder of The Nature Trust, said that the migration season has started on a good note and that after back-to-back cyclones, the situation this year is conducive for birds to nest. A sizeable population of darters and cormorants have flocked Vedanthangal and the open bill storks have started nesting too. Also, the Pallikaranai marshland has started brimming and is likely to get diversified species migrating to the area due to water availability, Thirunaranan added.
More than a dozen bird species are now in Vedanthangal, and going by past records, the list is likely to triple easily by next month. For those planning to visit Vedanthangal, the best season would be during the Pongal holidays when the painted storks and pelicans settle there, Thirunaranan said.
K Brinda of the Biodiversity Conservation Foundation in Tiruchy said, “Bird trackers in the delta and north Tamil Nadu covering Vaduvoor and Udayamarthandapuram bird sanctuaries area are also noticing a good movement of pelicans”. “Kaiveli in Villupuram and the Osudu bird sanctuary in Puducherry are also responding positively this year. If there are no major cyclones, we can expect a productive breeding season of migratory birds from December through February,” Brinda added.