Migratory birds, the ‘harbingers of joy,’ have arrived at Vaagaikulam tank near Alwarkurichi in advance this time even as the people are gearing up to celebrate Deepavali.
Though the ‘winged visitors’ including Black-headed Ibis, Little Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Oriental Darter, Purple Heron, Grey Heron and Spoon bill used to camp atop babool trees grown inside the Vaagaikulam tank for the past few years, this time the birds have arrived at the waterbody a bit earlier this year, thanks to the active monsoon.
Since this is the only wetland that provides safe habitat for these winged visitors next to Koonthankulam birds’ sanctuary, the Vaagaikulam youths too show keen interest in protecting the birds. ATREE’s Agasthyamalai Community-based Conservation Centre (ACCC), a research centre of ATREE, a Bangalore-based organisation, along with students from Naanalkulam abutting the Vaagaikulam tank are regularly monitoring the birds since 2008 and creating awareness among the public on the need for conserving them.
“School children from Naanalkulam village are fascinated by the birds. They are not only monitoring the birds, they also plant more saplings in and around the tank, regularly collect garbage from the tank, maintain register of visitors to the tank, create awareness among villagers and act as a ‘watch dog’ to this heronry,” says M. Mathivanan, coordinator, ATREE’s ACCC.
When some miscreants set the trees afire when the tank was dry before the monsoon, these brave students rushed to the spot and extinguished the fire. These students and their village community have abstained from using any fire crackers during Deepavali for the past five years because birds would be busy building their nests around this time.
To honour these students and Naanalkulam village community, the Tamil Nadu Special Police 9th Battalion’s commandant D. Jayavel, along with his team, will be celebrating Deepavali at Naanalkulam village on Saturday (November 7).
The Commandant will also distribute awards to 18 students, who are actively involved in protection of Vaagaikulam heronry.