In search of Flamingos in Mumbai

6:30 AM

Bird watching in Mumbai - In search of Flamingos (end of Apr 2018):

Lesser Flamingos - Haji bunder point, Sewri, Mumbai
Lesser Flamingos - Haji bunder point, Sewri
My eagerness to spot flamingos dragged me to Mumbai, in spite of the scorching summer humid weather.
The plan was to visit two Flamingo spots on the western side of the Thane creek, Bhandup pumping station on Saturday morning and Sewri jetty on Sunday morning. After having done my bookings I read many articles on internet, on delayed arrival of Flamingos this year.

Birding in Bhandup pumping station:

Birds of Bhandup pumping station:
On top of my bucket-list were of-course the flamingos, followed by the white-eared Bulbul, Shank's, Tern's, Baya weaver, Pied Starling, Sandpiper's & Gull's.

Birding experience:
As planned reached Bhandup pumping station at daybreak. My first thoughts about the place was isolated & unsafe.
Bhandup Pumping station
Bhandup Pumping station
 After walking quite a distance reached near a water-stream flowing out of the sewage treatment plant, most of the birding activity starts from here. In the first thirty minutes I could spot hundreds of birds including three species of Bulbul's, a group of Baya weavers, Indian golden Oriole, Indian Paradise flycatcher and many other commonly found birds.
Baya Weaver
Baya Weaver
Golden Oriole female - BPS
Golden Oriole female - BPS
White eared Bulbul - BPS
White eared Bulbul - BPS
Birders gradually started to flock in and I was no more in a deserted place. Met a few birders who were also regular visitors & heard from them the bird activity at Bhandup has been in a decline since past few years. The local birders were very much obliging and guided me on the birding activity in Mumbai.
Black-crowned Night-Heron - BPS
Black-crowned Night-Heron - BPS
After wandering around the place for more than one hour, there was still no signs of flamingos and coastal birds. As I have always believed birding never disappoints me, there it was, a lone Greater Flamingo seen in the backwaters busy searching for food. It was the first time I've ever seen a Flamingo and I must admit it was a sight to behold. On a closer look it was found to have injured its leg & should be the reason it was left alone, otherwise they are seen in large flocks.
I had always admired flamingos for their synchronized movements in large flocks, but was still happy to have spotted one.
Greater Flamingo - BPS
Greater Flamingo - BPS
The last one hour of my birding at Bhandup gave me some more lifers including a pair of Asian Pied Starling, a whiskered tern & a yellow-eyed Babbler.
As the sun was rising up, it was getting hotter and humid, which made us to call off for the day. Spent my rest of the day exploring the streets of south Mumbai.

Birding in Sewri:

Next day morning headed directly to Sewri jetty for some serious flamingo & coastal bird spotting. This place is quite confusing as there are many watch-points around the mudflats, I started from the northernmost point, which was the best one too, only to realize its a restricted area controlled by Mumbai police. I could already see hundreds of Flamingos in distance, but couldn't go any near to them as it was a restricted place. Couldn't wait any further, rushed towards the abandoned jetty of Sewri. There were hundreds of flamingos, mostly lesser flamingos on either sides of the jetty, but at quite a far distance. Since the tides were gradually rising, I raised my pace in spotting the nearby waders and spotted many lifers including a group of common redshanks, little stint, western reef-heron in its white morph & a striated heron. By this time the tides were a bit high & the flock of flamingos to my right flew away to a farther end. It was from the secondary flamingo point towards the Haji bunder point had spot them at a closer distance along with small group of brown headed gulls & gull billed terns.
Flamingos around the mudflats of Sewri Jetty
Flamingos around the mudflats of Sewri Jetty
Common Sandpiper - Sewri
Common Sandpiper - Sewri

Striated Heron - Sewri
Striated Heron - Sewri
After a while they all started flying, it was a treat for my eyes to watch their synchronized flight. Met a lone birder at Sewri jetty, again I must mention Mumbaikars are very obliging, they have helped me for what I was looking for.

It was a soulful birding weekend, spotted more than fifty species of birds including many lifers. The otherwise lazy summer weekend was turned out to be a satisfying and soulful one.

Complete list of birds spotted at Bhandup pumping station during April 2018:
  1. Greater Flamingo
  2. Painted Stork
  3. Little Cormorant
  4. Great Egret
  5. Little Egret
  6. Indian Pond-Heron
  7. Black-crowned Night-Heron
  8. Black Kite
  9. White-breasted Waterhen
  10. Red-wattled Lapwing
  11. Common Sandpiper
  12. Whiskered Tern
  13. Rock Pigeon
  14. Spotted Dove
  15. Greater Coucal
  16. White-throated Kingfisher
  17. Coppersmith Barbet
  18. Rose-ringed Parakeet
  19. Indian Golden Oriole
  20. Indian Paradise-Flycatcher
  21. House Crow
  22. Large-billed Crow
  23. Red-vented Bulbul
  24. Red-whiskered Bulbul
  25. White-eared Bulbul
  26. Blyth's Reed Warbler
  27. Ashy Prinia Prinia
  28. Plain Prinia Prinia
  29. Yellow-eyed Babbler
  30. Oriental Magpie-Robin
  31. Asian Pied Starling
  32. Common Myna
  33. House Sparrow
  34. Baya Weaver
Complete list of birds spotted at Sewri flamingo points during April 2018:
  1. Greater Flamingo
  2. Lesser Flamingo
  3. Great Egret
  4. Little Egret
  5. Western Reef-Heron in white morph, distinguished with little egret with it's aggressive food catching behavior and long bill.
  6. Indian Pond-Heron
  7. Striated Heron
  8. Black-headed Ibis
  9. Black Kite
  10. Little Stint
  11. Common Sandpiper
  12. Common Redshank
  13. Brown-headed Gull
  14. Gull-billed Tern
  15. Rock Pigeon
  16. House Crow
  17. House Sparrow
  18. Baya Weaver

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