Post event write-up – Camping and Bird Watch @ Pulicat Lake

We 25 birding enthusiast had a blast of time @ Pulicat Lake on 14-April-2017. Here are the write-up from participants.

From Raghav

ஒரு பயணம் என்பதே மனதுக்கு சந்தோசம் தரும் அதிலும் அதே பயணத்தில் புதிதாக ஒன்றை  கற்றுக்கொள்ள வாய்ப்பு கிடைத்தால் இன்னும் சிறப்பு அப்படி பற்றிய ஒரு பயணத்தையும் பயணத்தில் நடந்த சுவாரஸ்யமான நிகழ்வுகளையும் விவரித்துள்ளேன்.

சமீபத்தில் பறவைகளை பற்றி அறிய ஒரு வாய்ப்பு கிடைத்தது

பழவேற்காடு ஏரி (பழவேற்காடு பறவைகள் சரணாலயம், Pulicat lake bird sanctuary)
இந்தியாவின் இரண்டாவது பெரிய உப்பு நீர் ஏரி. இது சென்னையில் இருந்து 60 கி.மீ தொலைவில் தமிழக ஆந்திரப்பிரதேச மாநில எல்லையில் அமைந்திருக்கிறது. வடக்கே ஸ்வரணமுகி ஆறும் வட மேற்கே காலாங்கி ஆறும் தெற்கே ஆரணி ஆறும் கூடுதலாக இன்னும் சில ஓடைகளும் இந்த ஏரியினை உருவாக்குகின்றன. ஆற்று நீருக்கும் கடலுக்கும் இடைப்பட்ட பகுதியாக இந்த ஏரி விளங்குகிறது.
வங்காள விரிகுடாவில் இருந்து இந்த ஏரியினை ஸ்ரீஹரிக்கோட்டா தீவு பிரிக்கிறது. 
இந்தத் தீவில் சதீஷ் தவான் விண்வெளி மையம் அமைந்திருக்கிறது. ஏரியின் தெற்கே பழவேற்காடு மீனவ கிராமம் அமைந்திருக்கிறது.
ஏரியை பற்றி நன்கு தெரிந்திருந்தும் சென்னைக்கு அருகில் இருந்தும் இங்கு வருவது இது தான் முதல் முறை.சில பல காரணங்களால் அதற்கான நேரம் கூடி வரவில்லை.
ஆபீஸ் லீவும் இல்ல சரி எங்கயாவது போலாம்னு நினைக்குறப்ப தான் ஈவென்ட் மெயில் வந்துச்சி. சேரி ரெஜிஸ்டர் பண்ணலாம்னு தோணுச்சு நல்ல நேரம் என்னையும் செலக்ட் பண்ணிட்டாங்க.அமைப்பாளர் சரவணனுக்கு மிகப் பெரிய நன்றிகள்
திட்டமிட்ட படி சரியாக 4 மணிக்கு கோயம்பேடை அடைந்துவிட்டோம். மேலு சில பேர் வரவேண்டியிருந்ததால் அவர்களுக்காக சிறிது நேர காத்திருக்க நேரிட்டது.  தற்பொழுது நேரம் சரியாக 5 ஆகிவிட்டது  ஒருவழியாக  அனைவரும் வந்துவிட்டார்கள். அனைவரும் அங்கிருந்து கிளம்பி அமைப்பாளர் சொன்ன அடுத்த சந்திக்கும் இடத்தை நோக்கி சென்றோம். ஒரு முகம் கூட பார்த்த முகமே கிடையாது அனைவரும் புதிது. உள்ளுக்குள்ள ஒரு உறுத்தல் என்னடா இது ஒருத்தரை கூட பார்த்ததே இல்ல நம்ம வாய் வேற சும்மா இருக்காது. என்ன பண்றதுனு தெரியாம மனக்குழப்பத்துடன் எனக்கு ஒதுக்கப்பட்ட வண்டியில் ஏறினேன். ஆனால் அது தான் CTC- யின் சிறப்பு வரும் பொழுது யாரோ போல் வந்து பிரிந்து செல்லும் பொழுது நண்பர்களாகவும் சொல்லிலடங்கா நினைவுகளையும் விட்டு செல்வோம்.
கார்லா ஏறியவுடன் முதல் அறிமுகம் Hi am செந்தில் ஆளு பார்க்க north Indian மாதிரி இருந்தது. போச்சிடா நல்ல வசமா வந்து மாட்டிக்கிட்டோம் இவரு எங்க கலகலப்பா பேசப்போறாருனு நினைச்சிகிட்டே என் பெரு ராகவ்னு சொன்னேன். 
ஆனால் அந்த நினைப்பு தவறென்று உணர்த்தியது நேரம் போக போக தான் தெரிந்தது. மனுஷன் செம்ம விளையாட்டான, ஜாலியானா நபர் என்று.
அப்பறம் டீச்சர் அவங்கள நிறைய ஈவென்ட்ல பார்த்திருக்கேன் ஆனால் அதிகம் பேசுனது கிடையாது  அவங்களும் நல்ல நகைச்சுவையான மனிதர் தான் .. 
சரவணன் நா கொஞ்சம் பாஸ்ட்ஆஹ் டிரைவ் பண்ணுவேன்னு சொன்னாரு எந்தமாதிரினு கேட்டதுக்கு fast and furious மாதிரி சொன்னாரு .. 
எனக்கு செம்ம சிரிப்பா வந்துருச்சி accelerator ரைஸ் பண்ணுனதுக்கு அப்பறம் தான் தெரிஞ்சது என்ன ஸ்பீட்ன்னு. One min Seat Belt போட்டுக்கிறேன்னு சொல்ற அளவுக்கான பாத்துக்கோங்க but only Safety driving no rash drive. 
அடுத்த meeting point (சந்திக்கும் இடத்தை) அடைவதற்குள் எல்லாம் பேசி முடித்துவிட்டோம். 
ஐயோ ஒன்னு சொல்ல மறந்துட்டேன் வண்டியில் ஏறியவுடன் Google Route Map on பண்ண சொன்னாரு, அதெல்லாம் எதுக்கு எனக்கு வழி நல்ல தெரியும் என்று சொன்னேன் ஆனா செம்ம பல்ப் வழி மாறி மாதவரம் போய்ட்டோம் செம்ம காமெடியா போயிருச்சி அப்பறம் வேறு வழி இல்லாமல் அந்த Google Route Map-யை பயன்படுத்தி அடுத்த இடத்தை சேர்ந்து அடைந்தோம்.
மற்றவர்களுடன் பேச வேண்டும் என்று ஒரு எண்ணம் அதனால் சின்னதா ஒரு கப் டீ சாப்பிடலாம் என்று முடிவு செய்தோம் அதுல கீர்த்தி மட்டும் ஒரு ஈவென்ட்ல பார்த்திருக்கேன் மற்ற எல்லாரும் புது முகம் தான் அதனால்  அனைவருடனும் சின்னதா ஒரு கைகுலுக்கல்
சரி கிளம்பலாம்னு பார்த்த மொத்தம் 6 கார் அதுல ஒண்ணா காணோம் என்னடா இவ்ளவ் நேரம் ஆகியும் காணாமேன்னு கால் பண்ணுன நம்ம organizer advice la சுழலுருபெட் போய்ட்டாங்க அது அங்கிருந்து 20 கி.மீ தொலைவில் உள்ளது நல்ல வேல விட்ட ஆந்திர தண்டி போயிருப்பாங்க.
நேரம் ரொம்ப கடந்துருச்சி அதுனால ஏறிய அடைய கொஞ்ச தாமதமாயிருச்சி மொத்தம் 28 பேரு எனவே எல்லாரையும் ஒன்று சேர்ந்து கூட்டிச் செல்வது சற்று சிரமம் தான் இருந்தாலும் சரவணன் அண்ட் விக்னேஷும் மிகச் சிறப்பாக ஒருங்கிணைப்பு செய்தார்கள். 

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அங்கிருந்து படகில் இருக்கம் தீவை நோக்கி சென்றோம் மணி சுமார் ஒரு 8 இருக்கும். இருட்டு நேரம் உப்பு காத்து நட்சத்திர ஒளியில் ஒரு படகு பயணம் அஹ்ஹா சொல்லிலடங்கா சந்தோசம். படகோட்டி ஜெயராஜ் அண்ணா நல்ல நண்பர் ஆகிவிட்டார் அந்த ஏரியை பற்றி பல கூடுதல் தகவலையும் தந்தார் நல்ல மனிதர்.
தீவை அடைய மொத்தம் 9 கி.மீ 1 மணி நேரம் ஆகிவிட்டது. நேரம் போனதே தெரிய வில்லை. அப்படி ஒரு சந்தோச உணர்வை இது வரை உணர்ந்தது இல்லை மேலும் ஒரு நன்றிகள் சரவணன் அண்ட் விக்னேஷ்.
தீவை அடைந்த பிறகு வழக்கம் போல் எல்லாம் இறக்கி வைத்துவிட்டு ஆளுக்கொரு வேலையை பிரித்துக் கொண்டு சமைளுக்கான வேலை ஆரம்பித்தோம் ஏனென்றால் எல்லாரும் அப்பொழுது கொல பசி சுவையான உணவு தயார் செஞ்சி சாப்டுறப்ப ஒரு சந்தோசம் இருக்கே அப்பப்ப ப பெரிய ஹோட்டேல்ஸ் கூட அப்படி ஒரு உணவு கிடைக்காது. 
இரவு முழுவதும் நிலா மற்றும் நட்சத்திர ஒளியில் அடியில் கழட்ட பேச்சு , வந்த அனுபவம் என எல்லாம் பேசிக்கொண்டே நேரம் போனதே தெரியவில்லை. 
வெள்ளை மணல் நிறைந்த கடற்கரையில் முகாம் இட்டு நேரம் செலவிடுவது சொல்லிலடங்கா சந்தோசம்.
இங்க தான் ஒரு முக்கியமான சம்பவம் இருக்கு படுக்குல ஏறுனதுல இருந்து இறங்குற வரைக்கும் ஒருத்தரு Safety Tube மாட்டிக்கொண்டே இருந்தாரு நாங்க போய் ஏன் சார் இங்க தான் ஆழமே இல்லையே ஏன் இத கொண்டு வந்திங்கனு கேட்டோம் சொன்னாரு பாருங்க ஒரு ஸ்டோரி .
அவர் நண்பர்கள் அவர் ஆள் மனசுல போய் அந்த தீவு மிக பயங்கரமான தீவு அங்க அடில கரண்ட்ல போகும் விழுந்த நீச்சல் வீரர்களால கூட உங்கள காப்பாத்த முடியாதுனு சொல்லிருக்காங்க …
ஆமா ஆமா நீச்சல் வீரர்களால கூட காப்பாத்த முடியாது தான் விழுந்த நீங்களே நடந்து வந்தரனும். வெகுளி மனுஷன் என்ன சொன்னாலும் நம்புறாரு. But you taught me Safety and Secure is more important to save our life hats off Sir because small amount of water only took lot of life. But that is Just for kidding. 
அதிகாலையில் எழுந்து எல்லாம் மூட்டைக்கட்டிட்டு பறவைகளை பார்க்க கிளம்பினோம் மீண்டும் படகு சவாரி செம்ம ஜாலி வந்த நோக்கமே அது தானே. அந்த விடியற் காலைப்பொழுதில் எரிக்கரையோரம் எங்கள் படகு நின்றது அவ்ளவ் அழகாக இருந்தது .

நமக்கு தெரிந்ததோ புரா கொக்கு குருவி மைலு என ஒரு சில பறவை இனம் தான் .ஆனால் அங்கு முற்றிலும் முரண்பாடாக இருந்தது தொலைகாட்சிளும் சினிமாவிலும் பார்த்த பல்வேறு பறவை இனங்கள் ஒவ்வொன்றும் அத்துணை அழகு.
கற்றலை விட கற்றுக்கொடுத்தலே மேலானது அப்பொழுது தான் இளங்கோ அண்ணா அறிமுகம் கிடைத்தது கண்ணில் தென்படுகின்ற அனைத்து பறைவைன் பெயரையும் புட்டுப்புட்டு வைப்பது வியப்பு நன்றி அண்ணா தங்களால் என்றும் மறவா ஒரு சில பறவை இனங்களை அறிந்து கொண்டேன் 1.Pelican 2. Painted stork 3. Flamingos 4.ducks 5. Gulls 6.stork 7. God-wits
அண்மையில் நான் சந்தித்த மனிதர்களில் இவர்கள் என்னை வியக்க செய்தவர்கள் செந்தில் , சரவணன், இளங்கோ சிறந்த புகைப்பட கலைஞர்கள் மட்டும் அல்ல தன்னிடம் இருக்கும் திறமையை மற்றவர்களுக்கு கற்று கொடுப்பதில் ஆர்வம் உள்ளவர்கள் .. 
நன்றி அண்ணா எதோ தங்களிடம் இருந்து சிலவற்றை கற்றுக்கொண்டேன் என்று நினைக்கிறன். 

சுற்றி முடிஞ்சதும் வேற நம்மளுது தான் சோறு முக்கியம் அல்லவா காலை உணவு செம்ம சாப்பாடு அவல் உப்புமா சரியான டேஸ்ட். நன்றி அக்கா.
அப்பறம் கடைசியா அறிமுகம் ஒருவரை பற்றி ஒருவர் சொல்லிக்கொண்டு நன் முதலில் சொன்ன மாதிரி அனைவரும் நண்பர்களாகி பிரியா விடை பெற்றோம் ..
வரும் பொழுது என் கையில் இருந்த வாளி தவறி ஏரியில் விழுந்துவிட்டது அது நெகிழி ( Plastic) என்பதால் விட்டுவர மனசு இல்லை அதனால் மீண்டும் படகை திருப்பிக்கொண்டு அந்த வாளியை எடுத்துவிட்டு தான் வந்தோம் .. நாங்கள் இயற்கை ஆர்வலர்கள் மட்டும் அல்ல இயற்கை பாதுகாவலரும் கூட.
மறக்க முடியாத சம்பவங்கள்:
இரவு கலந்துரையாடல், பார்கவ சூளூர்பேட் ட்ரிவிங், மது டைவிங் (பாவம் அந்த பொண்ணு தவறி விழுந்துருச்சி அத தான் அப்படி சொன்னேன்), சிம்பு காமெடிஸ், இளங்கோ அண்ணா போட்டோஸ், படகு சவாரி Empty Battle Mohan, Full battle Vignesh, டோரா பாப்பா, செந்தில் அண்ணா டிரைவிங், tasty food அக்கா அப்பறம் Ray-ban யுவராணி பொண்ணு போட்ட கண்ணாடியை கழட்டவே இல்லையே, மாலினி அம்மா கடைசியா நம்ம Blue டப்பா கீர்த்தி.

மறக்க முடியாத நபர்கள்

வந்த அனைவரும் அருமையான நபர்கள் குறிப்பாக செந்தில் Sir, டீச்சர், மாலினி அம்மா, சிம்பு, விக்னேஷ், சரவணன், கீர்த்தி, மதுமிதா, மதுஸ்ரீ, விஷ்ணு, மோகன் குமார் ,யுவராணி, பார்க்கவ, இளங்கோ அண்ணா, நகுல், விக்கி டோரா புட்சு etc.
From Madhumita
A trip to Irrukam Island with CTC
It has been almost four years since I visited Pulicat Lake, which hosts tonnes of fishes and birds. As soon as I saw the forwarded mail from my sister for beach camping and birding at Pulicat from CTC, we both planned to register for it. Though the migratory season for flamingo is over, I wanted to make it only because of my golden days at MCC.
Being an MCC-an, my fondness for Pulicat is bit more than just as a birder. On seeing the word “Pulicat” I was soon taken back to UG days where we spent days at Pulicat for understanding wetland ecosystem, camping under stars, Professor Dr.Tilak and his wife singing songs for us in the night around camp fire, non-stop chatting and photobombing with my best buddies. One of my most unforgettable moments at Pulicat was when I spotted dolphins near the shore for the first time in lifetime.
As per the email instructions, I called Mohan, who lives nearby and has a car. My sister & I joined him along with Vignesh. We then waited opposite to Ashok Pillar for other members to join us. I was excited to meet Nagul (whom I am meeting after my first trek nearly 6 years ago), Elango, Chimbu and Vignesh (whom I have met them through other nature walks) and Bhargav (my bowling coach from previous farming event) and Saravanan (whom I know only through his mutual friends). After a brief introduction among another members who were also joining us for birding at Ashok Pillar, we all set to leave to Pulicat in 5 cars around 4’o clock in the evening. After an hour of driving, we took a wrong U-turn assuming the Baleno car, which was riding before us belonged to our group. Very soon, Vishnu (who was coordinating) called us to inform that we were travelling in the wrong direction. Then we took another U-turn towards Arambakkam and, soon to co-ordinate easily, Vishnu shared us location through Whatsapp group. Meanwhile when we were about to reaching Arambakkam, I received a call from Bhargav saying they were about to reach Sullurupeta (which is more than 20 km further away from our destination). After instructing them to return back to Arambakkam, rest of us waited at nearby Aavin parlour for a brief time. It was around 7’O clock when all of us regrouped and we took a boat at Arambakkam, where we had to ferry around an hour to reach Irrukam Island.
The boating at night was definitely blissful. With Waxing moon lighting the lake, cold water splashing on your face occasionally, the waters were neither rough nor gentle, setting the apt backdrop for a night ride. Suddenly something just flew into the boat. It was a mullet fish that had jumped out of water for its breath. Soon I and Prasad (who insisted on making it a BBQ) then caught and released it back into the lake.
The boatman dropped us on an uninhabited, pitch dark portion of Irrukum Island. After a brief inspection on the island, the boys went to pick solid stones for setting up BBQ grill. Wire mesh was laid over the smoking coal and Neetha and Senthil grilled thealready marinated chicken. There was a heavy fight among non-vegetarians to grab their portion of chicken. Initially I was around the fire, later when I released there was another team cutting the fresh veggies, and I went to help them in processing it. Latha teacher, Yuva, Saravanan and Chimbu were cutting the paneer, capsicum and mushrooms and pineapple. As soon as the chicken BBQs were over, we asked non-vegetarians to leave and make way for us to prepare the veggies. Meanwhile Raghav, Senthil and Bhargav with help of others set the campfire and others members settled around it. Chapatis and gravy was distributed for dinner. As there was still a huge fight for BBQs, Vishnu planned to prepare BBQs in individual skewers, so that all of us at least would at least get to taste one. Yuva, Chimbu, , Minu, Vishnu, Saravanan , “Kutti Papa” Sanghavi and I sat around the fire and prepared the BBQs. “Full bottle” Vignesh applied the sauce meticulously and sprinkled black pepper over the Veggies. Soon we all began to have our own conversation and had fun on our own. Though there were too many “kakaas” to snatch the prepared BBQs, sitting near the fire ensured that I got the BBQs of my choice. I loved the pineapple and mushroom BBQ. The sauce was perfect, neither too sweet nor too hot, which made it perfect for the veggies and complemented their flavour. By the time we finished preparing everything, the whole camp became silent and went to sleep.
My sister and I were planning to sleep on the sand and soon I heard Ed Sheeran‘s Thinking out loud song, which made me to settle beside Yuva’s blanket. When I was about to sleep, suddenly someone informed us that Nagul is going to get married. Neeta, Jegan, Vishnu, Chimbu, Nagul, Vignesh, Saravanan, Yuva, Nisha and I formed a gang and we were curious to know Nagul’s love story. Very soon most of them were sharing their love story and how they met their better halves. We tried our best to involve Elango in the conversation, but he successfully dodged us. It became an absolutely sleepless night discussion. Of all the stories I listened to, Jegan and Neeta’s was the best. It was around 3’o clock and mist had settled down, wetting our sleeping bags.
As we were feeling hungry, Saravanan and I planned to have chapatis . So we moved towards the food site, while others were asleep. All of a sudden, Sanghavi, who was woken up by the chill, joined us for next round of dinner. While we were eating, we started off with other discussion and by the time we realized that it was very late,it was already 5 in the morning.
Around 5:30 in the morning, there was a loud whistling sound in the campsite. It was Raghav with his whistle to to wake up everyone. Around 6:30 am, we boarded the boat after cleaning up the campsite.
My first cheerful sight was a pod of pelicans floating on the water just 200 m away. When we were about to start our ride, a colony of black-headed gulls flew over us. As we were boating towards the inhabited side of Irrukam island, we happened to see flocks of birds waddling on the water on either sides of the boat. We witnessed a tern grabbing a fish out of water. After 20 mins, Vignesh who was sitting beside me shouted “flamingos”. With hungry eyes, I searched across the direction he showed me and I finally was able to spot a stand of three flamingos wading in the water. The boatman halted the boat at a decent distance so that we weren’t disturbing them. For a while we stayed to watch the one of most gracious migrants – the greater flamingos. The flamingos walked in the water for a while and then they synchronously bend down and started feeding with their heads down. It seemed as if they were dancing for a song played at a relatively slow pace. Considering the fact that they are filter feeders, which mainly feed on the planktons and shrimps, their formidable size amazes me. 
We then resumed our journey towards further north, where we witnessed a congregation of Pacific golden plovers along the muddy banks,which aremedium-sized migratory birds. Among the congregation, there were breeding adults with black patches on their face, forehead, breast and belly with a strikingly white border. To make others easily register the name of that bird, Elango called it as “thanga (golden) pushpam(to rhyme with plover)”.
We asked the boatman to take us for another round as we were having a really good time. So he took us to the other part of lake where the water wasn’t deep enough. The confident swimmers stepped down on to the water and visited a dried patch of land nearby. I was tempted and I got down from the boat. It was only a knee-deep and was safe to move around. Nisha, my sister who was also tempted, followed me. She somehow misjudged the height of the boat and fell into the lake. Thankfully there wasn’t any physical injury. She had her phone inside her pocket which got drenched and it was sangu for the phone. This incident did not deter us from a brief profile shoot there, after which we resumed our ride towards the village side of Irrukum.
For breakfast, we went on the shores of Irrukum, where we were able to get access to drinking water for preparing Avaal. While cooking was going on, Elango, Nisha, Mohan and I went towards the dried lake in search of the waders. Nagul and Raghav joined us later.
We were able to spot flocks of little egrets, swifts and pacific golden plovers foraging there. While moving towards the lake, we realised that we were at the forage site and we didn’t want to disturb or threaten them. We stayed at a safe distance and stood silent for a while and then returned towards inland to see if we could see any land birds.
It was already 9’o clock in the morning and it felt as if we were being baked alive. All along the way we walked, the banks were densely populated with Prosopis and it was difficult to sight any bird in bright light. Although we sighted a Red Rumped Swallow perching on an a power cable. Then we returned back to assembly point. We were on time and they had already prepared excellent lemon aval upma with roasted groundnut. I took my share and was sitting on the banks, staring at the open water hoping to see the mullet or cat fish again in the day time. Soon there was a Brahminy Kite and a Red Wattled Lapwing flying over our heads. As soon as we finished our breakfast, fruit mix was prepared and distributed. After that we had a formal introductory session, where each of us has to introduce themselves and share their overall experience about this trip.
After a group photo we returned to Arambakkam. The boat journey was a bit difficult because of the harsh sun. We reached the shores of Arambakkam around 11 AM. After formal goodbyes, new friends & nicknames and unforgettable memories and jokes that we made on each other, we all set back to Chennai.
The Birding team
I thank the entire crew for being cheerful and make the trip comfortable. Special mentions to the food committee for the tasty food and making it close to eco-friendly. Usually, in the treks that I go, we procure food materials in plastic (Noodles/soup). By packing food in tiffin carriers, plastics wrappers were saved. I should definitely thank both organisers – Saravanan and Vignesh for giving me this opportunity. Thank you people, I felt as I had known you for ages. I also thank Mohan for dropping us near our residence.
Here is a list of birds we spotted
1. Spotted Pelican
2. Black Headed Gull
3. Indian Cormorant
4. Caspian Tern
5. Whiskered Tern
6. River Tern
7. Painted Stork
8. Pacific Golden Plover
9. Black Headed Ibis
10.Greater Flamingo
11.Red Wattled Lapwing
12. Brahminy Kite
13. Swift
14. Intermediate Egret
15. Grey Heron
16. Black Tailed Godwit
17. Red Rumped Swallow
18. Crow
Write up by Vignesh Kumar 
Disclaimer: I generally keep quiet and will be silent in most of the new places as I am a keen observer and would like to observe, analyze and get understand. Based on my observation, I am writing up my view of the trip. None of the side comments and pet names given is intend to hurt anyone. Kindly take it in a sportive way. I hope most of the participants will not figure out who wrote this write up till the end. 
I subscribed for CTC mail list about 2 years ago but was always hesitant to participate in any event. Last year in October, I joined for a night camp and had a great time there. But after that owing to many reasons I wasn’t able to participate in any event. I was waiting for some special event to register for and that’s when a mail came from Saravanan (Gang Leader) sent a mail for bird watching event and night camp in Pulicat. As soon as I saw the words, Bird watching, I immediately registered without a moment of hesitation as I am into this hobby for the last 3 months. Saravanan called on Monday and confirmed that I got selected for the event and from his voice, I thought he is going to be one serious person. I was also of the belief that most participants will be 40+ as only elder people prefer bird watching event. But it was a group of al ages and energetic souls. The day came and with proper planning, we all decided to meet at Ashok Pillar and then proceed further to Pulicat. I introduced myself to Prasath, Bhargav and few others and ofcourse our gang leader Saravanan. Saravanan indeed looked very serious with a light professional smile. I gave a handshake (disclaimer warning: pls be careful when u handshake with Saravanan and he really crush your hand in seconds   Kaiya kuduthathu thappa.. ) I got introduced myself to another silent guy(like me) Sashidhar and he is a Geek from IIT-M. We are asked to start our journey and wait near Puzhal jail and using our Google Maps we reached the place. Once reached, they asked us to keep going and they are following us. We didn’t want to lose our way and using Pulicat lake as the destination we kept going and we followed a wrong baleno and lost our path. Luckily the sweeping team warned us and we were taken back in the route immediately. A particular location point was shared in Whatsapp group and asked to reach there. However despite best efforts of Saravanan, one car passed the point. Saravanan was waiting in a place and he was pretty sure that he is noticing all the cars but somehow missed this one car and it went passed the meeting point. When the lost car team called Saravanan, he kept saying “Neera vanthute iru.. enna thandi nee inum pogala.. varla va varla va nu soli, kadaisila antha team Andhra ke poitanga). They went passed 25 kms and now everyone else assembled and was waiting for the car to return. From there we picked our boat man and reached the shore by 8pm. 
We parked our cars and the interesting journey started. It’s going to be a one hour journey in Boat and so I started listening to others talking. It is here I met the travel man, Nakul. Mr. Travel man has been to 22 states and went to breathtaking locations across India. He, Malini mam and Mohan sir was sharing their travel experience and they really inspired me to start travelling rather than wasting time on weekends. The travel stories shared by Nakul was so interesting such that there were more audiences listening to him and in what looks like minutes, we reached the island in One hour. We started cooking Chicken BBQ first (Appada.. ippo than main matter ku varom.. ). Keerthi was insisting to start Veg BBQ first and Raghav and others were in no mood to listen to her. While preparing the heat for BBQ, Vignesh(coordinator Vignesh or Full bottle Vignesh, however u name him) was showing some magics(just a good illusion of the fire) with the fire. Once the first set of BBQ was ready (great thanks to Senthil sir for cooking them), the first person to take the Chicken piece was Keerthi only (Yaruma Veg nu sonathu?? Ketta 6 mani ku mela next day aam.  ) Fights were on to grab chicken pieces and I had my share as well. But the one who ate a lot certainly is Keerthi. (Veg nu sol veluthu vanguriye ma). The most fun part was here while making the BBQ. Raghav and Sanghavi (kutty papa) were replicating the effect of Tom and Jerry. Their fights and comments made the day. Raghav was not partial to anyone and he teased every single person in the camp including the coordinators. Sanghavi (kutty papa I prefer) was in no mood to back off from Raghav’s teasing and it was really fun for the people around to watch this Tom& Jerry fight. Till this moment the coordinator team was looking very silent and was getting the essentials ready for Veg BBQ. Once they realized Chicken BBQ is going to get over, enga irunthu vanthanga nu teriyala, second round la ella chicken um gaali.. again Keerthi is the front runner. Non veg people were asked to clear the area for Veg team and Raghav, Bhargav, Senthil along with few others started to set the camp fire. Suddenly Keerthi was missing and found her fighting with Veg team and was having her share in that as well (Nee vazhkaila thirumba sapdave matiya ma  ). In camp fire they talked about many things and Senthil sir beautifully explained above politics in medicine, food and other industries and the power of Wealthy lobby in India and world. I’m not sure how many were keenly listening but I was listening and was gaining from his insights. When non-veg people were given Chapathi and Chicken gravy as main dish, again Keerthi was back (onum solrathuku ilainga). When things were getting bored and was about to sleep, came Raghav and Bhargav to unleash their weapon. They made sure that every single person was teased and it was full laughter for hours till 1am. (since the jokes were explained in other write-ups, m not including them). The highlight comment was “Excuse me Coordinator, what is the procedure to change the place” when “Kutty papa” and others were turning into Einstein mind (ulagathula irukura ella arivaliyum inga than irunthangappa.. probably the effect of Sriharikota nearby). Potential warning was given by Raghav and Bhargav not to snore but trust me, the first to snore was Bhargav and followed by Raghav (advice aduthavanuku thana..nalla irukupa unga advice ) n both of them were sleeping next to me and their snore woke me in 1 hour itself.
 Till I fall asleep, the coordinators were very professional and were silent and having their own fun and was not much participating in any of the jokes and fun happening around. But then when I woke at 2 (bhargav snoring near my ears  ) I was hearing full laughter and its none other than the Coordinators team. Since I was awake already I was listening to them while am still acting like sleeping. From the Sound I figured it would be around 10 people having some fun and pulling each other legs. Lots of love stories and were going on and in 30 min I slept off. We woke around 5 only to realize that the coordinator team is still awake and few hadn’t slept at all. We woke to realize that Keerthi got up at 3am to have some more food (intha paaru.. kondu vantha sapadula mukka vaasi nee thanma saptruka 😀 ). 
 
We started by around 6:30 for bird watching and I put myself in the last end of the boat so as to observe the birds silently. While others use binocular and DSLR cameras, I was looking with naked eye and was observing them. I started bird watching in Jan 2017 when I first saw a beautiful bird with black color in their feathers as outer border and while in inner border. Never had I saw such a colorful bird and was keen to know the name and figured out as “Asian Openbill”. From them on, with the guidance of my sister, Subha, I started to go to nearby hotspot places and check for birds. My sister gave me a challenge to observe and find the bird names and find 50 birds without using binocular or DSLR. Every bird watcher use either one of them for sure I was up for the challenge. I had watched and Identified 44 different bird species before that and one reason I joined this trip was to make it 50 as Pulicat is a hotspot for bird watching. Much to my disappointment, there were only less amount of birds though different species. In Sholinganallur lake anyone can watch 200+ birds if we reach there by morning 6-7. But Pulicat has many varieties and I had watched 10+ new birds and my intention is achieved (50 different species without binoc or DSLR). With that satisfaction we went back to a place, cooked our breakfast, had a good time and as a finishing touch had an extraordinary Juice (atha kuduchu ethane peruku vanthi vanthatho teriyala.. yaruma athu strawberry juice la orange juice ah mix panathu.. rumba thappuma.. 😀 ). Thus the trip came to an end with a formal introduction of everyone. Extraordinary works done by the coordinators, Saravanan, Vignesh (full bottle Vignesh) and Vishnu. Kudos to u guys. You were awesome really. With no sleep, we headed back to our busy city and routine lifestyle. But the memories of Pulicat wil remain as one of the best. 
Tit Bits: 
Tom & Jerry- Raghav and Sanghavi will make best as friends even though they never knew each other before. 
Mr. Travel man- Nakul. U really an inspiration for us to travel. (U shud visit gangtok soon). 
Gang Leader- Superb works anna.. I was wrong that u would be a serious guy. 
Sapatu Rani- Keerthi. Just one blue box and no one from this trip will forget u. Veg nu solitu onnum micham vaikala.. 
Twin sisters- Madhumitha and madhumathi.. 
Teacher – great energy showed and pulling legs of Raghav when he was teasing others around. 
Senthil sir- man with much knowledge and concern to nature. 
Mohan sir- man with all energy to travel and keep himself fit
Santro 70..Mayur sir- Irunthalum intha Max 8 feet waters ku floating bag kondu vanthinga parunga, anga than sir neenga nininga..
Bird man..Elango- by ur physique, I tot u would b an IPS officer at first sight 😀 
Vignesh (full bottle Vignesh).. tat one wrong reply earned u this name Full bottle Vignesh..
And finally, I am Vignesh (innocent Vignesh and not the full bottle Vignesh). 
From Mohan Kumar

Same writeup in tamil : 
How do people normally go for any tour/trip?  Either they go with their family or close friends. 
How about going for a trip with 20 -30 persons whom you have never met in life? 
That is what Chennai Trekking club does many times every year ! The most important thing is – it is done with a shoe string budget, which you cannot imagine if you go on your own; Actually the actual expenses is calculated and divided amongst members.  Also there will be atleast few who would have already visited that place and will act like a guide to you (Mostly they will be the Co coordinators for the trip)
Recently a 28 member team went to Pulicat lake for bird watching through CTC. 7 of us were having cars & we picked up persons on the way and the journey 30 minutes later  than the scheduled time.
Since most of us were driving in the route which not so familiar, few car owners had confusion in the route and either they went slightly in the wrong route or went past the destined place.
But organizers kept track of every car and were giving excellent directions. In fact we were one of the last car to come and another car was coming after us; Vishnu who was coming in that car said that they are the sweeping car (Last one to come after all cars) and he quickly caught hold of us when we were about to go in a wrong direction and made us to come very quickly to the right route. 
Since one car went past the destined meeting point, we had coffea in Arambakkam, which is the closest place to the back waters. Coffea was good and we also started interaction with each other slowly.
Once all the cars assembled, we went to the boat jetty and our journey in the back waters began at around 8.30 pm. It was one hour drive in the boat. 
The water was looking beautiful reflecting the moon light and the small waves added additional flavour. 
We had Nakul who is an active travel enthusiast and he started sharing some of his interesting travel experiences in Jammu, Kashmir and North east. Also Minu, another participant was sharing her interesting experience in water sports in Malaysia. 
By this time I understood that its not only Nakul, Minu or me, most other participants were also equally great travel enthusiasts.
I always believe that it is not money, status or success which defines a person. But how one enjoys the whole life is most important. Travelers normally belong to this category and they find happiness in their trips and in many part of their life. 
We reached our stay point around 9.30 PM. Immediately people started preparing for food. Barbaque chicken and Panneer masala were prepared. The organizers had prepared Chicken curry and Chapathi from their home and had brought.
Once Barbaque was ready, we all started eating it and it was delicious. What was more surprising was the comradeship among the participants.  There were not enough plates (every one should bring plate themselves; few did not bring) so in every available plate 3 or 4 people were eating.  
I have met them… just an hour back and now I am having dinner with them in the same plate !
There was so much of fun and pulling each one’s leg while having dinner and non stop laughter started from this moment. There were few people with terrific sense of humour and Cilambarasan, Raghav and Vignesh were in charge of humour department 🙂 They did exceedingly well and every one laughed countless times from Dinner till we said Good bye the next day. 
We had a Camp fire and was talking many things; thereafter few went to sleep; many had lengthy fun talk & went to sleep very late. 
My only worry before starting the trip is how to sleep in open sky. I have always slept under a roof and whether I will have proper sleep was a disturbing question/thought. Also I am quite finicky in my sleeping place/ way of sleep.  
Fortunately, that was not a big issue and I could sleep peacefully, as organizers had bought Thar paai and I had also taken Bedsheet. Though the hours slept was less, it was adequate. 
We got up in the morning and started our drive to see the birds. Few friends knew every birds’ names (Particularly Mr. Elango) and they were introducing each bird to us. It was a fantastic scene to see the birds flying low and also immersing in water. 
We then stopped again to prepare our break fast, which was done very quickly ! It was Puvva (A kind of Uppuma ) which was very good. 
Most of the participants contributed their bit in preparing the food – both in the night and in the morning. This is another trait of these trips: Every one must work/ contribute/ take some responsibility in the trip. 
After finishing the break fast, each of us spoke for few minutes: Giving a back ground about themselves and how they felt about the trip.
We all took a group photo and started back to the place where our cars were parked. 
While returning the organizers calculated the expenses and informed that the cost per person is Rs. 500. People coming in car did not pay, in fact organizers calculated the amount for petrol and paid the appropriate fuel amount to them.
Just think about it: Going in car for 200 plus kilo meters; having a dinner and break fast; coffea, cool drinks, snacks, Stay, Boat riding for an hour ….all put together comes only to Rs. 500 ! Even if we come alone with friends or our family, it can’t be managed at such an economical rate. It was possible because of car pooling and sharing of boat expenses, which if we come with our family also, they will charge the full amount. 
Another important thing is: Here we are meeting new people; new experiences are shared. Since many are travel enthusiasts, we get to know lot of beautiful places across India from many of them. 
We drove back home very happily after a great relaxation. 
This is my first trip with CTC ; Certainly I will join again for many trips and anybody who had travelled with CTC will also have a similar feeling !
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