Mumbai city is the "Gateway to India" and the financial capital of the nation. The surroundings of Mumbai contain many birding hot-spots of which the best known is the forested 103 square kilometer Sanjay Gandhi National Park at Borivili. The city's long coastline is also home to many waders and water-birds and places like Thane Creek, Elephanta caves, Uran, and Madh/Manori creeks are great spots for birding. But none will take your
breath away as much as Sewri Bay on a March afternoon. Blue skies lit up by the pink glow of thousands of Lesser Flamingos as they wheel past you is a sight etched in memory. Add the plethora of waders and gulls and you have arguably one of the best birding hot spots in India for variety, beauty, ease of access and viewing.
Pix: Adesh Shivkar
Sewri Bay is a short drive along the coast from downtown Mumbai and is opposite Elephanta Island. In winter thousands of Lesser Flamingos flock to the protection of the food rich mudflats and have been doing so since the early 90's. Mumbai Port authorities take great pride in providing a suitable wintering home for these near-threatened birds by actively maintaining the quality of the habitat and keeping an eye on their safety.
Pix: Adesh Shivkar
But Sewri is not just about the Flamingos. By planting mangroves and controlling pollution, the Port authorities and bird lovers of Mumbai have created an ideal habitat for a whole host of waders who add colour and variety to the site. Habitat protection and improvement is key to the survival of our bird species and Mumbai is lucky to have a resourceful, qualified and dedicated team of bird lovers who effectively fight against the threat of
ever increasing urbanisation pressures.
I spent an afternoon at Sewri in March 2004 and recorded images of some of the birds at the site.
Little Ringed Plover
Gull-billed Tern -
Brown-headed Gull -
Western Reef Egret
Red-whiskered Bulbul - Elephanta
Best Birds: Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Little Heron, Western Reef Egret, Black-headed Ibis, Grey Plover, Sand Plovers, Eurasian Curlew, Whimbrel, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Terek Sandpiper, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Avocet, Heuglin's, Pallas's, Yellow-legged and the commoner Gulls and Terns.
How to reach: Sewri Bay is North North-east of the Gateway of India and if you drive on the Shahid Bhagat Singh Road along the coast you will reach the Bay. Access is easier if you take a suburban train to Sewri Station. The road directly east of the station leads towards the harbour.
Strategy: The birds congregate on the mudflats when the tide recedes. The key to a successful visit is to go after an hour of high tide and watch the birds as they arrive to feed.
Best Time: November to March