Winged visitors flock to Pulicat, with birdwatchers in tow

District authorities plan to conduct annual flamingo festival in first week of January

December 27, 2019 07:45 pm | Updated 07:45 pm IST - NELLORE

Birds arriving at the Pulicat lake in Nellore district.

Birds arriving at the Pulicat lake in Nellore district.

The annual flamingo festival in Nellore district is round the corner with the winged visitors arriving in large numbers on their annual sojourn.

District authorities, who are planning to conduct the festival in the first week of January, say they expect the number of birds to be much higher than usual thanks to copious rains this year.

More than 40,000 flamingos can be seen in action at the lake, said Sullurpeta Divisional Forest Officer M. Hima Sailaja who is overseeing arrangements for the Flamingo Festival from January 3 to 5. “Birds like Black-tailed godwit and Kentish plover, which are rare visitors, have also arrived at the lake this time,” Ms. Sailaja said.

A variety of aquatic and terrestrial birds including painted storks, large and little egrets, grey pelicans, grey herons, and water birds like northern pintails, black-winged stilts, northern shovellers, common teal, seagulls, terns, sandpipers, and common coots have come in large numbers this time. The lake supports a rich biodiversity and high biomass of fishes, prawns, crustaceans, coelenterates and planktons.

“About 75 bird species visit the sanctuary, of which 30 bird species are migratory. The other feeding migrants that can be spotted are pelicans, painted storks, open-billed storks, grey herons, cormorants, white ibises, spoonbills, egrets, reef herons, and spotbilled ducks,” Ms. Sailaja said in a conversation with The Hindu .

Four venues — Sullurpeta, B.V. Palem, Atakanithippa and Nelapattu — have been selected for holding various cultural programmes and stepping up awareness on the brackish water ecosystem during the festival as the winged visitors make merry in the 600 sq km area covering the mandals of Tada, Sullurpet, Doravarisatram, Chittamur and Vakadu. The department has arranged for binoculars for nature lovers to view the birds. Educative films on snakes and birds will also be screened as part of the festival, she added.

Breeding picks up

Breeding activity is going on in full swing at Nelapattu, where endangered species like grey pelicans, open-billed storks, little cormorants, spoon bills, white ibises and night herons were in full strength.

A wide variety of birds like egrets, terns, ducks and waders have also made it to the lake in good numbers. The rich flora at the lake also makes it a botanist’s delight. Invertebrates like prawns, planktons, coelenterates, annelids, molluscs and echinoderms thrive here, as do reptiles like monitor lizard, calotes, cobra, Russel’s viper, and krait, and schools of fish like sable fish, sargin fish, white, black and silver pomfret.

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