Every year starting winters, tens of thousands of flamingos make their way to a little known jetty point in Mumbai. They travel from the Rann of Kutch, which is their breeding ground and make way to two areas in Mumbai, one is a less known jetty point for their morning feeding and the other is their evening spot near New Bombay. when they arrive here in early winter, their wings are a shade of white, but during thier departure they become a pink.
How does this happen? Our guide from BNHS explained that these muddy flats near Mumbai are filled with blue green algae from which the birds’ digestive tract extract the pigment from the carotenoid and an algae rich diet ensures the pink colour to the flamingos. those better the diet, the pinker will be the color to the flamingos.
Rann of Kutch is a good breeding spot for these flamingos but is not rich in blue green algae. The birds travel hundreds of miles till Mumbai to get their adequate dose of nutrition.
However, the story could be short-lived as there are plans to create a trans harbour link over this area and the effects of that on the ecosystem, diversity and habitat is not known.
This jetty point , which I spoke about in my earlier post, is rarely visited by many people. I said people, but not birds. Lots of birds know about this area. Some travel distances across continents to reach it every winter. I hear the Flamingos have arrived, though that trip is still on my “to do”; but there are many more species which have made it their “vacation home”. You can see them all “talking” to each other in the picture above.
Black tailed Godwits in Flight.
A Painted Stork in flight.
A Common Redshank foraging for its breakfast.
A Black Headed Ibis in flight.
I didn’t mention the egrets, cormorants and other birds which inhabit these surroundings and don’t mind these yearly visitors. As I said, I saw them “talking” to each other.
This is Mumbai. Ok, not actually Mumbai, but a a suburban part. Migratory birds have discovered this part faster than some of us. Every winter Siberian birds and many others travel upto this niche which they have made their home for the winters. While the black headed ibis forages through the muddy shore by completely submerging its beak in the mud, other shore birds make themselves comfortable eating the the frogs and other sea creatures. The loud noises of the jetty engine doesn’t seem to have much impact on the egrets, but the flamingos have distanced themselves from this part of the shore and taken refuge in another less accessible area. Hope next time the flamingos are there too. A noisy flock of rosy starlings were also present but quite at a distance.