Monday, January 25, 2010

Nelapattu / Pulicat

I had long been wanting to visit the Pulicat lake after seeing pictures of countless flamingoes, but surfing the internet for guidance, I got the impression that the Tamil Nadu side of the lake, via Ponneri, is awfully stinky and the boatmen fleece the tourists. Looking for an alternative location, I found that the Andhra side of Pulicat lake, i.e. the road leading to Sriharikota, and the Nelapattu bird sanctuary just 20 km further north are good locations for sighting birds. The best period to visit was indicated as October to March, so, being near the end of January, I took the plunge and hit the road.


Took the NH5 that goes all the way up to Kolkata. The highway is excellent and but for few construction spots, the road is very smooth all the way. Going from Chennai, you have to cross Red Hills, Tada and Sulurpet and proceed towards Nellore. A few kilometers after Sulurpet, you will cross a Toll Plaza (the second one on this stretch, the first being immediately after Red Hills). About 4-5 km further, you will find the road rising a little and sign boards for the Doravarisatram village and Nelapattu bird sanctuary planted on the left side. Take to the left without going through the elevated road (you can’t call it a bridge) and you will find a small tunnel-like underpass just enough to allow medium sized vehicles. Exiting the tunnel, take left and immediately take right again, to the road crossing the railway line and leading to the sanctuary. Don’t worry, big sign boards are there, you won’t miss them.

Convergence

About a kilometer or so of mud road, you will find the entrance to the sanctuary on the left side. Take the tickets and drive another kilo meter to the parking lot, from where you will have to walk the border of the lake along well laid and creepers-covered path to enjoy viewing the nesting birds from a reasonably close distance.

Entrance

Unfortunately for me, just as I entered the sanctuary, the sunny weather suddenly turned cloudy and it started to drizzle even. Lighting became poor and it remained so for the next couple of hours. I just managed a few shots of the birds and had to call it a day there. Close up shots of flowers and insects, of course, came well.

Pelican family

Cormorant


Common weed

Purple flower

In the return direction, I took the diversion from NH just before Sulurpet and took the road leading to Sriharikota. This is a 15-km stretch, with some bad patches at the Sulurpet end, that cuts across the Andhra side of Pulicat lake and leads to the Indian government’s rocket launching site, Sriharikota island. Prior written permission is required to gain entry into this island and as I did not know anyone working there, I could not go in. I did try to request the PR office, but was politely refused and had to return home. Driving back home, I saw on both sides that the larger birds were all away at quite some distance and in the harsh sun right on top did not offer much scope for photography. Had to be content with the photo of the GSLV model at Sriharikota and a few sandpipers wading in the slush on the Pulicat lake.

Ready for launch

Sandpipers

Made a mental note to visit these places again in November/December, when I believe flamingoes just invade in thousands!

These and a few more photos that I took on this trip to Nelapattu/Pulicat lake can be viewed at my flickr album, http://www.flickr.com/photos/raghu_ambattur/sets/72157623279690378.

Common black chat

Friday, January 15, 2010

A bird in hand..

.. is immense satisfaction, however much might be there more in the bushes and thickets.  That's the feeling I got when I wrapped up my photo session, spread over two days between 7.30 and 8.30 am at the Puzhal lake bund just 4 km awy from my house.  My original thought was to photograph the larger birds, but I found them too far away and the weather too a little foggy, making long shots a little hazy.  Having gone there, I did not want to return empty handed and looked for other opportunities.  Nature, I am astonished, abounds everywhere, provided you have the mind and eye to look. 
My cousin Shoba had written in one of her emails recently that the solution to most of the problems, however hard and far you search, can finally be found right under your nose.  That's very true.  My recent trips to Rangannathittu in Mysore and Vedanthangal in Chennai, though I enjoyed watching the multitude of birds that come there to nest and breed, did not satisfy my appetite for photography.  My gear, the FZ 28, is only a compact ultrazoom at best and to shoot good photos of those migratory birds from a distance calls for more professional equipment.
However, that was not the case with shooting small birds and other flora that abound here, for which my camera is more than sufficient.  What was needed was the will to drive there and spend some time in the loneliness.  I am happy I was rewarded more than I could think of.  Some photos are given here.  More can be found at flickr.  Look for Baaps - that's my name there!
Flower or fruit? Looks like custard!
custard1
Brilliant gold!
ylowflr
Am I not cute?
Puzhalbird6
A bouquet on the floor!
bouquet
Just unfurling..
Puzhalflr
buzzzzzzzz
Puzhalbugs
Leisurely chat
Puzhalbirds9
Towering plant
Puzhalplant
Nature's art
bflypuzhal1
Would be grateful if you could let me know your thoughts.
Raghu

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Changing Times!

Times, indeed, are changing.  There was a time, until just a few days ago I think, when you wanted to look for jobs with attractive salary.  Suddenly the world has gone topsy-turvy.  Now, it looks like, even to look for a job you (already) need to have attractive salary.  Don't believe me?  See what Domino's is calling for! (click on the image if it appears too small to view on your screen)














Happy New Year!