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Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

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Vedanthangal Sanctuary

Vedanthangal has the reputation of being one of the oldest water bird sanctuaries in India. Records reveal that this sanctuary has been in existence for more than 200 years. Vedanthangal bird sanctuary is located at about 86 km from Chennai. The sanctuary spans across 72 acres of marshy land. The Barringtonia Acacia nilotica trees along with dry evergreen scrub and thorn forests are part of the flora of the sanctuary.

The term ‘Vedanthangal’ is derived from the Tamil language and it means ‘place of the hunter’. Legend goes that this area was the favorite hunting spot for the local landlords some 300 years ago. This region seems to have attracted birds because it has a number of small lakes that became convenient feeding grounds for the birds. It is interesting to note that the local villagers have documented their right to protect the winged visitors to this sanctuary.

During the British regime in India, steps were taken to develop this spot into a bird sanctuary as early as 1798. The lake was first recognized as a sanctuary in 1936. The sanctuary was accorded legal status of a reserve forest under the Madras Forest Act in 1962.

Birds spotted in Vedanthangal sanctuary

Vedanthangal sanctuary serves as a nesting home for many species of water birds. Egrets, Grey Heron, Open-billed Stork, Darter, Spoonbill, White Ibis, Night Herons, Grebes, Grey Pelican, Dabchicks, Pintail ducks and Cormmorants are some of the breeding birds that visit the sanctuary.

Birds like Coots, Moorhen and Terns are some of the resident birds in this sanctuary. It is estimated that about 7000 birds are roosting here. Nearly 115 species of birds are said to be found in this sanctuary.

Migratory Birds

Vedanthangal is one of the most spectacular breeding grounds for migratory birds in India. Some of the migratory birds travel thousands of miles all the way from Siberia to avoid the biting cold. Other migratory birds come from Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lankan countries. This sanctuary is particularly known for migratory birds, including Garganey, Teals, Shovellers, Pintails, Stills and Sandpiper among others.

It is amazing to see that the migratory birds regulated by their biological body clock flock to Vedanthangal after the monsoon with such precision. They embark on their breeding activities quickly and quietly. Infact, during the middle of January the population of migratory birds swells to around 40,000 in numbers.

The migratory birds nest in Vedanthangal sanctuary till February depending on the availability of water. Sometimes the birds feed at the Madhuranthagam tank nearby. Year after year, these migratory birds come from afar to nest during this season.

Visiting Vedanthangal Sanctuary

In winter, you can find many ornithologists from all over the world who camp here to observe the birds at close quarters. Vedanthangal offers two ‘watch towers’ that provide a clear view of the birds from the binoculars stationed there. There is also a viewing platform that provides a vantage point.

The birds nest here mainly from the months of November to February. As summer sets in by the month of March, the water in the tank begins to dry. The chicks also become big and strong enough to fly out. They join the other migratory birds. The increasing pollution in the area has led to sharp dip in the number of birds visiting the sanctuary. Besides, Vedanthangal bird sanctuary suffers from neglect and lack of maintenance

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary