In the previous post, I described the water birds I had spotted at Vedanthangal, the beautiful bird sanctuary located in Tamil Nadu, India. We also saw some other fascinating birds, including bee-eaters, babblers, woodpeckers, owlets, and parakeets. India is home to an amazing range of avifauna!
Blue-tailed bee-eaters are found (Merops philippinus) widespread through South and Southeast Asia. I thought they were non-migratory birds, but apparently, the populations in India are migratory. Bee-eaters predominantly eat insects, especially bees, hornets and wasps which they catch using their beak. The insects caught are beaten on the perch to break the exoskeleton and kill them. They are skillful hunters, don’t be fooled by the beautiful, exotic colors of this bird!
Another bird with vivid colors was the Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri). In Singapore, they are not so common. In many places they are considered a pest or invasive species that may affect native biodiversity. These parakeets were particularly curious and kept peering at us.
We also had a close encounter with a Common Flameback (Dinopium javanense) woodpecker. It was a male, as seen by its reddish crown. An interesting fact about these woodpeckers is that they use tree sap to get rid of ectoparasites on their feathers. Usually, birds use ants for this purpose, in a phenomenon called “anting”.
As we were finishing the walk at the sanctuary, my aunt called out to us to show us an adorable Spotted Owlet (Athene brama) that was sitting alone. I had seen one on my previous trip to the sanctuary, but not so close by! The little guy was trying so hard to keep its eyes open to keep watch on us but his eyes kept shutting to sleep!
Spotted Owlets are a common species found in open habitats such as farmlands and have adapted well to living in cities, benefitting from the presence of rodents. They roost in hollows of trees or cavities in buildings or rocks in small groups. I haven’t really spotted owls in Singapore even though they live in our neighborhood, so this was a great opportunity to observe one up close!
That brings me to the end of my trip to Vedanthangal. I also visited Kothigiri, a hill station near the city of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, where we walked through a forest trail and saw some amazing fauna. I will write about that soon! Until then, have a great weekend 🙂
VEDANTHANGAL BIRD SANCTUARY
Address: Vedathangal, Madurantakam, Tamil Nadu 603314, India
Best Season to Visit: The best time to visit the sanctuary is during the winter seasons that is from the month of November to March. Migratory birds also fly into the sanctuary during November to December. The sanctuary is open throughout the year.
- Rs. 5 per person for children
- Rs. 25 per person for adults
- Extra will need to be paid for cameras
- Binoculars available for purchase in the sanctuary
Accommodation: For accommodation in Vedanthangal, you can either go for the Forest Department Rest House or Hotel Tamil Nadu of the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation. One can make reservation at the Chennai Office.
By Air: The nearest airport to Vedanthangal is Chennai international airport which is approximately 70 km from the sanctuary.
By Train: The nearest railway station is Chengalpet Railway Station which is 26 km away from Vedanthangal. One can hire taxi from the station to the sanctuary. Ola (https://www.olacabs.com/fares/chennai) a service similar to Uber and Grab is a convenient way of getting around Chennai and India in general.
By Bus: To travel by road from Chennai, take the national highway no. 45 to Chengalpattu and head south towards Padalam junction. A right turn here will lead to the sanctuary road. There are many buses running between Vedanthangal and Chengalpet, Kanchipuram, Chennai, and Mahabalipuram. One can choose between air-conditioned and non-airconditioned buses.
Duration of stay: If you are going for a single day visit, it is best to visit the sanctuary in the early morning hours from 7am onwards. There will be a smaller crowd of people and you can witness many birds coming out of their nests and flying around. There is enough to see for a whole day at the sanctuary, and if you are staying overnight you can visit a couple of times. Advisable to carry your own food as there are limited places to buy/eat food nearby, and you can have a picnic at the sanctuary as well.
(Source for the info on Vendanthangal directions: Tamilnadu Tourism)