How do you like to spend your Sunday mornings? Lazing around in your pajamas and catching up on Facebook may seem tempting - but there are incredible adventures waiting right outside your door. One of the cheapest and most thrilling adventures in Mumbai is bird watching – identifying and seeking the multiplicity of avian creatures enchanting our skies.
Most Mumbaikers believe that the only birds that habitat this city are crows, pigeons and sparrows. But this is an issue of selective blindness. If you take some time and open your eyes – you’ll start to notice that beautiful birds like munias, bulbuls, robins and orioles are waiting for you right outside your window.
In fact, over 200 species of birds call Mumbai home. These colorful winged beauties, flying and chirping around, area refreshing sight amongst this concrete jungle. Moreover, birds are also important from an ecological perspective. They are the indicators of the health and diversity of our environment.
Though bird-watching can be done all year round, winter is the best season. During the period from December to March, various birds from different parts of India and even from other countries migrate to Mumbai in search of food. Thus, in winters you can see these visitors in addition to the local residents. The best time to go birding is early in the morning, just after sunrise, because that is when the birds are most active.
So, are you ready to start your avian adventure? Here’s how to approach it!
Habitats: A habitat, in simple terms, is the address of birds. A particular habitat will be home to specific type of birds. For example, in a marshy area, you will find long-legged birds, so that they can wade through easily in the mud. Similarly, birds that can swim, like ducks, are found in an aquatic habitat. The other habitats include scrubland, forest, urban areas, etc.
Even in a metropolis like Mumbai, you can find certain ‘bird-watching spots’, in some pockets of the city. Some of them, which are birders’ favorites, are mentioned here:
Sewri-Mahul:Sewri and Mahul are open mudflats situated along the Arabian Sea. It is also known as the Sewri-Mahul Mangrove Park. These mudflats are winter shelters for thousands of migratory birds. However, the main attraction of this place is the long-legged pink-feathered avian visitor. Every year, thousands of flamingos migrate to the mudflats of Sewri during October to April.
Karnala Bird Sanctuary: Located near Panvel in Navi Mumbai, the forest in Karnala is a bird-watchers’ paradise. It is basically famous for trekking to the Karnala fort. Being a hilly terrain, you can find birds like vultures, eagles and falcons.
Bhandup Pumping Station: A rather hidden place, Bhandup Pumping station makes for a great habitat due to its proximity to a creek. Thus, many water birds like black-winged stilts, pond herons, gulls, terns, ducks, sandpipers, storks, etc. can be seen here.
Apart from these, the other recommended spots include Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Thane creek, Powailake, Maharashtra Nature Park and many more.
General Appearance: Many birds take their name directly from their appearance, such as the white-browed fantail (pictured below). If you’re out on the field and you want to identify the bird you’re looking at, list down it’s color, tail type, beak shape, andsize in your notebook.
Then, when you are home, use these books to help you figure out exactly what winged friend you were gazing at:
Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by Richard Grimmett, Tim Inskipp and Carol Inskipp
The book of Indian Birds, Dr. Salim Ali
A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent, Krys Kazmierczak and Ber van Perlo
Flight and calls: If you’re really passionate about birding (and you will be soon!), you can learn to identify birds by their flight patterns and the sounds they make. Every bird has a distinct flying technique, and a unique call. Imagine – 200 different ways to fly in Mumbai!Check out the following websites to get into the nitty-gritty of bird identification:
So now you’ve got the insiders tips to bird watching in Bombay. Grab your binoculars, your camera, and an observation notebook, and you’re ready to go. If you want to get updates on birding trips and nature trails in Mumbai, follow the Academy for Earth Sustainability on Facebook, here.