Painting the landscape with wings

Spreading happiness.

Spreading happiness.  

IF YOU happen to drive through Rajapalayam, you cannot miss these winged wonders.

These colourful creatures dot the landscape like gems woven into a fabric. The presence of exotic birds, after an absence of two years, is due to the filling up of water bodies in the recent rain. Over 14 species have chosen to visit Rajapalayam from their northern destinations this year.

"These migratory birds have come from the northern States to escape the wintry climate," says K. Ramachandran, wildlife photographer, who has been chasing the colourful birds every winter.

The birds on sight include Spot Bill Duck, Pin Tail Duck, Black Winged Stilt, Coots, White Ibis, Painted Stork, Pheasant Tailed Jackana, Dab Chick, Cormorant, Snake Bird, White Breasted Water Hen, Purple Moor Hen, River Tern and Grey Heron.

This number is far below the usual arrivals in the past when all water bodies used to get filled to the brim following copious rain in this region, which is closer to the Western Ghats. With the disappearance of water sources, which are being increasingly utilised for other purposes, the number of birds has come down over the years.

Some birds come here for breeding, and some to escape the cruel winter climate in the North, says Mr. Ramachandran. These birds stay in the region for about four months, depending on water availability. The migratory trait is basically to overcome the food scarcity in winter in their habitats.

When winter is done, they go back to their fold. The current group of birds not only adds colour but also music to the Rajapalayam landscape. However, there has been a disappointment for bird lovers.

Solitary pleasure.

Solitary pleasure.  

The usual visitors from Siberia — the Sand Pipers, Green Chloropsis, Black Necked Storks, Caspian Tern and Paradise Fly Catcher — have not turned up so far.

These birds usually settle down in the Rajapalayam area by August-September and stay till May.

The delay in monsoon rainfall this year has actually postponed their visit. Still, birdwatchers are hopeful that their Siberian friends would zoom in sooner or later.

By Annamalai S

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