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Chennai India
A haven for birdwatchers!
Nov 12, 2015 12:42 PM 10226 Views


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There's something I love about Chennai - regardless of whatever your preference and your hobby might be, you'd definitely find some place that's worthy of your time. It's no different when it comes to ornithology(or bird-watching in layman terms). Vedanthangal, which is barely 30 kms out of Chennai city limits is an easily accessible natural bird sanctuary which is home to several species of migratory birds.

Vedanthangal is easily accessible by train. Take any Chengalpet bound local(or you can take a connecting local from Tambaram) and get down at Chengalpet. From Chengalpet, take a rick to Vedanthangal, the ride shouldn't cost more than Rs. 40. If you have your own transport, then the GST highway is your companion for a silky smooth drive. A few kilometres off the highway, you get to enter the sanctuary. As with most tourist attractions, you'd find a large smattering of vendors outside the gates selling all sorts of munchies and softdrinks.

Entrance to the sanctuary is cheap and though camera fees are relatively high, a good zoom camera with 12x or more optical zoom is very strongly recommended - a mobile phone or point & shoot camera will do no justice inside. The interiors are swampy - the reason being that the sanctuary has been built on backwaters and the soil consists of a layer of decomposed vegetation. So if you are planning to get off the pathways, hiking boots would be recommended. The swamp and the large concentration of bird droppings causes the place to have a distinct, pungent stink, but again, this is not supposed to be a park or a garden, this is supposed to be the natural vegetation which the birds live in. I have seen several visitors complaining about the stink - if you want fragrant flowers, you should be visiting Cathedral road, not Vedanthangal!There are multiple viewpoints which provide a great all-round view but keep in mind that the crowd can get a bit too distracting on weekends. Huge crowds of unruly spectactors fighting for selfies can interfere with your attempts to take that prized 500mm long shot, so you'd need an extra dose of patience if you are into serious photography. An alternative would be to visit on weekdays when it remains relatively less croded.

Coming to the bird life, you get a rich and diverse variery of aquatic and migratory birds. From the common egrets, snake birds and herons to more exotic species like Painted storks, Grey storks, Pelicans, Spoonbills and some other rare birds. However, keep in mind that painted storks and grey storks have a stronger presence here compared to other birds. Though the bigger birds are the prime attraction, the swampy vegetation also attracts smaller birds like kingfishers which can make for some interesting photography sessions. However, if you are not into photography, watching the birds and their behaviourial patterns can make for an equally engaging activity. You can get binoculars and telescopes on rent, though it's highly recommended to get your own, if you have one. I prefer the viewfinder on my camera as a great alternative!

Other Points to keep in mind:

You'd need to keep in mind that you wouldn't get food inside the sanctuary, though I have actually seen people bringing food in meal boxes. However, it's most advisable to have your meals outside before entering the sanctuary - this will also help in keeping the sanctuary cleaner and avoid plastic and litter inside the premises.

Carrying your own water bottle is highly recommended - the damp and hot conditions indide can make you very dehydrated and thirsty.

The park closes by sunset so plan your trip accordingly. If you are an avid birdwatcher or planning for some serious photography, you'd need a good chunk of time on your hands.

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