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Pulicat Lake (Andhra Pradesh)

From Opus

Grey-headed LapwingPhoto by Wintibird
Grey-headed Lapwing
Photo by Wintibird


[edit] Overview

Pulicat Lake is a quite large lagoon, open to the sea in South India. The larger part lies in Andhra Pradesh, the smaller southern part in Tamil Nadu. Varying according to the rainfall, the lake can take more than 700sqkm, but in summer large parts fall dry.

[edit] Birds

[edit] Notable Species

Pulicat Lake is an important wintering site for waders and waterfowl. Thousands of Little Stints make it hard to find the rare Red-necked Stint. Around the lake Pacific Golden Plover and Grey-headed Lapwing are wintering. Most ducks are Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail and Northern Shoveler but anything is possible. The lake is also famous for the Greater Flamingos, sometimes mixed with some Lesser Flamingos. They may be hard to find when the northern part of the lake falls dry. Other notable species are Black-headed Ibis and Glossy Ibis, Spot-billed Pelican, Painted Stork, Ashy Woodswallow, Pied Cuckoo and Richard's Pipit.

[edit] Rarities

Photo by WintibirdPulicat Lake in January
Photo by Wintibird
Pulicat Lake in January

There are records of Lesser Frigatebird, Common Ringed Plover and Slender-billed Gull. In 1840, Thomas Jerdon collected a Black-fronted Dotterel here, the only record ever of this species outside Australasia. The area is underwatched and has a great potential for rarities.

[edit] Check-list

Birds you can see here include:

Grey Francolin, Bar-headed Goose, Lesser Whistling Duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Indian Spot-billed Duck, Common Teal, Garganey, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Black-rumped Flameback, Coppersmith Barbet, Common Hoopoe, Indian Roller, White-throated Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Green Bee-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Pied Cuckoo, Greater Coucal, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Asian Palm Swift, House Swift, Spotted Dove, Laughing Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Coot, Common Moorhen, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Stint, Red-necked Stint, Temminck's Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Greater Painted-Snipe, Ruff, Eurasian Thick-knee, Great Thick-knee, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Pacific Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Grey-headed Lapwing, Red-wattled Lapwing, Brown-headed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Little Tern, Caspian Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Osprey, Black Kite, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Western Marsh Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, White-eyed Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Little Cormorant, Little Egret, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Cattle Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Black-headed Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Spot-billed Pelican, Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Brown Shrike, Bay-backed Shrike, House Crow, Large-billed Crow, Ashy Woodswallow, Black Drongo, Oriental Magpie Robin, Common Myna, Barn Swallow, Red-vented Bulbul, Ashy Prinia, Plain Prinia, Jerdon's Bushlark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Oriental Skylark, Purple Sunbird, Yellow Wagtail, Paddyfield Pipit, Richard's Pipit, Tricolored Munia

[edit] Other Wildlife

The beaches of Sriharikota Island are nesting grounds of Sea Turtles. Unfortunately they are out of reach for foreign visitors.

[edit] Site Information

Best between November and March. The size of the lake is variable and depends on the monsoon. In March or even in February the northern part may be dry.

[edit] History and Use

Pulicat Lake is used for fishing and collecting prawns. Nearby Sriharikota Island holds the Satish Dhawan Space Centre from where India launches its satellites. Big parts of the island are restricted area. Near Pulicat are the ruins of a Dutch fort and trading place.

[edit] Areas of Interest

Photo by WintibirdWatchtower
Photo by Wintibird

There are several places to be explored, best seemed to be the road from Sullurpet to Sriharikota Island. Take the National Highway 5 from Chennai north. Pass Ponneri, Tada and the first sign for Sullurpet. After another km a second sign to the right indicates "Sriharikota". Follow the sign and cross the small town of Sullurpet. The road turns left and soon after the town there are some fine marshes to the left. They can be easily explored from the road (Telescope is a must in the whole area).

If you follow the road further, there is some grass- and bushland to the right which is good for Pied Cuckoo, Larks and Pipits. Waders are abundant.

Further out there may be water to both sides of the road and big mudflats with thousands of Stints, Plovers and Flamingos. Finally you reach Sriharikota island, but you better be careful with telescopes and binoculars as it is a Space Research Centre. You will have to return here, as the visit of the island is not allowed for foreign tourists. Keep your eyes open for Black-capped Kingfisher at the last bridge before Sriharikota. There is also a road to the south, going away from the main road at an information centre. The road leads to an island with the villages Venadu and Kuppam. The habiat is drier here and different birds can be found, eg. Harriers. The road is in poor condition but doable.

You can also hire boats at Tada and explore the region around this village. The southern parts around Pulicat and Coromandel are deeper and harbour fewer birds.

[edit] Access and Facilities

Map by WintibirdMap of the area
Map by Wintibird
Map of the area

You can reach the site from Chennai (formerly known as Madras), the capital of Tamil Nadu.

If you take a taxi from Chennai (costs about 2000 to 2500 Rs) make sure that he has a permit to enter the state of Andhra Pradesh (can be obtained by the driver or he has an all Indian permit).

The site can be reached by car in a day from Chennai, where various acccomodation can be found. There are some small and basic places in Sullurpet and Tada and a Forest Rest House at Pulicat, at the southern tip of the lake which is not so interesting for birds. There are some basic restaurants and foodstalls in Sullurpet, but best is to bring food and water with you to spend more time in the field.

[edit] External Links


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