Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ranganathittu- An Abode of Winged Marvels

Nature’s canvas sprinkled with a medley of enchanting colours, right from God’s own palette; It is by no means a flight of my fancy, but a reality! Ranganathittu, a tiny sanctuary on the banks of the Cauvery river is an avian paradise and a bird-watcher’s delight!

Several small islets in the river, surrounded by dense shrubs, bushes and trees make it an ideal place for several local and migratory birds for nesting and breeding.

Visiting Ranganathittu

The early bird gets his worm in Ranganathittu! The earlier you reach, the better it is! Being a nature lover’s haven does not dissuade the other variety of ‘bird-watchers’, the typical ‘picnic’ families (with noisy children, lunch boxes, music systems et al) or the endemic urban couple in pursuit of some privacy to stumble upon this place! Hence, it is advisable for serious bird-watchers to visit the sanctuary early for some rewarding experience. A boat ride in the river along-side the islets and bushes, gives you an incredibly close view of the birds, their nests, eggs and chicks! Most of the local boat-men double up as guides too, but allow them to regale you with their tales at your own risk!

Feathered Delight

Birds of the same feather do not flock at Ranganathittu! In fact a multitude of avian species ranging from local inhabitants to visitors from as far as Siberia and Australia uncannily alight here year after year! Some of the exotic species of birds that we could see on our visit in February 2007, were painted storks, spoonbills, open bill storks, darters, white Ibis, little cormorants, , partridge, river tern, stone plougher, egret, heron and snake birds. It was the peak of the breeding season and the birds displayed their astonishingly colourful plummage much to our delight!

It was an amazing experience to watch painted storks sunbathing, precariously perched on tree-tops with their wings spread. Scientifically, such spread-wing postures are thought to be adopted for wing drying, thermoregulation, realigning of feathers or for easy removal of pests. But to my urbane mind, they seemed to emulate a svelte model gently lifting up her lacy skirt to reveal her slender legs!
Was it a social display for courtship?

A river tern and her two cute chicks were seen on the rocks soaking in the warmth of the early sunrays. As soon as our boat passed close by, roused by her unerring motherly instincts, mother Tern gave us a stern warning to stay away!

It was an eerie sight to observe several bats (Indian Flying Fox) hanging from trees at the sanctuary. We encountered several crocodiles( Indian marsh crocodile), some of them lazily sunbathing on the rocks, with sinister jaws wide open. However, our boatman assured us that the river was too full of nutritious fish, for the crocs to even throw a second glance at skinny homosapiens!

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