Friday, 26 March 2010

Bird Watching at Pallikkaranai

Spot Billed Pelican

Bird Watching at Pallikkaranai

Here are the photos taken during the outing

A plan was on to go for a bird watching trip to the Marsh Lands in Pallikkarani from CTC photography team. Though the birding season is over and almost all the migratory birds would have gone back, we nevertheless decided to go on for a bird watching.

For me, the day started as early as 4:00am. I was to be picked up from Guindy, which means that I will have to travel from Annanagar to Guindy. I was really surprised to know that during that time of the morning, the buses would be so jam packed from Koyambedu. Good that I dropped the idea of carrying a tripod.

Anyways, I reached Guindy by around 5:00am and called Hari, the organizer of the event. Meanwhile the others have already gathered at the Velachery MRTS station by around 5:30. Hari and me reached there by around 5:45am. Without wasting any further time, we distributed the fruits that Hari had brought along and start towards the marsh land. The entire place was thickly covered with smog. We were a bit surprised to see such thick smog during this time of the year. I was even wondering if there would be any dew at all, but later on it was confirmed that there was quite a lot of dew. See for yourself...

Hari, who had come there the previous week, was really shocked to see that the water had dried up quite a lot and there was only very little water left out. Now this has turned out to be a real marsh land. But we were not disappointed as to the availability of birds. We could immediately see that there were a few Egrets and Herons hoping around. We drove a bit further and took the road that connects Pallikkaranai and Pallavaram in which you can see the most of the marsh land. The stretch would be about 2 kms long. The marsh land extended quite far on both sides of the road.

Everyone parked their vehicles at the start of the road and started walking along the land. A few had brought some birding books which would help in identifying the birds and Hari also had brought a binocular for spotting distant birds.

While everyone were engrossed in watching birds and few attempting to watch bugs a flowers, your truly, notorious for catching people unawares, got into the candid camera business. Though it was not a major success, there were some funny catches!

We walked along the road and were able to spot quite a few birds, and of course some poochis (bugs / insects whatever) and photograph them too. Following is the list of birds that we were able to spot in the 2 to 3 hours of spending there.

Little Egret
Intermediate Egret
Cattle Egret
Indian Pond Heron
Purple Heron
Painted Stork
Black Headed Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Black Winged Stilt
Spot Billed Pelican
Purple Swamphen
Plain Prinia
Ashy Prinia
Black Drongo
Rosy Starling
White Throated Kingfisher
Pheasant Tailed Jacana
Marsh Sandpiper

There could be more. I am still waiting for some the birders to update their findings.

After spending about 2 hours or so, and when the sum has started beating on us really hard, we decided to return back. We headed to the Velachery Ratna Café and had a good breakfast, before calling it a day.

Overall it was an interesting day with so many birds still hanging out in Chennai irrespective of the heat and the end of birding season.

Purple Heron

Monday, 22 March 2010

Univercell Chennai IndiBlogger meet

Univercell Chennai IndiBlogger meet

The much awaited IndiBlogger Chennai meet was held in Chennai on the 20th of March 2010. Since the meet is happening after 2 years, there was huge expectation for such an event. Since there were some problems with the WiFi setup in GRT convention centre, the start was a bit delayed. About 200 bloggers had turned up for this event and were swarming the registration desk for registering their attendance to the meet.

Event started with Anoop introducing (or damaging should I say) all the people behind the IndiBlogger. This was followed by a hilarious video presentation of Hitler doing everything he can to make it for the meet, but was unable to. This did set up the tempo for the meet.

The main purpose of such a meet is to have face connect with other bloggers and to know about each other. The session that followed was a self introduction – 30 SECONDS OF FAME – in which every one is given 30 seconds to say something about themselves and their blog. It usually would be 1 min, but due to the overwhelming crowd and a bit of delay in the start this was restricted to only 30 seconds for each person.

What would have otherwise been a boring session in almost any other forum, this was rather very interesting, made interesting by the people who introduced themselves and occasionally the “manual time reminder” by the organizers. We were introduced to people who maintain a whooping 18 blogs and still manage to manage all these along with getting good hits, people have earned from their blogs – there was a person who was blogging for over 5 years and have earned over 1.5 lakhs!!! We also had people from media who are regular bloggers and who think blogging gets more reach than the traditional media. It was really good and pleasantly surprising to know almost all the 200 people blog about 200 different things! Even more heartening was to know that there was a very good number of Tamil bloggers who attended this meet. There was even one Tamil Blogger who had come for the meet all the way from New Zealand, where she has settled down for the past 25 years, but actively blogging in Tamil. Hats off to the entire crowd!!

Following the introduction, everyone were given a chart with a string attached to it. This exercise was – I would put it as – BACK SCRATCHING – something like a backbiting? Maybe. Once people know what each other do, they are to comment on each other and their blogs. This was mostly used to as a written introduction to each others blogs. A very welcome and different kind of exercise which immediately interested everyone. I am sure there had been many funny comments on some of the charts. 

Next came the DISCUSSION TIME in which Mr. Bala Barathy of Zee Tamil was to answer the queries that bloggers have. He along with another veteran from an Australian media answered to the queries of the bloggers. To be honest this could have been still made better. Of course, there were some useful information and talks, but overall this part was not as interesting as the rest.

Next, it was the turn of the sponsors of the meet UNIVERCELL gave their talk in which they revealed that they are now planning to start a blog on their own. They also have invited reviews from the participants about some of the latest mobile phones and announced that the best reviewer would get become the official blogger for Univercell. I am sure there are quite some takers for this.

Finally, FOOD AND REFRESHMENTS, definitely the most awaited of all. I somehow cannot stop wondering if it is master-plan of the organizers to have this at the end. . Friends were made during this time as well and many of us exchanged our cards and blogs with the others. T-shirts were distributed after the refreshments to end a very well organized blogger’s meet.

Overall a very well organized event which helped in knowing more about blogging as well as fellow bloggers. It would be great if more such events are organized in Chennai.