An unusually large number of migratory birds have been seeking the sunshine in the Cauvery delta as they escape intense winter weather elsewhere, according to birdwatchers in the region.
At the Vaduvur Bird Sanctuary situated on Thanjavur-Kodiakarai State Highway, waders such as Asian Openbill and White Ibis have been flying in since October. “The migration goes on from November to February. Birds gather in large numbers wherever they spot a steady source of food and a quiet place for breeding. This year, though we haven’t seen any rare visitors, we have noticed many more Black Ibis in Vaduvur,” K. Arivoli, District Forest Officer, Tiruvarur, told The Hindu.
Among the more recent non-avian visitors to the sanctuary were smooth-coated otters, known as ‘neer naai’ (aquatic dogs) in Tamil. “We have observed a family of seven otters swimming in the lake a few days ago, and they seem to be thriving,” said Mr. Arivoli.
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The mellow weather has been a key attraction for the frequent flyers, say birdwatchers.
“Wintering birds such as sandpipers, plovers, godwits and ducks have turned up in greater numbers in and around Tiruchi than the previous years, possibly due to the extremely cold Himalayan weather patterns that have spread up to central India in recent weeks. The monsoons in the south have also replenished water bodies, so the birds have a nourishing habitat,” said A. Bishop Reltan, academic and local birdwatcher.
Mr. Reltan added that raptors such as Greater Spotted Eagle and Bonelli’s Eagle had been spotted in good numbers in places such as Kiliyur.
Birding groups in Tiruchi have been watching the movement of birds in Manikandam and green spots along the Madurai and Thanjavur highways. “Recently we saw a Shaheen falcon near Cauvery river in Tiruchi. Though not a migratory bird, this raptor is commonly seen in Aritapatti near Madurai,” said K. Balakrishnan, convenor of Tiruchi Birds Club.