Chennai

Raptors through the eyes of a birder

Though there are a few resident urban raptors like shikra, black kite and migrants like booted eagle and greater spotted eagle (which prefer wooded areas like IIT, GNP and Theosophical society) within the city limits, we need to in general move out of the city to see the other residents/ migrants as that is where their habitat is.

Since these are typically 20 km or more away from the city many birders refrain from making that trip due to lack of time or transport. In spite of this challenge, a few do wake up at an ungodly hour, carpool to get to these lake beds in Kanchipuram or Thiruvallur districts just to watch, photograph these majestic creatures. And also record these sightings as a conservation exercise.

Though the number of eyes that are looking out for these birds have increased now, the number of birds per se in each species visiting our lakebeds have considerably decreased. This is mainly due to habitat loss.

I have heard from few old-timers that in the early 2000s and prior to that, there used to be a minimum of 50 harriers communal-roosting in lakebeds in Thiruvallur area. This number has now dwindled to single digits thanks to loss of their habitat.

Apparently a breeding pair of white-bellied sea eagles used to nest in mangroves in the Adyar Estuary in the 80s and 90s regularly . These birds are now nowhere to be seen and you need to go to the Pulicat lake if you want to see them.

(Rama Neelamegam is a well-known birder among Chennai’s birding community)

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2020 1:38:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/through-the-eyes-of-a-birder/article31008773.ece

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