Adyar Poonga is all set to become a haven for bird watchers

If you thought serious bird watching meant a drive down to Vedanthangal — or Pallikaranai, at the least — think again. The Adyar Poonga, coming up right in the heart of the city, is set to become an ornithologist's delight, with more than 85 different kinds of birds, including rare black bitterns, cinnamon bitterns, white bellied sea eagles having already been spotted in this green expanse.

The park, whose first phase is spread over some 58 acres, is set to open in December.

Land development, including excavation, construction of visitors' orientation area, four wooden bridges, nursery building, signages and exhibits have already been completed, according to sources in the Adyar Poonga Trust.

Officials said that a full-fledged forest nursery would be ready by November. There is also a plan to set up a green centre. Over 90,000 saplings of 172 species have been planted. “A total of 143 species of fish, amphibians, birds and reptiles have been seen here and we expect the number to go up to 200,” said an expert at the Poonga.

Butterflies, including the painted lady and black raja and blue tail green darner dragon fly, have been among those spotted here. Crows, mynahs, blue rock pigeons and water paddy birds walk on the sand near the waterbodies — even while humans are around.

Non-poisonous snakes, soft and hard shell turtles, painted frogs and green pond frogs can also be seen, say naturalists at the Poonga. Another indicator of the restoration is the improvement in the quality of water. According to Central Pollution Control Board norms, it is suitable for propagation of wildlife.

Though the Poonga is not yet open to the public, a very active school education programme is on, in which students of 20 city schools are participating. Children are taught to identify birds on the basis of their calls, and are also taught about plants.

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Deepa H. RamakrishnanJune 28, 2012