Photographer S. Venkatesh captures flamingos and many other rare birds in the water tanks of Madurai, as the migration season of birds draws to a close
Around the anniversary of the lockdown, a young photographer in Madurai planned a silent anniversary celebration of his Canon 1500D, which he bought just before last year's order to stay home. S Venkatesh says, "After paying my final EMI, I wandered alone around the various water bodies in the city which are the center of attraction for the birds." In the crack of dawn and dusk, he waited patiently with his precious camera in hand. And soon he was rewarded with some memorable landmarks.
Last month, as the migration season neared its end, Venkatesh waited for two hours through his camera, when a pair of flamingos followed and a small herd followed in Avanipuram. "I was taken in by their elegance and synchronized movement that colors the sky with an amazing color," he says. He returned in the evening and was already searching for prey in the water.
“The shallow water in Avaniyapuram is a rich source of algae, small fish and insects. Venkatesh says the herd pilots first test the waters and if they have a regular movement, flamingos have included Madurai on their routes of migration since 2017.
As the sun was setting, the birds began to draw water out of the water tank. Led by a pair, they began to fly from a distance and left Venkatesh with his pink wings bent outward, his slender legs pushing backwards, his sharp beak hitting. "Each bird looked like a long arrow and with long and graceful legs and neck, the beauty was unmistakable," he says and adds, "At that gentle height, they provided me with a magnificent flying posture."
These frames affixed 26-year-old Venkatesh to photography. The lockdown period turned him into one, he says, adding that some of his bird photos praised the famous Rathika Ramaswamy on Twitter. "Chasing, recognizing, capturing winged visitors and receiving praise gives me no end."
He was coming out of grief after losing his father, who ran a tea shop, to buy a decent camera of his own. "My mother was initially angry that I had spent so much money, but now when she sees my passion and beautiful pictures taken by me, which are liked by other people, she appreciates my work and His blessings mean a lot to me. " He says.
The passion for bird watching gradually nurtured him, from the days he traveled 15 km on his college bus to Kidrippatti. "During those rides I used to spot birds and always wondered about their names, family and activities," he says.
The opportunity came when he got a job with Sundaram Fasteners three years ago. “The green campus at Krishnapuram is a haven for avian visitors and encouraged by my mentors, I myself started teaching and training. Today it is my second nature to walk in the wild during my free hours.
With hundreds of birds and other wild life photographs, (especially snakes), Venkatesh has now started documenting his work. It is his dream to teach bird photography to students. "Wildlife photography has a calming effect because it builds patience in you," he says as he talks about some of his exciting get-togethers.
Once, while walking in the Thiruppalai pond, he saw an owl in the hole of a neem tree. "At the beginning I almost missed it because it blended into the surroundings given its color structure. I went a little closer and found myself in a semi-blink state, its head bouncing occasionally, something that I had previously Never seen, "says Venkatesh. The photo made it to the top 30% of the nocturnal wild animals category at the 35th International Photography Awards (IPA) and gave young photographers every reason to live their dream.
Venkatesh Samanatham, Aritapatti, Naganakulam, Kadachanathal and Omachikulam tanks, Othakadai quarry, are in spate in Chhatrapati river and several other species including Chitkabara Kingfisher, Blue Face Malkoha, African Hoopoe, Eurasian Ovalian Owlin Owl Owl. , Shikara.
He spent six weeks at Alagar Koil to free the rare and beautiful Indian paradise Flycatcher. "It was difficult to fully catch the bird with its flowing tail because it kept drifting or hiding behind branches," he says. Another photo of the common kingfisher on a rock in the Thiruppalai tank, with his kill held between the peaks, placed Venkatesh in the top 16 percentile in the 35th IPA.
“It is easy to shoot animals. Venkatesh says, birds are always more active and fly away in the blink of an eye. He said that the more I see them, I feel that we owe them because of our many life skills (such as singing, weaving, swimming, nesting, hunting).