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Celebrating the Ennore-Pulicat wetland system in Tamil Nadu February 20,2020   |  Source: The Hindu

Before stepping out for birding, I always utter a silent prayer that snakes don’t cross my path. So, last Sunday, while heading out with a group to explore the biodiversity of the Ennore-Kattupalli-Pulicat region, I make the usual supplication. Per contra, those with me pray for the opposite — and that is squirmingly disconcerting. The denouement of the sixth-edition of the Chennai Kalai Theru Vizha, an annual cultural-socio-environmental experiment, includes a nature trail and that has brought me to these parts on a muggy day. At Kadalkanniyur, Nityanand Jayaraman, social activist and volunteer-organiser of the Vizha, asks the group to break into three, spread across two sections that present wildly contrasting features, and return with a bio check-list.

On one side, within sniffing distance of the sea, the land undulates like a roller-coaster ride. Wind and allied forces have crowned it with sand dunes. Further away, where the undulations are a little less pronounced, there is a scatter of scrub vegetation, and naturalist T Murugavel, a volunteer-guide on the trail, fervently hopes a snake will slither out of any of the burrows hidden by thorny bushes. I realise he means business when he points to a spot in his hand that had been kissed by a rescued saw-scaled viper

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