City’s wetlands welcome winged friends
CHENNAI: Three cyclonic circulations coupled with a northeast monsoon have brought cheers for the foresters in north Tamil Nadu. And for bird watchers too!
The bird sanctuaries in and around Chennai and the nearby Andhra are now brimming with active bird migration.
“The lakes and bird sanctuaries have become a happening place for bird watchers, thanks to the monsoon rains. The bar-headed goose (a rare migratory duck variety) has arrived at the Muttukadu backwaters for a temporary halt. Similarly, the painted stork, the last breed to arrive at Vedanthangal, is also now at home,” said bird watcher KVRK Thirunaranan, founder, The Nature Trust.
Sighting bar-headed goose, a native of Central Asia in Chennai, is a delight as these are hardy birds that travel over high altitudes crossing the Tibet-Himalayan mountain range. With a wingspan of 140-160 cm, they attain a top speed of 80 km/hour braving the winter and rough winds.
The season is now best for students and bird watchers at Pallikaranai and Vedanthangal, the bird watcher explained. “Predatory birds like red necked falcon and osprey have also arrived hovering around the Chennai skies. Similarly, waders like painted storks and flamingos have arrived in Pulicat Bird Sanctuary,” Thirunaranan said.
The rare varieties like oyster catcher and ruddy turnstone have also arrived this season making the migration one of the best in the recent past, the bird watcher said.
According to TN Forest Department sources, all bird sanctuaries and wetlands in Chennai, Chengalpattu, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram are open to the public, but with COVID protocol enforced, as per the state and central advisory.
The department would soon conduct the annual synchronised bird census.
As a new initiative, the department is all set to commence the survey of butterfly species in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.
This will be the first-of-its-kind census for butterflies, sources said.
Meanwhile, bird watchers in central Chennai are also upbeat, thanks to the freshwater inflow into city’s arterial waterways – Adyar and Cooum are now thriving with bird life. The usually polluted rivers are now a temporary roosting spot for pelicans, red-wattled lapwings and black-winged stilt.
“Sighting pelicans near Adyar and Cooum is enthralling. Hope the government take steps to restore the ecologically affected lakes,” said Kaushik Udayakumar, a school student, and a budding bird watcher in Kottivakkam.
LOOK OUT FOR…
Wooded trees as they attract resident birds like owls, woodpeckers, bee-eater, golden oriole, rufous treepie and small munias
Dead palm and coconut trees near wetlands as they attract parrot, bat, owl, crow pheasant and cuckoo
Paddy fields near bird sanctuaries as they attract egrets, herons, kingfishers and Indian rollers
Pallikaranai Bird Sanctuary n Kelambakkam wetlands
Pulicat Bird Sanctuary n Muttukadu lagoon
Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary
Kovalam backwaters n Adyar Estuary