In Partnership with Tamil Nadu Tourism

4 Destinations for Bird Watching in Tamil Nadu

Book a weekend sojourn inside birding sanctums or glance at the opulence of migratory birds for a delightful getaway.

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A flock of painted storks in Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary. Photo Courtesy: Tamil Nadu Tourism

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Surrounded by the Eastern Ghats in the north and the Nilgiri Mountains and the Anaimalai Hills in the west, there is no doubt that Tamil Nadu is a biodiversity paradise. The region receives ample monsoon showers granting a suitable topography of dense rainforests and wetlands. A short escape into some of the state’s sanctuaries will offer sightings of rare migratory birds tucked into various corners of Tamil Nadu. We list four bird sanctuaries to satiate your birding curiosity.

 

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

Home to migratory birds such as pintail, garganey, grey wagtail, blue-winged teal and common sandpiper, Vedanthangal is also an abode to history. Standing as the oldest water bird sanctuary in the country—as hinted in its name which means ‘hamlet of the hunter’—its establishment legacy is of being a local hunting spot for the landlords in the early 18th century.

The 30-hectare protected area is located in the Chengalpattu district as a refreshing retreat that welcomes thousands of birds from various countries: garganeys and teals from Canada, snake birds and glossy ibises from Sri Lanka, grey pelicans from Australia, grey herons and openbill storks from Bangladesh, painted storks from Siberia, spoonbills from Myanmar and the Indian spot-billed duck. The best time to spot these charming winged creatures flitting around in various hues, shapes, and sizes is between November and January. The sanctuary is easily accessible by rail and is only a 60-kilometre drive from the Chennai airport.

 

4 Destinations For Bird Watching In Tamil Nadu

Vettangudi Bird Sanctuary is home to over 8,000 migratory species. Photo Courtesy: Tamil Nadu Tourism

 

Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary

A small town in Tiruvallur district 70 kilometres shy of Chennai, Pulicat, is a snapshot of colonial India. Formerly known as the Dutch Coromandel, Pulicat—located 70 kilometres shy of Chennai’s city centre—is best known for housing the second largest saltwater lake in the country and an adjoining bird sanctuary. The Pulicat lake spreads its arms 760 square kilometres wide to shelter myriads of migratory birds between the months of October and March. The scintillating waters house the Pulicat Bird Sanctuary is a haven for birders. About 189 bird species, of which 50 are migratory, throng the region during the winter months. Grey pelicans, grey herons, egrets and painted storks are. Aquatic winged beauties such as northern pintails, black-winged stilts, northern shovellers, common teal, seagulls and terns are also spotted. Most notably, over 700 flamingos flock to the bird sanctuary, earning the town its title as the Flamingo Lake town.

4 Destinations For Bird Watching In Tamil Nadu

A glossy ibis at Vettangudi Bird Sanctuary. Photo Courtesy: Tamil Nadu Tourism

Vettangudi Bird Sanctuary

Declared as a protected area in June 1977, the main attraction of the sanctuary is that it is home to over 8,000 migratory birds. Bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts can spot over 200 species from Europe and North Asian countries over the small drainage basins. Irrigation tanks, namely Periya Kollukudi Patti, Chinna Kollukudi Patti and Vettangudi Patti become a natural habitat for migratory birds making their way during winters and also attracts indigenous endangered species like the painted stork, darter, little cormorant, little egret, intermediate egret, common teal, northern pintail and flamingos. For an inquisitive visit to observe grey herons, white ibis, darters, night herons, spoonbills and Asian openbill storks in their breeding habitats, plan a visit between November and February. The sanctuary is easily accessible from Madurai by road but opt for a train journey for the scenic vistas.

 

Viralimalai Peacock Sanctuary

Often listed under the most visited sanctuaries of Tamil Nadu categorisation, Viralimalai Peacock Sanctuary rightly lives to the reputation with its quaint location in the small town of Vaduvur. Housing the largest population of the national bird, a multi-coloured plumage beholds the visiting audience. At least six species of peacock from different parts of India and Southeast Asia can be spotted. These include the Malayan peacock-pheasant, the green peafowl, the white peacock and the grey peacock-pheasant. One of the most stunning species to be housed here is the vulnerable Palawan peacock-pheasant or Tandikan—a medium-sized bird with striking opulence. Viralimalai also has some natural caverns in the hillock that indicate human habitation from an early time that offers a slice of history. At the Chola-constructed Murugan temple, it is believed that the peacocks can identify the ‘yogi rocks’ to perform their mating dance before shedding their feathers. The best time to enjoy the bewitching sight is between October and April as the birds start appearing in anticipation of Tamil Nadu’s winter monsoon.

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