Map of Tamil Nadu
I have made four business trips to India. Each time I have visited southern India and sone some birding between Chennai and Pondicherry. Fisherman's Cover, Ideal Beach Resort and the Crocodile Park are all on the Chennai–Pondicherry road
On my first morning in Chennai, and my first morning in India, I spent an hour or so looking out of my hotel room window. The view included buildings, streets and a few trees. My first Indian bird was Feral Pigeon! However, my second was a bird I was to become very familiar with due to its abundance: House Crow. In the middle distance I could see the distinctive head shape of Large-billed Crows and Black Kites were seen wheeling over the city.
The nearby trees were visited by groups of two or three Rose-ringed Parakeets and also held a male Asian Koel and one Black Drongo. A Eurasian Kestrel flew past the window and House Swifts could be seen high in the sky.
Somewhat surprisingly I also found a White-breasted Kingfisher on a telegraph wire and an Indian Pond Heron flew over the buildings. Finally a White-browed Wagtail flew from a nearby tree making the eighth lifer of the morning.
An hour or so later we were driving through the city, past a small riverine habitat where I saw another White-breasted Kingfisher (actually very common in the areas I visited) and a couple of Intermediate Egrets. Black Kite and House Crow were again obvious.
At 5.55am on my second morning I was again to be found sitting at the window to see what was about. House Crow was the first bird of the day, soon followed by two Common Mynas on a nearby balcony. A scan of the rooftops and trees added Large-billed Crow, Black Kite, Rose-ringed Parakeet and Black Drongo. This time I also saw four White-breasted Kingfishers, both on telegraph wires and in trees.
More new birds were in evidence with a Red-vented Bulbul on a telegraph wire, a group of seven Little Cormorants flew over and a Laggar Falcon, clutching a Common Myna, flew close past the window and landed on a rooftop, quickly followed by House Crows hoping for a free meal.
Chennai from the hotel window
Again driving around the city I saw the usual House Crow, Black Kite, Rose-ringed Parakeet and Common Myna plus, where the road crosses a river, Little and Indian Cormorants. A roadside large stream added Cattle and Intermediate Egrets.
We were only in Chennai for part of the morning and the usual birds were seen: House Crow, Black Kite, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Common Myna and various egrets (we didn't stop so I couldn't specifically identify them). One new bird for the trip was seen – a Bay-backed Shrike on a telegraph wire just outside the central part of the city.
My third and fourth visits to Chennai did not yield many new species. Most recently, in late October 2004, I made a short visit to St Thomas' Mount, getting Black Drongo, House Swift, Black Kites and House Crow, and to Guindy Park, where I picked up a single Common Tailorbird, Common Myna, has nice views of House and Large-billed Crows together, and a flock of seven Black-necked Ibis flying overhead.