Travel: 6 bird watching spots around Mumbai

Jan 28, 2016, 08:50 IST | Suprita Mitter

With the reduction of the sanctuary limits at Karnala Bird Sanctuary for the Trans Harbour link, we focus on why this zone is special for birding enthusiasts, and look at other birding spots around Mumbai

Black-hooded Oriole at Karnala. Pic courtesy/Asif Khan
Black-hooded Oriole at Karnala. Pic courtesy/Asif Khan

Also read: Mumbai for kids - Karnala Bird Sanctuary

About 50 kms from Mumbai (Panvel Taluka of Raigad District), Karnala has always been a favourite spot for bird lovers in the city. The sanctuary is spread around 4 to 5 sq km on the Konkan coast in Raigad district. According to experts, the best time to visit Karnala is between October and March. The most popular birds found here include the King Vulture, Crested Serpent Eagle and Peregrine Falcon. Since it is a forest habitat, you can visit for birding in almost all seasons. Even the monsoon is a good time to spot birds like Malabar Whistling-thrush and the Puff-throated Babbler. Other birds that can be seen are Crested Serpent-eagle, Emerald Dove, five species of sunbirds namely Vigors’, Purple, Loten, Small and Purple-rumped Sunbird, Rufous Woodpecker, White-bellied Drongo, Black-nape Monarch and Sulphur-bellied Warbler.

Also read: Head out for a green camping trip to Karnala

Famous for its waterfall and ancient Shiva Temple, it is also home to rare species of mountain birds. The temple at Tungareshwar is visited by several devotees, but it is still a good place to watch several species of birds.
Spot: Verditer Flycatcher, Rufous Treepie, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Ashy Drongo, White Bellied Drongo, Purple Sunbird, Crimson throated Sunbird, Thick Billed Flowerpecker, Black Kite and Serpent Crested Eagle.

Elephanta Island
During the hour-long boat ride from Gateway of India, you can spot endless gulls. Once you reach the island, walk up the steps leading to the caves, turn left and follow the path.

Also read: Of birds and bats - Join BNHS' unique wildlife trail at Elephanta

A kingfisher sits by the mangroves near the Elephanta Island jetty. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Spot: Oriental Magpie Robin, Indian Grey Hornbill, White-bellied Sea Eagle

Akshi Beach
It is best accessed by a ferry that plies from from Gateway of India to Mandva.

Mixed flock of gulls and terns at Akshi. pic courtesy/Asif Khan
Mixed flock of gulls and terns at Akshi. pic courtesy/Asif Khan

Spot: Gulls and terns like Caspian Tern, Lesser and Greater Crested Tern, Sandwich Tern, Greater and Common Black-headed Gull, Brown-headed Gull, Slender-bill Gull and Oystercatcher.

Located within the city, the speciality of this eastern surburb are the Flamingoes seen in the five acre mud flats. Each year, Sewri plays host to over 20,000 Lesser Flamingoes. The waterbodies host these gorgeous birds in the migratory season between November to February.

Also read: Sewri mudflats is an excellent bird watching spot for children to learn about diverse avian species

Black-tailed Godwit at Sewri. Pic Courtesy/Asif Khan
Black-tailed Godwit at Sewri. Pic Courtesy/Asif Khan

Lesser Flamingoes at Sewri. Pic Courtesy/Jaideep Kanhere
Lesser Flamingoes at Sewri. Pic Courtesy/Jaideep Kanhere

Also spot: During the winter season, the Sewri mudflats see a lot of migrant species like the Curlew Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Little Tern, Eurasian Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit and Common Redshank.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park has popular spots for birding including Yeoor Hills (Thane), the Shilonda trail and the Kanheri trail. However, some places may require prior permission to enter.
Spot: Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Racket-tailed Drongo, White-browed Bulbul, Greater Coucal and Yellow-eyed Babbler.

>> Carry a field guide and binoculars
>> Keep ears open for bird calls
>> Be patient

Info courtesy: Asif Khan, Programme officer, BNHS, and Jayesh Paranjpe, owner, Western Routes.

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The Alibaug bird race: This is a bird race where nature lovers go around a particular geographical area with a strategy to watch more volumes and variety of birds. It's a team event and the one with the largest number of sightings, on validation by experts, will be awarded. Each team must include at least one seasoned birder. The race will flag off from Lora Cottages and Tents, Gokhalewadi, Nagaon, and participants can pick any of the following locations:

1. Nagaon Village — The surroundings of Lora Cottages boast of 10 to 15 species of birds.
2. Akshi Beach — 10 km from Nagaon Beach.
3. Kurul lake — Lily and lotus covered pond at Kurul village.
4. Gokuleshwar Lake — 2 km from Alibaug.
5. Ramdharaneshwar — Near RCF Thal factory, it is home to various bird species and raptors.
6. Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary — Situated next to Ravdanda town, records show 150 bird species, including rare species like the Sri Lanka Frogmouth.
7. Karnala Bird sanctuary — Situated between Pen and Panvel towards Mumbai.

For registration Call: Sagar Mhatre on 9167423708

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