The early arrival of migratory birds has led to excitement among naturalists and birdwatchers in the city.
Avian aficionados are descending in droves on wetlands in and around Chennai, to catch a glimpse of these birds, many of them waders and ducks, which clocked in before the onset of the northeast monsoon.
The monsoon was announced to have hit the region on October 21, but sightings of these birds were reported from Pallikaranai, Kovalam, Kelambakkam, Pulicat Lake and Annamalaicheri, to name a few, in September and early October.
This early advent is in sharp contrast with most northeast monsoon seasons in the last 10 years, when the migrants fluttered in quite late.
Field notes of city naturalists are crammed with sightings of the ‘early birds’. During a visit in late September to Pulicat lake, followed by three others in early October, T. Murugavel of Environment Monitoring and Action Initiating sighted little winged plovers, sand plovers, godwits, northern shovelers, lesser-whistling teals and spot-billed ducks.
Volunteers of The Nature Trust report similar findings from their study of Pallikaranai marsh, Pulicat lake and Kovalam, Kelambakkam and Annamalaicheri wetlands.
“Pied avocets and garganey teals have landed in Pallikaranai. Last year, pied avocets missed the monsoon and arrived only in January,” said K.V.R.K Thirunaranan, founder of the trust.
A host of reasons is offered for the early and late arrivals of migratory birds. One of them is availability of water.
“In the last 10 years, the northeast monsoon has mostly been poor and had shorter runs, usually from November to December. During such seasons, migratory birds arrived late,” said R. Nagarajan from the zoology and wildlife department, AVC College of Engineering, Mayiladuthurai.
The intermittent, often depression-induced showers that preceded the northeast monsoon this year is one of the likely factors contributing to early arrivals of these birds, experts said.