Before getting into the sanctuary we had decided to check out the Shar Road (the road leading to Shriharikota) because the best time to sight flamingoes here is early in the morning before the traffic starts.
That was not to be -- we planned to leave Chennai by about 5.30 in the morning to be on Shar Road, about a 100 km from here by about 7.00. We were about an hour behind schedule even before we started. By the time we reached Sullurpeta the flamingoes had retreated and were a distant white patch on the horizon. We noticed a group of fishermen with their fishing boats by the roadside. Pretty lucky for us and quite unusual -- I have never seen boats by the roadside in this place. It just took us a moment to decide to go out on the boat. We asked the fisherman, and for four hundred rupees, he agreed to take us out to the birds or at least as near as they will allow us to come.
The sun was pretty high in the sky and there was quite a glare, the water vapour lifting off the surface of the backwaters added to the haze. But the Lumix FZ18 with its 504 mm reach -- with extended zoom I think it goes up to 700mm (not sure) -- was great. The images needed a bit of tweaking on photoshop to bring out the contrast and colour. Here are the results.
These birds just would not let us anywhere within a couple of hundred metres. They would just stride away from us as the boat neared them and moments later they would take off in a flurry of wings. There must of been a few thousands of these flamingoes and it was a sight none of us will ever forget.
All these pics were shot at the full extension of the FZ18's reach.