The Vaduvoor Bird Sanctuary, situated on the Thanjavur-Kodiakarai State Highway, has become a magnet for nature lovers, as can be seen by the number of people flocking to the protected area through the week.
“The sanctuary commonly attracts around 30,000 to 50,000 birds from different continents during the months of October through to February. At present, the little and middle egret and herons are nesting in large numbers. The bar-headed goose has also been seen here,” K. Arivoli, district forest officer, Tiruvarur district, told The Hindu.
The sanctuary set up in 1999 around an irrigation tank, set in a 128.10-hectare property in Vaduvoor Agraharam Panchayat.
The tank receives water from Cauvery basin and North East monsoon from August to December, making it a haven for birds.
Water birds like the White Ibis, Painted stork, Grey Pelican, Pintails, Cormorants, Teals, Herons, Spoonbills and Darters are regularly spotted here during the peak season. It is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
To make it more visitor-friendly, the park has introduced new features such as an electronic board that can also display selfies taken by tourist during their time inside the sanctuary. “We have added a watchtower on the outer periphery of the property to enable people to see the view directly from the road. Four bicycles are available for those who want to explore the sanctuary on wheels. Binoculars are also supplied on request,” said Mr. Arivoli.
A shop selling ethnic products and spices has also been functioning here since last August.
Though road-widening works in the area have reduced the space between the sanctuary and the farms in the vicinity, the official said that no conflict had been noted so far.
“Birds will nest wherever there is a regular supply of food and water. So a Black Ibis, for example, will seek out a mound and a shallow pool for its nest. These conditions are available in both the paddy fields and the sanctuary. The bird will shift to the field only when its regular place is fully occupied. Farmers in the area have been very cooperative in protecting the birds,” he said.
Besides the birds, sightings of otters have also been reported here.
“Up until four years ago, the tank used to dry up during summer, forcing many of the birds to fly away to cooler climes. We have deepened the tank and kept it desilted, so that there is plenty of water during the hot weather. Now it is possible to spot both local summer birds and those that have migrated from cold weather countries at the same time in Vaduvoor these days,” said Mr. Arivoli.