They came in thousands, both people and flamingos, to the Sewri Jetty on Saturday afternoon for the seventh edition of the Annual Flamingo Festival conducted by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). The 15,000 strong congregation of flamingos, also called a 'flamboyance', once again managed to bowl over the old, young and restless.
Along with informative panels on the pink birds, a bunch of BNHS volunteers helped people see different wetland birds through binoculars and telescopes that had been set up at various points or were being carried around by them.
"The date had been decided upon according to the tide tables, when the flamingos would be out the longest. These migratory birds will be around till June, after which they will head back to Gujarat for their breeding season", said Issac Kehimkar, a BNHS researcher. The flamingos have been visiting Sewri since the past two decades in numbers crossing 20,000 during the winter season.
The two types of flamingos that visit Mumbai are the Greater and Lesser flamingos, of which the latter are smaller in size and more populous than the former. Sewri is one of the most prominent Important Bird Areas in Maharashtra due to the diverse nature of its wetland inhabitants. This fragile ecosystem faces many threats in the form of the proposed Mumbai Trans Harbour Link cutting across the flamingo feeding area and also a possible slow metal poisoning due to the pollution from surrounding industries.
When to go:
You can still go see the flamingos on your own by checking the tide table and planning your visit three hours before or three hours after high tide at the Sewri Jetty.