Chennai: Dry weather conditions and lack of rainfall in Chennai and Kancheepuram have forced wildlife authorities to close Vedanthangal bird sanctuary one month in advance. Last year, the sanctuary recorded more than 30,000 migratory birds due to water storage and the season ended in June. This year, the season almost came to an end in April and footfalls to the sanctuary also dipped by 45,000 this year, admitted Chennai wildlife headquarters ranger S. David Raj.
The sanctuary this year recorded more than 90,000 footfalls and, last year, the visitors registry recorded close to 1.45 lakh people. But from Sunday, the sanctuary will be closed for visitors, the ranger added. Usually, the bird migration at Vedanthangal sanctuary reaches its peak during January when the colourful painted storks arrive usually recording above 30,000 migratory birds. These birds double in numbers and around 40,000 to 50,000 birds leave Vedanthangal after the season.
This year, due to scanty rainfall and poor levels in the adjoining water bodies, the arrival of birds dipped and the season ended in advance, local foresters explained.The predominant species recorded this year included egrets, spoonbill, pelican, darter, cormorant, heron and ibis and very few painted stork. As usual, no new species was recorded in Vedanthangal, the foresters added.
Though bird watchers in the city missed the usual extravaganza at Vedanthangal, the Pallikarnai marshland delighted them this season.
“This year, Pallikarnai recorded good sightings of flamingoes and several motorists and bird watchers glimpsed the elegant birds at close quarters and several pictures of the weading birds made the rounds among wildlife enthusiasts,” said Madras high court advocate and avid bird watcher Santhanaraman. Vedanthangal, the oldest bird sanctuary in the country, measuring around 73 acres and having history of more than 300 years, was established in 1858.