Encountering the Enigmatic Fan-Throated Lizard: A Fascinating Wildlife Experience

On a sunny winter morning, my wife and I set out for the Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu. Although we were aware that we might be early for the arrival of winter migrants, we decided to take a chance and explore the area.

Upon reaching the sanctuary, we found the lake dry and no signs of migrants except for a couple of Blue Tailed BeeEaters. While I was scanning the area with my binoculars, my wife excitedly called me over to show me something she had spotted for the first time – a Fan Throated Lizard! It was a male, and it was displaying its vibrant colors in full glory. This sighting was a first for both of us, and we were thrilled by the unexpected encounter.


The Fan Throated Lizard was perched at the edge of a small rock, displaying its vibrant gular flap with great vigor. While I had seen colorful rock agamas in and around Bangalore before, witnessing this colorful display was a first for me. As I knelt down to capture a photograph of this fascinating creature, I noticed that it kept moving back and forth between the rock and a nearby spot, returning to its perch each time.


The Fan Throated Lizard continued its frequent trips back and forth between the rock and a nearby spot. Upon closer inspection, I noticed another lizard in the vicinity, almost completely camouflaged among the tiny rocks and dust. The female lizard blended seamlessly with its surroundings, thanks to the deceptive pattern on its dorsal side. Its remarkable camouflage made it nearly impossible to distinguish the female from the environment around her.


The male Fan Throated Lizard attempted to divert our attention away from the camouflaged female by displaying threatening behavior from different angles. This behavior indicated a protective instinct towards the female.


We watched the entire interaction from a safe distance to avoid disturbing the pair. After some time, when they seemed to perceive us as no longer a threat, the female began to move. It was then that we discovered what she had been up to before our arrival. She was digging a small hole beneath a rock, presumably to lay eggs. Throughout this process, the male fiercely protected the female, demonstrating a strong sense of guardianship.


Once at ease with our presence, the female proceeded to dig deeper while the male remained vigilant, attentively watching over the surroundings.


After searching for other males nearby and finding none, the female continued digging for about 15 minutes with intermittent breaks. We captured some images of the male and left quietly to avoid disturbing them, hoping the female had successfully laid her eggs. It was an amazing encounter overall.

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