“I am the eagle, I live in high country,
in rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky,
I am the hawk and there’s blood on my feathers,
but time is still turning they soon will be dry,
All those who see me,
and all who believe in me,
share in the freedom I feel when I fly.”
This inspiring poem by American singer & poet John Denver is favourite among all the bird lovers / ornithologists in the world. The best part about my New Year Party, last year, was that I specially organized a trip to Kerala with my family and enjoyed the divine green beauty while staying in a houseboat and exploring the serene backwaters of Kerala. Still I was upset, as I did not get an opportunity to visit Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary due to lack of time. But positively, I got an invitation through a friend of mine to attend a two-day bird watching programme in Kumarakom, which was organized by WWF – India in connection with World Wetlands Day. That invitation brought a broader smile to me.
I arrived at Kottayam Junction on the scheduled date, which is the nearest railhead to Kumarakom (15 km). A cab took me to the hotel I was booked in. On the first day of the programme, all the guests were taken to the 14 acres wide Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary that lies on the banks of the Vembanad Lake. It’s hard to believe that one of the smallest parks in the country can be so stunning.
We clicked several local birds like waterfowl, cuckoo, parrots, teal, larks, flycatchers, wood beetle, owl, egret, heron and the water duck, as well as the migratory Siberian cranes. The day ended perfectly. We all got back to the hotel and shared our experiences with each other till the wee hours. The next day was scheduled for a cruise along the Vembanad Lake, which is considered as the best way to experience the sanctuary. Houseboats and motorboats are easily available on hire for bird watching cruises on the lake.
Our first halt was Pathiramanal (sands of midnight), an enchanting island on the lake. This 10 acre island serves as a home to many rare varieties of migratory birds from different parts of the world. Kingfishers, golden-backed woodpeckers and grey herons were the main attractions there. That short tour to Kumarakom left me mesmerized in every context.