An owl & other birds! As part of a quick business trip to Chennai, I made two short trips to Nanmangalam (morning) and Vedanthangal (afternoon). The Nanmangalam Reserve Forest is spread over 320-hectares on the outskirts of Chennai (between Velacheri and Tambaram) is a natural scrub forest with a few half-quarried hills in its midst. Though the quarries are abandoned the RF still faces a lot of pressure from the surrounding villages. Inspite of problems, Nanmangalam supports a healthy / breeding population of Eurasian Eagle Owls (Bubo bubo) (or is it Bubo bengalensis?) and the owls were highest on my priority. Luckily, I spotted a solitary adult owl on my way out. Owls apart, birding was very good though negotiating my rig through thorn was far from easy!
Vedanthangal bird sanctuary is one of the smallest (70 acres; < 1 sq km) and oldest in the country. The local people have been protecting the sanctuary for centuries because of the nitrogen-rich water (thanks to the droppings) that super-irrigates their crop. The sanctuary is 86 kms south of Chennai in Chinglepet district and is a very straightforward drive. Very similar to Ranganthitoo near Mysore, Vedanthangal is a must visit for the experience of seeing nesting birds in the thousands within very close range (including Grey Pelicans). For photographers, it is one of the best places to practice and perfect flight photography (especially evenings as the sun goes down behind you offering magical light from 3 pm until sunset). The gallery starts with images from Nanmangalam till the Hoopoe and the Vedanthangal images begin with the Little Cormorant. Cheers, –ramki Bangalore | Mar 2008