i’ve always heard and known about flamingos in Mumbai, and just been lazy about attempting to actually go spot them myself. Until now.
The Eastern part of Mumbai – the Dockyards, primarily a Mumbai Port Trust region has been one of the most neglected, hidden and enigmatic places of the city for me. i knew literally nothing about it. Much of it is just massive warehouses for cement now, besides petroleum.
i had bookmarked ‘Sewri Fort‘, ‘Flamingo Point‘ and ‘Kerosene Jetty‘ on Google Maps, as the spots to visit for the bird sightings.
But the best spot turned out to be just next to the Sewri Fort…
It’s best to go with either binoculars or a telephoto lens / camera with a zoom lens (like i did), to be able to study the birds up close.
There were hundreds and thousands of them, but they were pretty far off for the human eye to even distinctly identify them as flamingos.
My friends Sandeepa & Chetan gave me this update after i visited Sewri…
@exoticgringo Mumbai’s favourite visitors! Check them from the Airoli bridge at low tide. Not as many, but closer. Even in Vashi!
— sandeepachetan (@sandeepa) December 13, 2016
… and they were absolutely right! Mumbai / Navi Mumbai now has a Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre!
Airoli / Navi Mumbai
Operational since 2017, the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre is a fantastic endeavor by the ‘Van Vibhaag’ (Forestry Department) to encourage ecotourism and biodiversity conservation + conversation!
I paid a visit recently, and was very very pleasantly surprised about the professional way they’re handling the place…
From friendly staff to state of the art audio visuals and Microsoft Surface touchscreens in the expo space to the 7 and 24 seater boats that take you around the creek for a birdwatching joyride – i loved it so much that i think everyone should do this at least once.
Booking was a breeze and the ride + expo ticket costs Rs.300 on weekdays and Rs.400 on weekends.
On 22nd of Feb, 2018, i was told to visit at 3:30 pm based on the favourable tides for flamingo spotting.
Within 15-20 minutes of the ride, we spotted hundreds (if not thousands!) of beautiful ‘lesser flamingos’ in flocks – its a sight to behold! 🙂
I loved the fact that they discourage plastic bottle usage and the boat stocks a large water dispenser for quenching your thirst – ensuring people don’t carry unnecessary disposable bottles that may land up polluting the sensitive ecosystem.
Once you get back to base, the visitor information centre has a great variety of shopping options – i picked up a safari cap and some bamboo toothbrushes.
Where: Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre, (Airoli / Thane / Vashi creek)
How Much: Rs.300 for a boat ride on weekdays / Rs.400 on weekends and holidays.
How To Book: Call 99876 73737 for bookings and tide info.