| 'I believe any trip in search of wildlife can be coupled with physical activity and elements of cultural diversity to form a thrilling opportunity '
I have this strange life-long fascination with flamingos. I have no idea where I got it or even when it started. I have two plastic pink flamingos in our yard here in Montana . One of them has been with me to the glaciers of Alaska
, South America , and Nepal . For me it is reassuring to see a pink flamingo, even a plastic one, when camped on ice at altitude. But I still don't know where the fascination began, only that I need to satisfy my desire to watch and listen to flamingos. Years
ago, in Chennai, I listened to a man talk about all the flamingos he had seen at a place called, Point Calimere. Of course, I had to go and see for myself.
Point Calimere is a wildlife refuge and bird sanctuary on the middle east coast of India , south of Chennai. It was January and I saw a great number of flamingo's, and a lot more. This place, known to locals as Kodiakkarai, is
a meeting of three distinct habitats, dry evergreen forest, mangrove swamp, and wetland. It is just across the strait from Sri Lanka and is geologically a low headland. In addition to flamingos, it is a great place to observe blackbuck and watch dolphins.
Over 425 specie of bird has been identified at Calimere. I think I counted about 40 as we bobbed across the sand in a TATA Sumo. One of the best places at Calimere to watch and listen for birds is at the fringe of the habitat interfaces, especially along the
Cauvery River . Even thought the sanctuary is fairly small deer are plentiful and there are some wild horses as well. And that's not all.
At the high point along the coast is a place known as Ramarpatham, in the Tamil language. On that spot, which cannot be more than five meters above sea level, are two tiny foot prints set in stone. Legend says the prints were left
by Rama. The indentations in the stone are clearly visibly and lead the viewer to conclude that Rama was either very young when he left them or was not a large man. There are also two interesting light houses. The younger one looks like a light house a person
might see along the eastern seaboard of North America . It is white with a red roof and has a commanding view. The other is small and sits on the beach. It is considered to be over 1000 years old and was built by the ‘Chola Kings' who ruled Tamil Nadu. From
what I have read in the news, this older light house was badly damaged by the recent tsunami. I have also read that much of Calimere was under water for a brief period. We will wait and see what effect the tsunami will have on the migratory bird life, especially
I hope each of you takes the time to visit, remember winter is the best time. Cheers.
( Flamingos- Susan Sharma)