5 of us woke up on a Wednesday morning to meet some rare visitors to India. Rare not because they seldom come – in fact they come every spring/Summer i.e. March to May to India – but since they are now endangered species.
We walked into a stinking, battered and abandoned jetty at Sewri in Mumbai (India) before sunrise. At first we saw only 150-200 of these flamingos feeding and strolling across the marsh. As we started walking ahead, we were most pleased to see a huge flock of flamingos, spread all across the (so-called) mangroves on the coast at Sewri comprising at least 3000 odd birds.
Sewri is a marshy land and that I believe is the habitat the flamingos are wont to discover. Every year when they get to Sewri (for that matter the other parts of Mumbai’s coast where they breed/feed etc.), I am almost certain, the flamingos wail for those among them who would succumb to the infection, the oil spills and the sewage that is dumped in this area. This area, purportedly the feeding ground for birds, is a marshy dump which provides no succor to these pink and pretty migratory birds. I was relieved to find out that the dirty marshes did not render their beaks black and that the young ones were naturally colourless.Yet, one cannot help but look on with disappointment at the treatment meted out to these birds.
The image of the horizon being filled with thousands of flamingos will always be fresh in mind. But, I am not sure whether the following generation will ever be able to see so many of them at one go. It appears that like other endangered species, the flamingos will soon disappear.
It is such a pity that we are unable to protect our visitors. The image of the cleaner at the jetty dumping excess oil into the sea at Sewri is fresh in my mind and will subsist with the image of the flamingos.
While we were – forgive the cliche – “bird watching” we joked about how the less pink ones are the lesser flamingos and the more pink ones must have a class of their own. I later discovered, while I was reading up about flamingos that the birds that come to India generally are the lesser flamingos. I in fact thought to myself that they were much smaller than I imagined them to be. The lesser flamingos are much smaller in size that the greater flamingos. The pink in their downs comes from the kind of food they eat and is a result of the colour released post break down of proteins consumed by these flamingos.
For professional photographs of flamingos please visit here.