View Full Version : Uppalapadu and its Migratory Birds

Anand Madabhushi
14-01-2013, 06:44 PM
Uppalapadu is a small village near Guntur (Andhra Pradesh) on Guntur - Tenali road. This place has become a home for migratory birds since 2000s. Kolleru Lake used to be a home for these birds but with prawn/shrimp culture around the lake they were driven away.

The facility at Uppalapadu is more man made than natural. The Forest Department of AP is administering the facility with the locals giving great support. It is estimated that at any given time there are about seven thousand birds ------------ storks, pelicans ----- that are breeding and waiting to fly back home once summer sets in.

The approach to the facility is a rough road about 500 meters from the main road. There is a 15-20 feet high sturdy watch tower that can comfortably accommodate three photographers with their paraphernalia of tripods etc. There was growth of bushes both at eye level and the watch tower that was impairing a clear 180 degree view. The Sun rises from behind the watch tower and the best time for photography would be the morning light.

Guntur is a district headquarters and is closer to Vijayawada. Vijayawada is connected by air.

There are good hotels in Guntur and it would be comfortable to stay in Guntur to leave for the early morning shoot.

Best time is November to February. For any further information please feel free to write in at anandm.cahyd@gmail.com or call on 09849033763.

Mrudul Godbole
15-01-2013, 10:43 AM
Nice to know more details about Uppalapadu. Thanks for sharing the detailed information.

Roopak Gangadharan
18-01-2013, 06:02 PM
Nice write up Anand sab, I did go there a few times quite some time ago. Then it was a non-descript place with no protection or upkeep. There were quite a few Spotbilled Pelicans and painted storks with the odd Garganey and Common teal. I also read a article written by someone who claims to have seen siberian cranes there which is highly doubtful. Later some friends told me that a village commitee had taken over and that they were doing a good job.


Sabyasachi Patra
29-01-2013, 09:06 PM
Good write up. Some images of the place would give also help.

Subhash Shrivastava
04-11-2013, 11:06 PM
I started gathering information about Kolleru and Uppalapadu since 2009 after reading about them in Wikipedia, specially that Kolleru is the largest freshwater lake in India! I got a lot interested when I read about Siberia cranes in Kolleru in a number of articles, many of them published in reputed newspapers like Hindu. Slowly the reality started dawning on me, and finally when I visited it in Jan-2003 for 3 days, whole things came crashing down. Some of my learnings:

• I think there never have been any Siberian crane in Kolleru, Uppalapadu or any other water bodies in that area. Pelicans have been mis-identified as Siberian cranes as I have found all articles about Siberian cranes in Kolleru containing the photographs of Pelicans and Painted storks only.

• There is a lot of propaganda about the Pelicans coming from Siberia. The pelicans in Kolleru and Uppalapadu are Spot-billed Pelicans which are not migratory, or locally migratory in the sense that they are more widely distributed in the non-breading season and form colonies during the breading seasons**. Many learned persons in/about Kolleru, official or amateur, will claim that these birds have come from Siberia.
** info gathered from Wikipedia.

• The worst shock, Kolleru and Uppalapadu are not the breeding colonies for Pelicans, they are the concentration camps. Kolleru, within a size of about 2 football grounds, and Uppalapadu, within the size of less than one football ground, have countless of pelicans practically on top of each other. Looks like the local conditions are hostile as not a single pelican will dare move out to any water bodies just outside. And the lack of diversity hits hard as it is very difficult to spot any other birds than pelicans, and painted storks. (I did find many Open bills outside of the Bird sanctuary boundaries.).

• Uppalapadu bird sanctuary boundaries have been fenced off with a more than 6 feet height fence and Kolleru boundaries are ever shrinking with politicians laying claims to the remaining area on behalf of poor people (there have been many agitations in last one year). We can see worst spectacles of Aquaculture in and around Kolleru.

NB: When I visited Kolleru and Uppalapadu, I didn’t know about ABC of photography, hence I have not posted the photos.

Roopak Gangadharan
30-11-2013, 04:25 PM
Hi Subhash,

there is no record of the siberian crane any where in south India at any point of time... even the sightings in central India and Kutch were quite some time ago. As you would be knowing Bharatpur is the place where they were regularly seen, but since 2001-02 there have been no sightings any where in India..It seems more or less certain that the lineage of birds which followed the migratory route to India perhaps does not exist any more as the global populations of this bird has fallen drastically. Also the countries over which they used to migrate to India have lost huge portions of their wetlands and continue to be politically disturbed. For people like us watching this inimitably graceful bird in the wild will probably remain a dream...