The best time to visit the sanctuary for bird watching is April-May when water availability and bird population are high. However, tourists can watch birds from September to May.

Considered one of the largest congregations of water birds in Tamil Nadu, Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary has the potential to become a major sanctuary.

Of the 188 species of birds recorded in the sanctuary, 82 are water birds. One among them is the endangered Bar-headed goose. It is said to be the highest-flying bird in the world that flies over the Mount Everest while coming from its breeding in Ladakh and Tibet. The bird arrives by February end and stays on till May.

G. R. Arulmozhi, assistant executive engineer, Ariyalur, told The Hindu on Thursday that Karaivetti is one of the biggest tanks in the State with a water spread area of about 1,000 acres. It used to have even 10 feet water and birds could be sighted hardly a few metres from the four km-long bund.

Located 35 km from Ariyalur , this is basically an irrigation tank used for storing water for agriculture. It receives water from the Pullambadi canal which is fed by the Mettur dam. This is supplemented by the north east monsoon from October till January.

He said that the sanctuary is one of the most important fresh water feeding grounds for migratory water birds. The water birds arrive at the tank from September onwards after receipt of irrigation water from the Mettur Dam. “Water in the tank is the maximum generally during April and this is the month of maximum congregation in the sanctuary.”

According to Forest Department sources, in the first half of the migratory period, population of teals and ducks is high as water depth is more. As water starts receding larger birds like Painted storks and Openbill start assembling.

The best time to visit the sanctuary for bird watching is April-May when water availability and bird population are high. However, tourists can watch birds from September to May.

Being an irrigation tank, there is no natural forest within the sanctuary. 'Karuvel' plantations had been raised by the Social Forestry wing.

The trees are used for roosting and nesting by birds, including Open bill stork and White Ibis.

Forest officials said that though birds had been sighted here for long, it was notified as sanctuary only in1997 under the Wild Life Protection Act.

As Collector Anu George feels that it has potential to become a major tourist attraction, she has directed officials to prepare a major plan costing about Rs.3 crore. The most important development planned is 'mound planting' as the number of trees directly relates to the number of birds attracted towards the tank.

Forest officials said though the department did put up a number of small mounds years ago they had either been washed away or submerged.

Hence, the district administration has begun the work for two major earthen mounds under the self-sufficiency scheme costing, in total, Rs. 19.5 lakh. Of that 50 per cent is borne by a cement company and the rest by the government.

Watch towers are imperative for bird watching. At present, a watch tower is available at the eastern end of the tank bund and another in the middle. One more watch tower is required for the eastern side.

Signage boards, at least about 80, would be installed. Besides, there would be an interpretation centre to enlighten the tourists on the birds that visit the sanctuary. In addition, there would be a rest room, drinking water and facilities like public convenience.