India

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

 

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Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a 30-hectare (74-acre) protected area located in the Kancheepuram District of the state of Tamil Nadu, about 75 Km from Chennai.

More than 40,000 birds (including 26 rare species), from various parts of the world visit the sanctuary during the migratory season every year.

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Vedanthangal is the oldest water bird sanctuary in the country, established in 1858 by the order of the Collector of Chengalpattu who identified the ornithological importance of the region which attracts a variety of birds primarily due to the small lakes that act as feeding grounds for the birds.

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The Vedanthangal lake bird sanctuary has a tradition of the local people actively protecting birds coming to the area. They understand the relationship between birds and the productivity of their crops even before the concept of wildlife conservation came into vogue. They knew that the bird droppings in the water created guano which acted as fertilizer.

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Towards the end of the 18th century local villagers complained to the collector of Chengalpet Lionel Palace, about the British soldiers shooting the birds. They demanded and obtained a ‘Cowle’ from the collector to protect the birds. In 1936 the collector officially recognized the lake as a sanctuary and in 1962 it was given the legal status of reserved forest under the Madras Forest Act.

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The Vedanthangal Lake Bird Sanctuary features thousands of birds coming from various countries, some of which can be easily identified, others can prove a little more tricky ! Although possibly not complete, the list of breeding birds includes :
Grey Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)
Large Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Indian Shag (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis)
Little Cormorant (Microcarbo niger)
Darter (Anhinga rufa)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Large Egret (Ardea alba)
Smaller (Median) Egret (Egretta intermedia)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Openbilled Stork (Anastomus oscitans)
Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus)
Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)

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On my visit in March the entire sanctuary was littered with Painted Storks, it was an astonishing sight !

The best time to visit this sanctuary is from November to March. During this time, birds are seen busy building and maintaining their nests.

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