Waterbodies are filling up fast due to rains over the past couple of days

It’s time to dig out and dust off those binoculars. Vedanthangal and Karikili bird sanctuaries, around 82 km southwest of Chennai, will be opened to public on Friday.

All waterbodies near the bird sanctuary, including the ones at Madurantagam, Vellaputhur and Vallaiyaputhur, are filling up fast due to rains over the past couple of days.

Currently, water overflow from these lakes has reached the two major channels that fill the Vedanthangal lake.

The channels were built by the public works department (PWD) a few decades ago to ensure water supply to the sanctuary from adjoining lakes during migratory season between October and March every year.

“Birds have started to flock to the sanctuary. Ahead of the season, we had planted around two lakh Barringtonia saplings in the sanctuary to allow birds to nest. We have also provided basic amenities including water taps, toilets and additional watchtowers for visitors,” said a forest official.

Open-bill storks, night herons, pelicans, little cormorants and white ibises have arrived and begun nesting.

Officials of the State forest department have laid a concrete pathway running to a length of 1.4 km in the sanctuary to enable bird-watchers to take a closer look at the birds. Besides, visitors can also avail of the free binoculars on offer.

The Vedanthangal lake has also been desilted and deepened to hold more water to help birds stay longer.

Forest officials have also held talks with village heads in neighbouring regions to ensure adequate water in the sanctuary throughout the season. Spread over 73 acres of land off Grand Southern Trunk (GST) Road, the sanctuary is the oldest water bird sanctuary in the country.

Over 40,000 birds, including 26 rare species, from various parts of the world visit the sanctuary during the migratory season annually.

Some of the commonly-seen migratory birds are little cormorant, night heron, grey heron, spoonbill, little egret, large egret, white ibis, cattle egret, pintail, common teal, pond heron or paddy bird, shoveller duck, dab chick, Indian moorhen, darters or snake bird, grey pelican and open-bill stork.

According to forest department records, Vedanthangal was first developed as a bird sanctuary by the British as early as in 1798.

It was formally established as a sanctuary in 1858 by the order of the collector of the then Chingelpet district (now Kancheepuram). Later, Vedanthangal lake was declared a bird sanctuary under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, by the Union environment and forests ministry.

More In: Chennai | News