I. Saw. Flamingos.

Last Friday began very ordinarily for me. Though it was a holiday, I had to go in to work. I finished around 4 pm and headed to Sewri, where I met up with 2 friends. Sewri is on the eastern shore of what was once Parel Island, one of the seven islands of this city, and fringed by mangroves that are home to a variety of bird life all through the year.

We were there to see the Sewri Fort, one of the Mumbai’s 8 forts, and once there we firstΒ spent time looking around and discussing its rather unique architecture (more about that in another post). Only then did we get around to exploring the nooks and crannies of the Fort.

When I peered through an opening in the wall, this is what I saw.

Flamingoes in Sewri, Sewri Mudflats, Lesser Flamingoes, Pink flamingoes, MumbaiAnd I squealed, “I see flamingos, pink flamingos, a bunch of flamingos… ” (I’m pretty sure I must have jumped up and down, but I can’t recall that.). I think I went a little incoherent after that.

But the thing is: I. Saw. Flamingos. Live ones. Outside of a TV screen or a glossy magazine or even a comic book. I. Saw. Flamingos. And my camera wouldn’t stop clicking. They were quite some distance away and I had to zoom in to see them even half-way clearly. πŸ™‚

The flamingos first moved that way…

Flamingoes in Sewri, Sewri Mudflats, Lesser Flamingoes, Pink flamingoes, MumbaiAnd then this way…

Flamingoes in Sewri, Sewri Mudflats, Lesser Flamingoes, Pink flamingoes, Mumbai

We decided to walk down to the Sewri Jetty, which is a short distance from the Sewri FortΒ  to take a chance at seeig more flamingos from there. But flamingos were even further away from the Jetty, but at the same time presented a rather dramatic photo-op of dots of pink against urban highrises.

Flamingos in Sewri, Sewri Mudflats, Lesser Flamingos, Pink flamingos, Mumbai

Flamingos in Sewri, Sewri Mudflats, Lesser Flamingos, Pink flamingos, MumbaiWhile we were still looking around and wondering if we should leave, 3 flamingos arrived almost as if to make us stay. To my delight, they proceeded to delicately pick their way in the mud, feeding, pausing, looking around, walking a bit, feeding… I was mesmerised by them, and in the light of the setting sun their colours glowed sometimes pink, sometimes a deeper pinkish red, and once even a hint of orange.

Flamingos in Sewri, Sewri Mudflats, Lesser Flamingos, Pink flamingos, Mumbai

These are the Lesser Flamingos who migrate to Mumbai from the Kachchh region of Gujarat during this season. The reason they come here is that the water here is extremely alkaline and breeds the kind of food they eat – the Spirulina algae. These flamingos are born white and turn pink as they grow on a diet of this algae !

There were other birds in the Sewri mudflats that evening, but I had eyes only for the flamingos. Shy, quiet and unassuming, their flashy pink colour notwithstanding, they were the star attraction for the many people who had came to the jetty by the car load just to see them.

Though I was aware of the presence of flamingos at Sewri for years now, I had never seen them before in their natural habitat. To be honest, even that day I had only hoped, but not expected, to see the flamingos. The reason was the tides were not right β€” for the flamingos to be present, the mudflats/feeding ground have to be exposed and that happens only during low tide. That day, low tide wasn’t until 7.30 pm.

Perhaps it was luck or perhaps the birds were hungry as they appeared as soon as the tide started receding. Or perhaps they were there for me. Whatever the reason, to see that flash of pink for the first time is a sight that is going to remain with me for the rest of my life.

Important Disclaimer:
If you find this to be a rambling or disjointed or incoherent post, blame it on me. If you find it to be an interesting and good one and loved it, the credit goes to the flamingos. πŸ™‚

24 thoughts on “I. Saw. Flamingos.

  1. Interesting post, Sudhaji! I really liked the photos especially against the backdrop of the setting sun. I plan to discover them soon. Any idea of how long does the season last?


    1. Thank you, Akshay.The flamingos arrive in Mumbai at the beginning of winter and stay till the end of March-April. I was given to understand that I was really lucky to see them. But then again, I was also told that they are present even in May. So, you could try your luck at Sewri and visit the Fort there as well. Do check the low tide before you go.


  2. What a lovely post! How beautifully the experience is recreated through the speaking of words and photographs with each other!

    Last month I saw the pink fkamingoes for the first time…at airoli. They weren’t this many but they were still beautiful. My three year old daughter still insists on going back to see them, so perhaps we will make the journey to sewri soon!


    1. How nice to see you here after such a long time, Havovi. πŸ™‚ I have heard about the flamingos at Airoli, though have never seen them myself or maybe never noticed their presence. And please do make a visit to Sewree during low tide and before the flamingos leave this year. Your daughter will love it πŸ™‚


  3. Sigh! I have been pleading to RD that we should go and see these lovely birds….the only problem is Sewri is tooooooo far off for us…but WOW..what super pics and what a lovely narrative….


    1. Plead some more. But first show all the pics here and as well as those of other bloggers who have documented the visit. πŸ™‚

      Yes, Sewri is far, but try combining it with something else in the area and it won’t seem so far then.

      Thanks, RM, for your lovely appreciation.


    1. The Himachal posts resume after this at least for some time. πŸ™‚ But sorry to hear that your pics haven’t come out well this time. But you got good ones the last time around, didn’t you?


  4. They look delightful and hereby I forgive you for the rambling post πŸ™‚ I had seen some flamingoes during a long long ago trip to Florida, but other than babbling incoherently like you, I couldn’t have written such a lovely post about them, not to speak of the great shots.


    1. Thank you, Alarmelvalli. You’re very kind πŸ˜›

      You’ve been to Florida, eh? Then I want to have a talk with you about the art deco architecture there.


  5. It must have been an amazing sight to see the flamingos in their natural surroundings. I have seen many of them in a zoo. The time you saw was right, because later at 7.30 pm it would have been very difficult to see their lovely colours. Lovely pictures as usual.


    1. Thanks, Neena. I realise now how luck I was to have seen them at the right time at the right place.

      You saw them in a zoo? Pffft. You should have seen them mucking about in the polluted mud. They looked so happy and contented. πŸ˜›


  6. Brought back memories. A few years ago a friend Bernadette and I took a train, trudged away, following instructions and saw this beautiful beautiful ribbon of pink. Were not even armed with a pair of binoculars, or a camera, that is how ill prepared we were,. We were lucky though. The owner of the tug boat happened to come in for inspection and let us climb aboard. Oh the view from there was fabulous. He even let us use his binoculars. Plan to go there again, properly equipped. And your post has just bolstered my plans. Thank you Sudha!


    1. Today, I can fully appreciate that first sighting of pink and the indescribable rush of wonder that it brought about. And yes, do go armed with binocs or a good zoom camera. Your experience will be so much more enriched. πŸ™‚


  7. I love Mumbai and your posts make me love the city even more πŸ™‚
    Such a delightful post Sudha… And like I always say, your picture says it all πŸ™‚


  8. I know how wow it is to see them. πŸ™‚ Saw them last year same place. Like a line of fire. Your pictures have come out well. I tried taking pics on my little digi cam, but it looked like dots so I gave up.


    1. I think I was lucky with the pictures. The friends who were with me, their photos didn’t come out too well either.

      When I first saw them they were, like, bright pink. But later as the sun started setting the flamingos took on a distinct orange hue and were a sight to see. πŸ™‚


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