August 12, 2015
There is no best way to show children birds and animals than in their own natural habitat. And, this is what environmentalist Umesh Marudachalam, who is a bird watcher, did for students of Government schools students. He took them to see birds in their natural environs.
About 50 students from Government Higher Secondary School near Thondamuthur were fortunate to go on a ‘Bird watching’ trip starting from Siruvani to Nandangarai stream where they saw migratory birds at Nandangarai even while enjoying the scenic beauty of the Western Ghats. At Siruvani area, the students could spot some Indian Pond Heron or paddy birds on the water bodies.
Since the students reached the spot by 8 a.m., Umesh said that they could easily spot the birds.
“They are widespread and common, but can be easily missed when they stalk prey at the edge of small water-bodies or even when they roost close to human habitations. They are however distinctive when they take off with bright white wings flashing in contrast to the cryptic streaked olive and brown colours of the body. Their camouflage is so excellent that they can be approached closely before they take to flight, a behaviour which has resulted in folk names and beliefs that the birds are short-sighted or blind.”
According to Umesh, the ideal time for bird watching was before sunrise and after sunset as it is during this period that birds flock to the water bodies. During winter season, flocks of migratory birds from Australia can be spotted across the lakes in Coimbatore city besides the sylvan surroundings of Nandangarai and Ettimadai area.
It was a totally different experience for students to spend time in bird watching as well as enjoying nature’s beauty. Saravanan, a Standard IX student expressed his happiness in visiting a bird watching spot, which was situated away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Nandangarai is a kind of peaceful serene utopia situated 30 km from the city and a perennial stream is originating from the Western Ghats. It flows down for about 3 km through the densely covered forest and 2 km along the Eastern forest boundary to join River Chinnar at Sadivayal check post. There are 12 small streams (small and medium) that contribute water to the Nandangarai stream, Umesh said adding students got an opportunity to see migratory birds in close quarters.
Umesh further pointed out that school students, through this ‘bird watching’ trip, developed an interest in bird watching. He said that there are 31 lakes of which 20 are located in city limits, which are ideal places for bird watching. Better to be at the spot as early as 5.30 a.m. since birds frequent the area till 8 a.m. After that, birds fly away from the area following vehicle movement on roadsides.