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| Last Updated:: 18/02/2020

A huge flock of flamingos takes flight to Dhanushkodi








Guess who’s got the Ghost Town of Dhanushkodi in a flap! Flamingos. Thousands of them. It’s a sight many are making a beeline to see. Dhanuskodi, that also goes by the moniker of Ghost Town after it was destroyed in the 1964 Rameswaram cyclone, is an abandoned town in Ramanathapuram, and lies at the tip of the southeastern coast of Tamil Nadu. It is just 24km from Talaimannar, in Sri Lanka.




They’ve increased in Numbers

Because it is abandoned, the unruffled ecosystem of the town perfectly suits the habitat of the bird, says G Venkatesan, the ranger in charge of the area. “This is the largest site in the state with more than 8000 birds, and the numbers have increased by about 3000 as compared to last year,” says Venkatesan.




Flamingos flock to Dhanushkodi

When the birds collectively spread their wings and flap about, it’s as if nature has spread a pink bedsheet near Kothanda Ramar Temple, 7km from Dhanushkodi, where they’ve congregated in huge numbers. This temple is believed to be the place where Lord Rama performed the ‘Pattabhishekam’ (ascension ceremony of a king) for Vibhishana, Ravana’s brother after defeating the latter in battle. Fishermen who venture to this site tell us that nowadays people have become aware of these birds and some come from afar to click pictures.




Which flamingo?

There are six species of flamingos: American Flamingo, Andean Flamingo, Chilean Flamingo, Greater Flamingo, James’s Flamingo and Lesser Flamingo. The flamingos you see in Dhanuskodi are mostly Greater Flamingos and sometimes, you can spot a few Lesser Flamingos, says Badrinarayanan. But what is the difference between the two species? “The Greater Flamingo is the taller of the two species, and their plumage tends to be whiter than pink. Greater flamingos have light pink beaks with a dark tip,” explains Dr. Badrinarayanan




Found around...

“Flamingos are found in all coastal pockets, but huge numbers congregate at Point Calimere in Nagapattinam district and in Dhanuskodi. Even though saline water is the best place for them to dwell, they are also seen in some interior districts like Madurai, but it is all a part of their migratory travel.”



Flamingos are vegetarians!


They are filter feeders, says Dr T Badrinarayanan, a well-known bird watcher and opthamologist by profession from Madurai. Filter feeding is a method of aquatic feeding in which the bird simply opens the mouth and take in whatever happens to be there, while it filters out the undesirable parts. They consume only the zooplanktons in the saline water, informs Badrinarayanan.




Other birds found here

Other than flamingos, seagulls, terns and cormorants are also found in the habitat in and around Dhanushkodi.




Where else are flamingos found in India

Rann of Kutch in Gujarat

Chilika Lake in Odisha





Source: The Times of India, 18 February 2020, Chennai.