Location: 85 kms from Madras, 25 km from Chingleput. Best season: The best season is October to February. Vedanthangal is a 90-minute journey from Chennai. It is the oldest water bird sanctuary in the country. Vedanthangal in Tamil means 'place of the hunter'. The area was a favourite hunting spot for the local landlords 300 years ago. The region attracted a variety of birds because it was dotted with small lakes that acted as feeding grounds for the birds. Realising its ornithological importance, the British government undertook steps to develop Vedanthangal into a bird sanctuary as early as 1798. This was established in 1858 by the order of the Collector of Chingleput District. Spread across just 2 sq km, the small sanctuary can be reached by walk from Vedanthangal village. The migrating birds come from far-off lands like Siberia, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for nesting and breeding. A large bund or embankment divides it from the nearby paddy fields and provides a shady walkway to stroll around and watch the birds. The best time of the day is early morning or towards sunset, when the birds are either flying out to nearby lakes or coming back to roost. There are no boat rides here but two watchtowers and one viewing platform provide vantage points from which the birds may be seen. Cormorants, Egrets, Grey Herons, Night Herons, Open-Billed Storks, Darters, Ibises, Spoonbills, Grebes, Pelicans, Garganey Teals, Shovellers, Pintails, Stilts, Sandpipers etc come here to breed and nest for about six months from October to March, depending on the monsoons. The sanctuary has survived mainly due to the efforts of the local villagers, who have recognised the value of bird droppings (guano) as a fertiliser of great merit and have worked hard to preserve this place.
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