Spot Billed Pelican or the Grey Pelican as they are called are birds of the Pelican Family. These birds are found from Pakistan, India and across to Indonesia. The birds are found in large lakes, coastal areas and large inland water bodies. A lack of bright colours and the grey plumage make this bird easily distinguishable. These birds have spots on the upper mandible (beak). These spots are normally visible only at close range. Mainly white, with grey crest and brownish tail. Feathers on the neck curl and form a grayish crest. These birds fish singly or in small groups. While flying to their roosts, they form small groups and fly with steady flapping. The birds build nests along with other colonial waterbirds like the Painted storks. Breeding is from October to May, while in Tamilnadu breeding follows after the onset of the Northeast Monsoon. A clutch of 3-4 chalky white eggs are laid. The eggs hatch in about 30 odd days. The young ones are covered in white at hatching and later moult to grayish plumage. The spots on the upper mandible appear after a years time.
Vedanthangal a bird sanctuary is about 75kms from Chennai. Migratory birds like pintail, blue winged teal, common sandpiper etc appear here. Best time to see the sanctuary is from November to March. Cormorants, Darters, Ibis, Egrets, Open Billed Storks, etc are a regular visitor to this sanctuary. The locals around this place have been protecting the sanctuary for well over 250 years. The villagers have realized the importance of the birds and their crop productivity. They have understood that the bird droppings in the water created guano which acted as fertilizer. During a short visit I was able to see plovers, teals, Spoon bills, open bills, Ibis, painted storks etc. And my visit was at the end of march, the fag end of the season.
This Spot billed Pelican on the right had a wing problem and was seen fishing close to the banks. The bird other than the wing issue looked pretty healthy. When I spoke with the forest department staff over there, they informed me that they had noticed the bird and that it was under observation.