Asian Koel Chicks in House Crow’s Nest, Chennai

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I saw this sight of House Crows (Corvus splendens) feeding koel chicks in their nest opposite our home in Mylapore, Chennai, on the 5th of August, 2018. I waited until the next morning to be able to make an image right from the terrace (with no disturbance to the birds).

I heard the chicks calling whenever the foster parents came, and found that there were four nestlings, two slightly older (bigger) than the other two. I soon realised that all … Read More

Wikipedia Workshop for Bird enthusiasts – Ornithology edit-a-thon 2018

Wikiproject Nature and Conservation of India and Madras Naturalists Society are running a two day workshop on contributing to Wikipedia with a specific focus on images and articles related to Birds and their habitat in India.

For organizing the event we request you to REGISTER yourself in this form: https://goo.gl/forms/AqQPm6iHHANFcgJ13

(Note that there is a nominal fee (Rs. 300, Rupees Three Hundred only) to meet the administration charges. This has to be paid at the venue).

Registered Participants are encouraged … Read More

Wetlands in Peril, Chennai

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While driving to work on 13th July 2016, I witnessed rapid changes to the remaining wetlands patches along the Old Mahabalipuram Road in Chennai. Studies show that due to rapid city expansion, Chennai’s wetlands have shrunk to alarming proportions.

At a national scale, one-third of the India’s wetlands are already wiped out or severely degraded because of encroachment. Wetlands that were once home to numerous species of flora and fauna have been replaced by concrete jungles virtually in the blink … Read More

Moving Waters Film Festival — Max Mueller Bhavan, Chennai, March 25 – 26, 2017

“No water, no life. No blue, no green.” – Sylvia Earle

The second edition of Moving Waters Film Festival comes to Chennai, after a successful run in Bangalore.

Through films that tell stories about the people, places and ecosystems that make up our rivers and oceans, the Moving Waters Film Festival hopes to bridge the worlds of research, exploration, conservation and filmmaking in India.

The film festival celebrates and showcases the grandeur of our Blue Planet in a two-day film … Read More

“What’s that Lizard?” Workshop — Chennai, May 7 – 8, 2016

Madras Crocodile Bank Trust/Centre for Herpetology (MCBT/CFH) is organising a 2 day 1 night workshop for people who are interested in learning more about lizards in particular as we have a variety of them including our recent additions, the largest lizards in the world. This is part 3 of MCBT/CFH’s 4 part “What’s that Reptile?” series and the last part is “What’s in that Shell?”, which will deal exclusively with Chelonians.

For more information on any of these workshops, please … Read More

Pelican Poaching, Chennai

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This image is one of a series of pictures I took on 1st January 2013 while watching birds at Chennai’s Kelambakkam lake. This brackish backwater lake is home to a lot of migrant and resident bird species throughout the year.

This is also a haven for poachers who regularly target this place for large number of local and migratory birds during winter for the excessive demand for meat on weekends. In this instance, it didn’t seem like organised poaching but … Read More

Day of the Jackal, Chennai

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While on our usual birding trip, we headed towards this grassland on the outskirts of Chennai looking for migrant species. This is actually a fresh water lake and beautiful grassland side by side, with the monsoon bringing in a copious inflow from sources near the lake. The lake is one of the important wetlands around Chennai, and serves as foraging and breeding grounds for several resident and migratory birds. As we started to scan, we suddenly saw movement, and noticed … Read More

Jungle Cat in the Bag

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On the morning of 28th November, when Balaji Rayadurgam, Karthik Ramamurthy and I went birding on the outskirts of Chennai, we heard gunshots. Closer inspection revealed that the shots were being fired by 2 poachers, who were coming out a field with a gun in hand and a bag. We caught them red-handed and snatched the weapons and the bag, anticipating birds inside. But we were taken by surprise as there was something else — a jungle cat — which … Read More

Spot-billed Pelicans on High Tension Cables, Pallikaranai

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The Spot-billed or Grey Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) is a near threatened bird confined to India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. Here they are seen perched on high voltage cables that run through the centre of the Pallikaranai marshes in Chennai.

These marshes support scores of bird species, such as jacanas, lapwings, warblers, moorhens, coots and dabchicks, in addition to pelicans.

Even though a major portion of the marshland was declared a reserve forest in 2007, most of it has … Read More

Chinese Pond Heron in Kelambakkam Lake, Chennai

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While birding on the morning of Saturday, 30th March 2013, I saw a Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchu), in full breeding plumage at Kelambakkam Lake, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. A lone bird was observed feeding on a small bund in the backwaters of the lake.

The Chinese Pond Heron looks almost identical to Indian Pond Heron and difficult to identify in non-breeding plumage. The size difference (Chinese is 8cm larger) is difficult to make out in the field. In … Read More

Growing City, Displaced Flamingos

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Kelambakkam is a brackish backwater lagoon situated near Chennai. The backwaters are heaven for waders, gulls, terns, pelicans, painted storks and cormorants. Greater flamingos have been spotted here regularly. During migration season, a lot of waders such as (Eurasian curlew, whimbrel, lesser and greater sand plovers, terns (little/gull billed/Caspian/whiskered), gulls, redshanks, greenshanks, stints, black winged stilts, pied avocets etc., are seen here. Kelambakkam is around 30 kms from Chennai city, and was pretty much undisturbed – until recently. Industrial and … Read More

Changing Landscapes

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Chennai is surrounded by a number of waterbodies. Kelambakkam backwaters, near Kovalam beach is home to a variety of birds that stop over on long migratory journeys. Some are local migrants like Painted Storks. Visitors from abroad include Flamingos, Western Reef Egrets and many species of Terns.

Storks like many birds wade in the shallows of the water bodies for catching fish and crabs, but the landscape around these water bodies is changing. With the city growing fast, an array … Read More

Bird Poachers Caught Red-handed at Kelambakkam Lake, Chennai

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I took this image of two poachers trapping waders (mainly little stints) flying low over Kelambakkam lake near Chennai and getting trapped in mesh nets. I was birding along the lake accompanied by Vaithiyanathan, also a birdwatcher and photographer. Both of us are members of the Photographic Society of Madras (PSM).

When we reached the lake, I saw two people crouched on one of the small islands in the backwaters. I took a test shot with my camera to check … Read More

Birdwatchers Help Nab Waterfowl Poachers in Siruthavur Lake Near Chennai

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Two and half of hours of drama unfolded at the Siruthavur lake this morning (3rd June 2012). Five of us from the Madras Naturalists Society (MNS) had come to watch and photograph birds in Siruthavur lake, 40 km from Chennai in Tiruvallur district. The lake was full of birds when we arrived around 7 AM. Just as we reached the lakeshore we heard gunshots. We saw grey herons fall followed by egrets. The shots lasted for half an hour or … Read More

Q: In South Chennai, Pallikarnai Marsh is a beautiful wetland which has been home to over 100 species of birds resident & migratory, many small mammals, amphibians & fish species. Sadly the state government is not doing enough to protect this marsh which is now becomeing a wasteland dumping of the city’s garbage. Everyday this space is shrinking by all the buildings coming around. Whom do we need to approach to stop all this and can any PIL be filed against the State Government by an individual for the state’s negligence in protecting its wetland & the species.

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A: Over the last two decades, several individuals, NGOs and even government departments have tried to save the Pallikaranai marshes from destruction. But the pressure to find land for garbage dumping, housing and office space has meant that large portions of the marsh have been eaten away. What remains is highly polluted with the city’s toxic waste, sewage and garbage. As per a draft notification issued by the Government on April 9, 2007, about 317 hectares of the marsh was … Read More