Chennai

Vandalur zoo becomes a bird watcher’s paradise

Otteri Lake inside Vandalur zoo.   | Photo Credit: B. Velankanni Raj

Otteri lake inside Aringnar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur is turning out to be a bird watcher’s paradise.

It has been a remarkable turnaround for the waterbody that had dried up totally until it was restored about three months ago to be teeming with nearly 21 species of birds now.

Open billed storks, night herons, little egrets, little cormorants, darters, white breasted kingfishers and cattle egrets dart the lake so much that Sudha Ramen, deputy director, Vandalur zoo refers to the lake as a ‘Mini Vedanthangal’.

Watch | Otteri lake becomes a bird watcher's paradise
 

According to a birds census in March, there were 3,481 birds of 21 different species. “Many visitors are surprised when they come to know that there is a lake like this inside the zoo campus and are excited to see the number of birds,” she says.

“In the last few days, we have spotted several new species including a Grey pelican and a Whistling teal which haven’t been seen at the lake before,” says G. Kamaraj, a biologist at the zoo. “From December to the end of April at least, we can expect migratory birds to flock here,” he adds.

 

The lake was restored around three months ago after a year long long effort by the zoo officials to become a haven for several species of winged visitors since December. The water body was badly affected during Cylone Vardah and in the following years, had dried up due to inadequate rainfall.

Now, the lake has become one among the major attractions in the zoo among visitors, especially school students and birders. For visitors to walk as well as sit and take in the view, stone benches have been installed along the concrete path near the river bank.

‘Waiting for ducks’

With the temperatures already rising in the city, the brimming waters of the Otteri lake are a sight for the sore eyes. Stating that the number of birds here was an indication of the rich biodiversity of the area, Mr Kamaraj said that they also expect flocks of ducks to make the lake their home soon.

Last December, Ms Ramen had tweeted about the transformation of the lake which went viral on social media. Her update a few days ago on the lake continuing to attract several species of birds too has come in for praise.

The transformation of the lake began in February last year after which lake as well as percolation ponds were desilted. The desilted soil was used to create mounds on the lake bed and the tree saplings planted on them now provide a perfect place for the roosting of birds.

The zoo management also identified channels leading up to the water body and ensured that they were all desilted and created trenches as well as bunds to direct excess water from the zoo campus into the lake.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 6:05:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/vandalur-zoo-becomes-a-bird-watchers-paradise/article31031993.ece

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