Post Trip Write-up - Bird Photography Trip - Pulicat - 1st December, 2013

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Write-up by Rangarathnam

Do you know what happens when a boat develops a hole at the bottom. As a kid you must have been told, they sink. Have you done an experiment in which you found out that a cork and a brass sinker immersed together in water weigh less than just the sinker immersed. 

Photo courtesy - Rangarathnam

So it was pretty exciting to see a couple of slits on the floorboard of the fishermen's boat on 1st Dec morning at Annamalaicheri, abutting the Pulicat Lake. Depending upon the speed of the boat, the amount of water inside the boat adjusts itself to keep the boat in balance. The spray from the prow, a drizzle from above and water upto the knees ( we were squatting!) and the fact that some of us including yours truly were wet behind the ears as far as photography is concerned, ensured that we were cent percent wet.

Photo courtesy - Rangarathnam

 But a damp squib, it was not to be as we weathered the climate and ran circles around the groups of flamingoes that populate the lake.To begin the story at the beginning, twenty-five of us got into a van and a car at IIT-M gate, Koyambedu and a few spots in between to drive to Pulicat Lake. Even the few packets of biscuits that got distributed could not mute the cacophonous hullaballu we raised as the driver negotiated the kutcha road that took us to the lake. Breakfast at the end of the road journey, and we fixed up two boats to take us across the lake. 

Photo courtesy - Rangarathnam

Delayed by rain, we spent some time in public/panchayat shelters. Soon, the oarsmen, doubling up as umpires declared the outfield to be safe for navigation. Trooping into the two boats, we were off to see what was across the lake. A fairly long journey took us to near the flamingo school. Our oarsman silenced the engine and took up a pole to do the navigation. At our suggestion, he ensured that we were broadside to the flamingoes most of the time. We had to contend only with the pitching and yawing of the boat as we clicked away happily. Intermittent bouts of showers forced us to pack our cameras time and again, but after each spell they again swung back into action. After we had a nice session, we came back to the shore we started from. On the way we also spotted a few cormorants sitting on a few poles that dot the lake, providing a photo opportunity. 

Photo courtesy - Rangarathnam

The other group also joined us back at the shore, shortly. A few people who wanted to get some shots from the shoreline also made it and then we started the road journey back.We reached Ponneri around 2PM, to stop for lunch, followed by a round of self-introductions. Then it was time to drive back home and process the images captured, to retain as memories of an exhilarating and enjoyable trip.

Write-up by Sandhya Soundarajan

At 3:45 in the morning, my alarm rang to remind me of the bird watching/photography trip that I had signed up for. At4:15, we met the other folks in Koyambedu and after an early morning tea, we all started towards Pulicat.

Photo coutesy - Madhavi Natarajan

 It was fun in the van with the group in the backseat and pulling the legs of other people in the van. The lullaby/sad songs played in the van were followed by old Tamil songs by the guys who chose to give a personal touch to the songs with their own lyrics. Then there was an antakshari session between two groups. And as usual the other group with all guys sang the same old Tamil songs - first padina song eh ye tape recorder pottu vecha madhri, they sang the same songs again and again - that too with wrong lyrics.

Photo courtesy - Madhavi Natarajan

 Then we all finally came to a conclusion that it was better to listen to lullaby songs played by the van driver itself and go to sleep for the rest of the journey. As we entered the Annamalaicheri bird sanctuary, it was a magnificent view from the window to spot/watch several migratory birds flocking together and landing in the vast green fields.

Photo courtesy - Suresh Selvaraj

We reached Pulicat at about 6:30 AM and had an early breakfast and started towards the main boating area where the shutterbugs sprang into action right away clicking the prawns and crabs with the local people there. As we got into the boat, the rains started, so we waited for some time for the skies to clear and finally started with Mission Flamingo with people split into two separate boats all handed with plastic covers to protect the gadgets. One hour of boating in Pulicat Lake and there was no sight of flamingoes :(, but we had spotted various other birds and fisherman at work showing us their catch of crabs and prawns.

Photo courtesy - Muthukumarappan

 Some of them in the boat were also playing pranks by showing us spots of white/pink here and there and calling them as flamingoes and immediately all of us in the boat would try to zoom and get a better look only to realize that they were being fooled :(. And finally thanks to our enthusiastic boatman Annamalai, we spotted a group of 40-50 flamingoes and rowed as nearby. We stayed silent and our boatman rowed us nearer to the birds for a closer view and the photographers clicked off the Flamingoes from various angles to their satisfaction - A special mention to Noel who almost mopped one half of the boat owing to his passion towards Photography. Our boatman helped us to chase the same flock of flamingoes again and again (at least 5 to 6 times) to get a better shot each time. And finally before heading back, we halted at the island and there again there were some flamingoes that flew off once we landed there and we were lucky to catch a quick glimpse of their flight. As it started raining, we finally got into the boat to head back from where we started.

In the boat, it was fun teasing each other and Pramod, who was not even spared by our boatman. Owing to his inquisitiveness to taste the crabs and prawns in any nearby restaurant, he had asked the boatman while we were rowing in the waters if any restaurant was nearby. Our boatman suddenly switched off the motor and to our confused looks, he responded back to Pramod saying that no one would ever have a restaurant or tea stall in the middle of the lake - and our group burst into laughter. As we moved on, all of us started feeling hungry. The group led by Navaneeth, who had started in a different boat had smartly taken off all the biscuit packets/snacks with them and hence the group in our boat had to kill away our hunger with smiles, conversations and photography.
As soon as we landed, the people gathered finally found some use for the tripod and took the group photos. Then we halted for lunch at Ponneri. While a handful of us left for a vegetarian lunch, most of them went to have chicken biryani. Finally after getting to know each other, we started back to Chennai with memories of the bird watching.
It was a memorable trip indeed to see a flamboyance of flamingoes at close quarters. A very special thanks to the organizers - Nivya and Navaneeth and all other trip mates for making this an awesome trip.

Write-up by Dinesh Kumar

It was fantastic and awesome photography trip to click Flamingos in Pulicat Lake... While travelling in Van teasing each other, songs, anthakshri, chat, sharing biscuits, sharing some tips about better photography, awesome sights full of green. Breakfast was fantastic… 5-6 peoples are sharing 12 dosa’s in single plate was amazing. I hope most of them are disappointed coz of rain, but we can’t able to control the rain… Still we managed and started our journey in two different boats to different location. It was awesome while riding in boats, had lot of fun, we took almost more than an hour to find Flamingo; finally we found some 40-50 Flamingos in middle of the lake. And we started to click Flamingo in different angles. I would like to thank Fisherman (Annamalai) who has helped us a lot to click some good pictures of Flamingo. I think we have gone near to Flamingos around 5 times. In the meantime I can hear few of them were too hungry they can’t able to control, still they managed for us and enjoyed the boating. I enjoyed boating a lot; we have travelled almost 4 hours in boating. While boating sometimes rain has challenged us, still we managed to cover our Camera & bags.  

Finally it was awesome and remarkable trip…  Lunch in Ponneri @ Thalapakattu hotel was awesome, they served hot Chicken Briyani @ 2:30 pm was superb and most of them enjoyed their lunch.  

Climax of the trip, small introduction about everyone and sharing their moments about the trip was good.

I enjoyed the trip a lot and hope everyone has enjoyed the trip a lot. Noel, Navanee, Nivya, Pramod, Dominic, Sandhya, Priya, Bala, Vineel, Madhavi, Ezhil, Vitor, Sanjai, Srikrisha, shahas and a lot frnds… plz forgive if missed some names.. Pramod he is one who makes everyone happy and almost everyone teased him including fisherman. Ultimate comedy of pramod, he asked tea shop and hotel in middle of the lake fisherman, he simply switched of the boat and replied, sir no one will keep tea shop at middle of the lake, everyone in the boat were laughing. He got lot of Mokkai and bulb from our rowdy girls. 

I would like to thank Navanee and Nivya for this awesome trip and to all our members. Hope we will meet you soon in another trip.

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