Away from the din of the city, if tranquillity is what you seek, then set out on a trip to Venkatapuram. Ardent bird lovers and those planning to watch birds closely will realise that the place is indeed their destination.
There are no placid lakes or streams in the village, which is 10 km from here. But, it has become a favourite spot for migratory birds such as Painted Storks, which have been visiting the area since the last six decades. Without any fear, the birds move around in cattle sheds and houses in the village.
Villagers have become friends of the winged visitors. None dares to pelt the birds with stones as it is against the ‘village dictum'.
“Many years ago, our munsab Kondra Nagabhushanam passed an order against hunting these birds. He is no more, but we still follow it,” says 60-year-old villager Y. Venkaiah.
“The munsab vehemently opposed the then tehsildar's attempt to shoot the birds with his rifle. The munsab told us that the birds are our guests and that no true Indian will harm their guests,” he recalls. M. Kesavulu, 73, recalls that the birds began visiting the village when he was 20 years old. The influx begins in the ‘Kartika masam' (September-October). It is a wonderful experience to watch the nesting process. The birds bring twigs, grass, and other material to lay eggs and hatch the young ones.
Sources of food
The lakes and tanks at Nawabpet, Konakanchi, and Penuganchiprolu, located just 5 km to 6 km from Venkatapuram, are the main sources of their food. The last batch of birds leaves the village by June, he says.
“It is said that these birds come from far off places such as Australia. We don't know the names of the birds. But we love them and treat them as nature's gift. We feel dejected when the birds leave the village at the end of the season,” says Pitchaiah, another villager.
The villagers feel that harming the birds will invite god's wrath. To drive home their point, the villagers recall the tragic death of a fish tank owner, who had allegedly poisoned a truck load of migratory birds that used to hunt fish in his tank.