Thursday, January 1, 2009

My Trip to Pichavaram Mangroves

Pichavaram is the second largest mangrove forest in the world. Pichavaram is located in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu. I visited this place recently for birdwatching and bird photography. I was not disappointed. The first bird that I saw was the Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus). Another name for this bird is Red-backed Sea Eagle. What a beautiful bird! Amazing. These birds have disappeared in many places in Tamil Nadu. So I get to see and take photos of this bird only once or twice a year. They feed on dead fish and crabs. And they nest near the water and marshlands.

After a few minutes in the car, I spotted the Open-billed storks (Anastomus oscitans), Little egret (Egretta garzetta), and Pond heron (Ardeola grayii). Beautiful. :))) Got out of the car to take some photos of them. Open billed storks are beautiful birds with white or off white colour with black colouration on the wings.

I saw a beautiful mongrel nearby. I love Indian dogs, mongrels, etc. :))) Though I did not take a photo of this one.

I saw another beautiful bird in the paddy fields. I think it was a Broad-billed sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus). Was intently searching for food as I took the photo. )))

Afterwards, I reached the boating area where I saw three Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica). I was watching them for sometime and had my breakfast. Small, beautiful and colourful birds. :)))

Then we hired a boat for a 2 hour trip to the mangrove forests. Below are some photos that I took of the mangroves. Beautiful, peaceful, serene. :)))

We entered the small path through the mangroves. The only sound was the boatman giving us a talk about the size of the place, naming some of the plants in Tamil, and telling us when and where we might see the birds inside the mangroves. I saw a White-throated kingfisher flying in front of our boat. I heard many parakeets flying above the boat and nearby. Then I saw the Median egret (Egretta intermedia). I have never been this close to this egret and it was great. :)))

Then we entered the mangrove caves. Beautiful. Great experience. See the photo below. The cave is of overhanging roots on all sides of us. Thrilling.

After we came out of the cave I spotted the Blue-tailed bee eaters (Merops philippinus). They are such colourful, beautiful birds. :)))

Then we spotted the Black-crowned night heron bathing. Again, I must say, I have never been this close to this bird till now. Beautiful bird. :)))

After this, we entered another mangrove forest cave. Here I took a photo of the flower of the mangrove plants.

Painted Storks (Mycteria leucocephala). Yes, even they are found in large numbers in the winter season in this mangroves. I did not know this till now. Beautiful birds. :)))

Last, but not the least I spotted Grey herons (Ardea cinerea) and a Grey Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) flying overhead. This is a beautiful sight. :)))

After this wonderful trip of 2 hours, we reached the starting point. There is a watchtower from which we can see a lot of the mangrove area. From here I spotted some birds. The Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), Little egret, Lesser sand plover (Charadrius mongolus), White-browed wagtail (Motacilla madaraspatensis), White-throated kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), and Spotted dove (Streptopelia chinensis).

We had our lunch here. There is a canteen here where there are some tables put up for having a relatively quiet, peaceful lunch.

On the way back I spotted the Red wattled lapwings (Vanellus indicus), Lesser pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), and Indian roller (Coracias benghalensis). Beautiful and colourful birds. :)))

I have taken a photo of this beautiful lamb running. :)))

A very satisfying trip. :)))